Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

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Krikkitone
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#61 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:22 am

Let me reiterate something
Krikkitone wrote:In a 4x, especially if there are customizable races, then no backstory is needed beyond what the player's mind provides.
let me rephrase
In a 4x, especially if there are customizable races, then no backstory is wanted against what the player's mind provides.

So the "skirmish" mode requires NO backstory at all... none.

That's what I would like to see, NO backstory outside of campaign mode.

In all games, you can access information about what gameplay effect Precursors/Artifacts/Natives/Splinter Colonies can have in games that they are enabled.

In all games, you can access a species 'campaign backstory', or the 'campaign backstory' on Precursors.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#62 Post by Tortanick » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:22 am

Krikkitone wrote:That's what I would like to see, NO backstory outside of campaign mode.

Krikkitone wrote:In all games, you can access a species 'campaign backstory', or the 'campaign backstory' on Precursors.
Campaign backstory is fine by me. Personally I'd like to have one large canonical universe with extra alternative universes.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#63 Post by MikkoM » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:05 pm

Krikkitone wrote:In a 4x, especially if there are customizable races, then no backstory is needed beyond what the player's mind provides.

let me rephrase

In a 4x, especially if there are customizable races, then no backstory is wanted against what the player's mind provides.

So the "skirmish" mode requires NO backstory at all... none.
Perhaps we could have two options for the main game/skirmish mode. One with a backstory and one, "Tabula rasa" option, without a backstory. The "Tabula rasa" option could be for example something like this:

-No precursors and techs/events related to them.

-The backstory is empty, but the player might be allowed to add his/her own backstory to the game, or modify the original backstory as he/she sees appropriate.

- The racial backstories are empty, but the player may add his/her own racial backstories to the races that participate to the game, or modify existing racial backstories to suit his/her needs and desires.

- All races might be customizable either from scratch or by modifying the original races of the game. (Don`t really know how well the A.I would handle player build races.)

Now by having these two options we could give the player both, a well thought out backstory in the main game/skirmish mode (which I would certainly like to see, because in the main game all of the available races will probably be playable and all will have about an equal starting point, which will more than likely not be the case in the mission based campaign mode) and the freedom to come up with his/her own stories.
Bigjoe5 wrote: Also, "the Experimentors did it" makes more sense from a story perspective. Since the classic mode will have different starting conditions and a different end each time, it makes sense to assume that it's because it's not the same scenario each time. Instead, the Experimentors have lots of different experiments in all sorts of different galaxies. "The Experimentors try out lots of different scenarios in lots of different galaxies" is a lot easier to swallow than "These monoliths all landed on every player's world at the exact same time. And this happens over and over again in an incalculable number of galaxies. Huh."
However, even in this option almost the exact same species are popping up in all of those different galaxies.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#64 Post by eleazar » Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:13 pm

MikkoM wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:In a 4x, especially if there are customizable races, then no backstory is needed beyond what the player's mind provides.

let me rephrase

In a 4x, especially if there are customizable races, then no backstory is wanted against what the player's mind provides.

So the "skirmish" mode requires NO backstory at all... none.
Perhaps we could have two options for the main game/skirmish mode. One with a backstory and one, "Tabula rasa" option, without a backstory. The "Tabula rasa" option could be for example something like this:

-No precursors and techs/events related to them.

-The backstory is empty, but the player might be allowed to add his/her own backstory to the game, or modify the original backstory as he/she sees appropriate.

- The racial backstories are empty, but the player may add his/her own racial backstories to the races that participate to the game, or modify existing racial backstories to suit his/her needs and desires.
This is a open source game for crying out loud. If a player really wants his own backstory he can add it in by editing a few text files or just deleting parts of text files he doesn't want. No doubt if we get the game far enough modders will create their own campaigns and settings for FO

Most players like a good story, and a coherent universe that is part of that story. We shouldn't be ashamed of giving them one on the off-chance that they might want to imagine things differently. It's plenty easy for players to ignore that story in "skirmish" if they don't like it. It's not like the story is going to be dominant like an RPG.

MikkoM wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:"The Experimentors try out lots of different scenarios in lots of different galaxies" is a lot easier to swallow than "These monoliths all landed on every player's world at the exact same time. And this happens over and over again in an incalculable number of galaxies. Huh."
However, even in this option almost the exact same species are popping up in all of those different galaxies.
The player doesn't care. It's a standard part of 4X games that you will play a bunch of iterations of a similar conflict between some of the same "players" in a bunch of different settings. The player is already prepared to believe it can happen or ignore it.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#65 Post by MikkoM » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:51 pm

eleazar wrote:Most players like a good story, and a coherent universe that is part of that story. We shouldn't be ashamed of giving them one on the off-chance that they might want to imagine things differently.
And I fully support the idea of an interesting backstory. However I would also like to hear what kind of options players like Krikkitone would like to have. For example, would it be sufficient to have an option, which would exclude the backstory and racial backstories from the game, and leave the player with the possibility to just imagine the backstories? Or would players like Krikkitone also like to write their stories down and see them/access them in-game?
eleazar wrote:This is a open source game for crying out loud. If a player really wants his own backstory he can add it in by editing a few text files or just deleting parts of text files he doesn't want.
This is true, but I also believe that the harder it is to go and edit something the less people will actually bother to do so. And it would definitely be easier to edit the backstory and racial backstories, if you can do this while setting up your game than to go and look for those textfiles from the FreeOrion directory. However if setting up an in-game text editor adds much work, and the benefits from such an editor are only small or such and editor would only produce additional problems, then it surely isn`t worth the effort.
eleazar wrote:The player doesn't care. It's a standard part of 4X games that you will play a bunch of iterations of a similar conflict between some of the same "players" in a bunch of different settings. The player is already prepared to believe it can happen or ignore it.
And in my opinion the same can be said about the monoliths too. Although it probably wouldn`t hurt if we could come up with some sort of a nice explanation for this too.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#66 Post by RonaldX » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:20 am

MikkoM wrote:And in my opinion the same can be said about the monoliths too. Although it probably wouldn`t hurt if we could come up with some sort of a nice explanation for this too.
A wizard did it.

-Ty.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#67 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:59 am

RonaldX wrote:
MikkoM wrote:And in my opinion the same can be said about the monoliths too. Although it probably wouldn`t hurt if we could come up with some sort of a nice explanation for this too.
A wizard did it.

-Ty.
Exactly....
Essentially the "skirmish" mode should have no 'backstory'

That doesn't mean it should lack gameplay elements such as splinter colonies, Precursors, artifacts, etc. (although those should be options of course)

But the "backstory" for those elements should be in the campaign mode.

Species 'backstories' should be available, but the first thing the player should see on looking in the 'Guide' is their stats and such, not their backstory.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#68 Post by eleazar » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:32 am

MikkoM wrote:And I fully support the idea of an interesting backstory. However I would also like to hear what kind of options players like Krikkitone would like to have. For example, would it be sufficient to have an option, which would exclude the backstory and racial backstories from the game, and leave the player with the possibility to just imagine the backstories? Or would players like Krikkitone also like to write their stories down and see them/access them in-game?
eleazar wrote:This is a open source game for crying out loud. If a player really wants his own backstory he can add it in by editing a few text files or just deleting parts of text files he doesn't want.
This is true, but I also believe that the harder it is to go and edit something the less people will actually bother to do so. And it would definitely be easier to edit the backstory and racial backstories, if you can do this while setting up your game than to go and look for those textfiles from the FreeOrion directory. However if setting up an in-game text editor adds much work, and the benefits from such an editor are only small or such and editor would only produce additional problems, then it surely isn`t worth the effort.
FO is not supposed to be a story-telling experience, like Spore. Sure we could give them a text field for the description of custom species, but making all the "backstory" text fields editable in-game really misses the point of what FO is all about: it's a 4X game.

Sure it's takes some work to edit the text files. But if someone really cares they can do it. In fact it's best if the people with the urge to combine story-telling and FO can only do so by creating a campaign or a mod-- since they will likely make it available to the community.
MikkoM wrote:
eleazar wrote:The player doesn't care. It's a standard part of 4X games that you will play a bunch of iterations of a similar conflict between some of the same "players" in a bunch of different settings. The player is already prepared to believe it can happen or ignore it.
And in my opinion the same can be said about the monoliths too. Although it probably wouldn`t hurt if we could come up with some sort of a nice explanation for this too.
I'm not claiming (as BigJoe was in the quote i was responding too) that players are going to have a hard time believing that monoliths "...happens over and over again in an incalculable number of galaxies."

I'm not claiming that we need an explanation for why the game starts as it does, just that a good one would be a plus, and that players are not disposed to judge meta-game aspects harshly-- if they care at all.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#69 Post by Tortanick » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:16 am

eleazar wrote:FO is not supposed to be a story-telling experience, like Spore. Sure we could give them a text field for the description of custom species, but making all the "backstory" text fields editable in-game really misses the point of what FO is all about: it's a 4X game.
Why not? It dosn't have to be a literacy epic but surely we could do something like Battle For Wesnoth, a nice simple story for each campaign. Each campaign takes place at different points on a long timeline.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#70 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:10 am

MikkoM wrote:However, even in this option almost the exact same species are popping up in all of those different galaxies.
No - those galaxies are seeded deliberately by the Experimentors.
eleazar wrote:I'm not claiming that we need an explanation for why the game starts as it does, just that a good one would be a plus, and that players are not disposed to judge meta-game aspects harshly-- if they care at all.
If we have such an explanation, it's better if it's coherent, works for multiple instances, and isn't absurdly improbable.

"The Experimentors did it" is great for this, because:

- It can happen over and over again, differently in different galaxies and still make sense
- Nothing is left to random chance, so the player doesn't have to suspend his disbelief (not that most players really have a problem with that, but it is, as you said, a plus)
- The premise is based on the motivations of one of the precursor races, which links it to the overall storyline

In the hypothetical FreeOrion universe, if all the different instances of gameplay that the player experiences actually happened, what could the cause for it be? The answer seems very natural - we have a practically all-powerful race with insatiable curiosity for experimentation, which gives it the means and the motivation to create all of these scenarios.
Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:FO is not supposed to be a story-telling experience, like Spore. Sure we could give them a text field for the description of custom species, but making all the "backstory" text fields editable in-game really misses the point of what FO is all about: it's a 4X game.
Why not? It dosn't have to be a literacy epic but surely we could do something like Battle For Wesnoth, a nice simple story for each campaign. Each campaign takes place at different points on a long timeline.
I think he was referring to the "classic mode", not the story mode. Naturally, the campaign mode will have a robust storyline.
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#71 Post by Krikkitone » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:28 pm

eleazar wrote:I'm not claiming that we need an explanation for why the game starts as it does, just that a good one would be a plus, and that players are not disposed to judge meta-game aspects harshly-- if they care at all.
I'm saying that 'an explanation' would be a minus not a plus. Especially if it is "The Answer" for a standard mode game

A list of possible answers might be good, each presented as a hypothetical (probably either referring to
chance
a previous galactic power (initial backstory)
or a precursor level power (alternate backstory)

So "The Experimenters did it"
should not be presented as the explanation at the beginning of the standard game/cutscenes

However, It could be presented under "Precursors" as something some of the Precursors Might/Could do.
(ie some statement referring to their power)
or as a list of possible explanations.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#72 Post by eleazar » Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:49 pm

Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:FO is not supposed to be a story-telling experience, like Spore. Sure we could give them a text field for the description of custom species, but making all the "backstory" text fields editable in-game really misses the point of what FO is all about: it's a 4X game.
Why not? It dosn't have to be a literacy epic but surely we could do something like Battle For Wesnoth, a nice simple story for each campaign. Each campaign takes place at different points on a long timeline.
Perhaps Spore was a bad example. The market spiel was that players would use Spore to create their own stories. It's not so much about winning as self-expression. If we were trying to make that kind of game rather than a 4X, it might make sense for standard/melee mode to avoid any backstory, and give the player a blank slate universe to do what he wants with, without imposing anything on his imagination.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#73 Post by eleazar » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:55 am

I've updated my Backstory Wiki page in a bunch of minor ways, but especially in added more information about "Orion" type planets, and how random mysteries work.

This thread has gone on so long, i think some people may be "disagreeing" with my ideas based only on my last few posts, without the broader view of what already written. Well, there it is.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#74 Post by MikkoM » Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:20 pm

eleazar wrote: FO is not supposed to be a story-telling experience, like Spore. Sure we could give them a text field for the description of custom species, but making all the "backstory" text fields editable in-game really misses the point of what FO is all about: it's a 4X game.
And I am wondering, if FO could include both options. A well thought out backstory and racial backstories, and an option to disable the backstories and possibly even include your own stories. (And I am currently talking about the main game/skirmish mode.) This way we could offer a nice story experience to those players who want it, and I imagine there are a lot of players who would like to have a backstory, and also allow players who would like to see things differently to either just imagine their own stories or even write them down.
Krikkitone wrote: In all games, you can access information about what gameplay effect Precursors/Artifacts/Natives/Splinter Colonies can have in games that they are enabled.

In all games, you can access a species 'campaign backstory', or the 'campaign backstory' on Precursors.
Personally I don`t think that it is a good idea to bury the backstories somewhere deep in the game files or place them in some sort of an encyclopaedia, since this more than likely doesn`t satisfy the hopes of either of the player types. For those who don`t want to see any official backstory the story is still there, and for those players who appreciate a good backstory the story isn`t easily available, and so doesn`t really seem to be part of the game.

Then there is of course the story driven, mission based campaign option, but this option will probably be more about controlling one species against some other species in a specific situation, and will not include the whole galaxy in a fairly even starting situation as the main game/skirmish mode does. So in a mission based campaign you more than likely cannot experience the story from about an equal starting point with all playable races. The mission based campaign can also have a much more detailed, role playing kind of story compared to the main game/skirmish mode, which can clearly set it apart from the main game. And in the end, I suspect that it is a lot harder task to create a really interesting story driven campaign than it is to create a good (lighter) backstory for the main game/skirmish mode. So we shouldn`t just leave all the story for the story driven, mission based campaign.

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