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Geneforge Series Overview

Geneforge Review Alwan Greta List Opinion

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Star Sage Star Sage

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 09:52 PM #1 Geneforge Series Overview

Okay, had these thoughts bouncing around in my head for a while, and figured I’d better get them out before they pound a hole in the side of my skull. In this case, it’s just some ideas and thoughts on the Geneforge series, and as I want to collect these in a way that makes sense, I’m going to order them in a structure like this.

I’m going to go over three categories. Pros, Cons, and then Remake Points. Obvious what the first two are, the positive and negative aspects of the games, the third is where I think the game could be improved through a remake of it, from better stories, to just general systems I think could easily be improved.

I’m going to start it right now, with a small overview of the series using those three categories.


Geneforge Series(As a Whole)

Pros:

  • This series is one of maybe two I’ve ever played that uses a binary moral choice system in a way that feels organic. It’s not good or evil, paragon or renegade. It’s actually a complex web of morals that I think really gives the world of Terrestria life.


  • Unique gameplay. You’re always a summoner in these games, no matter which class you pick, the major element of the game is Shaping, and like Bioshock and Plasmids, this is taken as a core of both the character and the world as a whole. It really gives the game an interesting feel, and makes party management both easier, and complex at the same time. Only one inventory to mess around with, but one that affects everyone in the party, who all draw from the same pool of resources, almost like a toned down strategy game.
Cons

  • Gameplay itself can always get a little old by the end. Near about level 30 for most playthrus, about the half to two-thirds mark of the game you’ve got your character built, and while you might refine it a little, your strategy will vary little. I know this is more about me than anything else, but it would be interesting to have more growth options near the end, like some special skills for people specializing in Leadership/Mechanics, or extra creation types or something.
Remake Points

  • Graphics and engine improvements could be implemented easily enough, maybe putting it on the same engine as Avadon. I’m obviously not a graphics snob, considering I like games like this, but still, it would be nice to give every named character their own model, or at least match the models up a bit better with the descriptions of them.


  • Maybe some Old Save Bonus or New Game + system could be implemented to give you a cool feeling. Like, for instance, in game 2, you find a satchel at one point that belonged to the main character of game 1, and in game 3, one of the deliveraries to the school was from an ‘unnamed’ friend of the teachers on the mainland, and it contains some stuff from game 2, etc.


  • More utility creations. One of the more interesting parts of game 4 was the use of followers that raised stats of the main character. It might be interesting to add those into any remake set, something that makes you a better mage, or gives a healing buff to everyone in the party, etc.

With that out of the way, let’s get onto the individual games, some of which might surprise you. Still, it’s based off my opinions, so let’s move right along to the games.


Geneforge 1

Pros

  • First game in the set, so it began most of the series’ moral complexity from the start. The three servile sects are actually quite distinct from each other in philosophy and tone of their individual areas.


  • Probably the best overall start of the games, funneling you right through a few areas and drip feeding you the world building at just the right level. Enough to make you curious, but never enough to really overwhelm you like some later games.
Cons

  • Sucia Island is probably the most disconnected of all the locations in the series, in a lot of ways. The individual areas feel disconnected from each other, with nothing really spilling over between them. The biomes of the island aren’t really together, with lush forests giving way to deserts, which then give way to frozen valleys. The story tries to justify this, but it does a poor job in some instances. And worst of all, the story is the least connected to the overall plot. While Sucia Island is important, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not as important as what was done later in the Valley of Game 2.


  • The factions are meaningless. It feels weird to say that, but here, the factions and the loyalty are at their most useless. They’ll give you a few items, and some neat little stories, but since they’re so disconnected, you end up being able to ignore them. Heck, as all they give you is items and every great once in awhile a canister, this feels pointless. Like they should have a greater effect than they do, especially as only one faction, the Takers, actually ties into an ending, as you kind of need their help to get o Trajkov.


  • The endings. This is a problem to a lesser extent in game 2, and barely present in the remaining three, but it feels like there’s only one good ending, out of about five bad ones. The one good ending is loyalist, almost nothing else gets you one that doesn’t plunge the world into war, and even that one is suspect for later, as Trajkov being the only one able to resist the geneforge’s corrupting influence, when he’s clearly been affected by the canisters, is just weird in the continuity of the series.
Remake Points

  • Map redesign. This is the only game in the series I’m going to say this, but this game needs a full redesign of most of its maps. It feels like Mr. Vogel(Can I call you, Jeff?) was really not sure how to make the maps right, and went with the same design philosophy that Avernum used. In that game, you would, at most, have probably five characters(It was possible to do eight, but unlikely as that would require all four being summoners), the tight hallways and narrow passages helped by keeping things out of sight, and building a sense of dread. In a game where almost everyone not doing a challenge run will have eight party members, it gets cramped and they tend to get in each other’s way a lot.


  • Give more options. For the most part, a large selection of the maps and events require you to have great combat ratings, and they don’t really like the sneak/tech/charisma builds that are of great use in the later games.


  • Make more connection points. There are events in this game, like resurrecting mind four, or assisting the renegade Sholai that seem like they should provide actual gameplay benefits, but either don’t do anything at all, or give you an item. Sometimes it is indeed a good item, but it would feel even better if these had some effect on the world at large. Like the Renegade Sholai actually moving in with the Obeyers, or the Takers sending warriors to assist with clearing a hard area, or things of that nature.

Geneforge 2(My Personal Favorite)

Pros

  • Best overall story in the game. Where game 1 felt like it didn’t really have much of a point beyond setup, and the later three games feel like only parts of stories(Because they are), this is a complete tale from beginning to end. Everything here feels more complete because of that, as it doesn’t really need you to play the first game to get it. Excellently put together, and very cohesive world.


  • Best factions. While the other three are anti-shaper, the version they take on are actually unique, as each has their own overall goal, and their reasons for doing what they’re doing. Most of these would be reflected in the Rebellion of the later games, but it would mostly take its stance from the Takers, with only a few bits from the other two. Really good here.


  • Your choices are your own. You can even reject the valley’s conflicts, and just leave, though that leads to a bad ending, it’s still an option. And unlike game 1, where doing so felt weird, as you leaving the adventure half finished seemed just odd by that point, here it was actually something you could logically think would work, even though you’re warned it’s a bad idea by a few people.


  • Every major combat encounter can be avoided or mitigated in some way. Anyone that has to die for any of the endings can either be mechaniced around or talked down, or just made very easy through non-combat options. This includes faction bosses, something the later games sometimes forget to do.


  • Shanti. I’m going to list her here because she’s so much...more than what she seems. This is your teacher, and in the whole series, really the only person who is nice to you, not only because it’s her job, but because you’re her student. She cares about you because you are her responsibility, and she wants you to learn and grow as any teacher would. This is most shown in that fact that you can snark at her, and while later games would have you slapped down for doing that sort of thing, she laughs along with the joke. Really short screen time, but very important in my eyes.
Cons

  • The factions could help you more. Like in game 1, it sometimes feels like your actions should result in more aid than just a few items. Especially the Takers, given you can easily betray them at several points by either killing people they need, or stealing stuff, and yet they seem to trust you. It feels off, like they should have sent someone with you to watch you.


  • There are times where you can learn things, but never are able to bring them up in conversation. In the Demo/Beginning area around Drypeak, you can bring up what you’re finding to Shanti, and she has things to say about it, but then later on, you can discover stuff like the fact that the Awakened leader has an escape ship, but can never do anything with that information. It just feels like there’s things to do there.


  • The inventory. In game 1 it was bad, but for the most part, you only found a few items of real worth, and most of those were quest related. In game 2, it has a proto-crafting system, but because the sprites of many items are repeated, you can easily miss some nice items for it, and never realize it. Also, it was just a pain to mess around with.


  • Pacing. After you get through the Drypeak area, the game’s pacing goes down the hole. It constantly repeats stuff, making sure you know things, as you can sometimes come into areas from separate routes, and it just feels so weird. It’s why I think this is the easiest game to start, but the hardest to finish, as by the time you’re through one area, you kind of already know the story for the rest, and it’s just a matter of getting there and doing things.
Remake Points

  • Expand on Shanti a bit, give her more of a presence at the beginning of the game, and maybe give a way to end her story differently. A bit of a spoiler, but she dies in the main game, and I’d love a way to either catch up to her if I get to her soon enough, or to find her being healed by serviles or something.


  • The creations around the valley that you can get to join you are a neat idea(There are 7 of them, not counting Nora and three Ornks), but maybe expand them a bit too. Give them conversation options like with Greta/Alwan from Game 3. Not quite so extensive, but more just feelings they could give you, that sort of thing.


  • Make more sprites. As I said in the Cons, the lack of different sprites for this one really hurts it at times, both for equipment, but also for some scenes. In example, when you finally find Shanti’s dead body, you’re told you buried it in a bit of dialogue, but it just kind of sits there instead. Give us a mound of dirt or something.

Geneforge 3

Pros

  • The most focused story in the bunch. There is not one part of this tale that isn’t tied directly into the main plot, as the Rebellion’s opening attack is what kicks everything off, and it’s what makes everything matter.


  • Companions. Greta and Alwan, while a bit two-dimensional here, are still great characters, and really add something to your quest, both in how they interact with you, and how they interact period. These two are going to become big faces in the later games, and they start out here just getting their feet wet, so it works.


  • Varied mission types. This one is probably the best at giving you missions on your quest. Not just go kill the thing or go steal the thing, but get me these things here that require talking to, or stealth around the back end to prevent being seen by this one guy. And almost every mission has more than one ‘success’ condition, so it all works out to really make a neat tapestry.


  • The only game in the series where, regardless of which faction you fought for, your use of canisters in commented on, and in a way that makes you feel awesome either way.
Cons

  • Least connected overall world. While everything happens because of the main plot, the main plot itself can’t change at all because of your actions. This means each island is it’s own little story, and even when your actions should cause reactions from people, they don’t, at least not till the end game on the Isle of Spears.


  • Harmony Island. This place sucks. It’s the second island in the chain, and it has the worst put together story. I complained above about the lack of connection between islands, and this one is the worst for that. Heck, there are just sometimes here were it feels like you should be able to do things, like talk down the island’s rebels or the like, and the game straight up says no. And then you get the sides here. Help the rebels means leaving the roaming monsters that no one likes. Help the shapers means leaving Diwaniya with his broken mental state.


  • This game does the least to justify why you’re so important. No, really, you have almost nothing here to make you special. You’re not the only shaper on the islands as in 1 and 2, where even the few shapers that where there sat in cities and never moved. Here, there’s several shapers moving around, but they never seem to get anything done. Heck, only once do you even find on to help you out, on Dhonal’s Island, and that was Erika, who then vanishes after this, and never appears again. She should have been the one sent to Gull Island, not you, as she was already fully trained. More about this in the Remake Point.


  • The Rebellion is at its weakest justification here. Even in games 1 and 2 those siding against the shapers are given good reasons, and actually made sympathetic. Here, they’re straight up terrorists, and while that makes sense, given their actions, they’ve done too much bad to get my sympathy. Worse, they have exactly one normal human in their bunch, everyone else is a shaper or mage they got to join them. Really makes them feel off putting to me.
Remake Points

  • Fix Harmony Island. Literally, that’s a point here, but the story there has a lot of stuff to fix. I suggested in another topic on how to do a few things, but a major one is either make Lankan more sympathetic(Seriously, he hit someone, and then ran off rather than face punishment), or make Diwaniya less so(A put upon guy who’s doing his best in what was supposed to be a make work assignment turned wrong). I have some more suggestions for doing it, but really, just make it happen somehow.


  • Greta and Alwan, allow us to make them stay til the end of Gull Island, if not beyond. Especially with Greta, but even in a way with Alwan, you should be able to convince them, with a high enough leadership, to stay with you. Not only are they good combat companions, but it would allow more interaction with them. For instance, with Alwan, you can claim you’re assisting the rebellion to get closer to the leaders, a real Agent sort of tactics. With Greta, you can just point out how the rebellion isn’t helping anyone but themselves, make her doubt that these people are anything but selfish.


  • Give more reason why the Shapers are sending small forces, i.e. just the player character. A good for instance here would be for Rahul is that there literally are no boats left. When you make it to the dock, there’s only one ship, and it’s got a spell on it that makes it so only the weaker shapers, meaning the students, can use it. There, now there’s a reason why you are alone there.
Just an odd thing to note, and something I want to comment on here, as it comes up in discussions of game 3. In this one, you find several times, promising to help people not only annoys Alwan, but also lessens your loyalty to the shapers. The reason for this is interesting, and one I had a thought on in later replays: If a Shaper promises something, it happens. No ifs, ands, or buts, if a Shaper says something is going to happen it is. That’s why Alwan gets mad at you for promising things. Oh, he wants you to do them, no question, but not promise to do them, as it means you have to, without reservation. It also causes you to look more rebellious, as you’re willing to follow orders of non-shapers.


Geneforge 4(My personal least favorite)

Pros

  • The most well connected story of them all. Everything is well setup, with lots of foreshadowing of events. Characters will make offhand mentions of things that become important points later. Monarch, the Drakon’s Scheme, just about every major point is talked about long before it becomes important.


  • Miranda, Greta, and even Alwan to a lesser extent get more than enough screen time to really flesh them out, and make them real characters. They each justify their existence, and really bring a sense of self to the factions that they don’t have in the other games in series.


  • This is probably the fairest balance between the Shapers and the Rebellion in terms of the story. You learn more motivations for the rebels than just power from the people, or killing the shapers from the creations. Also, the Shapers come across as more totalitarian than before. In some ways justified, but still, they’re much dirtier, and not the only people bringing order anymore, as they were in the first three games.


  • Every section is very well set, with the biomes here connecting in logical ways. Extremely well done there, and really gives each section of the story its own feel.


  • The factions feel different. As you can only support one side or the other, your rewards are locked in, and each one gives you something for finishing major quests, usually something special, and just having them means you might base part of your build off them, giving each faction a different play style.
Cons

  • Invincible enemies. These do not exist, or do so in only small ways in the previous three games, and even in the final game, they’re never so blatant as they are here. This is, of course, because the story has to have them survive til the end, but lacking the justification of others, they feel cheap. Heck, game 3 let you kill Hoge early, even in the school(Though there’s no way you can win that without cheat), so the lack of ability to do the same here feels off.


  • The Shaper Camp. This area feels like it was a chekhov's gun that failed to fire. In games 2, 3, and 5 there are testing areas, ones with places you’re not supposed to go yet, but can get some nice rewards when you’re stronger combat wise later. It felt, especially given the guard outside Southforge’s lines, that the camp was being setup for the same, but it never happens. Worse, it infinitely respawns enemies, which, while I’ll allow it in border forts, makes no sense here. As stated above, it just feels off.


  • While the plot is well set up, the pieces don’t always connect as well as they could. Now, this is because it can’t always insure you’ve saved certain people, like the caravan from Southforge, but still, it really does feel like you should encounter these people later. My biggest one are the people in the Safehouse. Your told directly that they want to leave, but they never do, even if you kill all three guardians.


  • Monarch feels incomplete. Not just because you never learn his origin, but then there’s the option at the end of his fight. You can let him go, without demanding to know his story(Mind, he could lie, but it would have been nice to be given the option). Here, he’ll just say he’ll go bother the Shapers, and you don’t lose reputation with them if you allow it(At least I don’t think so, it has been a while). I don’t think there’s an equivalent option for the Rebellion, like recruiting him to bother them, or capturing him for them. It’s odd.


  • Once you’re locked into an ending, it’s very hard to change, and that’s a shame because once I hit the end of the Rebel storyline, I really want to change. The Drakon’s plan, even according to the character, is just a larger scale version of Monarch’s, and that’s an awful thing. Especially since not only did we see how bad that was, but we’re then told that there’s no other options, when you could have been kicking the shapers butts up and down the provinces.


  • The final battles. The battle at the Unbound area is different depending on if you’re a shaper or a rebel. I know this is because of it being a game, but it feels cheap when the game hits you with all these defenses if you’re playing a shaper, but then you have almost none of them if you’re a rebel.
Neither Cons nor Pros

  • Shotwell and Khur, interesting idea here. One for each faction, and so much like Greta and Alwan, giving little story tidbits and just some extra muscle for areas you go to. I find their inclusion a bit confusing, as both will join you only for a single province, before falling away. For their own reasons, of course, but still, I’m not sure how to feel about them, I just think they deserve a mention.
Remake Points

  • Fewer invulnerable enemies. I know it only happens a few times, but either make them a cutscene completely, like have Alwan leaving the keep when you meet him, like with Miranda and the creations at the checkpoint, or just something to keep me from noticing he’s invincible.


  • More ending options. While game 3 gave us two endings, game 4 gives two and a half, when it really should be giving four and a half. One ‘win’ ending for each side, one ‘neutral’ ending, and then the Trakovite ending.


  • In this case, for the shapers, expand it a bit. We merely have to pick if we want to open the gates out of Gray Ghost to open an escape route early. It will give them more warning we’re coming, making more forces, and giving you the current ending fight to win. If you just go straight after them, you fight a much smaller force instead, as the attack is so sudden. Mind, now you don’t escape, and while the rebellion dies, so do you and Alwan.


  • In the rebels case, the neutral ending is the current one. For the win ending, you have to go assault the shaper strongholds on your side of the continent. Specifically Rivergate Keep, and the Shaper Camp, with a few optional targets that will help you in the final assaults by gaining more npc allies. Upon beating the camp, you’re told you won the war because most of the more proactive shapers were in that camp, and without them, eventually the sheer weight of the Rebellion won the war.

Geneforge 5

Pros

  • Difficulty level does the most to change the play experience here. In the previous games, it really only had an effect on the damage formulas, making you hit harder and enemies hit softer. Here, it controls the enemy levels directly, and that has a lot of major differences on them, allowing them to hit more, and more powerfully. Really good job here.


  • Lots of options, and lots of ways to damage enemies. You can win the whole game only killing a few guys now, especially as even a few points in stealth allows me to seemingly sweep invisibly through certain areas. I really like that.


  • Combat options are expanded, and now, as there are spells for all damage types, and more importantly at least one enemy in the game resist each damage type, you’re more varied in your combat. Thanks to the way Shaping and Spells work, it never feels wasted when you get more power.
Cons

  • The images. A weird thing to bring up, but in the other games, you mostly got unique images in the beginnings and endings. Here, those loading images you see, yeah, those are the ones you’re going to see for the endings too. It makes them feel less special, and worse, due not only to repeating on loading screens, but most of the endings themselves using the same ones, it feels like there’s few differences between them. Heck, that farm village scene is used in all five endings, regardless of who you helped.


  • Pacing. In the opposite way of game 2 though. Wherein game 2’s paces was bad because it constantly had to repeat things, just to make sure you didn’t miss them by skipping around the map, here it’s because nothing repeats. Every story is unique, and the details, even if you find out there’s stories there, aren’t told til you arrive. Like the Dera Reaches. You know there’s something weird going on, but you learn nothing about what exactly until you’re already in the middle of it.


  • Very few stories connect. Not quite as bad as game 1, but honestly, closer to that than any of the others. None of the plots connect here, even when it feels like they should. Bennhold for example. He is a major bandit, somehow always raiding shapers(Even one of the guards, I think, says he’s been doing this since before the war), but we never really find out how, and you just kill him. It’s the end of a questline, true, but nothing comes of it. You kill him, and it’s over.


  • The Final Battles don’t work for some factions. There’s two of them, and they seem tailored to two factions, specifically the Rebel and Alwan endings for the fight against the Council and Ghaldring respectively. The fight doesn’t work for the Trakovites, Taygen, or Astoria’s factions though. For them it actually feels antithetical, as for the Trakovites they’re trying to end shaping, or at least get it restricted, and by doing this, they’re returning the Shapers to power. Taygen, well if his Purity Agent doesn’t work on the Drakons, then it’s worthless. And Astoria just killed the leader of the other side during a peace talk. I hope that shows in brief why I feel the way I do about them.


  • The faction stories aren’t well written. So many of them are on the same maps, but in a lot of cases, the missions themselves seem to prove the faction wrong. The Rebels can’t win without your help, Astoria really doesn’t want peace, she’s just tired of fighting, and the Trakovites are focusing solely on the Shaper lands, because they’ve got a deal with the Rebels to do so, showing how far they’ve fallen from their precursors in game 4. Again, Alwan and the Rebel stories mostly work, which leads me to think they were written first.


  • The Nodye Coast and other such areas are on the map, but unreachable. Not really that big a con, but they’re built up so much, it feels like they were going to be included at one point and then cut.
Remake Points

  • Biggest one, take two of the factions out. The Trakovites and Taygen specifically. Fold them into the other stories. Trakovites instead of being hypocrites, go to being the Rebel side of the peace storyline, setting up the meetings and stuff, and helping Astoria. Taygen and Rawal go from Council members, to just Shaper Lords, like what Rahul was in game 3, with both being under Councilors, Alwan and Astoria respectively.


  • With that done, you can use their stories to expand the other plots. In this case, Rawal is a schemer, and actually threatens Astoria a time or two, with you being someone he got via the more ‘underworld’ sort of connections. His experiments are now tolerated because she can’t expose him without doing damage to her cause, and so he’s allowed to be his jerky self.


  • Taygen keeps much of his story, but now has Alwan breathing down his neck, trying to stop him from finishing the agent, which is a bad end if you do release it, similar to the ending with Rawal. In this case, however, you have to assist some of Alwan’s agents in putting down the rebellions in the camps that have gone down, but then escorting them out of camps that are still up. Showing his iron fisted mercy.


  • For the Rebels, keep them the way they are, but add some to both Alwan and Ghaldring. In this case, Alwan’s Pride, and Ghaldring’s ambition. Both have a lot of both, and certain actions you do raise or lower them. For Alwan, things like killing/capturing Bennhold and showing the ‘superiority’ of shaper law makes him proud to be a shaper. Ghaldring meanwhile has ambitions to become a new lord at the end of the rebellion, and if you help him, your star will rise, even as he goes iron fisted on everyone. Killing his rivals, allowing him to take credit for your victories, etc. cause his Ambition to rise.


  • Give two variations to the three endings, with different images to go along with them, though each faction gets similar ones. For Alwan, if you get his Pride up enough, he joins you, in Shade Form, in the final battle, becoming a very powerful NPC, but also taking some of your other reinforcements away, to attack other points. Ghaldring meanwhile will only join the assault on the Citadel if he’s going to be crowned king at the end of it all, and is likewise a powerful NPC, but one that turns away a few others via his presence.


  • For the Peace Faction, you get two final battles, a choice. Assist the Rebels coming down the valley from the north side of the Citadel, or assist the Shapers coming up from the south. From the north, you run into Alwan’s people, who try to block you, regardless of the peace process, and you can talk them down with a high enough leadership. From the south, three named Drakons, the Blazes, and an Unbound are waiting for you. You can take control of the Unbound, if your leadership is higher than their’s, and have it help you kill them.


  • After all that, the ending varies if Alwan or Ghaldring was there, or which route you took to the final conference, as you assisting one side gives them the better position. Nothing too extensive changes, just who’s in charge after everything's said and done.

Anyway, that took a lot longer to write than I thought it was, but I think I got everything out. Tell me what your thoughts are, where I’m wrong, or where I’m right. I look forward to hearing from you all.

idonotexist42 idonotexist42

Mercenary

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 08:39 AM #2 Geneforge Series Overview

I agree with most of what you said, I'll give a more detailed reply later because that's gonna be a lot of typing and I don't have time right now.

I especially agree about Harmony Isle being rather botched. If Lankan is revolting because he doesn't think the shapers are doing enough to stop the monsters, then really the underlying reason is just the presence of the monsters and Lankan and the Shapers actually want the same thing. So while idk if adding a diplomatic solution prior to the player cleansing the island is appropriate but you'd think that Lankan would also give you a quest to find and destroy the source of the rogues, instead of just asking for his stupid canister. He wouldn't need the canister if you could just kill all the monsters for him yourself.

If nothing else there ought to be a dialogue option for After the player has destroyed the source of the rogues where you can be like "Hey, Lankan, you know those monsters you thought the Shapers weren't doing enough to fight? well I singlehandedly slaughtered ALL of them across the entire island so you guys can all go home like you said you wanted to instead of staying holed up in this ramshackle fort" It makes no sense to me that Lankan's little band of rebels doesn't react at all to you saving their asses. The way it is now makes NO sense. Sure, maybe lankan is a stubborn buffoon who can't be negotiated with, but he at least ought to give you some credit for solving the underlying problem that drove them to revolt in the first place.

Also I feel like companion characters like Greta and Alwan ought to have their own full inventories so you can equip them with gear just like you can for your main character. Give greta the option to switch between spells just like you can. And for that matter, you ought to have creations with more than two abilities and be able to switch between those, plenty of enemies seem to have three or more abilities that the AI can use at their discretion, why can't we????

Star Sage Star Sage

Citizen

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 08:13 PM #3 Geneforge Series Overview

Hmm, I'll go a bit backwards and respond to the last part first, as I want to say I do disagree with that. After having to juggle all the inventories in Avadon of my characters, I welcomed returning to the Geneforge series, where I only had to worry about one person. It's not just because of the items themselves, as Avadon has the junk bag to store stuff, but always having to worry if you checked everyone for everything. It's a bit tedious in my eyes after a while, and besides, I like the idea that they're not going to drop their favored equipment just because you say so.

That said, I do agree with the idea of giving creations/companions more than one attack. A ranged and a melee would work best there, perhaps even an enhanced AI script for when you give them more intelligence, allowing them to make the best use of their abilities. Heck, for those two in game 3, it might be interesting to give them shaping abilities. Have it be temporary every time, using up their magic, and never lasting more than the area you're in, explained by you being better than Alwan at shaping, and Greta being only partially trained.

As for the above point, well, it's mostly agreeing with what I said, so of course I'll agree with it, though I'll even go one step farther and say Lankan's thing actually soured me on the Rebellion overall for a lot of the game. I mean, think about it, what was the strategic significance of Harmony Island? It has a shaper lord, a very minor one, described as being only a few years out of school and...that's about it. The Rebels attacking that island the way they did makes little sense in the long run, considering the resources spent there could have been used to maybe help make the creator better on Greenwood, or Dhonal's Island.

Thinking about it farther, it shows they're basically not thinking of anything but destruction at this point, which while appropriate, is kind of what makes me not like them in this game. They went out of their way to attack normal people here, and didn't care about them in the slightest until they started to rebel themselves. After all, Lankan admits, Litalia did not contact him until after he'd hit Diwaniya, so it was less, we want people to be free, and more a recruitment opportunity.

Again, there are a few ways to make this better. Directly state that the herbs of the swamp can be used to make essence(It's implied once, but for the most part, they say the herbs are used in food prep more than spells), and they're doing this specifically to cut off the supply of the stuff to the Shapers as a whole. Boom, it is now the fault of the Shapers that the Herb gathers got attacked, as if they didn't need the herbs for their art, the rebels would have had no reason to bother them. Heck, you could even play that up, say that the island was fine for generations just selling herbs to mainlanders, till the Shapers came and planted their special crop.

In regards to Lankan himself, I had the idea of reversing who hit who as a good way to build sympathy for him. As it is, he's basically a guy who hit the equivalent of a cop, in the middle of an emergency situation, because the cop wasn't able to just fix the problem by snapping his fingers. If you buy that he's merely acting that way because the Shapers encourage them to think that way, than he's just an idiot for doing that, as he just hit a guy whom he thinks can destroy him with a thought. If he's not someone who buys into that(And lots of people don't), then he's just made the problem worse by distracting the guy who is the only one able to fight the monsters.

For the reverse, have Diwaniya dealing with some Alphas or Betas or the like, with the crop in hand, when Lankan comes up. Diwaniya's tired, and gets short with him, telling him to leave, and Lankan refuses, demanding to know when he'll fix the problem. When Diwaniya won't give any definite answers, he grabs him, and one of the creations acts to protect the Shaper. Now, Diwaniya can admit to you privately he could have stopped it, but he didn't because he felt the fool needed to learn his lesson, and thus he allowed him to be punched and blown across the room.

Now, to make it fair, Diwaniya goes over and heals him immediately, even protests that he would never have allowed anything worse than a bruise or the like, as he still thought Lankan was a useful tool. However, the moment Lankan is whole, he accuses the Shaper of trying to kill him, and when Diwaniya protests, trying to get him to calm down, Lankan hits him in a scuffle, hard enough to break his nose. Lankan then runs off, telling the tale of how Diwaniya tried to murder him for just asking questions, while Diwaniya will be furious, and even bears the broken nose for his trouble, saying he'd actually healed the ungrateful muckraker.

Boom, now we have a dilemma. Diwaniya shouldn't have done what he did, but Lankan was at fault too, especially given the healing, which is why the island is divided between the two. They both make good points, and the people don't really know which one is in the right here.

alhoon alhoon

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:48 AM #4 Geneforge Series Overview

Quote

Boom, now we have a dilemma. Diwaniya shouldn't have done what he did, but Lankan was at fault too, especially given the healing, which is why the island is divided between the two. They both make good points, and the people don't really know which one is in the right here.   
And what the truth is a both sides present different versions.

Haven't read the GF1-2 part and I don't agree with every assessment over GF4-5. Having been playing GF3, and having just met Lord Rahul, who should be a councilor BTW after the established hierarchy in GF4-5 and not a Lord, I would agree that what you say for Lankan\Diwaniya sounds better.

It is also very, very easy to implement, at least partially, by changing the dialogue here and there.
Perhaps you could make a small modification for GF3 to implement this sensible change?
"I am not mad, no matter what you're implying." - Litalia

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 06:42 AM #5 Geneforge Series Overview

View PostStar Sage, on 20 February 2017 - 08:13 PM, said:

... Boom, it is now the fault of the Shapers that the Herb gathers got attacked, as if they didn't need the herbs for their art, the rebels would have had no reason to bother them...
Just....wow.

Star Sage Star Sage

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:17 AM #6 Geneforge Series Overview

@alhoon:
Ooh, where do you disagree? I like discussion on these points, it's why I posted it, and do want to hear what others think.

As for the idea of a mod...probably not me. Last time I tried to mod a game I broke my computer, makes me weary of doing it again(If curious, Evil Genius was the game). I could write the dialogue, as I am a writer(Plug for my account on Fanfiction.net: https://www.fanficti...80903/Star-Sage)



@Nim: Like, totally dude. I actually have no idea how else to respond to that, as I'm not sure what it means.

alhoon alhoon

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 12:31 PM #7 Geneforge Series Overview

Disagreement: GF4. Loved it. The best from the 2 1/2 GF games I've played. :)
It's not that I disagree so much as "That is not the case!" but more of "I don't consider that a problem"
For example, invincible enemies: Don't mind them. Shaper camp: I think it's there to spook you, show why Southforge is doomed and then quickly forgotten. I don't think you're supposed to return and kill everyone 3 chapters later or something.

The things I actually disagree is that the Drakons plan is mega-Monarch and that it's difficult to change once set upon an ending. It is frankly as easy as picking "2" instead of "1" on the final control and you get the Rebel or Shaper ending. Trakovite ending is harder since you should have made the necessary contact with the Trakovites.
The Drakon plan IMO is not "empty everything except me, personally and mindless drones that serve me". It's a desperate plan to unleash supersoldiers for a scorched earth policy or the Rebellion dies.
The final one that I disagree is the balance between Shapers and Rebels. The Rebellion is doomed, every creation that wants to think for itself is in existential peril  and every human that wants the liberty to reach as high as he or she can is facing execution or a life of serfdom if he escapes the defeat. The only thing that can stop the Shapers is the desperate, mad, hateful plan of the drakons. The Unbound.



Mod: Ehh... replacing the dialogue using 3 line paragraphs is all it takes for a dialogue mod.
"I am not mad, no matter what you're implying." - Litalia

GF5 mod with extra quest chain here!  Discover who you are and set up your base.

"Ohhh, no! No, it's so close! So close!" - Blxz, ambushed by an Unbound

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 01:28 PM #8 Geneforge Series Overview

View PostStar Sage, on 21 February 2017 - 11:17 AM, said:

@Nim: Like, totally dude. I actually have no idea how else to respond to that, as I'm not sure what it means.
Seriously ? You don't get how ridiculous you sound when you try to frame the shapers for the rebels murder of innocents ? Oh if the shapers only hadn't done this or that the rebels wouldn't have had to kill all those gatherers ? Really ?

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 02:48 PM #9 Geneforge Series Overview

@Alhoon: Ah, I see, so it's not that you find the points invalid, you just find the issue itself to be small enough that you can overlook it for the things that game does get right. I'm not going to argue that, as it is a personal preference thing there.

As for the Mega-Monarch, your character makes the observation themself when you find the Unbound in the fortress, comparing the two approaches, Mind, I'll give you that you can indeed change sides, but you get a horrible ending because of that, if you've spent the whole game serving the other side. Of course, I do think that's what allows jeff to make the endings as diverse as they are, though I'll hold up that 2 does similar things while still allowing lots of freedom to pick right up until the ending.

Oh, and I think we have a misunderstanding. I didn't mean balanced as in power balance, I meant balanced as in, the Rebellion here, compared to 3 and 5, is actually a legit option for me. Their justification for their actions in the other two games always came off wrong to me. Knocking things down, without really trying to set anything up to replace it. It's why I bring up the fact that in game 3 there's only 1 normal human in the rebellion(And having played 5 just last week, I don't think there's any at all in that one, save maybe a border guard).

In 1 and 2, the 'Rebels' are all trying to build new societies, or otherwise survive, in 3 and 5, it's focused mostly on knocking down the shapers, with little care as to what comes after, and the Shapers have a tendency to make much better points than the rebels in regards to morality in general. In 4 the moral high ground isn't something either side ends up with. The Rebels really were trying to build a functioning society again, or at least, defend and keep territory, where before they were just trying to destroy things.


@Nim: Ah, I see. And no, I don't think that justifies it entirely, I'm saying that at least would be an argument that could be made if you have that happen. As it is right now, Harmony Island shows the Rebellion is all about scorched earth, and isn't trying to show off why they're right and the Shapers are wrong. The only people they're hurting here is a community of normal people, and the serviles of the island. Nothing else is being accomplished, not even really doing anything to the Shapers, as Diwaniya doesn't seem the type to leave to help, he'd have just squatted on his island til the crisis is past. At least if you make the herbs something used in shaping, attacking the island has a strategic point.

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 04:42 PM #10 Geneforge Series Overview

View PostStar Sage, on 21 February 2017 - 02:48 PM, said:

@Nim: Ah, I see. And no, I don't think that justifies it entirely, I'm saying that at least would be an argument that could be made if you have that happen. As it is right now, Harmony Island shows the Rebellion is all about scorched earth, and isn't trying to show off why they're right and the Shapers are wrong.
The time for moral discussions, right and wrong was in G1&2. Once the war started all that ceased to be important. I don't like it but it's the direction Jeff chose for the series.

Quote

The only people they're hurting here is a community of normal people, and the serviles of the island. Nothing else is being accomplished, not even really doing anything to the Shapers, as Diwaniya doesn't seem the type to leave to help, he'd have just squatted on his island til the crisis is past. At least if you make the herbs something used in shaping, attacking the island has a strategic point.
Attacking it with spawners is dumb regardless of whether Harmony has any strategic value or not. As you said, everyone but Diwaniya gets hurt while he is the only threat to the rebellion. But if you kill him off then gameplay on Harmony goes poof. :(

idonotexist42 idonotexist42

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 06:33 PM #11 Geneforge Series Overview

Well in Avernum we managed four characters inventories for 6 games plus 2 remakes and a third on the way. It's just maddening to me to have like half characters who look like they should function more or less the same way your character does but instead they're just treated like regular creations. The inventory management as far as equipment wouldn't be anything I'd be bothered by or unused to, though I would certainly want an Avadon style Junk Bag.

I had the idea of keeping the existing skill point/ability system that's the same for all classes but adding class specific talent trees to differentiate them more and add depth. For companions like Alwan and Greta I think it'd probably work fine to give them an inventory and the appropriate talent tree but not give them the full skill spreadsheet like your PC does.

Letting your human/servile companions have their own inventory and quick item slots would let you make more efficient use of consumables like Pods/Spores, Crystals, Wands, and they'd be able to scale better because they can actually take advantage of the same kind of gear progression your main character does.

I think charms should have their own inventory tab, like a charm bracelet or something that they're attached to so you can hold on to as many as you find without using up bag space.

As for Lankan and Harmony Isle, I don't like the idea of making huge dramatic changes to the premise, the situation that was set up by events before you arrived isn't the problem; you've got a well meaning but strained shaper whose at least slightly conflicted between moral decency and strictly upholding shaper law and rule, he's sympathetic but having to lay down the law anyways. Lankan is a frustrated civilian with completely understandable concerns even if he's a stubborn fool who doesn't really grasp the depth of the situation; he's got more idealism than sense; it's an ok dichotomy where neither side is totally unrelatable.
The problem was how the game didn't allow you to properly resolve the conflict; I know one of the themes of Geneforge is gray and grey morality where you're forced to pick between choices that are imperfect at best, but in this instance it came off as maddeningly contrived. It's not just that the resolution is unsatisfying, it's that there's no real resolution at all unless you slaughter the rebels. Otherwise they just sit there in their little fort even though the island is clean still waving their pitchforks even though the rogues are gone. Even if you give the rebels the Canister it has no immediately visible results.

Making the island seem more strategically valuable to make it important enough to justify the resources and effort that the rebellion went through on the island would be a good thing though. They went through an awful lot of trouble to terrorize a seemingly irrelevant little swamp island as it stands now. I think the G3 rebellion could use at least a few more sympathetic characters because they seem wholly villainous and crazy in G3 despite their rhetoric about freedom and equality and the supposed tyranny of the shapers. In G4 they're presented in a much more sympathetic light and even in G5 you've got moderates to balance ghaldring. In G3 they're straight up terrorists and the shapers are just trying to stop the rising tide of monsters terrorizing innocent civilians. It's not even just that the G3 rebellion is violent radicals overall but the fact that there's pretty much no one on their side that seems to have any redeeming qualities that make them seem morally justified.

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 06:55 PM #12 Geneforge Series Overview

If you're curious, I don't quote because I'm lazy. Yes, I wrote a 5K word critique of the series as a whole, but I'm still too lazy to work the quote system.

@Nim: I do see where Jeff made that decision, and I accept it, the big issue is that in game 3, they're trying to get me to work with them, the Rebels I mean, and I just don't see where they're going to be an improvement over the Shapers as a whole. Heck, the Shapers are, for the most part, pretty good to the people under them. They're not nice, but no one goes hungry, and everyone has a roof over their head. It's creations and serviles that have the big issue, and while I feel for them, mass murder is not helping their case any.

My first taste of that was on Greenwood, in the school. Hoge, if you have the leadership for it, will basically admit what he did, and while he'll hit you with a theoretical issue, it's not one we ever see in the games. His version being forcing the Serviles to work in a mine, during a non-critical time. As compared to the food gathering their being forced to do in the opening days of the war. Better, there's a spy servile in the kitchen, whom I tend to kill most times through. Whatever she's fighting for, she killed students, or helped kill them. And then, when confronted with one still alive, not only makes no apologies for what she'd done, but then basically tries to threaten you into joining their side, saying the shapers are going to fall.

As for the rest...yeah, Harmony Island has issues, and while I can propose a few ways to patch over the issues, it is a case that the basic premise has flaws in it.

@idonotexist42: Hmm, major game changes sound okay on paper, like I said, I still prefer the more streamlined approach, but I will agree with the addition of the charm bracelet, especially as it is giving up an inventory slot for something that might only have marginal use.

Now, as to Harmony Island, I will have to disagree there. Lankan did a lot to make me hate him from the moment I met him. Not only in how he acts, but also in that he ran. He didn't confront Diwaniya, he didn't reason with him, and what few accounts of the punch we hear about sounds more like he walked up and started shouting at him, and then just hit him to punctuate it, and that includes the stuff his own followers say. Mind, they say it was the correct choice, but then, considering where they are, they kind of can't not say that anymore.

I think the biggest fault I have with Lankan is that he ran. While he was probably afraid, the fact that he ran, into the monster infested island, dragging his friends along with him, shows his lack of caring about them. If it had just been him, it would have been bad enough, but he dragged families apart for this, and worse, he has a spy in Shaper's city as well. I mean, that just screams to me that Lankan isn't on the up and up for all of these things, though I do feel for him at least a little in one way.

Litalia is screwing with him. Seriously, consider where he is, on the north eastern tip of the island, an otherwise defensible position. So what did Litalia's little band build just outside his position, a healing crystal for the rogues of the island, which will drag them towards him. Mind, they don't seem to be attacking often, and might just be keeping others away, which in and of itself would work as a plan considering she'd want him isolated and desperate.(I do recognize that we don't know when the crystal thing was built, but given the turrets by the Gather's camp were new additions, it's not a stretch to say the crystal is one as well)

However, whatever sympathy I feel for him is mooted by two things. First, even when confronted with the revelation of what Litalia did, he doesn't care. By his own statement. Worse, when you bring the canister to him, and then smash it, after he refuses to stop coming towards it, he orders his people to kill you. There is literally no way he can win against the rogues now, and he's really only trying to kill you out of spite, and even in a base playthru, his group is next to no threat to me, Alwan, and Greta, let alone my vlish army. I think that shows he doesn't care about the lives of those who followed him either, just his own power/position. That is why he refuses to go back too, in my opinion. If he goes back, he'd lose some of that, no matter how minor the punishment he'd be given, he wouldn't be the unshakable pillar he likes to be seen as.

I will however agree that, yeah, the biggest flaw is that, thanks to the disconnected nature of the islands, the lack of follow through with the story on Harmony is one of the biggest issues. If something happened, like you leading an assault on the southern city, or wiping out the rebels were there, maybe it would work. My favorite would be just to have them break up and go back to their homes, but yeah, either of the other two would work as well if you want to do that. Or heck, maybe a big fight with some NPC allies. Lankan vs. Diwaniya, with you helping out one of them.

Say at the Dock, when you go to leave, if you gave the canister to Lankan, Diwaniya appears to try and stop you, and you get to assist Lankan in beating him, give you a taste of what it's like to fight a real shaper, while also giving a dang good reason for Alwan to leave, as he just helped kill someone he respected for position alone. If you instead killed the Rogues, Lankan is waiting for you, when you and Diwaniya go to undo the magic bindings on the dock. Lankan is mad that you destroyed the rogues, as his people left him, and he reveals another canister arrived for him. Using it, he then fights you and Diwaniya, with again, a taste of what's to come later.

As for the last part of what you said....yep, that's what I said too, and obviously I agree wholeheartedly, though I will say, five could use a way to assist the rebellion, without also being Gheldring's lackey. Again, something like Greta or Mekan running their own subfaction inside the Rebels that you can join with, rather than just the one line that says you overthrow Gheldring after the rebellion is done.

alhoon alhoon

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:12 PM #13 Geneforge Series Overview

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Once the war started all that ceased to be important. I don't like it but it's the direction Jeff chose for the series.
I don't think the creator chose the direction at any point; the moral discussions can go through during a war, especially when the war is against an enslaving, genocidal, oppressive regime. There are valid points for the Rebellion in GF3-5 although, admittedly, GF3 so far shows the Rebellion as the also-bad guys. The Shapers throughout GF3-5 seem as bad as the Roman Republic\Empire towards non-Romans (including the genocide of Dacia, Carthage and religious prosecution of early Christians). In GF3 so far, admittedly the Rebels look to be a worse option. But at least we know from Greta's remarks and the common people that dislike the Shaper tyranny that some are willing to fight for the right reasons (and that means fighting against the rogues the rebels made).

Star sage, GF5: Mekhen is with Ghaldring, at least tentatively. Greta is with Astoria's faction and admits it. Astoria counts as a pro-rebel hence the Shapers try to assassinate her.
Because, unlike what some may think, a large part of the rebellion just wants the right to exist and the right to not be slaves, so they are willing to go for peace with the Shapers once Astoria throws them a line. Greta is willing to let Ghaldring die and Ghazaki-Uss to be lost in order to go for that peace, trusting Astoria to bring it.

As such, yeap, there is a Greta faction for the Rebels: Astoria. Her quests undermine the Shapers greatly after all and then she has the head of the enemy rebel faction destroyed.
Thus, I also disagree with the "less factions" part for GF5 as I think it will cheapen the game. I want the 5 factions, I would just like a bit more diverse ending. Not that the endings themselves don't feel quite different, mind you. But before those endings you have -2- battles for 5 factions.
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Posted 22 February 2017 - 06:08 AM #14 Geneforge Series Overview

Moral discussions do tend to take a backseat during war though, especially if it is a total war. And yes, Jeff did choose this direction when he made the shapers a ridiculously powerful empire. There was never any other way but total war if a rebellion wanted to have even the slightest chance of success. How else could you beat a 2 continent empire with millions of subjects whose elite can not only use magic but also shape ?

alhoon alhoon

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 10:31 AM #15 Geneforge Series Overview

Ahh... That's what you meant. There, I would agree. (I thought you were talking moral discussions outside the game world).
Of course, the simple answer would be "use the two geneforges with abandon, spewing out 100 lifecrafters per month" but the Drakons were for some reason reluctant to mass shape drakons and train them and the half-trained humans using the geneforge were ... problematic.
Still, I would dare say mass Shaping of Drakons and Geneforge-training them in Northforge + risking dozen Shailas in order to mass-produce human lifecrafters was a better plan than "Let's make insane and insanely powerful killing machines, unleash them and then hide behind really strong doors as they tear everything up."

Did we ever get a reason for why the Drakons didn't shape Drakons from dawn to dusk*? OK, not dawn to dusk. How about this? 4-5 Drakons could shape 15 per day and 50-100 drakons could be training them. After 2 days of instruction release the Drakons from control. Those that cause problems? Kill them. Then go on with the training...
In the months it took Akhari Blaze, Ghaldring and the rest to build the 100 Unbound, they could have made 1500-2000 trained-enough Drakons, that could also shape.
All in all Drakons could shape Shapers. Why build mad monsters instead?! And no, even 1500 non-shaping Drakons can beat 100 Unbound.
If just 500 of those Drakons could Shape? + The big ones? How could the Shapers stop them?

My suspicion is that Ghaldring and the bosses considered a few thousand young-but-powerful drakons a threat to their dominance of the race. Dominating 1000-1500 drakons is easier than dominating 3000+, especially if those are getting cocky not only because of the Geneforge effect or Drakon arrogance, but because of victories on the field.


*Litalia in GF4 says why she doesn't shape Gazers and Rotgroths. I don't remember if she mentioned Drakons.

EDIT: All I found was this: "
Not drayks and drakons. They have insisted that they reproduce themselves through more biological means. "
:/
First, that's false since Drakons Shape Drayks all the time when you fight them, at least in GF5.
Second, "Biological means" is veeeeeeery slow. Spam-making Drakons is much safer than making Unbound. The enemy was at Litalia's front door. She could have shaped and trained a couple dozen Drakons and then apologize to Ghaldring. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
"I am not mad, no matter what you're implying." - Litalia

GF5 mod with extra quest chain here!  Discover who you are and set up your base.

"Ohhh, no! No, it's so close! So close!" - Blxz, ambushed by an Unbound

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 11:47 AM #16 Geneforge Series Overview

I think there was some discussion years ago that the creations we shape are not the same as those you see grown in vats ? Might serve as an explanation, you can shape a drakon on the spot for combat but he is essentially just a body without much mind of his own ?

I like your dominance theory, Ghaldring has never been one to share power, creating too many contenders would be foolhardy in his position. Especially when you consider that the drakons try to improve every generation.

alhoon alhoon

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 02:17 PM #17 Geneforge Series Overview

OK, no insta-spam Drakons then.
Why not make 1000 drakons in Vats then, instead of 100 Unbound? They COULD have done that and let go of the "let's multiply biologically, while a respawning army is slowly moving to annihilate every last one of us"


The "Ghaldring preferred mass mass-murder over diluting his power" is the only explanation that I can see that doesn't break believability.
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GF5 mod with extra quest chain here!  Discover who you are and set up your base.

"Ohhh, no! No, it's so close! So close!" - Blxz, ambushed by an Unbound

idonotexist42 idonotexist42

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 03:16 PM #18 Geneforge Series Overview

Just to clarify about my thoughts on Harmony Isle: My issue isn't that Lankan is an unreliable character who makes bad decisions, it's that the way the story pans out, or rather fails to pan out as you go along that feels broken; the situation doesn't get fully resolved... even though your actions should have resolved it. I'm ok with unsatisfying resolutions and sad endings but traipsing off to the next island and leaving them all camping out in the swamp cowering from monsters that are no longer there to threaten them while the governor grouches in his capitol doesn't feel right. it's not just a "pick from two imperfect choices" scenario where we don't get an out from having to make that moral choice, it's that logically there should be an out (Because we killed all the monsters that caused the problem in the first place) and we don't get it.

You can have a full resolution if you go pro-shaper and then slaughter the rebels and that takes care of the loose ends but if you take the rebel path or decide to be a merciful shaper it's all left up in the air. It's not like the global scale conflicts that are beyond your power to singlehandedly resolve (even though your character always does in the end, btw) it's a small contained situation that was well within our power to resolve.

Hell, I'd have been happy with a scenario where you kill all the monsters, go tell Lankan and his rebels "Hey, the monsters are gone, you can all go back to your lives and homes" and some leave but Lankan stays out in the swamp because he's afraid of facing Shaper Justice, and he could say something as simple as "thank you for saving our home, but I can't go back because they'll kill me" and it'd be satisfied. I had an idea where maybe Lankan actually surrenders and submits to justice on the condition that all the other gatherers who joined his rebellion will be spared and you watch him get executed in the town square. there's grumbling and people aren't totally happy but they understand that they got the best case scenario thanks to your intervention so there's no more torches and pitchforks.

Characters and endings can be unlikable or unsatisfying as long as they do it in a way that is compelling and doesn't feel inconstant or contrived and break immersion.

I suppose I could go into the dialogue scripts and fix it myself? conversations are easy enough to edit but idk about quests, I've never tried that.

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 04:39 PM #19 Geneforge Series Overview

I agree with your take on the situation but:
Lankan wouldn't be executed if he submitted to Shaper Justice, at least according to what I remember Diya-? and the old commander say.
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Posted 23 February 2017 - 07:01 PM #20 Geneforge Series Overview

Quote

So I ordered him arrested. I do not know what punishment I would have decided on, but something was definitely called for.

Quote

"Diwaniya looks horrified. His mouth hangs open for a moment, stunned, trying to absorb what you said. _I ... I ..._ He takes a minute to regain his composure.";
text2 = "_This was not what I wanted. This was not the best solution. I suppose something had to be done, but this was not the best thing. We Shapers and the outsiders, we still have to work together.
Diwaniya wouldn't have done much, maybe some prison time for Lankan. Which makes the whole situation all the more infuriating.

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 03:00 AM #21 Geneforge Series Overview

View PostNim, on 23 February 2017 - 07:01 PM, said:

Diwaniya wouldn't have done much, maybe some prison time for Lankan. Which makes the whole situation all the more infuriating.
In the G3 Shaper ending Lankan's rebels are slaughtered if you haven't already killed them yourself. This could be because the Shapers lumped them in with the actual war-ready rebels and overreacted. But it's also possible that Diwaniya is in a minority when it comes to not punishing insubordination with death.

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 05:01 AM #22 Geneforge Series Overview

He certainly is in the minority. We have seen tons of other shapers through the series.
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Posted 25 February 2017 - 09:53 AM #23 Geneforge Series Overview

Okay, I'll disagree with that, alhoon. Shanti and others tell you that it's not fear you want to use to keep others in line, it's awe. Yes, we do see the shapers reacting harshly, but mostly towards actual rebels, as in, those who have struck out against them. At least for humans, creations are different, and I'm going to ignore them for the moment. Heck, remember in 5, we find a guy in the stocks in Alwan's main fort, and he hit a commanding officer too. He was mostly going to be left there for a while, maybe with a beating(And a fine, but I think that just skipped over his jail time)

As for the Rebels on Harmony Island. Well, they were still resisting when the Shapers came down, and thanks to us, they learned that Lankan was getting assistance from Litalia. Lumping them in with the main rebels makes sense at that point, especially if they were still holding out hope that she'd come through for them.

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 10:38 AM #24 Geneforge Series Overview

The guy in the fort would be viciously flocked and the text remarks on leaving that aside...

Who is Shanti?
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Posted 25 February 2017 - 10:47 AM #25 Geneforge Series Overview

Bah, philistine, didn't even read the whole of the first post...that or it's been a while and she wasn't important to you. She got a whole point to herself as a Pro of Game 2.

Anyway, Shanti is your mentor figure in game 2, she's the Master you're apprenticed to, and your guide on how Shaper society works. She's harsh, but fair, and considering some of the others we meet later(Alwan, Rahul, etc.) who are in shaper society, I think she represents the Shapers as they're supposed to be. They rule, but they're not without their sense of justice. For those who side with them, there are great rewards, for those who merely stay out of their way, there's some contempt, but nothing overly harsh. It's only for those who oppose them that you find their wrath.

She made a huge impression on me my first time, and is probably one of the reasons I'm pro-shaper for most of the games. The other reason is Litalia is a very bad word I won't say here, and severely turned me off the Rebel ideals.

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:13 PM #26 Geneforge Series Overview

alhoon, I can't believe that you still haven't played the first half of the series.  You enjoy debating about it too much to remain this uninformed :)
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Posted 25 February 2017 - 01:10 PM #27 Geneforge Series Overview

I have heard a ton of good things about GF2, but with the equipment system and GF2 inventory when I tried it gave me the creeps. I want to enjoy them once Jeff goes back at them. I remind you that it has taken me a good year to get over 2 1/4 of GF3 islands.

Quote

  Anyway, Shanti is your mentor figure in game 2,  
That's the part I stopped reading at.

For both of you, I realize that having started the game from GF4, without forums or anything but just a "hmm, that's a cool concept of a game and minimalist graphics + good reviews = good story probably." and then starting in the shoes of a Rebel that sees everyone being crushed by Shapers in the first 5 minutes puts me in different perspective from people that started the normal way.
True we had Miranda, but gosh, how terrible the Shapers seemed.

And after GF4 and GF5... I see the Rebels attacking a school for the lulz more or less. And planting monsters everywhere to make people question the authority of the Shapers as they expire at the claws of rogues. No wonder the Trakovites started around there...
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Posted 25 February 2017 - 07:32 PM #28 Geneforge Series Overview

Then I will say specifically that you're just wrong in Post #22 in this topic. You're point there is that Diwaniya is in the minority, when you've barely encountered the shapers in a non-combat setting. Most of the ones you see in 4 and 5 are currently engaged in a war with the Rebels, and thus, assume, as you're most definitely not somewhere a normal person should be, that you are an enemy combatant, and to be treated as such. Heck, considering the way the war started, with random attacks unleashing monsters they didn't control, the Shaper attitude towards the Rebels is understandable.

Mind, I'll acknowledge that the older games are harder to play(Heck, I probably wouldn't have made it through Game 1 the first time without the Kill Code), but it does limit your perspective on the combined narrative of the games as a whole, as you're missing chunks of it. That said, you do bring an interesting perspective to the discussion, as you only saw the war itself, never the build up, and thus see the sides a bit differently that someone who saw the origins of the rebellion would.

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 06:23 AM #29 Geneforge Series Overview

View PostStar Sage, on 25 February 2017 - 09:53 AM, said:

Okay, I'll disagree with that, alhoon. Shanti and others tell you that it's not fear you want to use to keep others in line, it's awe. Yes, we do see the shapers reacting harshly, but mostly towards actual rebels, as in, those who have struck out against them. At least for humans, creations are different, and I'm going to ignore them for the moment. Heck, remember in 5, we find a guy in the stocks in Alwan's main fort, and he hit a commanding officer too. He was mostly going to be left there for a while, maybe with a beating(And a fine, but I think that just skipped over his jail time)
The one example of harshly punishing insubordinate humans I can think of is the event in G3 where you can kill a drunk guy who mouths off, with no consequences to you apart from +4 reputation (where + is pro-Shaper, - is pro-rebel). This suggests that the worst the Shapers would think of other Shapers who did this is "don't do that again, you idiot apprentice, you're ruining our PR" instead of "If you kill our subjects for such reasons you are not fit to rule", and some Shapers would even approve. Granted, this does not prove that Shapers who act this way are in the majority, and Lankan's scenario in its current state does not suggest that he's afraid of being unjustly executed.

I would approach re-writing Harmony Isle somewhat differently. The quickest fix is to add a dialogue option to say that you've killed the rogues, and give Lankan a response. Whether his response will make sense in context is of course more difficult to guarantee. (Fear of unjust execution can be plausibly inserted here depending on how it's presented, which I think was idonotexist's point.) For a deeper re-write, I would: 1) Give Lankan a problem that the rebels are not directly culpable for, because as it is he looks like an idiot for knowingly throwing his lot in with the people who caused his problem (and are therefore responsible for his friends' deaths) to fix his problem. 2) Make it so that Diwaniya's quest for you would only indirectly solve Lankan's problem at best, to justify Lankan's impatience and sidestep the whole issue of the game not giving you the option to tell Lankan that you've solved his problem.

For example (spoiler for skipping wall of text):
Spoiler

Edit for alternative scenario where the Shapers are somewhat less sympathetic:
Spoiler

G3 in general could have more varied gameplay and Shaper vs rebel dilemmas on the different islands if the rebels' entire strategy wasn't "moar spawnerz". Also, with the rebels' gene-editing magic (the major advance they have in their knowledge of Shaping vs traditional Shapers), you could plausibly write a scenario where rebels have experimented with making creations that instinctively target Shapers over outsiders, preserving their PR.

A tangent: In G2 outsiders could learn non-Shaping magic on their own. An outsider woman, the servile keeper, teaches you Cure Effects, and you meet a homesteader who has a book of Searer, that the narration explicitly says he can have since it's not Shaping. From G3 onwards it is a major plot point that all magic is controlled, not just Shaping. Is this just a retcon or did the Shapers actually become more controlling over time?

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 08:04 AM #30 Geneforge Series Overview

@Starsage:
I listen to what the people I encounter have to say. I saw how Shapers treated the Trakovites in GF4, locking them to die of starvation when they were totally peaceful. I saw how Shapers even in GF3 are viewed as total authority. Before I met Lord Rahul, I visited a school for mages. The text said that my apprentice, that Shapers looked at and said "You think Lord Rahul doesn't know what happened in the school moron? Or that he needs your help? Go help a peasant!", could order the school closed with just a word. That was before the war reached them. As Panda said above, killing a peasant that flies off his mouth against the Shapers is an act endorsed by the Shapers. Stores, people in taverns etc more often than not consider even a minor challenge to Shaper authority a suicidal move. The starting and ending texts also mention that the Shapers have no tolerance for people that don't jump when they say jump.

As for GF5... the shapers are crumbling, and yet only Astoria considers peace and she is targeted for it. The majority of them seems to prefer death to surrender since once the 4 councilors are down they try to elect new ones to keep fighting. Ghaldring that says that "every one of them will prefer to die than see the Hall fall to Creations" is right. Alwan and his shapers are willing to fight even more bravely and win the war (We lost half of Terrestia, we have the other half!) and the coast settlements help him. Taygen realizes the Shapers my lose and concentrates on his doomsday device while his lands are a mess preferring to kill ornks, living tools, doors and Batons than surrender. Rawal? Rawal thinks the Shapers will win cause there's no other alternative in his mind.

That's what we see. So from GF3 to GF5, the majority of Shapers are clearly not interested in second chances against those that challenge their authority even in the face of annihilation.


Quote

This suggests that the worst the Shapers would think of other Shapers who did this is "don't do that again, you idiot apprentice, you're ruining our PR"  
That would mean it would give a minor penalty, not bonus. Apparently, the Shapers which I never recall caring about PR, would think "Good thinking Apprentice, you are in the right path. If those mudslingers take offense with you killing that guy, we will just kill more of them."
And that mentality is shown in GF3-5 to be "and if more take offense, we will kill even more and if that triggers a rebellion we will kill more and if we are in the brink of defeat we will not sue for peace but kill more and die. But heck, we will won't forgive."
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Posted 02 March 2017 - 06:01 PM #31 Geneforge Series Overview

@wackypanda: Are you talking about Khogarth in the Fort on Greenwood Isle? Cause I just did him....er, by which I mean, I just did the scene with him, and I got no message about alignment change either way, though the dialogue indicates you go Shaper both for getting him to back down, and for killing him. Either way though, I don't think this is too harsh, as you can go through all three previous options before the Alignment choice, and one of them is literally just to walk away, and he stops you from doing so. At that point, he's gone a bit too far, and while killing him is harsh, this is an emergency situation, and he's accosting the only person capable of doing anything about it. And this is, again, after you tried to walk away, and told him to back down(While likely being an armed wizard, with two more as backup). I think that qualifies as too dumb to live.

Also, as a note that ties into the first post, you seem to lose(Again, I don't see a pop up, but dialogue says so) shaper points for lying to him. That kind of is my point about shapers and their morals. They don't lie to people. If they say something is going to happen, it happens. That's why they're slow to react, because they want to be absolutely sure they can do what they need to do safely, before they act. Heck, that even ties back into game 2's plot. Drypeak is an example of them promising something, but not being able to fulfill it, so they just keep throwing resources at the problem, both in terms of personnel and materiel. It's probably their second most noble trait.

As for the Disease plot...a bit too contrived, I'd say. Also, it kind of, again, seems to paint Diwaniya as a put upon guy. If his specialty isn't diseases, then he might not have the training to deal with that sort of thing, same as how you had to go seek out a Sage on Greenwood Island to cure that fungus stuff the one guy had.

Personally, I'll say, the easiest way I can see to make the island a bit more balanced, if you're willing to change things up, is split the San Ru map. One area the city, the other area Diwaniya's keep/manor, and make it so, while Diwaniya is indeed sending some forces out to help, he's mostly just cowering in his own home, with his 'chosen' people, basically those he likes best. He justifies it by saying not everyone can live in his home, which is packed to capacity, and thus, he has to make hard choices, a fact you can agree or disagree with. At that point, Lankan does have a leg to stand on with his arguments, and so does Diwaniya. Still paints Litalia and Hoge as awful, awful people, however, so it overall still leaves the rebels looking bad.

That last point...well it's not like Retcons are uncommon in this series, given that an entire continent vanishes between games, but still, it's an interesting thought. Remember, Drypeak Valley showed the Shapers what happens when their art gets away from them, and perhaps over the intervening decades between games 2 and 3, they cracked down on unregistered mages and magic, just in case. It doesn't really fit, considering the PC's statements in Dhonal Island's mage school in the keep, but it is something to think about.


@alhoon: Some of that is responded to by my response to wackypanda, so I'll skip to the Astoria parts.

She doesn't want peace, she wants the fighting to stop. That seems like a minor thing, but it kind of informs every decision she makes. She's willing to set the world up for a far worse war in a generation than the one being fought now, as her 'peace' is nothing of the sort when you reach her ending. Again, it's a peace wherein the 'leader' of one of the sides is killed, and worse, one of the two sides in this peace, is going to end up with a conniving monster in charge, though which depends on if Greta is killed or not.

This is most seen by how the Shadow Road operates. If she wanted peace, she would have her own people helping to manage it. Instead she's more turning a blind eye, hoping that the Rebels can be bought off with gestures of good faith, and by the looks of it, that's not working. Not only do there seem to be more unbound in her area than most others(3 in the ruins, 3 wandering the swamp, and one attacking the mountain pass), but worse, the Kaz jerkwads are helping to setup the lab in the Shadow Road to make more horrors to unleash on her. And yes, the statements made about Kaz indicate they helped, which is the third time the Takers have pulled this sort of crud on people who trusted them.

Also, as to the point, they are indeed willing to allow people to come back to them. Remember the Serviles in Game 4, the ones that joined the cult. The one that actually wanted to return was allowed to do so. The one that convinced him to leave and wanted to be a cultist was reabsorbed, but then, she wasn't right in the head. Then there's Shotwell, the guy who can join you in the destroyed city on the northern coast. He was a rebel, and repented, and Alwan let's him. Or that Rebel Trainer in the camp in the Fens. He's very much working with the Rebels, but they let him come back, though have him spy for now, whereas the Rebel spy in the Shaper Fen camp is a Refugee, not a Shaper or other person in authority.

Final point, the Shapers know that surrender to the Rebels isn't any better than a Rebel surrendering to them. Again, there are few defectors, as the other topic we've both been involved in makes a point of, and of the ones we know of, they tend to go insane or get 'bad' canisters to a more frequent degree. Heck, to the point where I think the Drakon's might be doing it deliberately, though I'll admit, I have no proof of that. Regardless, the Rebels don't seem willing to sue for peace either, given you have to kill their leader, and break their fortress to even get them to the table, and even then, they're setting themselves up for more fighting, if you kill Greta.

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 08:18 PM #32 Geneforge Series Overview

I would disagree about Astoria. She's willing to give the world a chance and there's no way a war in a generation would be as bad as this one because Ghaldring would be dead and with Sucia nation free, there won't be that much hate between creations - Shapers to fuel such a terrible war. So, no, I don't think Astoria sets up the world for a worse war.

In the Shadow road, she has her covert operators manage it (Greta) and it's the Drakons that betray her. The Unbound in her area are because she couldn't dislodge them from the swamps and the rebels have stopped sending more to her as we can see in the Fens where a huge rebel army + 4 Unbound are sitting nicely sipping tea. Alwan's area has few Unbound because... he kills them. If I recall, it's an Unbound that brings down Rockfall fort once you show them the way. And showing them the way is no "small gesture of goodwill". Astoria thanks to the anti-Ghaldring Drakon shatters the line and takes down one of the 6 major military installations of Alwan's area. About Kaz, Ghaldring mentions that Kaz people are friends of the Drakons, unlike Penta.

I don't recall the servile that was allowed to return, but I do remember the mind-altered Servile Alwan has in his employ in GF4 and the one that they have broken in GF5. I.e. I don't remember Alwan (a guy willing to work with geneforged "freaks") allowing serviles to return as much as condemning them to a fate worse than death: slavery and personality-wipe.
The Rebel trainer is actually a step down from Alwan's prefered defector: The player. It's not out of pity they do that; they want spies and want them badly. Every military would do that. Also the traitor rebel is normal human. Not creation, not lifecrafter. And he asked too damn much to train me in missiles!

Quote

Final point, the Shapers know that surrender to the Rebels isn't any better than a Rebel surrendering to them
Yes, but at least we have seen ex-Shapers joining and actually leading the Rebellion. The Drakons, yes the Drakons, gave Litalia and Greta the chance to raise to the top of the Hierarchy. They take that cannister-junky creepy Jarred as their own... or that's what he thinks although I think he's mistaken.

Quote

Regardless, the Rebels don't seem willing to sue for peace either
Ghaldring doesn't want to sue for peace. There are Drakons (like the annoying one hiding from Unbound in Taygen's area and the one hiding in that cave) that want to sue for peace. And of course, there's also Greta that works with Astoria to bring the peace.

You have to kill the madman (ok Madrakon) in charge and break his forces and influence and then convince an army that has been mostly victorious for 4 years to stop advancing. Since that's hard... it's easier to wipe a good part of the Rebellion while killing Ghaldring so that both sides are unsure of their victory and with the hardcore "death to us or them, no peace" factions weakened, pro-peace voices to prevail.
Which happens. So, Astoria had the insight to break the hardcore Shapers (Alwan, Taygen) and hardcore Rebels (Ghaldring).
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Posted 03 March 2017 - 02:45 AM #33 Geneforge Series Overview

View PostStar Sage, on 02 March 2017 - 06:01 PM, said:

@wackypanda: Are you talking about Khogarth in the Fort on Greenwood Isle? Cause I just did him....er, by which I mean, I just did the scene with him, and I got no message about alignment change either way, though the dialogue indicates you go Shaper both for getting him to back down, and for killing him. Either way though, I don't think this is too harsh, as you can go through all three previous options before the Alignment choice, and one of them is literally just to walk away, and he stops you from doing so. At that point, he's gone a bit too far, and while killing him is harsh, this is an emergency situation, and he's accosting the only person capable of doing anything about it. And this is, again, after you tried to walk away, and told him to back down(While likely being an armed wizard, with two more as backup). I think that qualifies as too dumb to live.
That is him. But to be clear, there are two times you can tell him to back down: you can tell him to get out of your way instead of trying to walk past him (which has the same effect as trying to walk past - doesn't work) and you can say that he has no right to question the Shapers (which works and gives you + rep). Invoking your authority and power to get a belligerent man to leave you alone is perfectly justified. Killing him on the spot without consequences shows that the Shapers lack checks and balances on their powers.

Quote

Also, as a note that ties into the first post, you seem to lose(Again, I don't see a pop up, but dialogue says so) shaper points for lying to him.
The opposite is true. You don't lose rep for lying that the quarantine will be lifted, and if you don't have enough leadership to pull it off, Khogarth says that answer is "just like a Shaper". You do lose rep for saying that the quarantine is unjust.

Your scenario still has the basic issue that Diwaniya's quest solves Lankan's problem. No more rogues = all of San Ru is safe. For Lankan to be a legitimate choice over Diwaniya, Lankan's quest has to be more likely to solve Lankan's problem than Diwaniya's quest. I still had Diwaniya as a put-upon guy because I wanted to retain the major NPCs' personalities. If we don't do that, we could go as far as to make Diwaniya partially or wholly responsible for Lankan's problem:
Spoiler


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Posted 03 March 2017 - 06:17 AM #34 Geneforge Series Overview

I actually think the Shapers don't promise stuff 30% because they want when they say something, for that something to happen and ... 70% because they don't give a damn about the pesky outsiders beyond the confines of the law. In GF5, the Hall-of-Appeals agent is really annoyed that she has to spent a few hours talking to those pesky outsiders and most towns have people (forget their names) that act as intermediaries between the Shapers and the people. There's one such woman in Perikalia that gives you quests if you're loyal.
"I am not mad, no matter what you're implying." - Litalia

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