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aono

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To be honest, sometimes ago I came to conclusion that Tyranny's plot and world are useless to discuss. Developers definitly conciencly, thoroughly remove any way to actually have a solid position here. I believe it was kind of basic design idea, to get rid from classical option with a player character Who Shake Foundations of the World and Learning Ancient Forgotten Knowledge. Everything that a mystery will stays a mystery - at least without DLC revealing.
We don't know what is Kyros plan, because developers doesn't want us to know.
We don't know what are Spires and Oldwalls, because developers doesn't want us to know.
We don't know how Edicts works, because developers doesn't want us to know.
We don't know how Archons born, because developers doesn't want us to know.
Not because we're stupid, or dump, or something, and missed a lot info, no. This info just isn't presented in a game - by design.
Maybe some of the info in Missives, Bladen Mark tales, Sirin tales, Landry and Ebb speculations is true, but we never know.

I believe it's bad world design, INTENTIONALLY bad world design (I can't imagine how it can be oversight). So I don't really want to play this game - devs definitly wants me to play it, to make a pointless guesswork, that nobody can prove or refute on any basis but "I do/don't like it". They did a lot of juicy hints and never puts them further.
To be honest I found such approach far more insulting that any other thing, including even artifical block on one of four regions in game. I love a good story, but a story where key plot points leaves unresolved isn't good. Because...

Let me ask you a school-level question (really, I live in Russia, and it's common question in literature classes). What's Tyranny about?
In my opinion the best RPG ever made (at least yet) was Planescape: Torment, and it have a global question put into gamer's perspective - "what can change a nature of the man?" It's the central question, and game looks about it from every side, this or there, with subtopics as "relationships", "responsibility", "memory", "tabula rasa", and all that questions, and game sticking to it, makes P:T great. So it was something it's about.
Tyranny don't. I suspect it's supposed to be about "lesser evil" and famous enough "lawful in evil state" problem, but...
You see, I don't feel I'm selecting between "lesser" and "greater" evils when I'm choosing between Disfavored and Chorus after Act 1. Because I haven't real urge to solve a problem, you see? First act was great, because it's created motivation. I wanted a Conquest to be finished because Conquest part of generation, and, well, I had Kyros' Edict on my head, and yes, there was a point to chose between two evils which is more sympathetic. Ok, I chose third - and authors didn't have a decency to make it right. "Of course, we can't claim Ascension Hall just now, because if we do they will attack us; so we need to make them argue, to make them attack us, and then they will we will do anything but actually barricade in inner hall and claiming Ascension Hall". Hil-la-ri-ous. But everything after Act 1 don't even give me such level of "lesser/greater evils" problem, because I haven't something to solve I really need to take an evil.

Or take another great RPG - Fallout 2. It's about post-apocalyptical America, about world builded anew, with player character, actually, as side observer. It shows player community building, how do will America lives after Bomb, what will be problems there. Let's be honest, F2 had a formal goal ("bring GECK" and "rescue villagers"), but it wasn't that Fallout was all about.
I feel that Tyranny setting SHOULD BE GOOD, and I think I'd say it's good if I only would be allowed to actually knows more about it. Don't just tell me about some cities, put me there, if you want to make a setting-based game, right? I mean, imagine Fallout 2 game where you're locked to Arroyo, inner hall of Vault City, Clamath and Den, and everybody around speaks about NCR or Frisko, but never put you there. Hell, guys, Fallout 2 is 18 years old, released a year later after first one, and it have 19 big locations, not to mention random encounters (ahem). 19, nineteen. Tyranny have 5, right?.. and one big round room as a bonus.
And Fallout tells you what's all this is about. It tells you what's GECK about, what's Anclave about, what's Vaults about. Not as, you know, everybody tells about Vaults, but it's only speculations, and you never see one.
The most hillarious thing is you quite never see actual tyrannical Kyros' empire - because Tiers are warzone, and the only imperial place you saw is Tunon Court. And it's one room.

Or Baldurs Gate/Arcanum/Alpha Protocol/Dragon Age Origins. It was, actually, epic stories (yes, AP too) - you have a goal, you pursuing it. You need to know what's the hell happens and/or solve a problem arisen around. And that's good. Not as Mike Thorton have some actual phylosophical questions on his head, but he had a problem with framing and being hunted, so he solves it. Quite good, and we actually have answers and FINISHING A PROBLEM.
But Tyranny after Act 1 lacking global quest. I mean, well... you essentially SOMEHOW became a gofer for some faction (the one you actually should supervise and investigate, right?) or you are going to run around collecting artifacts, because a man who is an assasin whose job is to kill enemies of the state told you it's a good idea ("not to take it as an order, you know..."), and you just said "hell, what really can go wrong". I mean, of course, it's quite a natural course of action for high-leveled official in tyrannical state, right?
I mean, if you find yourself in such story, it's reasonable question "why am I doing this?"
Why Revan actually hunts Star Maps in KotOR? Because he knows what are they, he knows they're the way to great power Malak have, and he wants to get Malak ridden from this power (and, maybe, takes it himself).
Why Thorton tries to uncover the conspiracy in Alpha Protocol? Because he will be killed another way, and because he wants to know who frame him and why.
Why Grey Warden tries to defeat the Blight? Because if he don't, Blight just kills everything, including him.
Tyranny don't have such decency (again) to give you such answers. Why am I gofer for Disfavored/Chorus/rebels? I know perfectly what do THEY got - I'm solving their problems. What do I got, just theoretically? I mean, what's my profit doing so?
The anarchy path looks kinda better this side, but, REALLY... "You're going to collect artifacts. You don't know, how do they work, but they will grant you some power. No, you will not ever know how or why. No, you don't need this power for anything particular. Also you're going to activate some ancient buildings, you will not ever know who built them and why, but you will anyway. Why? Because it looks cool. Ah, else MAYBE (nobody ever will tell you for sure) it will make you an Archon, but nobody ever will tell you what it actually means but being leashed by all-powered Kyros the Overlord. And as you know from two stories about Archon you know Kyros the Overlord isn't very gentle with new Archons. Ah, yes, don't forget to deliberatly broke his Edicts (no, nobody will ever tell you how do they actually work) by legal loopholes in wording, sometimes breaking his own strict laws in process, because why not."
Khem, sorry. I'm trying to say game fails giving you real quest building your game story. The nearest to - collecting evidence against Archons - is completing passing by, you just hold alt (or it's tab?) and clicking everything, so you'll have a full bag. And as activating a Spire is just caming in and click pixels in right order, it's not feeling as great task - especially including you'll never know WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU DOING.

So I can't say what's Tyranny about. What do you think?
 
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Dzikun

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I agree. I haven't thought about it like this but i can't for the life of me figure out what Tyranny is about. I can easily tell what PoE was about so that tells me this studio can actually make a decent world if it wants to. I wonder what went wrong with Tyranny? What troubles did they have to release it so unfinished.
 

Finkmilkana

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I can only partly agree.
Leaving many things about the world a mystery is not bad design. A world where it is believable that its inhabitants do not know these things and this lack of knowledge in itself might partly be the reason they look this imposing is great and very fitting for a bronze/iron age culture.
True, we don't see Kyros realm. But who is to say that it really is a bad place? The Disfavored seem to quite like it. As the invaders home it is seem as a terrible, oppressive place by the Tiermen, who are also the only ones who actually call it evil. A bit like Xerxes Persia seemed to the Greeks.

The second part, that the game lacks focus and also somewhat fails to confer the idea of the world, I wholeheartedly agree.
The setting in the background is great, the implementation in the game fails partly because of the tiny regions and linear path.
But mostly its just that the game doesn't do anything with the world, it itself doesn't have a coherent, fleshed out theme (in addition to botching most of the "choice" part).
 

aono

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Leaving many things about the world a mystery is not bad design. A world where it is believable that its inhabitants do not know these things and this lack of knowledge in itself might partly be the reason they look this imposing is great and very fitting for a bronze/iron age culture.
I could be a great design if you have something to substitute it. If you don't give a mystic theme as a main theme of world building give anything else and don't build a game around such mystic theme. I mean, well... devs wants to make a mystery from every thing we're actually doing beyond Act 1. Give me politics, give me actual military problem, give me religion clashes... no, no. You will stuck in mystic and never get any info.
And well, we're not just "inhabitants". PC is a Fatebinder, that makes him on third position in Empire (Tunon speaks for Kyros, Fatebinder speaks for Tunon), we actually activating Spires and removing Edicts, and our vassals ACTUALLY MAKING ARTIFACTS; we are Archons in the end, for gods sake!

True, we don't see Kyros realm. But who is to say that it really is a bad place? The Disfavored seem to quite like it.
Well, that's the problem - nobody can say it's bad or good place, we can't really have an opinion. We NEED to have an opinion if we want to be really motivated in Rebel path (because, well, this question arised quite often - what's better, opressive Kyros' Law or glorious anarchy of Tiers who fights each other all the time), but we CAN'T.
So world of Tyranny isn't what game about, and leaving as a mystery, well, everything what player do... well, it's bad.
 
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Finkmilkana

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And well, we're not just "inhabitants". PC is a Fatebinder, that makes him on third position in Empire (Tunon speaks for Kyros, Fatebinder speaks for Tunon), we actually activating Spires and removing Edicts, and our vassals ACTUALLY MAKING ARTIFACTS; we are Archons in the end, for gods sake!
That doesn't mean we need to know how things work or what they are. Think Warhammer 40k, the Imperium uses and even builds incredible complicated things, but even the highest adeptus mechanicus priests (simplified speaking the mechanics and 'scientists') don't know how they work. The technical stuff has become more of a religion, yet that in turn sometimes gives it powers it should not have according how to how it actually works.
Artifacts and Edicts etc. in Tyranny seem to work in a similar fashion: Knowing what exactly they are and how they work might even make them not work anymore. Believe is power.

Well, that's the problem - nobody can say it's bad or good place, we can't really have an opinion. We NEED to have an opinion if we want to be really motivated in Rebel path (because, well, this question arises quite often - what's better, oppressive Kyros' Law or glorious anarchy of Tiers who fights each other all the time), but we CAN'T.
So world of Tyranny isn't what game about, and leaving as a mystery, well, everything what player do... well, it's bad.
Well, for the rebels it doesn't matter how the realm is to its inhabitants, they are invading and want to eradicate local customs and traditions. That's what made all the "evil" empires in our history evil for the people who fought against them (Roman Empire, Persian Empire, Ottoman Empire, British Empire etc.). Often, the people inside those 'evil' empires were better of than their counterparts in the "free world" around it, yet what they did is still considered wrong today and was fought against by those they conquered.
In the end the individual in Kyros realm is probably better off than in the tiers, for the cost of identity and freedom. Become a roman citizen who might has to serve in the military/pay taxes/serve the emperor, but gets "civilization" and "prosperity" or stay a true Germanic Tribesman and preserve your identity with all the small scale waring it entails.
The character on the other hand doesn't really have a reason to rebel early unless he really oposses how the armies treat locals (which would be strange, as he did fully support that in the conquest) or believes that the archons went to far and by working with the rebels he can get them into peacefully surrendering (after the archons are dead). A path which the game doesn't really seem to support...

But we are arguing technicalities of argumentation, as I said I fully agree that the game as is sorely lacks a theme. But it's the theme of the game, the motivation of the character (especially for going separatist early) and the presentation of the world's conflicts in game that are lacking, not any fundamental problem with the world in the backround.
 
Last edited:

aono

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Think Warhammer 40k, the Imperium uses and even builds incredible complicated things, but even the highest adeptus mechanicus priests (simplified speaking the mechanics and 'scientists') don't know how they work.
Of course - and very little part of Wh40K narrative build on ultratech - and if it does (let's say first Gaunt story), we have points how it's work. Even if Iron Men in that stroy is just a McGuffin for story about Imperial military politics.
That's why I do believe there is bad world design in Tyranny - we know a lot of glimpses and patches, but nothing looks, well, coherent. Tiersman don't know what Kyros Empire is, but player character, actually, should now, and if somebody wants to play narrative about meeting "good' Tiersman who have identity and freedom (also no, being in Kyros Empire don't require to lose identity - Northmen actually have a great deal of it, and not everybody in Kyros realm is northmen) and "evil" Kyros Empire, he should show both of them.

Let me put it such way - world building for game/book is good not when you can infodump a player with a ton of random facts you invented; world building is good when it's play well and fit with narrative OR when world building becomes narrative, such in Fallout 2.
And Tyranny fails hard here.
 

Finkmilkana

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I doesn't matter if becoming part of the empire really means loosing your identitiy, but it is clearly the tiersmans opinion. I remember rebels at multiple points even telling this to my face in the disfavored route when I offered them to solve some problems peacefully.
And to be fair, things like their gender specific inheritance laws, which play a big part in how their society looks, would be lost under Kyros law (which enforces complete gender equality).
 

aono

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And to be fair, things like their gender specific inheritance laws, which play a big part in how their society looks, would be lost under Kyros law (which enforces complete gender equality).
That's actually is not true also. We don't really know how inheritance in Kyros Empire works. What is it - primogeniture? Seniority? "Everything returning to state"? Ultimogeniture? Juridical correct wills (and Court session if no such will existed)?
 

Finkmilkana

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The game very clearly states that the genders are to be treated the same in any and all matters. So while we might not know how it works, we can be sure that it doesn't allow any gender discrimination.
 

aono

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So while we might not know how it works, we can be sure that it doesn't allow any gender discrimination.
That's exactly what I mean - WE DON'T KNOW HOW IT WORKS.
We know how it works in Tiers, sure, and it's kinda of a point for Tiersmen, as you highlighted - but we never know how is it works in Kyros' Empire, we don't know what is normal for your own character.
 

Wissenschaft

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To me Tyranny is like a choose your own adventure story. The game explores what exactly is evil. Instead of force feeding to you who the bad guys are like a tradition RPG, this game just drops you into the setting and lets you draw your own conclusions. In the end, the game is what you make of it. It suffers from limited dialogue options so some people will hate it for that while others will just use their imagination to fill in the blanks. I fall in the former, nothing in the game is so jarring that I can't hand wave it away.

For example, the rebel path sometimes forces you to say your rebelling against kyros without having the option to say your forcing people to bow to you in the name of kyros law. I just hand wave that away since at the same time theres still times where the game gives you the chance to say that.
 

aono

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I fall in the former, nothing in the game is so jarring that I can't hand wave it away.
I know I'm kinda traditional, but if you need to do some hand-waving to pass through some writing, it's exactly what doing writing bad.
Also, well, about force feeding who is bad... it sounded nice in 1998... oh no, even then doing some obvious evil guys who eats girls and rape kittens was kind of bad style.

I mean, well, I know a game that is about choosing my own adventure story - it's TES after Daggerfall (included). It's the game where you have an open world, kind of far-fetched goal and actually no rail-roading between being released and end credits. Tyranny gives me four different stories, and in all of them I can't really see "exploring the nature of evil". Can you please show me an example?
 

Wissenschaft

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Meh, why bother? I doubt anything I write will change your mind. You don't like the game, nothing wrong with that.
 

Pr3tender

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Tyranny, is literally and figuratively, a game about morally questionable characters, trying to create and control a narrative that makes them be regarded as political agents whom cannot be discarded or disregarded due to the role they have in the national narrative. Be it people whom wish to be regarded with fear, with admiration, with respect, with curiosity, they seek to attain a role which makes them irreplacable in the eyes of the public and therefore, in the eyes of their superiors.

You are a rival not just for literal influence, you are a rival for the political stage. All the players on this stage receive spotlight, but only few can remain the main characters of the play. If you take spotlight from others, you will make them seem irrelevant. If you give spotlight to others, you make yourself irrelevant and vulnerable for assassination. Not all participants of the play are shrewd, but all those who receive and can hold on to spotlight are shrewd and do not take decisions lightly, even if it appears that they are.

In other words. Tyranny is literally about playing a roleplayer among roleplayers. All your actions, despite their real effects, are part of a bigger charade that you are powerful. And if your charade holds up, it becomes the truth. The better and more complete the lie, the better your end-position. Truths and lies in this game are seperated only by which can be questioned and which cannot be questioned. If you cannot challenge someone's lie, then that lie is the truth and if someone cannot defend the truth, it may as well be a lie. The truth is not what is important; what you want is the truth.

TL:DR; In Tyranny, you're not a criminal if there's nobody to catch you and you are a criminal if you can't defend yourself if they do. If nobody noteworthy cares, if nobody noteworthy knows, if nobody noteworthy objects, it's legal. If someone noteworthy cares, if someone noteworthy knows, if someone noteworthy objects, it's illegal. Even if the truth says otherwise. The truth is your bitch.
 

aono

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I'd say it's good. I'd say a game that really builded on such basis is game really worth to actually play and replay and replay again.
I played such games.
Nobody really cares about crimes when there is nobody to live and tell about them in Fallout 2. You can just take your gun and shoot everything you want, and if your gunning is good, well. It's just one example, sure, there are more.

In Tyranny every faction magically knows what did you do, no matter if somebody lives to tell or not.
In Tyranny your actions became legal or illegal because scenarist, not some character will.
In Tyranny the most powerful character is a character who is absolutely beyond any spotlight. We don't even know is ze male or woman.
In Tyranny when I'm killing a criminal who is a criminal my character became put in a situation when nobody important can oppose it, I'm counted as somebody who is bad. And if I killed a criminal who is not a criminal, I can't defend my position, and nobody defend opposing position.

In Tyranny there is truth. It's scenario. There is no truth in Fallout 2 (and nobody tries put such as a focus). There is no real truth in Daggerfall. Hell, there is only one truth in Planescape: Torment, and this truth is "torment can change the nature of the man".
They are not about lacking of truth, actually, so they haven't actually make player to play with it, and it' ok.
But if Tyranny is about it, why isn't player actually allowed to put his agenda here?
 

Pr3tender

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There's no meter that says what you do is wrong. There's just Wrath and Favor. Those meters just measure your renown in a faction, good or bad. If you killed Deya in Lethian's Crossing, you gain Wrath with Lethian's Crossing not because people are angry with you (the quest text says otherwise, but there was clearly some confusion by the creators there), but because they now know that you will be violent towards them if they cross you.

The game isn't always very well written in that regard, I fully concur, Aono, but I disagree that the nature of the game's mechanics enforce the truth of your crimes coming to light. It's not so inherent a flaw. It's just the confusing way that the quest text is written. Clearly, there was internal confusion in the team regarding what Wrath, Favor, Fear and Loyalty were intended to be. Clearly, a lot of designers thought that Wrath is just the opposite of Favor, so they should write gains in Wrath as disfavorable.

It's the writing that's confused, but I think that, on a grand scale, I think the phrase "it's not a crime if you're not caught" still holds in this game. You gain wrath and favor based on how news of your involvement spreads. If you go into the forest with someone and only you come out, connections will be made and rumors will be spread, whether they are truthful or not.

Hell, that's how I see the conflict between me and the Archons atm for becoming the liege of the Vendrien Guard. The writing is sometimes confused and calls me a rebel, but ignoring the writing errors (god this sounds weird), the overall message that I get is that I have the blessing of Tunon and Kyros to continue what I'm doing, meaning that I'm not, in fact, a rebel.

So... Yeah. Confused writing. Diamond in the rough business.
 

aono

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I think the phrase "it's not a crime if you're not caught" still holds in this game. You gain wrath and favor based on how news of your involvement spreads.
But it isn't true. You gain wrath and favor instantly, and you gain a portion every time you kill somebody from a faction.
You see, my problem is... well. It's simpliest thing in the world just to say "ok, it's bad writing/game design", and really I believe it's bad writing and game design.
Why? because no matter what is a point of the game, no matter what is game about, writing and game design do work badly to emphasis it. You can surely write a plot to every mistake, hell, people write plots into Spore and SimCity, because it's natural way human mind working.
But writing and game design should highlight a main topic, not shadow it.
 

Pr3tender

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Completely agreed. I can see that there was a direction the game was going that it goes back on in unexpected places. Not all heads are facing the same direction. Not all game design is doing it. Not all the writing is doing it.

It is very clearly not doing exactly what the main topic was about on both fronts, but it clearly has a main topic.
 

aono

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It is very clearly not doing exactly what the main topic was about on both fronts, but it clearly has a main topic.
I'm not so sure. I believe it's actually have a lot of different "main" topics without trying to create one holistic thing.
 

Pr3tender

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I disagree. I think they just failed at creating that one holistic thing. I think that they had an internal misunderstanding of what Tyranny was communicating through their mechanics and storytelling.