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Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?


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Lilith Lilith

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 06:01 AM #36 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

Also, a lot of older RPGs let melee-based characters make a large number of attack rolls per round at high levels, which smoothed out the randomness a bit. Modern RPGs (western ones, at least) have largely decided that the image of your fighter making five or ten attacks per round is too silly for them, so everything gets staked on one or maybe two rolls, with the results that we see. (The fear of being seen as silly is, I think, one of the more unfortunate trends in current game design in general, especially since it tends to produce results that are just as silly but in less interesting ways, but don't get me started on that.)

Pliant Giant Pliant Giant

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 11:01 AM #37 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

Huh.  I did not have that experience with either of the Eschalon games I played (the first two) -- I don't remember any difficulty maintaining high hit rates.  I did research my stat allocation thoroughly, and I made extensive use of the game's buffs, which were close to Exile Bless level strong, IIRC.  I don't think "big bumbling tank" is the only option, even before you consider magic-based builds.

IMO, Eschalon did some things very well (like its vibrant color palette) but other things were serious problems.  Movement is painfully slow, to the point that I find any build that doesn't involve learning the Portal spell completely unplayable.  And, yes, the automapping skill requirement is dumb.  I think the skill system in general is the cause of a lot of Eschalon's imbalances, along with the irreplaceability of its spells.

View Postgoogoogjoob, on 02 January 2017 - 05:20 AM, said:

Anyway, I guess you could say Eschalon tries to accurately hark back to the late 80s/early 90s of CRPG design... but you could say, perhaps equally validly, that CRPGs are not made like that any longer for a reason.
This is quite an extreme statement to make on the forum of a company that deliberately makes CRPGs like that ;)  Seriously, though, if Eschalon had been released in the late 80's or early 90's, I don't think it would have risen to the top its genre even then.  I don't mean to attack the game, which I enjoyed, but it has serious balance and game flow issues.  Some games from that older era did, too, of course; but indicting the genre based on a single, seriously deficient member does not seem fair.
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Randomizer Randomizer

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 11:09 AM #38 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

Eschalon did fix some exploits in the later games, but crossing the game maps was never fast between quick travel and portal points.

To hit had the same problems as in Spiderweb games, if you didn't allocate points properly when leveling up, you could easily drop your to hit rate.

It's major problem was lack of content. Too many places that were empty or almost empty.
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Posted 02 January 2017 - 11:28 AM #39 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

View PostScylacagetis, on 02 January 2017 - 11:01 AM, said:

This is quite an extreme statement to make on the forum of a company that deliberately makes CRPGs like that ;)  Seriously, though, if Eschalon had been released in the late 80's or early 90's, I don't think it would have risen to the top its genre even then.  I don't mean to attack the game, which I enjoyed, but it has serious balance and game flow issues.  Some games from that older era did, too, of course; but indicting the genre based on a single, seriously deficient member does not seem fair.

I don't necessarily mean everything about CRPGs made at that time were bad... I just mean that there are certain features which developers tend to no longer use because they're not very fun (mazes), are frustrating for the user (excessive inventory juggling), or never really had much point in the first place (hunger/thirst systems, at least in non-survival-oriented RPGs). Even the best games of the era, while still good, usually fall prey to what would today be considered atrocious design, and I'm not sure most players enjoyed these things even at the time: they were just included in games because that was part of the genre, and inertia is powerful.

Spiderweb games show a pretty clear willingness to adapt and change with the times, while still evoking that prior era of CRPGs. Exile I (or even Avernum 1) compared to A:EFtP is like night and day: the reworking of the inventory system, the addition of fast travel, the rewriting and additions that try to make the plot more than just an excuse for a dungeon crawl, the addition of combat skills which make melee combat more than just extended blow-trading, the (almost total) deprecation of light sources... and so on. I don't mean that Exile I is a bad game per se, but a good number of its features and mechanics aren't terrifically exciting, and cutting them reduces the amount of busywork/technical management burden on the player, without really making the game overall less compelling or fun.

I'm sure there are people who miss some or all of these things, or don't like some of the additions, but Jeff Vogel does not appear to be one of them. (I kinda have to admire his almost hard-hearted lack of nostalgia for his own games, and willingness to rework them, sometimes brutally, to be more fun: A:EFtP isn't just "good for a remake of a 1990s RPG", it's good period.)

Pliant Giant Pliant Giant

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 12:08 PM #40 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

View Postgoogoogjoob, on 02 January 2017 - 11:28 AM, said:

Even the best games of the era, while still good, usually fall prey to what would today be considered atrocious design, and I'm not sure most players enjoyed these things even at the time: they were just included in games because that was part of the genre, and inertia is powerful.
That's true to an extent -- but it's always true.  Show me the best CRPGs from the modern era that don't have elements of atrocious design to them.  Style and habit and inertia are powerful forces.  The best games are often those whose craft and genuineness and creativity allow them to rise up above those forces, blazing new pathways forward.

However, as the genre moves along those new pathways forward, other problems creep in.  The history of CRPGs is not a story of everything always getting better and getting closer and closer to some platonic ideal of a CRPG.  Rather, it's a story of everything gradually changing, with radical improvements and descents into ugliness that take place simultaneously.  There are individual games that are high points and low points, for sure, but I don't think that the genre as a whole is any better (nor particularly worse) today than it was then, though many tastes will be better satiated in one or the other era.
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Posted 02 January 2017 - 12:34 PM #41 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

I don't think game design's evolution is teleological; rather, I think it is like a drunk random-walking away from a lamppost (where the lamppost is bad game design). Over time, I think game design has gradually gotten better overall in that designers have a greater knowledge of what does and doesn't work, based on the experience of the past. Designers today have much more knowledge about what not to do than someone working in the 1980s. Control schemes are a good example of this: older console games (especially action games) often have awkward control schemes which force you to contort your hands painfully, whereas now, generally anyway, they're relatively standardized by genre into workable configurations.

In areas where modern games are worse than their predecessors, it's usually because of perennial issues and design fads. Writing is a perennial issue: I don't think video game writers working today are really any better than those who worked in the medium 20-30 years ago. Many are inept non-authors who rustle up plots and dialogue on the level of bad 40s pulp fiction. The ones who have more talent are usually people who've worked in other media- film/TV or literature- and don't really know how to properly communicate a story using the medium of video games. Everyone in the mainstream games industry seems to want to make games more "cinematic", and awkwardly import techniques from film, which really do not work in the medium of games, and at best result in games that alternate gameplay with overlong windy cutscenes. Even the supposedly best-written video games released today tend to be clumsy, emotionally manipulative, and unimaginative.

Conversely, video game music has never really been bad; at worst it's forgettable wallpaper, at best it's memorable and adds substantially to the game.

Procedural generation/randomization is a design fad. It feels like half the games coming out on steam use randomized or procedurally generated level designs, which superficially creates "endless replay value", but mainly just creates dull, forgettable, lifeless level designs. It may save on design effort for the developer, and it might artificially inflate the theoretical amount of "content" in a game, but the end result isn't usually very interesting.

There are a lot of things that are now common in video games that will eventually be considered horrible, I'm sure. But on the whole, I still feel that- at least partially because as an art medium, video games are inextricably intertwined with their mechanical functioning, even more so than film- game design will improve over time, on the whole.

This kinda turned into a design philosophy essay, but I didn't really intend it to. Oh well.

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Alorael

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 05:15 PM #42 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

But a lot of the design random walk is itself fads because in most ways it's hard to have some kind of objective way of evaluating good or bad for video games. (Like art, although that comparison has launched a thousand essays itself.) Is grind good, bad or neutral? Is random catastrophe good, bad, or neutral? It's all taste. Tastes have swung a lot over the years, but there's no way to know they won't swing back.


Realistic graphics have certainly gotten more realistic, but there's now new appetite for retro everything, including graphics. I don't know of anyone really misses the really blocky graphics of early 3D... but I'm sure they exist. So even that's unclear. Music likewise has gone from chiptunes to at least the possibility of full orchestral scores, but there are plenty of composers and players who like the old bleeps and bloops of retro chiptunes and quite deliberately choose to use them. Sometimes in conjunction with more "advanced" music.


—Alorael, who thinks video game nostalgia starts in the early to mid 90's. People want more games like that. There's much less pining for, say, the 1980's. Or the mid 2000's, for that matter.

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 05:26 PM #43 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

View PostMemories of Memories, on 02 January 2017 - 05:15 PM, said:

But a lot of the design random walk is itself fads because in most ways it's hard to have some kind of objective way of evaluating good or bad for video games. (Like art, although that comparison has launched a thousand essays itself.) Is grind good, bad or neutral? Is random catastrophe good, bad, or neutral? It's all taste. Tastes have swung a lot over the years, but there's no way to know they won't swing back.

This is true; my evaluation of the overall quality of games is inevitably only subjective.

View PostMemories of Memories, on 02 January 2017 - 05:15 PM, said:

Realistic graphics have certainly gotten more realistic, but there's now new appetite for retro everything, including graphics. I don't know of anyone really misses the really blocky graphics of early 3D... but I'm sure they exist. So even that's unclear.

This is already happening: the forthcoming, successfully-Kickstartered Yooka-Laylee is an attempt to play on the nostalgia of 20-somethings for the awkward 3d platformers of the late 90s (albeit with smoother graphics); Minecraft has graphics blockier than any 3d game since the late 80s.

As time passes, I imagine the Window of Acceptable Nostalgia will progress forward in time as the decision-makers who decide what gets funded and made are replaced by younger people... or at least, the marketing people will decide to try to cater to younger people.

Caligula Caligula

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 03:26 AM #44 Finished Spiderweb games - recommendations for similar RPGs?

Coming a bit late here.

Back when Exile series was released, there was another shareware series of RPGs that was ok, Realmz - not as good, imho, but still decent for the time. It was a series of quite long scenarios (long compared to Blades scenario for instance, but nowhere near as long as Exile/Avernum full games of course).
Though it was Mac-only then, I've seen a Windows freeware version a few years ago. Of course, it's really a late-1990s game, so it's just like playing original Exile after playing the latest Avernum - not for everyone's tastes, considering the dated graphics and overall design.

Apart from Baldur's Gate already mentioned, I'd say the next game that gave me some feelings quite similar to Exile - big open world where you can quest where you want, and with some areas where you'll get bashed by high-level mobs, plenty of quests, plenty of side-quests, you don't get much indications or pointers on your map where to go to do the quests, game that don't take you by the hand as you're a useless newbie, game that'll take you tens of hours to visit - was Morrowind.
Of course, gameplay is a bit different, but the overall feel was, for me, not too far off. More recent Elder Scrolls might apply as well, though to a lesser extent. WItcher 3 might possibly have a few similar aspects, to a lesser extent as well. And if I mostly think of big open world to discover with quests everywhere and a huge level of freedom as to what you do, where you quest, and the like, there was the WOW of old, before the original zones were entirely remade in the Cataclysm expansion - LOTRO would qualify as well. Though I begin to deal with more and more different kinds of games here.




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