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About Golgolath

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  1. Something has always bothered me. Avernum 1 and 2 are actually pretty challenging on Torment difficulty. Avernum 3 is bafflingly easy. The first time I played Avernum 3, I noticed that I was consistently one-shotting everything I fought, which I'd never done before in an Avernum game. Even at the very beginning of the game, I would have to set the difficulty to Torment just so that enemies could start doing noticeable damage. Even then, nothing posed any real threat in the entire game except Dark Wyrms, which is very different from the experience I had in Avernum 1 and 2. I'm curious, I only recently started coming to these boards again. Did Jeff ever comment on why this was? Did he deliberately scale back the difficulty of Avernum 3? Or was it the result of tweaking a bunch of internal damage equations (Avernum 1 and 2 used similar damage ranges, but Avernum 3 was totally different) that never ended up being balanced properly?
  2. Do Divine Retribution and Move Mountains scale with dexterity? Or are they intellect based? I read something that implied that Move Mountains was a dex based spell, and something that said Divine Retribution might be. Are they?
  3. I personally used haste until I got Battle Frenzy, then had my tank run in to trigger traps while the others waited in the outside hallway, then pulled the enemies back into the hallway where I could take them one by one
  4. I've been a role playing game enthusiast since I was 5. I have disliked missing since the first time one of my characters took a swing at an imp and missed in Final Fantasy 1 As for Avernum 2: How to work around enemy that melees extremely hard: Attack from range, apply debuffs, use knockbacks when they get close, have someone with high defense tank How to mitigate enemy that spawns lots of other mobs: Use terrain to funnel enemies and the properly shaped AOE spell to deal large amounts of damage. Daze/stun if they aren't resistant How to survive situations where you have to run past large numbers of enemies while being chased by Quickfire: Cast Haste until you get battle frenzy, enter combat, run each player individually, avoid entering melee range of enemies where possible How to survive enemies that are far too strong for you: use the above strategies if possible, try to take on enemies individually, use debuffs, reload saves where needed, or just plain run How to avoid missing enemies 10% of the time no matter how powerful you are: ... There are ways to deal with all the other scenarios, so that they do not become a problem, and don't significantly detract from your gameplay experience. Nothing, nothing at all, can mitigate the 10% miss rate. Maybe this is just a semantics argument, but I see a fundamental difference between encountering obstacles that force someone to play intelligently to survive difficult encounters, and being continually annoyed by a random number generator.
  5. Darn, disappointing to hear that there's no way to tweak those kinds of formulas from scripts, although I'm not really surprised that core combat mechanics are done in code instead of scripts. One can always hope that Jeff raises the accuracy cap at some point. I don't mind planning for unexpected events in combat, pretty much every action taken by an enemy is an unexpected event, but having a huge chance to miss on every attack is quite frustrating, and doesn't really add much depth or complexity in my mind, since there is no way, through gearing, strategy, or buffing, to mitigate the effect of it (any competently geared character fighting reasonable opponents is going to be at the hit cap most of the time anyway). It just makes the game a little more frustrating to me, but I suppose not everyone will feel that way. Shame. I'm not about to try decompiling the Avernum 2 executable, so I guess I will have to hope future Avernum games have a less irritating hit cap.
  6. This is the first time I've ever encountered this with a Spiderweb Software game. I've been playing since shortly after Exile 2 was released. This might be the first game I don't finish, because it just isn't fun to me. To put it simply, the game's combat mechanics feel completely broken, for two basic reasons: damage resistance and chance to hit. It is incredibly frustrating to melee a completely ordinary enemy for almost 600 damage, only to have them resist 550 of it. When I play this game, I frequently wonder why I even bother looking for weapon upgrades. When I hit an enemy for 60 (451 resisted) with an old weapon, then hit an enemy for 62 (485 resisted) with a new weapon, it becomes very hard to be excited about new gear. The percentage of the damage enemies resist is almost comical. Melee characters having to use 6-7 rounds to kill a single ordinary enemy is not exactly compelling gameplay. I know that spell casters have it slightly better in terms of damage scaling (not to mention multitarget attacks), but the basic, fundamental problem in my mind is that enemy damage resistance scales far faster than my ability to deal damage, to the point where killing basic enemies is like chipping away at a boulder unless I vastly outlevel them. As frustrating as I find the damage resistance of enemies, that is nothing compared to the problem with hit chance. I remember being pretty annoyed at how often I missed enemies in Avernum: Escape from the Pit with a supposed 95% hit chance, but that is nothing compared to this game. I haven't bothered actually parsing this yet, but it is very, very blatantly clear that the "chance to hit" shown in the combat text is not accurate at all. I realize that humans are a poor judge of statistical events, but I would be very surprised if I was hitting enemies more often that 2/3rds of the time at most. Having massive streaks of Missed Missed Missed Missed 4 times in a row against generic enemies with no buffs on them makes me wonder why I'm bothering to attack at all. It is profoundly frustrating that every single ability has such a huge chance of simply doing nothing at all, even against basic mobs. As a brief aside, I play World of Warcraft, and the developers of that game frequently make long blog posts explaining changes they're making. One of the more interesting posts for me was a discussion about combat mechanics. With the most recent expansion to the game, they completely removed your ability to miss mobs (unless they outleveled you or you were hit by a few specific debuffs). Every single ability works all the time, 100%. They balanced combat around the assumption that, if you were fighting level appropriate enemies, you were going to hit them. The reason they did this was because previously, every single player deliberately geared themselves so that they would never miss, never get parried, and never get dodged, which made items with +hit and +expertise mandatory. Simply put, people hate, absolutely hate, having abilities that don't work. Pressing a button and having nothing happen is one of the most infuriating things for players to experience, and it's largely unneccessary, since combat can be balanced around a 100% chance to hit and slightly reduced damage. Now, coming back to Avernum 2, the way older Avernum games handled chance to hit worked far better in my mind. It was still important to focus on raising your hit chance, but you could actually get it to the point where you stood a very good chance of hitting level appropriate enemies (I barely remember missing at all in those games). In this game, when it comes down to it, the (supposed) 90% hit cap basically means that you will always have an extremely high chance of missing in combat, and that makes attacking enemies a chore rather than a pleasure. It should be fun to take a swing at a mob, or throw a spell at it. Instead, it's frustrating and stressful, because I'm constantly wondering whether a fundamental, basic piece of in-game functionality is going to magically not work. Having a small chance of something awesome happening (i.e. critical hits) is a fantastic gameplay mechanic. Having a large chance of the worst possible outcome happening (a miss) is not, at least for me. With all that in mind...anyone know whether it's possible to tweak chance to hit or damage resistence by modifying the game's scripts? I compared Slartibus's mods for Avernum 1 against the game's default scripts trying to figure out what he changed and whether it would be possible to tweak things like this, but I'm worried that those calculations are handled in the game executable itself, not in any script. I'm assuming that modifying the game is considered acceptable, given that the scripts are stored in plain text and the game includes any editor. Anyone know whether something like this is possible? I want to love this game, and literally every single thing about it is exactly what I was looking for, except the two calculations governing damage resistance and chance to hit. It's sad to me that such basic things can cripple a game, but as it stands right now, this just isn't enjoyable for me.
  7. Originally Posted By: Feather of Maat, Scales of Poole Golgolath, I think you stepped in a little deep here. You're addressing matters of preference as if your own opinion is going to be shared by everyone. To give one example, I absolutely can't stand the Avernum dialogue system. I could elaborate, but that's not the point; the point is that's my opinion, and this is a question of opinion. Both dialogue systems do what they need to do. I don't really see anything wrong with expressing my opinions with conviction. I don't think they're going to be shared by everyone. I just don't see any point in being ambivalent. Avernum 3 is my favorite video game, and I firmly believe it's one of the best ever made. That's going to make someone a bit passionate while defending it. Originally Posted By: Feather of Maat, Scales of Poole Dismissing somebody else's preference as "nostalgia" while suggesting that the game you like better is actually "better" or "better made" is self-centered, to say the least. Why is it so hard to believe that somebody else might genuinely enjoy different things, or care about different things? Coming across as self-centered is not my intention, and I don't believe I did that. I expressed very thoroughly and reasonably why I thought Avernum 3 was better than Exile 3, to someone who maligned Avernum 3 unfairly (there's nothing wrong with criticizing a game, if you explain why you think that. He didn't in his post, hence my long, possibly too venomous, response) Originally Posted By: Feather of Maat, Scales of Poole In a CRPG, ideally, fighting should be fun in and of itself. If fighting isn't fun, and the only reason you do it is to grind towards some kind of power-up, it begs the question of why you are playing a game whose main modality of play bores you. Errrr....I don't play a game whose main modality of play bores me. That's Exile 3. I play Avernum 3. Also, you contradicted yourself. Above, you criticized me for dismissing someone else's enjoyment of Exile 3, yet here you criticize me for having different priorities in games than you do. I DO play games to grind. I find it immensely enjoyable to work towards a goal, even if that goal is something as trivial as a number saying that I'm level 50. What's wrong with that? I find it fun.
  8. Originally Posted By: Thuryl So, uh, stop killing stuff? It's easy to run away from most battles, and wandering monsters will start to run away from you once your level is high enough anyway. So to clarify, you think it's better for a game to scale so poorly that it's better to avoid fighting things? Huh? Combat is the core aspect of Avernum/Exile games. Maxing out halfway through and then spending the rest of the game avoiding fights doesn't sound like my idea of fun. Would Final Fantasy 7 be fun if you hit level 99 before leaving Midgar and spent the rest of the game holding down L+R every time you got into combat with trash mobs? Originally Posted By: Thuryl Anyway, there are plenty of things to spend skill points on even at high levels. Max out spell points for your spellcasters. Max out Assassination for your fighters. Give your fighters magic skills and your spellcasters combat skills. Give everyone loads and loads of Luck. Yes, there are things to spend your skill points on. Unfortunately, you run out of things to buy long before Exile 3 ends. Originally Posted By: Thuryl Maybe it's a problem for you, but this is actually one of the things I like best about the Exile engine. In Avernum, it's just not as much fun to try to rush through to the endgame with a beginning party while skipping as much of the game as possible, because the way enemy HP scales means that killing high-level enemies with a level-1 party is just a chore. In Exile, both characters and enemies scale much less drastically, so it's possible to get into wildly mismatched encounters and win. You're right. It's not fun to skip content. So why are you advocating it? You contradicted yourself here. It's ok to skip all but the most essential combat in Exile games, yet it's not ok to do so in Avernum games? I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I don't try to skip my way through Avernum or Exile. Just because you can, doesn't mean it's a good idea. There is a very linear progression in enemy difficulty as you move north through Valorim. If you skip content, then yes, you're going to have a bad time. Originally Posted By: Thuryl Success should depend on your skill as a player, not on how high you've levelled up and what weapons you've collected. I would say that it should depend equally on skill/gear/level, personally. Gear based progression IS an important part of RPGs. Originally Posted By: Thuryl Silverlocke sold Knowledge Brews in Exile as well, y'know. Spells are also a significant money sink, especially if you want to give all your characters level 7 mage and priest spells by the end. Yes, she did, and as I already discussed, Exile games don't scale well enough for them to be worth it. Last time I played Exile 3, I was pretty much maxed before I even finished the Troglo/Giant quests, let alone Aliens/Golems. There's simply not enough practical/useful skills in Exile games to spend points on. Avernum's "no cap on anything, but diminishing returns apply" method of character progression is much better. It gives you reasons to play/advance your character, which is the core aspect of most RPG's. Originally Posted By: Thuryl What can I say? I grew up playing RPGs from the mid-1980s, and those didn't have quest logs. I'm used to getting by without them. So am I. That doesn't mean it's a good thing. Surely you're not using "I can survive without this feature, so it's not important" as an argument, right? Advancements are a good thing. Rejecting convenient and useful features simply because you don't absolutely need them is...odd. Quote: Keyword-based and menu-based dialogue both have their advantages and disadvantages; there have been whole threads on the subject here. Suffice it to say that there are people who have good reasons to prefer either system. It's pretty ridiculous that you point to the fact that the game lets you cheat if you consciously choose to do so as a disadvantage, though. You're completely missing my point. Considering that the game comes with a character editor, no, I'm not using a condemnation of cheating as an argument. What I'm saying is, it's clunky and awkward to be able to say anything, at any time, to any NPC, and jump to that point in the plot immediately (assuming it's a poorly designed conversation and doesn't check Stuff Done Flags, like the "sand" example doesn't). And yes, I find that method of conversing with NPCs to be silly. Imagine that. Having an opinion about Avernum games in a thread called "Which is your favorite Avernum game." Quote: I'm tempted to say that this is your fault for not using a Mac, but I won't. Whoops. I assume you're joking, because if you were honestly trying to make that statement, I would just laugh. Citing my choice of operating systems as a reason why Exile is better than Avernum would be pretty silly. Especially considering that the Mac version of Exile ALSO uses the default OS's menu bars. UI issues ARE a consideration when comparing one game to another. And using the default Windows/Mac UI elements is a bit tacky. Originally Posted By: Thuryl Come on, this can't really be your "biggest problem" with the Exile series. Nobody's attention span is so short that they can't wait 20 seconds for a round of combat to resolve. Already resorting to personal attacks? Nicely done. And yes, that is my biggest issue with the game. Why? Very simple. The core element of the Exile games, the thing you do most often, more than anything else, is combat. It is the fundamental building block of the entire gameplay experience, so yes, it DOES matter how smoothly combat flows. I honestly cannot believe that you think throwing 20 extra seconds onto a combat round that should last three seconds is acceptable. That's just mind blowing. Would you play a first person shooter where you could only fire a pistol every 5 seconds? Would you play a Mario game where jumping required 10 seconds of warming up? Would you play a version of Solitaire where you could only move one card every 20 seconds? Would you read a book you could only turn the pages of once every five minutes? It's exactly the same problem: 20 seconds is not a long period of time, if you look at it with no context. But when something that should require three seconds takes 20 seconds, then yes, that is unacceptable. Let's look at it this way: 20 rounds of combat: Time it should require: 60 seconds Time it requires in Exile 3: 400 seconds Time it requires in Avernum 3: 60 seconds Strangely, I DO think that a 667% bloat in the amount of time every round of combat takes is unacceptable. Imagine that, and I'm not the only one who thinks this way, which is why most games don't waste massive amounts of time with artificial and unnecessary pauses. Long delays in combat are fine if they're optional (Avernum 3), but not when they aren't (Exile 3). Jeff Vogel games are HUGE compared to most others, and having them flow smoothly while playing is necessary, which is why Avernum 3's version of combat, which you can speed up almost to the point of running it in fast-forward, is better. Damn, long sentence. Originally Posted By: Thuryl Okay, I guess your attention span really is that short. Seriously, who complains about taking 2 seconds to enter combat mode and hit something? Another personal attack. Disappointing. And yes, I complain about taking two seconds to enter combat mode. Why? Because you will enter and leave combat mode thousands (if not tens of thousands) of times over the course of the game. That time tends to add up. It's fine that you don't care about combat flowing smoothly. That is certainly your right. But insulting someone because they do is pretty tactless. Originally Posted By: Thuryl I meant that A3 and A4 have the same plot, which they do. A4 is the same game as A3 in the same sense that A3 is the same game as E3. Thank you for clarifying. That makes much more sense.
  9. Originally Posted By: Thuryl Lots of the old guard hated E3, and A3 is E3 but with a worse engine. Disliking A3 is a sign of good taste. My advice: skip either A3 or A4, since they're basically the same game, except that A3 is set on the surface and A4 is set in the caves. A3 is E3 with a worse engine? That's simply a false statement. Whether or not you agree with the artistic style of the Avernum games (I could easily understand someone hating vertical mountain walls and the somewhat odd npc graphics), from a gameplay perspective, that's not true at all. The Exile engine, from all three games, does not scale well. Exile 2 pretty much pushed the limits of what it can handle. As characters get stronger, they hit the maximum limits of what a character can achieve extremely quickly. Once you have the max in everything relevant to your character, there's not much point in continuing to kill stuff, except for gold (which, incidentally, also doesn't do much) or advancing the game's plot. In the Avernum games, your characters will scale as far as you choose to let them, and if you're patient enough, you can become essentially gods (particularly in Avernum 3 where you can create a huge number of Knowledge Brews). Even if you don't choose to though, by the time you're about halfway through Exile 3, you're rapidly running out of things to do with each character, unless you pick every single positive trait at the beginning to arrest your exp gain. Another problem is weapons. Specifically, the most powerful weapons in the Exile games don't really affect your damage that much, and your "max hit" is very small regardless of weapons. The damage cap on most spells is also extremely low (barring stuff like Death Arrows). When a character halfway through the game is basically the same as a character at the very end, that's kind of a problem. Exile games also lack effective ways to spend gold. You will occasionally run into some decent items from one of the randomly generated vendors, but the odds of anything good enough to drop 10000 gold on are pretty slim. The Avernum games have Silverlocke's Knowledge Brew supply as a method of dumping gold, plus expensive skills like Parry, Gymnastics, and Magery. It's far harder to run out of ways to spend gold in Avernum than in Exile, which, given the length of Avernum/Exile 2-3, is a good thing. Exile's method of handling quests is also quite primitive, clunky, and underdeveloped. Given the age of the games, that's not really an issue, but Avernum 2 and 3's Quest feature is one of the biggest draws of those games over Exile. Exile's dialog system is very clunky. You read huge text out of a small window and have to either click words looking for the next trigger phrase, or just cheat and enter it manually (Saying "sand" to a guard in Fort Emergence in Exile 3 as a particularly grievous example, which immediately sends you into a piece of the endgame plot line). Avernum's is far smoother, more intuitive, and more flexible. The Windows versions of Exile games have severe UI issues, where, depending on what you press and when you press it, can put the focus on the wrong UI element (I believe hitting Enter in Exile 1 does this) and you can't control your characters any more unless you manually click on the playing field or tab your way back to it. They also use basic windows features like buttons, menu bars, and so forth, in very uninspired and clunky ways. This doesn't exactly help the immersion factor. The Exile games look like someone slapped a SNES game into Windows Explorer. The Avernum games, whether you like their visual design or not, at least manage to hide the Windows features. Imagine playing a game like crysis with a Windows title bar, where you have to click on Windows buttons to swap from one weapon to another, and where pressing the wrong thing makes your character stand still until you tab around. Wouldn't be enjoyable. And now we get to the biggest problem, which, to be fair, Avernum 1 and 2 suffer from also, but Avernum 3 finally resolves. The Exile engine handles large scale fights HORRIBLY. It takes forever to sit through the animations of every player attacking every enemy, and every enemy fighting back, especially when the enemies go to town and start summoning even more. Even with spells like Shockwave to clear out the smaller enemies, sitting and listening/watching to each individual attack animation, one after the other, can get incredibly frustrating. There is of course options like turning off special effects, etc. While they do help, they don't help much. Except in Avernum 3, where, for the first time, setting your effects speed to "Very Fast" does indeed make them go by extremely quickly. Furthermore, one of the greatest things about the Avernum engine is the ability to fight out of combat mode, which Exile sorely lacks. Sure, you can only use one character, and it leaves the other ones open, but the effect can't be overstated. It dramatically reduces the tedium of Combat Mode->Smack one mob->Normal mode, and makes what could be a chore into a treat instead. Most people who prefer Exile games over Avernum ones do so for nostalgia reasons. The Avernum engine is far more evolved, the game world is massively larger and fully fleshed out, and a lot of the core, fundamental problems of the Exile engine simply don't apply to Avernum. They are simply better made. And did you really say that Avernum 3 and Avernum 4 are the same game? That's like saying Exile and Geneforge are the same game, or Diablo 2 and Final Fantasy 7 are the same game. They are so completely different on a fundamental gameplay level, I simply have no idea what you're talking about.