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AtariAge welcomes Philip Price, creator/coder of 'Alternate reality'

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This sounds like if your character is surprised then there is no alignment penalty for Trick, Charm, Attack or Lunge, even if a good or neutral creature?

 

Is this the same for the 8-bit Atari, or is this another translation mutation of the original?

 

This is from the Atari 8-bit version:

 

When you get an encounter, the games does this:

check monster subtype flags for soundtrack to play

4802 lda() D0 monster subtype and flags

 

4804 anda 40

4806 beq 4810 do good monster song

 

do evil monster song

4808 lda 02

480A sta() 891C current soundtrack playing shadow I think

480D jmp 4815

4815 lda() 891C current soundtrack playing shadow I think

4818 sta() BFA0 current soundtrack playing

[0=hardwind

1=rain

2=badmonster

3=smithyhammer

4=arenasong

5=arenafighting

6=secretdoor

7=goodmonster

8=door]

481B jsr 8773 play selected soundtrack using index in [bfa0]

 

From the above, if bit 6 of the monster subtype byte is clear, the 'good' music is played.

 

After you charm or trick a monster, the game does this:

calculate alignment change using monster alignment and hostility level

F89 lda() D0 monster subtype and flags

F8B anda 40

calculate alignment change [it actually can go both ways]

F8D ora() 13F6 monster hostility

[0=none

1=fail karma or level check or monster attack character

2=character attack

3=monster hit for >= half remaining hit points]

 

F90 beq FA4 add 2 or 3 to evilness depending on monster alignment

F92 eora 40

F94 bne FA3

F96 lda() D20A [write] reset serial status flags

(read) random number

 

F99 bne FA3

F9B lda() 896E evilness

 

F9E beq FA3

FA0 dec() 896E evilness

 

FA3 rts

 

So, the only way to become more evil is if the game played the good music

and the monster was not hostile when you killed it.

 

Also from this, if the monster did NOT play the good music and was not hostile

when you killed it, you have a 1/256 chance of becoming less evil.

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This is from the Atari 8-bit version:

 

...

 

So, the only way to become more evil is if the game played the good music

and the monster was not hostile when you killed it.

 

Also from this, if the monster did NOT play the good music and was not hostile

when you killed it, you have a 1/256 chance of becoming less evil.

 

Hmm,

 

Not sure if that interpretation is 100% correct (but it is about 30 years since I looked at object or source of my game).

I know one of the things I was strongly trying to do in AR was to have freedom of choice, free will. At the time I saw I could have ways for people to go evil (i.e. 'sin'), that was done by acts such as attacking something good without provocation (self defense was not evil). Trick and charming was evil only because it was done in order to be able to put a knife in the gut of the person deceived or charmed, by getting them to trust you and then betraying that trust. So it was evil.

 

But my biggest problems was how can someone be 'good'. Of course there are 'good'/ unselfish deeds (not enough of them possible in the city, I should have had more). But if a deed is done only because it will benefit oneself by making one look good. That is really evil. But it is hard to measure quantitatively the intent of the gamer. Same with forgiveness. I really wanted a way for characters to be forgiven (in dungeon there was a way, but I actually did not ask for that in, but it is probably better than no way but time as I had in the City). But forgiveness of past evil really is based on the heart and not the number of good works, or one's words, or even actions(when done without the right motive). So I had not by the time I wrote the city a way to see into the heart, and therefore did not put in a good balance to all the things that would cause one to be evil.

 

Phil

(Yes, If I wrote a game today that needed to understand player('character') motive, I would a lot of complexity unseen by the player to look into the heart, plus there is always the 'fool me once' method of reaction)

 

I always wanted free will and not force people to be good (or evil), but perceive evil was always harder than perceive good (since good acts can just be a evil deception to gain trust for the moment)

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Not sure if that interpretation is 100% correct (but it is about 30 years since I looked at object or source of my game).

 

You're right, it wasn't 100% correct. This function is called when you trick, charm, attack, lunge, or sneak attack, not on monster death. In the case of sneak attack it is called twice. I'm not sure about trick or charm, but once you try to attack, a 'character attacked' flag is set and you can no longer gain or lose karma on that monster. Also there is a roll against your and the monster's 'karma' (might be the evilness level) and if the roll fails, the monster goes hostile. Once that happens you can also no longer gain or lose evilness.

 

From the code above if I'm interpreting it correctly, 0x13F6 has to be 0 in order to gain or lose karma.

 

0x13F6 gets set to 2 if you attack, lunge, or sneak attack. It get set to 1 if the roll for the 'karma check' fails and the monster becomes hostile.

 

I'm not sure what happens to the hostility or attack flag when you disengage, but from my experience playing the game, the monster stays hostile I think... so attempting to charm or trick after you've been fighting probably doesn't have affect your evilness level.

 

Since the attack, lunge, and sneak attack routines call the same function as the charm and trick routines, and since I routinely charm and trick non good things in the game with no apparent negative consequences, I'm thinking it's only evil to try to charm or trick when the good music plays and the monster did not attack you first, and you did not attack the monster. Otherwise, it looks like you actually have a 1/256 chance to become less evil from attempting to trick or charm non good creatures before the first attack.

 

Anyone want to test this? All you have to do is watch location 896E using the emulator.

Edited by Jim Norris
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Anyone seen the prices for Alternate Reality stuff on eBay??

 

There's a sealed Dungeons for $400 and a map for almost CA$400.

 

There's a load of cu*ts trying to make stupid money out of the game's cult following.

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Nice idea there JP, only thing is....most of the people that would probably use Kickstarter or croiwd funding weren't probably around when AR smelt minty fresh and since these people are too sodding lazy to use internet reseach properly....there's preobably about one in millions of chances that someone from kickstarter/crowd funding would have actually know or have heard of Philip Price (or his partner in crime) and that one person is either an AA user or dead into classic/retro gaming

 

I am sure that everyone here would financially support Phil and Gary's attempt at rebooting this icon of the classic/retro era of gaming

 

With the successful funding of remakes or sequels to retro games like Wasteland, Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest (Two Guys Spaceventure), Ultima (Shroud of the Avatar), Wing Commander (Star Citizen), Frontier Elite, and others, it does seem that there is considerable interest in the early generations of computer games. The indie game Legend of Grimrock (inspired by Dungeon Master), sold over 600,000 copies on Steam and GOG as of last year. Maybe there is an audience that would gladly receive this game too.

 

If there is ever a Kickstarter for an Alternate Reality remake by Mr. Price, I'll show my support by pledging $100

 

Aloha

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With the successful funding of remakes or sequels to retro games like Wasteland, Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest (Two Guys Spaceventure), Ultima (Shroud of the Avatar), Wing Commander (Star Citizen), Frontier Elite, and others, it does seem that there is considerable interest in the early generations of computer games. The indie game Legend of Grimrock (inspired by Dungeon Master), sold over 600,000 copies on Steam and GOG as of last year. Maybe there is an audience that would gladly receive this game too.

 

If there is ever a Kickstarter for an Alternate Reality remake by Mr. Price, I'll show my support by pledging $100

 

Aloha

 

And I'll write it :P

 

Seriously, though, I think there is a lot of scope in a remake. Personally what I'd like to see is an attempt to create a dynamic, living, city and not the stale and sterile (lazy) attempts that are the hallmarks of the majority of RPG games. The last Elder Scrolls game I played was Oblivion but I wasn't impressed by it.

 

Part of AR's appeal was that some work had gone into making it a living city, even on hardware that was highly limited compared with even the phones we have today. Stores shut and opened at certain times, for instance.

 

The problem with RPGs today is that they lack atmosphere. That's why I have gone off them. I was a big RPG fan in the 8-bit and 16-bit days. NPCs tend to walk around aimlessly, are static or are restricted to just certain areas of the game world. There is so much that could be done. An AR remake would be perfect for showing how it could be done.

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What I would like, is for the people that makes games like Skyrim to first be forced to sit down and play games like Alternate Reality from start to finish. I don't get the sense that most modern game designers ever played or loved the genre defining games.

 

Cheers

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Part of the problem with creating atmosphere is that it often causes inconvenience for the player. Shops that close certain hours of the game day probably frustrate more players than it impresses. Convenience and playability take precedence over realism in the modern game landscape. Games with big budgets have to appeal to a mass market or they will never recoup the investment. The Kickstarter projects and indie developers are creating a bit of a gaming renaissance because they aren't beholden to the mass market the way the big players are. Something like Alternate Reality is in a bit of a pickle. To compete favorably technologically with the likes of Skyrim would take huge resources but the favoring of realism over convenience caters to a very niche audience. I'd rather see a small to medium budget modern Alternate Reality remain true to it's gameplay roots than sacrifice atmosphere for the sake of big budget superior graphics.

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To me, the whole point of an RPG is that you have to believe you are there. People have to sleep at some point and the Medieval worlds in which most of these games are set won't have a 24/7 wallmart. In AR, although it could be frustrating to try to reach a shop only to find it closed, after a while you learned which ones were open and at what time. This added to the adventuring. AR: The City was pretty much all about exploring the city and learning as much as you could about it.

 

An atmospheric city shouldn't be too much of a technical challenge. Games like Skyrim are big budget because of their size. Once the engine's been developed, there shouldn't be a need for vast software development teams and most of the project is then handed over to content creators to build up the game world.

 

For example, Unreal Engine has a very nice visual scripting tool called Kismet which can be used to greatly reduce the need for additional coding in the game. Unity has a couple of very good visual scripting plugins that do pretty much the same thing. It's become a standard feature for game engines.

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One solution that I hope more RPG makers pursue is something akin to "hardcore mode" in Fallout New Vegas.

In that mode there were several game play tweaks including your character acquiring thirst, hunger and fatigue requiring eating drinking and sleeping to survive. The changes weren't massive but it was enough to grant some extra atmosphere and peril to the environments.

 

I would like to see big budget fantasy role playing games offer official support for a "realism mode" that features closing shops, more attention to maintaining your character's health, diseases, some extra randomness like a shop owner isn't available because they were mugged the night before etc.

 

Make the game more immersive for the deep RPG fans, yet offer softer modes to draw the support of casual gamers. It seems a balance could be struck.

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Phil, how do you feel about the Kickstarter idea?

 

Making games has not been financially rewarding for you in the past and it looks like there might be a legal fight.

 

In addition, you have a fiance. Game programming is very time intensive and could cause some work versus personal life balance issues.

 

Also, wouldn't Gary Gilbertstein have to be involved too or at least give his permission? I wonder how he'd feel about giving games another try.

 

 

I just had a thought... what if you switched roles and instead of being the programmer, you were the game company, where you did the math for the team of programmers working under you?

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To me, the whole point of an RPG is that you have to believe you are there. People have to sleep at some point and the Medieval worlds in which most of these games are set won't have a 24/7 wallmart. In AR, although it could be frustrating to try to reach a shop only to find it closed, after a while you learned which ones were open and at what time.

 

In Skyrim's defense, I believe it has that same game mechanic. If you go to a shop in the middle of the night it will be closed and the door will be locked.

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One solution that I hope more RPG makers pursue is something akin to "hardcore mode" in Fallout New Vegas.

In that mode there were several game play tweaks including your character acquiring thirst, hunger and fatigue requiring eating drinking and sleeping to survive. The changes weren't massive but it was enough to grant some extra atmosphere and peril to the environments.

 

I would like to see big budget fantasy role playing games offer official support for a "realism mode" that features closing shops, more attention to maintaining your character's health, diseases, some extra randomness like a shop owner isn't available because they were mugged the night before etc.

 

Make the game more immersive for the deep RPG fans, yet offer softer modes to draw the support of casual gamers. It seems a balance could be struck.

 

I really dislike games with multiple "difficulty" levels or multiple rule sets. When someone says they accomplished something in the game it really is meaningless unless you know the difficulty level or rule set used. But often this critical bit of information is disregarded as people simply enjoy saying, "I won the game." I think having multiple difficulty levels or sets of rules for the same game really diminishes the game itself as a result of human nature seeking the easiest path. When a game offers easier difficulty levels or rules most people cannot resist taking advantage of them, even when a more difficult level would ultimately offer them a more rewarding experience and more fun in the long run. People naturally choose easy over challenging, even when the main point of a game is supposed to be a challenge; a game with no challenge is not really a game. As a result of difficulty levels, people consciously take advantage of them as a shortcut to learning how to play or challenging themselves. However, unconsciously they are wearing out their enjoyment and appreciation of the very game they choose to play. Most will never bother to play a game on its most challenging level when easier ones exist, even when the easier level of gameplay results in players eventually becoming bored with the game sooner. Game companies in it for the money also like difficulty levels and cheats, because if the longevity of the game is reduced, players will be ready to purchase the next game sooner. In this sense, game companies that use difficulty levels really are taking advantage of the natural desire of people to choose less of a challenge, even when, ironically, seeking a challenge.

 

Cheat codes are a similar con.

Edited by Xebec's Demise

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I really dislike games with multiple "difficulty" levels or multiple rule sets. When someone says they accomplished something in the game it really is meaningless unless you know the difficulty level or rule set used. But often this critical bit of information is disregarded as people simply enjoy saying, "I won the game." I think having multiple difficulty levels or sets of rules for the same game really diminishes the game itself as a result of human nature seeking the easiest path. When a game offers easier difficulty levels or rules most people cannot resist taking advantage of them, even when a more difficult level would ultimately offer them a more rewarding experience and more fun in the long run. People naturally choose easy over challenging, even when the main point of a game is supposed to be a challenge; a game with no challenge is not really a game. As a result of difficulty levels, people consciously take advantage of them as a shortcut to learning how to play or challenging themselves. However, unconsciously they are wearing out their enjoyment and appreciation of the very game they choose to play. Most will never bother to play a game on its most challenging level when easier ones exist, even when the easier level of gameplay results in players eventually becoming bored with the game sooner. Game companies in it for the money also like difficulty levels and cheats, because if the longevity of the game is reduced, players will be ready to purchase the next game sooner. In this sense, game companies that use difficulty levels really are taking advantage of the natural desire of people to choose less of a challenge, even when, ironically, seeking a challenge.

 

Cheat codes are a similar con.

Absolutely. If you need to cheat at a game, it's not worth playing. Cheat codes were usually created for testers but left in by lazy coders.

 

I'm not against difficulty settings for certain games. Games like FIFA or F1 need them or players are just going to get frustrated. I'm not so sure that story-driven games, like CoD single player, need them or if it helps. I always play story-driven games at their hardest level because the game length is finite and they're usually pretty short. So if I'm buying a game it makes no sense to shell out £40+ for a game I can complete in a couple of days.

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Cheat codes were usually created for testers but left in by lazy coders.

 

This may have been true, early in the evolution of game development. Now, however, all of the literature concerning game design and development, as well as the prevailing trend, advocates for the inclusion of "cheat" mechanics.

 

 

If you need to cheat at a game, it's not worth playing.

 

For games of skill - shooters, fighters, platformers - I fully agree with you. If you have to cheat, you've missed the point. But for some games, RPG's in particular, not so much. In past years, I loved grinding out XP and leveling, farming resources and getting gold, etc. In fact, I still do, but I don't have the kind of time I once did. Still, I want to experience the story of the RPG. Cheats are a very convenient way to "fast forward" the experience, while still leaving it interactive, and give me access to the story. I played Skyrim this way. I "godded up" my character, maxed out gold and armor, and took the guided tour. I don't claim any accomplishment, but I did get to enjoy a truly excellent storyline, while limiting the real-life time commitment I had to make to do so.

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I played Skyrim this way. I "godded up" my character, maxed out gold and armor, and took the guided tour. I don't claim any accomplishment, but I did get to enjoy a truly excellent storyline, while limiting the real-life time commitment I had to make to do so.

 

I heard Skyrim's world changes. Rivers wander. Trees grow? That sort of thing. I was wondering what that was like.

 

If I ever get a better job so I can afford it, I hope to play it someday.

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I heard Skyrim's world changes. Rivers wander. Trees grow? That sort of thing. I was wondering what that was like.

 

If I ever get a better job so I can afford it, I hope to play it someday.

I was tempted to buy it the other day. Gone down to £25 but I've preordered FIFA (I NEVER preorder games, so this is a first).

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I must say I read the last couple of posts with interest. I agree with what was said: the RPGs these days are plain dumb (well I still play them LOL), the big bugdets need to attract the masses to earn the profit for the big developer companies etc etc. There is one significant problem with the indie developers thou - it takes time and effort. What is usually done by a large team has to be done by an individual. Surely, you can take shortcuts (as mentioned), but it still takes time. I think only a percentage of the indie projects gets through.

 

Still, I must say I'm surprised that AR never really had a modern remake, other than the Acrin's one. I mean c'mon... AR deserves one. Maybe now that Philip Price spoke, hopefully, more people will be attracted to this forum and AR will become more popular among the oldtimers. People like Tickled_Pink generously offered to contribute (or even write it by himself). We will have a remake, sooner or later. :)

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I must say I read the last couple of posts with interest. I agree with what was said: the RPGs these days are plain dumb (well I still play them LOL), the big bugdets need to attract the masses to earn the profit for the big developer companies etc etc. There is one significant problem with the indie developers thou - it takes time and effort. What is usually done by a large team has to be done by an individual. Surely, you can take shortcuts (as mentioned), but it still takes time. I think only a percentage of the indie projects gets through.

 

Still, I must say I'm surprised that AR never really had a modern remake, other than the Acrin's one. I mean c'mon... AR deserves one. Maybe now that Philip Price spoke, hopefully, more people will be attracted to this forum and AR will become more popular among the oldtimers. People like Tickled_Pink generously offered to contribute (or even write it by himself). We will have a remake, sooner or later. :)

I suppose it's like you said ... time and money. Back when Monolith were supposed to be doing ARO, there weren't the cross-platform tools you have today. Everything was done in C++ on the PC. Now you have tools like Unity and even AAA engines, like Unreal 3 and CryEngine are available to Indies. It reduces the number of people actually required to develop a decent game, even though games tend to be bigger and have a lot more content now than they would have had 15 years ago. But it still takes time and still takes money to complete a project of this scale.

 

AR doesn't look like it's been as popular on other systems as it was on the A8. Gamers on other systems seem to hold games like the Ultima series, Bard's Tale and Dungeon Master in higher esteem. Reviews were originally mixed on other platforms as well. It does seem that only A8 users seem to see it for what it is. I wonder why that is? I was personally never a big fan of the Ultima games, although I did play Ultima II quite extensively. Again, I played Bard's Tale and Dungeon Master quite a bit on the ST. Of all these games, only Dungeon Master conveys a similar experience to AR of actually 'being there'.

 

I'm going to have to beg my wife to let me connect more wires to the TV so I can hook up an A8 and ST again to play some of the old RPGs.

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I suppose it's like you said ... time and money. Back when Monolith were supposed to be doing ARO, there weren't the cross-platform tools you have today. Everything was done in C++ on the PC. Now you have tools like Unity and even AAA engines, like Unreal 3 and CryEngine are available to Indies. It reduces the number of people actually required to develop a decent game, even though games tend to be bigger and have a lot more content now than they would have had 15 years ago. But it still takes time and still takes money to complete a project of this scale.

 

AR doesn't look like it's been as popular on other systems as it was on the A8. Gamers on other systems seem to hold games like the Ultima series, Bard's Tale and Dungeon Master in higher esteem. Reviews were originally mixed on other platforms as well. It does seem that only A8 users seem to see it for what it is. I wonder why that is? I was personally never a big fan of the Ultima games, although I did play Ultima II quite extensively. Again, I played Bard's Tale and Dungeon Master quite a bit on the ST. Of all these games, only Dungeon Master conveys a similar experience to AR of actually 'being there'.

 

I'm going to have to beg my wife to let me connect more wires to the TV so I can hook up an A8 and ST again to play some of the old RPGs.

 

I must have spent literally hundreds of hours over the years on my AR project to get it to its current state and there's still a lot to complete. I feel I have learnt a lot about putting together an RPG sized project and programming in the process but that learning has all taken extra time. There have been quite a few people interested in recreating AR in some form but I think once they look at the practicalities of where to start and try to put something together the project tends to stall. I started by creating a simple overhead map view of the Dungeon map using map data that Ken Jordan posted many years back. I was also lucky to get some great help from Jim Norris, Brian Herlihy and Kroah who provided a lot of information and data which I would have struggled to work out for myself.

 

As for AR's popularity on other platforms I first played The Dungeon on my Commodore 64 after reading a positive review in Zzap! 64. They also had some follow up articles with Datasoft following Zzap's not so favourable review of the C64 City conversion. These articles (which didn't include Philip or any of the Dungeon programmers) had also increased my interest in AR. Other than that I can't remember seeing any other reviews of the Dungeon in the magazines I read (in the UK). The City still seems quite popular on the Amiga and ST from what I've seen on other forums.

 

Just bought my first old computer from eBay (a C64) and I've been watching the other computers too. A 16K Atari 800 with some faults sold for £71! The old machines are maybe so popular because people want to recapture the feelings they had using them or playing the great 8bit and 16bit games like AR, Ultima 4 or Elite. It's amazing how the programmers managed to cram whole worlds and universes into those 8bit machines.

 

Good luck with getting those computers hooked up :)

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Probably because Acrins did it from the heart, while the other people(i.e. the ones with an IOS version of the game now) are just trying to see how quickly they can suck people's money from retro games (and how many true copyright owners have the time, documents, and resources to stop him/them)

 

Phil

 

It's funny actually - I tried for a long time to convince Acrin to put his work on steam greenlight or kickstarter to fund his project. He's obviously actually losing a lot of money in his labour of love. That is how much some people love this game and how much it influenced and continues to influence gamers and developers.

 

I offered to pay the fees to put it up on steam (as a free game) and he wouldn't even do that without your ok - he is as respectful as one can get. Just thought you should know and I'm quite glad you approve.

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Phil,

 

Is AR The City the first game featuring a character immune system? Once a character is infected with Brown Mold disease does their chance of being infected again drop? Do characters develop resistance or tolerance to diseases and inebriation?

 

Jim Norris posted this in the competition thread:

Looking at the monster stats I'm tempted to dig into the disassembly more...
I see there is a 100% chance of being infected the first time brown mold hits you. After that, the chance drops to 1% I think.
Is that for the life of the character? Or for all characters? Or until you enter an establishment? Or just until the fight is over?
Looks like it takes affect immediately.

 

 

Edited by Xebec's Demise

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We will have a remake, sooner or later. :)

I'm not sure I want a remake. Maybe some updated graphics like Acrin1 added are nice but I still play his version with original style tiles. What I would like to see is a community pick up the torch and extend what Acrin has done (Palace, Arena, etc.) and perhaps mod to make the world even more alive.

 

Personally I think a few of the modern games are at least pointed in the right direction, like Fallout and Elder Scrolls - not perfect but has the right pieces of a "living world". Of course both have old gaming roots which never hurts.

And FYI here is another AR remake for Skyrim that never got off the ground: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=74437882

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