Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

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jack1974
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Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by jack1974 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:21 am

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.it/2017/06/g ... study.html
he refers to Pillars Of Eternity - a game I played for a good amount, but skipping many texts, and in the end gave up.
I really think he's spot on. If you have a RPG in particular. I mean I can understand that people want a long game, but adding too much "useless/non needed texts" it's not a good thing.
Also on skills/lore. I think if you have a Cure spell, should be called with a understandable name (even in my games use things like "Regenerate" or "Nature's Touch" etc) and 2-3 LINES of text max, not a paragraph of 500-600 words explaining the spell/skill origin.
Like I did in QoT or SOTW for items, there can be lore for those who want to read it, but should be a separate button, not automatically displayed for everyone.
There's nothing wrong providing to people who like to read more stuff to read, but shouldn't be forced for everyone, since for example nowadays I find having less and less time (and patience) for games with long texts (as player I mean).

I think the same problem is in his games though, also because of how the text is presented - a big wall of texts :)

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DarkWolf
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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by DarkWolf » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:23 am

He said in his own post that problem isn't really with to much text but rather piecing, and while I agree I think it is mistake to complain on "Too much text" when problem is actually with what that text is. Like when it comes to character creation, there is so mach information and lore about it, and I read it cerfuly to memorize all, just to realize that it doesn't really matter as none of it ever gets mentioned in an actual game and it doesn't seem like your options make any difference other then for characters parameters. People have a really easy time memorizing things witch interest them, and because they find it interesting reading it doesn't feel like a chore but as an interesting addition, but in POE most info seems to be about background witch never gets mentioned or has impact on a main story witch on the other hand simply doesn't have enough text explaining what is going on and simply isn't really that interesting. So if you ask me it is not problem with amount of text but rather of it's quality.

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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by jack1974 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:40 am

Yes exactly as you said. There can be a lot of interesting texts or a lot of useless/superflous texts.
But I also think that helps splitting the texts. Reading a big paragraph of 5 lines vs one of 2-3 makes a big difference, that's why I always insist with my writers to never write sentences too long :)

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Franka
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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by Franka » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:44 am

Well yeah, the problem is more one of (mostly irrelevant) information overload, not amount of text. I'm fine with reading a long text that sets mood or describes the setting I'm navigating in detail, but not so much with being bombarded with random country names, backstory of a fricking spell, the intricacies of Dwarven sex life, and honorary mention of a king who died 500 years ago.

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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by jack1974 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:21 am

Franka wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:44 am
the intricacies of Dwarven sex life
:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: Haha that would be a funny read at least though!

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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by Miakoda » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:24 pm

Something else to bear in mind is the target audience. One of the reasons Pillars of Eternity was funded heavily is that many of those people did want a very text heavy game, reminiscent of early CRPGs.

And yes, it is true that Tyranny didn't do as well...but it might also be down to advertising. When a relatively big company goes on Kickstarter, then other media outlets will signal boost the heck out of things which can bring in more backers. Tyranny didn't do this.

One reason that Banner Saga 3 was put up on Kickstarter was for advertising purposes...since hardly anyone knew Banner Saga 2 was out. And by going on Kickstarter? This did give them more media exposure. I mean there is a reason that the Divinity Sin guys often go to Kickstarter as well.

But that said, for me personally, that is the sort of information I prefer to have in a Codex (like in Mass Effect) rather than cluttering up the main game page. As @Franka already mentioned, you get text overload, and this can put you off, especially in a genre already with a lot of writing.

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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by Jaeger » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:03 pm

I played a good portion of one of Jeff Vogel's games, Geneforge, until a massive slow down forced me to reset my PC. It was long-winded, but I thought it was decently paced for the most part. They were relevant to the story, describing surroundings, characters, and events happening immediately. The graphics and audio were also extremely limited, so all the text was necessary to fill in the gaps.

The problem isn't too much text, but whether or not this information is important to the player. The worst offender in PoE was the useless NPCs that you can "reach into their souls". While the character creation is bloated with lore, those gold-plated NPCs offer nothing but irrelevant stories.

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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by Troyen » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:05 pm

Some of it is also timing. You can have a bunch of detailed background about the various races and factions and their history, but most games dump that on the character creation screen, which always makes getting started a huge, monumental chore. It'd be nice to have a brief summary on the character creation screen and then explore the detailed history through the main story (or side stories) as you play.

The background of a spell might be interesting, but probably not at the time you learn it (unless your teacher is afraid you'll induce the Sixth Umbral Calamity or something). Instead, go into it through side content, or if it's actually important, as part of the plot.

Also, I tend to find a lot of side quests too wordy. Maybe I'm jaded after playing rpgs for decades, but I don't really care why that basket you lost is super precious to you and you inherited it from your grandmother's grandmother. Whether or not I go fetch it will depend on how much effort it takes and what you're paying me. So much extraneous text in the side-quests, and it's often not written all that well. Would you really dump your life's story on a stranger that just walked into town?

I wrote all that before reading the article, and now that I've gone back to read it, I completely agree with what he's saying. I've tried to encourage some of the same during the WW games I've betaed, attempting to cut down the longer, wordy skill descriptions to a sentence or two that get across the main point as concisely as possible.

At the same time, I've noticed a tendency (both in WW and elsewhere) to front-load more and more tutorial text on players, and while I personally think it's overly excessive, I'm usually hesitant to call it out because I don't know your audience as well as you do. I think in many cases players can figure out how to equip gear or buy from a shop on their own, with a minute or two of experimentation at most. It'd be nice to have the help text handy in case someone gets stuck, but you could do that with a help button rather than forcing someone to click through a five-page screen explaining stuff that's often similar to other games.

I think those two points are where WW might benefit more specifically from his comments. In general, the stories themselves are fine and don't suffer as much from the unimportant npc exposition dump other games do. Although there is an occasional flashback, sometimes on the romance paths, that often feels like a forced info dump to give you that character's backstory, regardless of whether you care or could have figured it out on your own.

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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by jack1974 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:53 am

Well my tutorials can always be skipped and they only play once (like the first time you enter a combat, etc). So I think I'm already doing OK under that aspect :) Amber's tutorial were needed since that gameplay was complex, and besides I prefer to always offer a skippable tutorial rather than get a lots of forums questions "how I can do this and that"?

Regarding skills descriptions, I think even there I really never use "lore text". Maybe the only time was in SOTW with the Ralkor's Blood text :lol: But otherwise, sure maybe if you try hard you can shorten the following skills descriptions:
"The magic bolt attack is the base attack of Mages: enemies cannot retaliate, and it will never miss the target (getting reduced damage)."
"Mark an enemy as focus target for 3 turns: all subsequent attacks by this character on target will do 25% more damage."

but I didn't write stuff like:
"The magic bolt attack is a bolt of arcane magic that magic users can create by concentrating their focus on the tip of their staves using the elemental powers of the 5 elements BLA BLA BLA" :lol: :lol:

Regarding flashbacks and other padding in the main stories yes that might have happened (not sure if you refer to a specific game).

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Re: Spiderweb on "games have too many words"

Post by Troyen » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:32 pm

jack1974 wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:53 am
Regarding skills descriptions, I think even there I really never use "lore text". Maybe the only time was in SOTW with the Ralkor's Blood text :lol: But otherwise, sure maybe if you try hard you can shorten the following skills descriptions:
"The magic bolt attack is the base attack of Mages: enemies cannot retaliate, and it will never miss the target (getting reduced damage)."
"Mark an enemy as focus target for 3 turns: all subsequent attacks by this character on target will do 25% more damage."
By no means is the text in a WW game as overly heavy as the PoE example, but you can still see bits and pieces of his article here and there. For example, at the start of SotW you have to have your caster pick a spell. Well, each element inflicts damage plus a specific status ailment, but in early builds there was no description what "tired" or "confused" actually did because the explanation was only on the debuff tooltip in combat. During beta these tooltips eventually got revised to actually state their effect "target inflicted with Confused, lowering their magic defense by 20% for 3 turns."

So there I was referencing the point about forcing the player to make an significant choice when they don't have enough information to make that decision. Sometimes I wonder if it'd be better to automatically assign some key talent at level 1 and make it really fast to hit level 2 - 2-3 encounters at most, so players get a feel for combat before they get stuck with the 12-skill option per character talent page.

(Fwiw, QoT was much better about explaining this.)

Also, even if you don't include lore, it is possible to be overly wordy. Like I don't think "base attack of mages" is necessary. If it's the zero-mana spell that always hits, it's going to be your go-to action when you don't want to blow a lot of mana (or if you ran out).

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