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 Post subject: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:36 am 
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One of Fallout 4's biggest changes, for Bethesda's normal formula, was how well-defined your character's back story was. And one of the main ways they did this was with your character's spouse and child. Unlike Skyrim, where your spouse is just whichever one takes your fancy, and children are just orphans you take in, Fallout 4 made it clear who your character was in a relationship with beforehand, and the entire game centers around the Lone Survivor's journey to find their son.

So what does this mean for the next ES game? I remember the very rare reference to the hero's family in previous ES games. Skyrim has Serana ask you about your family, and you can mention them living outside of Skyrim. Oblivion can have one of your vampirism nightmares be about discovering your parents dead in your family barn. Morrowind has the Nerevarine prophecy mark your character as a [&@%!]. Daggerfall and Arena have you define your character traits via choosing how your character grew up, essentially.

I find that these little things made the character seem more real to me, although it definitely can ground the character more. So ultimately, the question is, do you want your character to be a blank slate, or a more established character?

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:51 am 
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I like having the blank slate as a roleplayer.

What killed me about Fallout 3 was having the excellent Liam Neeson being in the story. In the short hour it takes in the vault for the tutorial, you've already had a clear sense of his morality instilled in the character, and I can't mentally justify doing anything other than the "right" thing as any character I make. I feel like it pigeonholes me into one particular character-type and that limits how replayable the game is for me, because I don't want to play the same way all the time.

Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, I have carte blanche to do whatever I want. I can use my affinity for creative story-telling to give a character whatever history, quirks, and motivations for a playthrough that I want, and the character will evolve accordingly during the course of the game. As soon as I am done with one character, I can turn around and reset the game with a new idea I've had in my head for a character and story I want to tell in my head, maybe add a mod or two I've been eyeballing that could supplement it, then I've got a whole new game and story to experience.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:17 am 
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Personally, both the "you wake up with amnesia" and the "you are the chosen one" tropes in the Elder Scrolls are getting really boring. I would be happy with a game that allowed you to chose from a list of backstories, including a blank one for anyone who wants to think of their own. I guess something like the Souls series' classes you can pick from, which includes the "deprived" option that is literally a blank slate.

The Elder Scrolls has kinda done backstories through classes before, but they never had any affect on the game. It would be cool to have your character start off with different equipment, perks, faction reputation, and even relationships, based on what you've chosen.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:22 am 
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Ten different races kinda puts the kibosh on a pre-established family backstory. Fallout is limited to a human protagonist (furthering that, an American as well).

The backstory for a Breton and an Argonian won't fit into the same mold.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:28 am 
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Dark Spark wrote:
Ten different races kinda puts the kibosh on a pre-established family backstory. Fallout is limited to a human protagonist (furthering that, an American as well).

The backstory for a Breton and an Argonian won't fit into the same mold.
They could do a "abandoned at birth and raised by a Breton family" sort of thing.

As for the subject as a whole, I'm a "not where you started; where you end up" sort of guy, so I'm not overly concerned as long as I don't get completely pigeon-holed (I can't go on a crazy sex-filled bender when I'm married, Bethesda. And I certainly can't be a monk when I'm looking for my kid!)

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:44 am 
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I think it's good to have an established character with a given backstory, because it gives you a sense of purpose in the game.

Yes, your purpose in Skyrim is to stop the return of the dragons, as a dragonborn, but I don't feel like there is any sense of identity with the character.
You don't know why you're in the carriage at the beginning, or what crime you've supposedly commited, so if you like the blank slate option then that's great - you can come up with your own backstory on what happened.
Equally, you are a free bachelor/bachelorette, so you can do what you like in terms of relationships.

I'm not a roleplayer though, so obviously an unestablished character remains that. I end up playing as myself, therefore I like to be given a set story and motives for your protagonist, which I can then focus on and have a more meaningful purpose for the entire game. It helps me to empathise with the character too, rather than being a 'nobody'.


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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 5:44 am 
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The Wizard's Tower DLC involved inheriting from a long-lost relative, which I found a little annoying for some of my characters. I'd definitely prefer a limited family background (and limited children as well, the voice acting is too much).

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:26 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:57 am 
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AKB wrote:

So what does this mean for the next ES game?


Hopefully nothing, especially since Todd acknowledged it was a mistake to do a lot of the dialogue and background system the way they ended up doing it in Fallout 4. It would work even less well in TES, with ten playable cultures to choose from.

It would be very annoying to try to shoehorn every single possible combination there into a one-size-fits-all background. It'd be even dumber than playing the female character in Fallout 4 with low Intelligence when she's stated to have been a Lawyer, or the male with low Perception when he was a Soldier. I'd rather have not known those things at all to be honest.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:40 pm 
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I dunno, I've known my share of obtuse lawyers and unobservant soldiers.

For RP, I prefer a blank slate. I'm presently trying to trudge through Fable III, and the backstory is choking all the fun out of it. This is no sandbox adventure, and it suffers under the weight of its intended scope.

For an action game, sure, spell it out for me. I know who Samus is, so I know what the role is when I step into her shoes. I'm content being a faceless wheelman in Need for Speed, because the expectation is that it's all about the cars. But the grand appeal of TES is that the story is mine from start to whatever I decide is the finish. The more polluted that is with choices I did not make, the less enjoyable the adventure.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:42 pm 
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Pilaf The Defiler wrote:
especially since Todd acknowledged it was a mistake to do a lot of the dialogue and background system the way they ended up doing it in Fallout 4.

Do you happen to have the link? :o

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:01 pm 
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Todd Howard wrote:
We do like to try new things and we have some successes. I think the shooting in Fallout 4 is really good—I think it plays really well. Obviously the way we did some dialogue stuff, that didn't work as well. But I know the reasons we tried that—to make a nice interactive conversation—but [it was] less successful than some other things in the game. For us, we take that feedback. I think long-term.
Link

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:51 pm 
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MetaCthulhu wrote:
Todd Howard wrote:
We do like to try new things and we have some successes. I think the shooting in Fallout 4 is really good—I think it plays really well. Obviously the way we did some dialogue stuff, that didn't work as well. But I know the reasons we tried that—to make a nice interactive conversation—but [it was] less successful than some other things in the game. For us, we take that feedback. I think long-term.

That sounds like he's referring to the dialogue mechanic specifically, not the voiced player character.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:54 pm 
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@Tingz0r I posted the exact quote so people could draw their own conclusions, but that's what I thought too.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:09 pm 
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While RPGs with established character backstories are great (see: Dragon Age, particularly 1 and 2), that's never been TES's thing. I do think it would be cool if the game gave you, the player, more opportunities in-game to define your backstory (e.g. in conversations with other characters), but the bottom line is that Bethesda games have that replay value that you can't find very often in other franchises, and a lot of that is because you don't need forced suspension of disbelief to play your character as anyone you want them to be. (I'll bet that there won't be nearly as many people playing Fallout 4 in five years as there are playing Skyrim right now.)

Would a fixed- or selectable-backstory game set in Tamriel be cool? Sure! But not as a main entry in the series. TES is, or at least should be, about endless possibilities and tons of ways to play the game.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:37 am 
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I see no reason why the next can't just do both. Have it be a selectable option.

For an RP'er: Have it be a blank slate. I like this approach too, because if I have a set backstory, the "Alternate Start" mods, become a lot harder to justify mentally for immersion's sake.

For a story-oriented player: Having the option OF the backstory is ideal if it's designed right, it could offer small perks and boons to immerse yourself in the character's loosely established backstory. The perks and boons can also apply to the blank-slate RP'er, but it should be an optional thing in the Character Creation menu. Of course, your own backstory doesn't have to be tied in to the MQ, just little acknowledgements from NPC's, and maybe might affect how a quest plays out slightly.

The issue here, no matter what stance you take is, is do you WANT voiced lines? I wouldn't mind basic greetings and lines like that, anything more than that could ruin the experience.


Summarily, it's a hard balance to strike, as everyone's preferences are different and are destined to clash. I think if Bethy can at least try this route, it will please a lot more people than it will irk.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:37 am 
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The best balance I've seen struck in this regard of Backstory and Voiced Protagonist is in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

For the record, I LOVE voiced protagonists. Silent protagonists in games where everyone else (like in Dragon Age: Origins or Skyrim) create a huge disconnect for me sometimes, but I also recognize that a voiced protagonist has its own limitations and drawbacks, mostly in dialogue options and variety.

This is why I find Inquisition did it so well; you have plenty of options even with your voiced state, and your character molds around the choices you make all the while having their own voice in the world. It makes them seem much more like a living, dynamic character in the gameworld.

It also does background exceptionally well. In Inquisition, your character's race determines their background, but the main plot varies very little off of your background and in fact your history is left quite vague. Just because your character is a dwarf doesn't mean he can't be a righteous crusader, fighting in the name of the maker. Just because your character was raised in a god-fearing human home doesn't mean they can't be an atheistic rebel. In Inquisition, background serves to color and decorate your character, not to restrict how they play them. This is one of the many reasons why I find Inquisition to be one of, if not the, best game (in my exprtience) in the past 15 years.

That's the heart of my pitch here; if you will do a voiced protagonist or a forced background, do it in a way that enhances and creates unique perspectives for a character; not in a way that hinders the player's ability to shape their character in any way they wish.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:04 pm 
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Damon wrote:
I like having the blank slate as a roleplayer.

What killed me about Fallout 3 was having the excellent Liam Neeson being in the story. In the short hour it takes in the vault for the tutorial, you've already had a clear sense of his morality instilled in the character, and I can't mentally justify doing anything other than the "right" thing as any character I make. I feel like it pigeonholes me into one particular character-type and that limits how replayable the game is for me, because I don't want to play the same way all the time.

Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, I have carte blanche to do whatever I want. I can use my affinity for creative story-telling to give a character whatever history, quirks, and motivations for a playthrough that I want, and the character will evolve accordingly during the course of the game. As soon as I am done with one character, I can turn around and reset the game with a new idea I've had in my head for a character and story I want to tell in my head, maybe add a mod or two I've been eyeballing that could supplement it, then I've got a whole new game and story to experience.


I've found I've enjoyed playing Fallout 3 more via Tale of Two Wastelands, as I can still roleplay as whoever or however I want but I also have a relative who is really only around for like an hour or so at most so I does not completely jeopardize my character's backstory nor am I completely compelled to follow in their footsteps.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:17 am 
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I agree with much of what's been said here. Although FO4 is awesome and I love it, I didn't so much care for the pre-made backstory. I like that to be something of our choosing. The clean slate/prisoner story of TES works well for me because I love to roleplay and I like being able to make up whatever story goes along well with my character.

I really, really hope that no pre-made backstory comes into TES 6 or the next Fallout games. Hopefully 4 was the only one like that.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:55 am 
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Dohva. wrote:
I really, really hope that no pre-made backstory comes into TES 6 or the next Fallout games. Hopefully 4 was the only one like that.
Which Fallout series have you been playing?

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:00 am 
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Pre-defined facts are one thing, but FO4 shoehorns you into awfully specific things pretty hard, is what Dohva (and pretty much everyone else) is saying. Defined origins are one thing, dictating your choices and personality in such detail is quite another.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:21 am 
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Tingz0r wrote:
Dohva. wrote:
I really, really hope that no pre-made backstory comes into TES 6 or the next Fallout games. Hopefully 4 was the only one like that.
Which Fallout series have you been playing?

What Mars said. Also, I've been playing the only Fallout series that exists. FO3 had something similar with the whole looking for your father thing but that was slightly different in the fact that anyone could be looking for their family. With FO4, you were married, had a child, a higher level education, etc. I made it work basically because I already knew what kind of build I wanted but maybe Chloe hated kids. She's never there for Shaun anyway. It's little things like that which take away the fun of creating your own backstory.

I mean, we even have an insight into the Vault dweller's college days when the BOS doc is asking you all those personal questions. I learned that the female PC played around in college. Wat? Why is that not something I'm allowed to create for myself? Or the bit at the beginning of how Shaun was conceived, or what type of parents the Vault Dweller had, etc. Don't get me wrong I love FO4 and play it daily but compared to TES, for example, we absolutely did not start out with a clean slate.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:40 am 
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Bethesda doesn't do family well. Judging by Fallout 3 and 4's forced backstories, it kinda doesn't work. They are no Bioware and Bioware is one of the few RPG developers that can pull off family. Dragon Age Origins, you don't spend much time with the origin and family but you do feel for them and gains insight into life as origin. E.g. Dwarven Noble gives you a taste of royalty. Dragon Age II, whilst flawed did a good job with it's siblings. Sure, it could have been better but The Hawkes did feel like a family. Bethesda? Erm..... Kinda crap. Just with family.

Fallout 3, it forces you into a predetermined backstory. 4 kinda does the same.

TES, they should never do that. It'll be a nightmare for them to handle. I mean, different cultures, different races and well, it's TES. A lot of variations and well, it won't work. Even marriage is kinda [&@%!] in TES. I mean, it's erm... well, just [&@%!] in Skyrim. Great for roleplaying but by god, it turns some characters into something differnet. I mean, Aela the Huntress becomes a house wife? Huh? Wha??? why? SHE IS A COMPANION! A WARRIOR! WARRIORS DON'T SIT AT HOME ALL DAY!

Bethesda would be best off stopping the predetermined backstory and forced family as they can't pull it off. At least, in TES and Fallout. In their new 2 IPs? It depends if they are going to do what they do best or try a new kind of open world game for them.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:07 pm 
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Actually...it makes sense that Aela would turn into a housewife. The change in behavior of spouses in Skyrim matches that of a real life. Even a warrior who has children is going to be more nurturing, caring, and concerned. With Aela it's really predictable: a hot lady who marries Skyrim's biggest hero. Of course she's going to turn into a nagging wife (been there with Svassen, my Nord warrior who wanted to put her in the ground after they had their first son). People change with marriage. That's a given.

Far as Bethesda being lame at family, I disagree. My only complaint has been the forced backstory with FO4 but what they give you is well crafted. Sure, they don't give you a choice, BUT there are details scattered throughout the dialogue that provide insight into the SS's past that's carefully crafted like a character in a book.

Most of us here prefer to make up our own backstories. Yet Bethesda DOES write good characters (the ones that matter) with thorough stories. Like Cait in FO4. Her background is heartbreaking but it shows her perseverance to survive. Bethesda has good writers, I just don't like being given a premade backstory but I'll never harp on them about their storytelling in general.

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 Post subject: Re: Family
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:16 pm 
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As a proud member of the No Mutants Allowed community, as someone whose favorite game ever is New Vegas, and whose least favorite game ever is Fallout 3, let me go on record and say that Bethesda really doesn't understand how to write a Fallout game. Their stories work in a fantasy setting but not in a post-post-apocalyptic setting. Fallout 3's story allows for very little roleplay (either side with the white knight BoS [who were never supposed to be goody-goods] or betray them at the last second despite there not being really any motivation for that other than being a genocidal [and suicidal] maniac.) Fallout 4's story is "better," but the excessive backstory ruins roleplaying opportunity.

Just give the franchise to Obsidian again. NV was amazing and showed that a TES-styled Fallout was possible. Why couldn't Bethesda just pass it off to Obsidian?

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