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    1. Starfield and the problem of scale

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      Minor Starfield lore spoiler's ahead

      Originally written for /r/games, but the last discussion thread of Starfield in that place saw many user who said they personally like the game downvoted and replied to by mentally-questionable individuals that said not-so-nice things.

      As I pass 170 hours in Bethesda newest, hottest, controversial game. I am happy because it is just as fun as I had hoped it to be.
      Yet as I explore the cities it has to offer there is always a small detail that I keep failing to ignore (whenever I'm not busy thinking of new ship designs that is).

      200,000 units are ready with a million more on the way

      So say the slender being that has been tasked with creating an army to defend a galactic spanning government of countless worlds. At this point Montgomery, Zhukov, MacArthur, Jodl, or any-other-WW2-command-figure-of-your-choosing are rolling on the ground clapping each other's backs laughing their socks off. Because 1.2 million is an absolutely puny and pathetic number of troops for a galactic war.
      I'm no Star Wars deep lore fan, I understand that fans and later authors has since tried to 'fix it' by making the Clone War more that just the clones. And yet those 1.2M clones was all there was when episode 2 released to theatres.
      Most Sci-fi writings has similar a problem with scaling to their subject. It is not news. It even has a tv tropes page (the page is more about distances, but it's in the same ballpark).

      Quest for the Peoplefield

      So where does Starfield go wrong in this? The ships are puny. The wars and the numbers stated are puny.
      Certainty more ways than one, but the one that I wish to focus on is this: where the hell are all the people?
      A brief summary of the lore. Humanity has invented FTL and has seemingly solved all energy problems. They had to evacuate Earth, but this was successful and so the starfield should be absolutely teeming with tens of billions of human souls spreading to all corners of the galaxy and its many already habitable worlds.
      And yet, Starfield feels so barren. I see no grand interstellar civilizations. Only dirt huts on a hill surrounded by walls that support barely a thousand people. Yet this dirt hill is supposed to be a capital or an interstellar superpower. Heck, they are even scared shitless of their own fauna.
      The opposites capital is no dirt hill, yet still smaller than a modern earth country town.
      And it's not like the main population centers are just outside player-accessible areas. All the NPCs ever talk about are Akila, New Atlantis, and Neon. These tiny puny cities.
      It doesn't feel like the evacuation of Earth was a success. It feels like it was a catastrophe, and all that remains are scattered remnants playing civilization.

      And yet... The Starfield is actually lively, just not where it should be. There is a scale imbalance, because spread across nearly every world in the settled systems are countless research stations, outposts, deserted or populated, you name it.
      Yes, those procedually-generated buildings that spawn nearly everywhere you land in the settled systems.
      Where did these come from? Surely the UC couldn't have built them. Manning just the ones that I have come across in my playthrough would empty New Atlantis 10 times over!

      Bethesda built their open-world game style upon Fallout and Elder Scrolls. For both it makes sense that the worlds are sparely populated. One being post-apocalyptic wasteland, and the other a medieval society.
      But now they have built something in a completely different realm. But they way in which Bethesda built the scale at which the game is presented remains the same.
      So why did they go with this approach? I don't know. Maybe they just like making "small" worlds and didn't want to fit the new universe. Maybe the idea of 'climbing any mountain you can see' is a very hard rule and they didn't want to limit player movement in metropolises, that would undoubtedly be unfeasible to make fully traversable.

      But lets pretend they actually tried. And perhaps it can be done without really changing how the game is designed or played.

      So you can do it better huh?

      A Microsoft executive plays the game as it's nearing launch. He feels there is something missing with the scale of the Starfield universe.
      So he does the only rational thing he can think of and storms into the street and picks the first rando he can find, puts the Bethesda crown upon his head, and orders him to fix Starfield's problem of scale.
      The exec is later found to be mentally ill and fired, but it does not matter for I am now king of Bethesda and my words are design directives.

      Tell, don't show

      The simple solution that requires no real work but some change in lore. New Atlantis is no longer a capital, just a administrative and diplomatic outpost. Akila is now just a small border city. The real population centers are now on entirely different worlds. Inaccessible to the player.
      Why can't players go there? Well it shouldn't take much suspension of disbelief to acknowledge that governments might not want any random idiot, in a flying hunk of metal capable of tearing space-time at it seams, to go anywhere near their main population centers without considerable control.
      NPCs should no longer talk of sprawling New Atlantis, Neon, or Akila, but rather these other places that you can see on the map but are not allowed to go to.

      Show enough

      The population planets are now accessible, but restricted in where you can land freely. On the map it should show big cities. And just like how you cannot land in water, you can neither land anywhere in cities or its surroundings.
      Just like with New Atlantis and Akila, you can land at a designated spot. The difference is when you look into the horizon, because rather than a procedurally generated landscape you will instead see a sprawling metropolis that tells you "Yes here! Here are all the people!".
      The other change would be that, unlike the landscape, if you try to go beyond the player-area of the city you will hit a wall. But that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.
      New Atlantis and Akila can stay, but like the other solution they would change status.

      All in all the scale issue is no big problem and the game is fine as it is. This was just something that has been on mind for some time and I wanted to put it to writing. So do you agree that Starfield has a scale problem? If yes, how would you fix it? Or maybe I missed some crucial info-dump and the entire premise of this writing is wrong?

      34 votes
    2. Starfield - Thoughts on the main quest?

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      I just finished the Starfield main quest! Everything else will be in the Spoilerbox text but if you haven't, consider yourself warned! I would try and go through the main quest as much as you can and maybe a couple of temples before you finish the main story if you havent.

      Starfield spoilers! What does everyone think about the Unity idea and the way it's integrated in New Game Plus? I loveeee the multiverse explaination and the little things they changed in New Game Plus, I imagine it'll be different every "loop". While I kinda wish you didn't lose everything, it was amazing to respawn in a new Starborn ship.

      I do feel bad for the people who invested a lot in base building though! I kinda wish they had a better solution for that, honestly I can see how it'd be discouraging to go through new game plus again. I kinda wish they could somehow make it a bit more clear that you'll lose everything and to not invest too much in the playthrough.

      At the same time, I really do love the way the game makes me feel on a meta level. I'm usually a hoarder in these types of games, getting all that I can and dumping it all somewhere, but once I realized that nothing matters I found myself kinda letting go of that notion and just enjoying the game. I'm used to Bethesda jank so I just enjoyed it haha.

      Overall probably some of the smarter writing Bethesda put out, and I'm really excited to see the rest of my loops!

      12 votes
    3. Starfield - what are your thoughts?

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      For those of us who caved and got the Early Access, what are your thoughts on the game so far? Please remember to tag spoilers!

      And for anyone looking forward to it coming out on Wednesday, got any plans for a build or character?

      61 votes
    4. So I'm new-ish to cRPG's. I played the first four-ish hours of Baldur's Gate 3 Early Access

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      ... and I think I'm going to be very hooked.

      Spoilers for being 4ish hours into early access..

      Spoilers for being 4ish hours into early access.. It reminds me of the Anakain meme. I found the druid caged disguise as a bear and I killed all the goblins...

      Not what I QUITE wanted, but once I found the druid he insisted his bear form what trigger combat with most goblins

      And I'm fine with that. I'm trying to lean into the emergent story telling of the game and accept my choice as they roll and as they come.

      I want to hear your thoughts on early access. Is it what you thought the game would be? For cRPG veterans, is it going to live up to meet your expectations for what one should be? Care to share your outcomes for the situation I engaged with (spoilered of course for players who want to go in completely fresh)? I've not played 5e, what do you think of the adaptation? And any other thoughts you have in that old noggin?

      to clarify the "new-ish to cRPG's", I've played the opening hours to a handful of them including Pillars of Eternity, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, Mechajammer, Disco Elysium and Encased. I liked them all, but I have trouble committing although I did complete Disco Elysium and LOVE and ADORE it. I will return one day including games like that Fallout 1/2, Planescape: Torment, and others on my list.

      Love and candy to you all

      33 votes
    5. What game(s) do you love that you never see brought up in conversation?

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      I was playing Motorstorm: Arctic Edge emulated on my Vita and realized I have literally never seen it brought up or discussed online.

      Motorstorm is a dead franchise, but the console games I occasionally see talk of but never the psp version. I think it did a great job of capturing the feel of the game on the go and has a banger soundtrack too. I played it a ton back in high school on my psp and still boot it up from time to time for a quick hit of adrenaline fueled racing.

      I'm sure others have similar games, maybe it's a "bad" game that you love or just an oldie lost to time.

      90 votes
    6. What's a sequel you were disappointed by?

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      See title. I thought this might make for an interesting topic and I can't see one like this in the search, so...

      What sorta got me thinking about this - a couple days ago, I noticed that Dying Light 2 got a sizeable update, with a pretty heavy emphasis on changes to the game's parkour mechanics. I absolutely loved the first Dying Light, as well as both Mirror's Edge games - parkour and other kinds of momentum-driven gameplay are my jam - so that got me curious enough to check it out again, for the first time in a year.

      I played for a few hours, got some of the way in, and... felt pretty underwhelmed. It certainly feels better than it did last time I played, and the change to retain momentum during parkour moves does feel pretty nice... but it still feels far too slow and floaty to me. It feels awkward and unresponsive to me. On top of that, the combat updates - while I actually appreciated DL2's changes to the combat over DL1's (a major gripe I've always had with DL1's combat is that sometimes zombies take just one or two hits and sometimes they take twenty, and I have never been able to detect any kind of pattern to it - combat level, game progress, weapon damage, etc., none of them seem to impact it so I have no idea what's up with it), playing it again now... left me feeling pretty disappointed.

      I booted up DL1 for the first time in a while the next day, just intending to compare how it feels - and I've since found myself drawn several hours into it. Even in the first half hour of the game, where your climbing's super slow and everything, it feels so much more snappy and reactive - it feels good. And while my previous gripes with its combat are still present, it feels so much better to me now than DL2's does (for the most part - fighting human enemies still sucks). I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but there's just something really visceral and satisfying about it that DL2 doesn't have.

      As I've been playing DL1, as well, I've been thinking about its story again. As much as it's maligned for its story, I think it's actually a really interesting subversion and deconstruction of expectations in a lot of ways - while that could be a thread (or video essay, I've thought about it) of its own, the way I see it: despite how the intro and story set him up, Crane actually fails pretty hard at being a hero until towards the end. I mean, the very first thing he does is take a crowbar to the back of the head, get bitten, and get someone else killed. It's a pattern that continues throughout most of the game (and even The Following, I'd argue, even though I don't care for it much). I find it pretty memorable beecause of that, even if it falls flat in some places.

      Meanwhile, Dying Light 2... I honestly couldn't tell you much about the story? It didn't leave any kind of impact on me at all. I'm not really the kind of person who plays games for their stories very often (unless it's something like Ace Attorney where that's explicitly the point), and I have to admit that I went into DL2 with low expectations to begin with (I held off getting it at launch because of Denuvo, by the time I did pick it up reviews were already fairly negative; and I tend to view "your choices really matter!" in advertising as a huge red flag so that wasn't a good sign either), but even so. It might be in part because I actually quite liked DL1's ending - I found it pretty refreshing for a post-apocalyptic zombie game - so DL2 throwing that out didn't sit well with me from the get-go (also part of why I'm not too keen on The Following, but that's a different matter).

      Overall, it just sorta left me thinking about how... even though I'd tried to go in with tempered expectations - all I really wanted was a fun zombie-flavoured parkour game, where climbing and jumping and swinging and stuff felt fluid and rewarding - I still found myself left feeling pretty hollow about it, even after an update that allegedly addressed some of my biggest issues with the game. It's especially frustrating, because the Inner Circle (I think that's what it was called, I can't remember - the second city map) is really, really cool and I would absolutely love to just aimlessly run around it... if the movement didn't feel floaty and awkward. Stuff like climbing to the top of the VNC Tower felt exhilarating and awesome - I could catch a glimpse of something excellent there, but it was so outweighed by everything else.

      So... Yeah. I dunno, I thought this'd make for an interesting question. Have theere any been any sequels you've played that left you feeling underwhelmed, in comparison to the previous game? If so, why?

      alright maybe some part of me just wants to ask this so i'd have an excuse to waffle about dying light and its story a bit but still i think it's an interesting topic nonetheless
      EDIT: formatting

      51 votes
    7. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Discussion thread

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      I've had a bunch of different bits of conversation about TotK across the site, but it's mostly been in passing in other topics. Since I know there's a lot of (entirely justified) enthusiasm for the game, let's talk about it! What's your favorite thing to fuse to a shield? (Ice breath) Have you developed any particularly clever machines you want to share? (I made a massively overcomplicated fish-shocker and scoop, like this, but worse.) What's your favorite (Air) and least favorite (Water) temples?

      29 votes
    8. The Last of Us Part II Discussion - Slowpoke Edition

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      Because of my need for content, and HBO's The Last of Us releasing only an episode per week, I decided to watch a play through of TLoU 2. I played through TLoU 1 years ago but didn't want to buy a whole console just for one game.

      Honestly I can't understand the amount of hate I've heard in online discussions. Part 2 drags on at times but overall I'm impressed with the narrative. Part 1 was a hard act to follow and part 2 did better than I'd expect for a sequel. I saw that Tildes had a discussion or two about this game around when it came out. Now that it's been a few years, how do you all feel? And related - how do you think the show will handle the story in season 2?

      3 votes
    9. Please spoil Outer Wilds for me

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      Note: Outer Wilds, not The Outer Worlds.

      If you do not want the game spoiled for you, please do not read any further into this topic.

      I have given the game two honest tries, and I've stopped each time. I like what the game is offering, but I don't like playing it.

      What I'm wanting isn't just a traditional "spoiler" -- I can look up the plot and lore and details and such -- I'm more wanting to know about the full experience of playing the game. People talk about this game with the same awe and cultishness with which people talk about The Witness (which I loved). I saw a few glimpses of something that in my time in the game (e.g. the Quantum Tower puzzle). I've read so many comments warning me to not learn about the game and people wishing that they could play it again for the first time, that I know there's definitely something more here.

      Unfortunately, I'm not the player to discover that more.

      Thus, I'm hoping someone here can take me on their journey through the Outer Wilds instead. Tell me about what the game was like for you, how it unfolds, and, most importantly, what is it that makes people talk about the game the way that they do.

      13 votes
    10. The entire plot of The Last of Us 2 and one major cutscene has been leaked

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      This is an image which contains spoilers for the entirety of The Last of Us 2, proceed at your own risk

      A major cutscene also got leaked. This is a link to that cutscene. Proceed at your own risk.

      It seems that QA testers were promised bonuses when the game was going to launch, but with the indefinite delays, those bonuses obviously got pushed back. Considering that the menu language of the cutscene is Portuguese (I think), I wouldn't be surprised if someone from South America, where QA probably got outsourced to (Naughty Dog is infamous for their bad work culture) was depending on that bonus, especially with the covid situation.

      I don't know how to handle this situation discussion-wise right now. If you want to spoil yourself for whatever reason (maybe not planning on buying the game, whatever) and discuss the plot of TLOU2, please mark everything as spoilers (you can use sections to hide sensitive info). Everyone else, tread lightly.

      EDIT: Actually, a lot more cutscene got leaked, here's the links in the section:








      10 votes