What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

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What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by BasiliskWrangler » June 3rd, 2016, 7:40 am

Since the forums are a bit slow right now, I figured I'd ask an open question to anyone still stopping by:

What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

This is a broad question, and it may or may not have any affect on what we're building right now. I'm just a bit curious.

For example, do you fancy a spooky, isolated, solo experience like the movie Alien, or a sprawling action space opera like Star Wars? Do you like your science to be realistically tangible, or "almost magical" science that has no basis in reality? Do you prefer a game that advances through dialog/interaction with NPCs, or a game that advances through completing goals and achievements?

What has been your favorite Sci-Fi game (RPG or not) in the past 10 years?
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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by Leezar » June 3rd, 2016, 9:02 am

As an evolutionary biologist, my number one concern with some Sci-Fi, especially Star Trek, is that there are so many human-like humanoids.

Now, don't get me wrong. Due to convergent evolution, it is not only possible but also even likely that aliens could look like us. And further, they would probably have social structures similar to us, since a species that cannot have peace and education and so on would never master space-flight. Also further, they would likely have roughly our life-span, since knowledge has to be passed on to the next generation.

With that said, not EVERY fucking alien should be humanoids, and of those that are humanoid, not every one of them need to be a human-looking humanoid.

They may, however, be very divergent on their views on social and economical issues. For instance, if spiders made a society, then it would probably be a matriarch, not to mention that any egg-laying species would have very different views on child care. Further, on planet Earth we kind of lean towards "forced" cooperation through the capitalist system. But this is due to our mindset. For a more altruistic species, communism could work, or even pre-civilisation kind of economies, like hippie bartering. In fact, we have had such socities even with our species, what with the native north americans people view on property rights.

Therefore, I would expect a great variation of body size and type, mindsets and economical systems, if we ever encountered aliens.

Secondly, due to teleportation (if you think that is realistic, which it probably isn't, but hey, neither is faster than light space travel), personal energy shields (which is at least more realistic) and personal stealth systems (which actually already exists), I think melee weapons, like swords or electrical swords or whatever, is perfectly fine, even given the supposed firepower of the future. (Of course, all space battles are completely unrealistic anyways, as we could by that point build robots and computers that are superior to us on the battlefield in every way. Unless you use the mutant chronicles approach that all electronics become tainted by evil, or perhaps hand-held EMP-weapons that knock out all electronics, thereby making human soldiers and human commanded battleships with human crew realistic again.)

And finally, due to human expertise in biology, -which very well may be a uniqely human trait, as far as we know, there is no rule saying advances technology need to be accompinied with advances in biology- I would expect future humans to be enhanced either genetically or through biological implants, as well as cybernetically enhanced. (Cybernetics can also be excused that the human body shields them from EMPs. Of course, then one would wonder why we simple do not put all computers inside a 2 m thick meat layer, but you know. Nobody likes extreme realism or besserwissers.)

My two favourite Sci-Fi games is the Escape Velocity series, the Ur-Quans Masters and the KOTOR series. (KOTOR ironically overflows with human-like humanoids, still like it though.)
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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by MyGameCompany » June 3rd, 2016, 9:42 am

@Leezar: Agreed about humanoid aliens. I understand why Star Trek and other TV shows and films do that, since it's cheaper to apply a bit of makeup to a human actor than to create some complex puppet or create some expensive CGI creature that looks decent in a live action scene. Fortunately, computer games don't have those limitations, so we're free to put anything in our games that we want.

@BW: I don't care for horror-style Sci-Fi. I prefer a more adventurous style, like Star Wars, Star Trek, The Last Starfighter, Total Recall, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.

While I'm generally not a fan of combining magic and science, it can be done successfully, like in Star Wars or the He-Man and Thundercats cartoons. I don't like when they try to explain magic though - that was my main gripe with the Star Wars prequels, which except for that and Jar-Jar Binks, I thoroughly enjoyed.

Something I personally like are retro-science settings, like the Frank Hampson Dan Dare comics (with rocket ships and an art deco style), and even steampunk games like Skyborn. Those aren't settings that are frequently used, but can be a lot of fun if done right.

As for game progression, I like what you did with your Eschalon games. And I like what Spiderweb Games does. When it comes to RPGs, I prefer a turn-based strategy style with a strong emphasis on story and exploration, rather than action RPGs that focus almost exclusively on combat.

Some of my favorite older Sci-Fi games over the years: Star Wars: Dark Forces, Quake II, the old Interplay Star Trek games, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, and Sierra's Space Quest series. (There aren't too many more recent games that I play, except a few RPGs like Eschalon and those from Spiderweb Games, some games on my Wii U, and some iPad games like Loot and Legends.
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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by mercy » June 5th, 2016, 11:06 am

I want
+ gory fantastic turn based battles
+ Couple of spooky, isolated maps & missions like the movie Alien
+ And also some sprawling action space opera like missions and a couple cities like Star Wars, but with moderation!
+ science "almost magical" science that has no basis in reality!!!!!!
+ Witty dialogues with NPCs with lots of jokes and fun comical scenarios / hilarious situations / giddy interactions
+ Some advances through completing goals & missions, achievements only if they are fun: like Holy Avenger for killing a large Demon Boss or Hell's Scourge for killing off villages.
+ Favorite Sci-fi game MASS EFFECT 1-3 Soap Opera because of the cuties and romancing and graphics + settings and FUN DIALOGUES!!!
+ *** Lots of Cuties are a MUST! *** A hot merchant chick or a henchwoman or a superhot female NPC Ninja-Mage-Warrior kicking Monster Ass!
+ Bucketload of Alien Races in form of wandering bandit parties with a leader, alien merchants, alien NPCs, alien carrier-pigeons, alien pigs, alien pets, alien girlfriends = See the superhot Asari shopgirls on the citadel who were a a magnitude hotter and had excellent soothing female voice actors, lot better than the crappy looking Asari protagonists and weak major Asari NPCs!

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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by Arkos » June 5th, 2016, 12:31 pm

I like sci-fi that's hopeful about the future, like Star Trek. I get tired of the whole bleak, cynical distopian future.

I like realistic science, but I'm willing to overlook the more magical/fantastic elements if it serves the setting or story (like teleporters, FTL drive) or is just really cool (like dog-fighting in space).

I'm really big into rich mythologies and deep characters (although that's true for high fantasy, too). I also like science fiction that has something meaningful to say, as opposed to just big explosions and space babes.

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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by Kreador Freeaxe » June 5th, 2016, 8:42 pm

I like my science to be science, but I'm not offended in a game if there's a lot of hand-waving about stuff to make magic seem scientific for the sake of particular game effects. However, a truly science based RPG could be interesting.

I think you know that I love turn-based and I like interacting with NPCs. Achievements are fine in the mix, as well, but I don't think of that as primary.
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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by SpottedShroom » June 5th, 2016, 9:20 pm

mercy wrote: + *** Lots of Cuties are a MUST! *** A hot merchant chick or a henchwoman or a superhot female NPC Ninja-Mage-Warrior kicking Monster Ass!
Oh, please god no.

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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by Kreador Freeaxe » June 6th, 2016, 8:41 pm

SpottedShroom wrote:
mercy wrote: + *** Lots of Cuties are a MUST! *** A hot merchant chick or a henchwoman or a superhot female NPC Ninja-Mage-Warrior kicking Monster Ass!
Oh, please god no.
hehehehehe
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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by CrazyBernie » June 8th, 2016, 8:05 pm

Arthur C. Clarke wrote:“Magic's just science that we don't understand yet.”
That said, fantastical science with a semi-grounded lore can go a long way toward immersion and suspension of disbelief. We are seemingly close enough to breakthroughs in technology such as FTL and teleportation (even if we're realistically far away), that it's easy to use those technologies in storytelling with minimal explanation. Just look at all the techs we have now that years ago were described by aspring writers.
BasiliskWrangler wrote:This is a broad question, and it may or may not have any affect on what we're building right now. I'm just a bit curious.
A broad question deserves a broad answer ;)

I like a little bit of everything. Most of my sci-fi exposure has been in the action and strategy genres, in the form of titles like Doom, StarCraft, Total Annihilation, MechWarrior, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Master of Orion, X-Com, System Shock, et. al. The only two actual RPG's that come to mind (there's more than two but these actually stuck in my brain) are Anachronox (3D, with a fusion of western and jRPG elements) and Fallout (the original, isometric series). I do have Wasteland 2, but I haven't played a lot and it's technically the Precursor/Successor to the Fallout games, so let's just group them together.

As far as favorite... I don't like to play favorites, but here's some in various subgenres:

Horror:
The Dead Space series
I found them all enjoyable, even the Wii version. I played 1 & 2 on the PC, and the 3rd on Xbox One. A must to play alone in the dark with the audio cranked up, or even better: with good quality headphones.

Shooter
The Gears of War series
I loved the grounded, grittiness of this series. It almost belongs in the horror genre, but there are enough "other" elements to pull it back out.

RPG
Fallout 1, 2, Tactics
It's not enough to topple my all-time favorite RPG (Final Fantasy VI - which technically has sci-fi elements), but definitely one of the greatest RPGs of all time. I'm a big fan of the action-point system as opposed to just the traditional turn-based RPGs. For awhile I was actually working on my own, hybrid-ized (bastard-ized?) version that actually combined the two systems (technically it was still turn-based, but your "position" in the "line" was a little more fluid, and modifiable). But I digress... some would cuss me out for lumping Tactics in with the first two, but the play styles were similar enough and unlike a lot of folk, I actually enjoyed the game.

Sidenote: I realize this is more than 10 years old (even Tactics was released way back in 2001), but I've still (re)played the games within the 10 year time-span. And if you count Wasteland 2 - enough said.

Action-RPG
Fallout 3, New Vegas, 4
Love these, I'd finish them all but due to mods and DLC, I'm always restarting, downloading, and shelving these titles. Most recently I decided to stop playing 4 until all of the official DLC is release, as well as official mod support.

Survival
ARK: Survival Evolved
A solid in-Aplha survival game with dinosaurs! Yaaaaaaz! Seriously though, this title will quickly get supplanted in the coming months if No Man's Sky lives up to its expectations. I might have to make it my life's goal to find another live player in the universe. Any one else up for that "impossible" challenge?

Strategy
Supreme Commander series
This is a tough one, because I really, really like the StarCraft series, but when it comes to huge battles, with giant ships/tanks/robots, Supreme Commander takes the cake. The X-Com series deserves honorable mention here as well. I've always been a defensive strategy gamer, and X-Com is all about defending from an invasion.

4X
Master of Orion
I realize that the 4X is just a subcategory of Strategy, but I feel like it belongs in its own section under the Sci-Fi banner. And what better than the turn-based, granddaddy of all(or most) 4X games? I haven't purchased it yet, but the remake is on my short-list.


For a turn based Sci-Fi RPG, I'd be in the mood for something close quarters, but with a lot of exploration. It'd be something like Grimrock in space (maybe not so restrictive movement-wise)... an "abandoned" underground moon base that's been overrun by critters/some alien invaders. There might be a breach in the station that leads further underground, requiring some survival elements like limited oxygen, and protection from exposure or vacuum. Skills like Archaeology or Linguistics might be necessary to decipher alien languages and manipulate unknown devices or weapons (no "pick up and start firing" stuff here). The Xenobiologist trait/hobby might offer a synergistic bonus to such skills. Some light crafting, but nothing to fancy or complicated (combine this circuit board with that crystal for a small, portable force-shield to protect against energy weapons).

Hmmm... Grimrock merged with Stasis... that sounds delicious.

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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by BasiliskWrangler » June 8th, 2016, 10:49 pm

CrazyBernie wrote:I might have to make it my life's goal to find another live player in the universe. Any one else up for that "impossible" challenge?
I am. And when we meet on that nameless planet which slowly orbits an aging Red Giant, drifting away on the fringes of a galactic spiral, I'll buy you a beer.
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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by Painted Lady » June 9th, 2016, 12:39 pm

CrazyBernie wrote: For a turn based Sci-Fi RPG, I'd be in the mood for something close quarters, but with a lot of exploration. It'd be something like Grimrock in space (maybe not so restrictive movement-wise)... an "abandoned" underground moon base that's been overrun by critters/some alien invaders. There might be a breach in the station that leads further underground, requiring some survival elements like limited oxygen, and protection from exposure or vacuum. Skills like Archaeology or Linguistics might be necessary to decipher alien languages and manipulate unknown devices or weapons (no "pick up and start firing" stuff here).
That really sounds good to me. Thomas can't compete with the Bethesda type game makers, nor should he try. What he has been successful at doing is good dialogue, a solid story line, lots of exploration and turn-based combat. I am really, really hoping those elements are in the next game he makes :D

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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by CrazyBernie » June 9th, 2016, 8:24 pm

I don't really see him needing to compete with the likes of Bethesda. Besides, they're not really interested in making RPG's with any sort of turn-based mechanics (Fallout 4 pretty much proves that). But especially for a first game on a new engine, I'd rather see it start smaller in scope, and scale up with sequels. I felt Dead Space did a really good job in this aspect - the first game was very close-quarters, with just a few large areas. The subsequent sequels got larger and more content-filled, although it could be argued that some of it was just bloat.

I also like the stat/skill style of the Fallout games... having a more finite stat cap with the skills themselves having a much higher ceiling. It makes more sense (to me, anyway) in a sci-fi environment; e.g. you wouldn't have unlimited strength, but you could obtain god-like ability wielding a melee weapon or develop mad hacking skills. It simplifies things somewhat as well - you spend more time worrying about the actual skills as opposed to deciding where to also put your stat points (I know, I know, simple isn't what we're necessarily looking for, but there's plenty of other things that can be made more complicated).

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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by Leezar » June 10th, 2016, 3:07 am

Painted Lady wrote:
CrazyBernie wrote: For a turn based Sci-Fi RPG, I'd be in the mood for something close quarters, but with a lot of exploration. It'd be something like Grimrock in space (maybe not so restrictive movement-wise)... an "abandoned" underground moon base that's been overrun by critters/some alien invaders. There might be a breach in the station that leads further underground, requiring some survival elements like limited oxygen, and protection from exposure or vacuum. Skills like Archaeology or Linguistics might be necessary to decipher alien languages and manipulate unknown devices or weapons (no "pick up and start firing" stuff here).
That really sounds good to me. Thomas can't compete with the Bethesda type game makers, nor should he try. What he has been successful at doing is good dialogue, a solid story line, lots of exploration and turn-based combat. I am really, really hoping those elements are in the next game he makes :D
I don't disagree, but I think this doesn't take full advantage of space. Instead of one moonbase / cave / "abandoned" alien colony, you can have many planets, each with their own secret(s)... that is perhaps later revealed to be somehow connected through the actions of run-of-the-mill "ancients" who intentionally or inadvertantly left clues behind for God-knows-what reason.

Also, one form of exploration that I think works well in a Sci-Fi is FPS Marathon-series style for exploration combined with the combat from the bastard love-child of a threesome from Outcast, Halo and Gun (the latter because of the cover system). Now, of course, that may not be doable for a one-man programming crew. But one can dream...

Never-the-less, having the camera hover just behind and above the protagonist allows for much better exploration style game than a FPS does, me thinks.
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Re: What features would you like in a Sci-Fi RPG?

Post by Calathon » June 14th, 2016, 4:49 pm

I think that a RPG, regardless whether it is Sci-Fi or not, should focus on story, characters (and their development) and most of all on freedom of choice.

So a game in which I advance through achievements (e.g. "Kill 100 Xenomorphs") is not what I call a RPG, it is a FPS or an action-game but definitely not a game which wants to describe a (fictional) society. Of course every RPG needs to have quests and I would not want to play a game in which I always and only had to talk to all kind of NPCs in order to finish this game (unless it was called "Diplomatic Duell" or something like that :wink:). But those games in which you simply have to go from A to B, kill a certain number of mobs and are guided all the way by a quest marker are not games I call role-playing. Now one could argue that killing a certain number of enemies is kind of RPG because the player embodies a slayer of aliens, but then "Super Mario Kart" is also an RPG because the player embodies Luigi driving a vehicle. :roll:

What I expect from a RPG is a consistent, living and logical world, whereas logical does not refer to the "real" world, but to the world described. For example, even though there is no magic in our world, there might be some in a RPG world, but then there should be rules about what magic can and cannot. Things like "Here we have the evil warlock and he practically can do everything he wants because of his magic abilities." is not what I call consistency or logic.

In terms of a Sci-Fi RPG I prefer realistic ones. Of course there should be buildings, vehicles, weapons and so on we do not have today, but if this RPG is to take place on Earth in a distant future, then there will still be limitations in ways that physics and chemistry etc. have certain natural laws. And in my opinion it suits a RPG if these laws are not bent to a breaking point.
One thing I personally cannot stand is a mixture of magic and science: either it is one OR the other. Fantasy-RPGs can be very nice with some magic in them (and I do not like them to have too much science) but to me a Sci-Fi RPG with magic in it is like a fantasy-game which wants to take place in the future and the narrator/creator lacks the knowledge of science. Therefore: Sci-Fi and magic combined is a no-go to me.

Very good Sci-Fi games are (all older than 10 years) "System Shock 1", "Fallout 1+2" or "Syndicate". And although I like some of the "Star Trek" or "Star Wars" movies I prefer movies like "Blade Runner" or "Alien(s)" because simply they seem to be more realistic in ways of the described societies.

I also think that humans and alien lifeforms are unlikely similar concerning appearances, social structures, thinking and perception (although there must be some resemblances in certain ways). This is why I highly recommend the novels "Solaris", "Fiasco", "The Invincible" or "His Master´s Voice" by Stanislaw Lem: all tell about a contact between humans and aliens and the inability of men to understand the messages, intentions or points of view of alien lifeforms due to the limitations of an anthropocentric approach.

So long story short: a RPG must have a good story, "living" NPCs in a consistent world, a lot of freedom of choice (making bad or immoral choices should be an option of every RPG) and of course a customizable player-character who is part of the world he/she lives in. His/her actions should have an impact on certain NPCs, factions or developments and the player should get the feeling that his/her actions matter. If the RPG is set in a Sci-Fi world, then science (and the laws coming with it) should not be ignored and not mixed with any kind of magic above all. At least it is SCIENCE-Fiction, not Whatever-Fiction. :wink:
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