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"Spiderweb Games Have Gotten Too Hard"

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Depending on the game, there were times where Mertis had gates with guards on the roads and by Avernum 6 they were finally building a wall

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I'm pretty sure there are walls and gates back in A1. I can't remember all the way back to E1.

 

—Alorael, who knows there are at least a few walls to make things safer. Also patrolling guards to remind you that walls are there for your protection, citizen.

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I'm pretty sure in E2 there were gates for the checkpoints between Silvar and Mertis. But it's been over 5 years since I played it.

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Edward Schieffelin isn't a psycholinguist, he's an anthropologist. (And as far as I can tell, his research has no connection whatsoever to psycholinguistics.)


"performativity" is still a good word to know regardless

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Ah... A subject worth logging in to comment on.

 

I personally think that the slow monotonous combat that's been described in this thread as being "difficult" is less a fault of grinding... And more of over simplification of the games tactics.

 

To put this into context, I'm a crazy E1-3 fan. BoE too. I loved the rich, open optioned tactical combat. There were creatures bigger than you, and you could form up a shield wall for your mages. And your mages had tactically distinct although sometimes not too dissimilar spells in a large variety to cast. Albeit I'm talking more E3 at this point.

There were also three different melee weapons--though certainly their distinctness could have used a little work. Also, we had 6 party members rather than 4. This allowed for more of a tactical squad, than 4-buddies adventuring through hell. It also gave enough to actually form protective tactics such as per say, a shield wall. (Doubly so since there was something of a threat area that was difficult to pass through without dieing horribly.)

 

And y'know what? I loved it. The beautiful setting was just the rich-dark-chocolate-icing on the cake.

 

To top it all, the setting was immersive, cities were dots on the map you entered. Seriously it was sad to loose this. It gave a good feeling of scale that was seriously lost with the all-one-map(or ugh, geneforges map system) Exile(Or Avernum if you prefer) felt like a MASSIVE area. In the more recent games it feels... a bit... tiny.

 

Atleast to me though, each newer game in Spidwebs series's following E3 though, the tactics have gotten simpler and more cut down. Geneforges earliest games bounced back a little, but quickly followed this pattern too. And there are the occasional small bounces back. But overall the original games remain on a whole other level... Albeit they had their own horrible balance (and AI) issues.

 

I'm not saying I want to see the E1-3 engine again. I'm saying I want to see its quantity and quality of choice and tactics again. It's a rarity in games... And was once Spidweb's specialty.

And with these more rich tactics? Comes more actual difficulty... rather than just a wall you have to grind away at. Things like asking yourself "Do I want to use the less efficient, less reliable, or most reliable and efficient method" for a particular instance.

 

<.< But that's just one fans ramblings.

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Considering that the optimal strategy for most fights in the Exile series beyond low levels was "bless your party until enemies literally cannot hit you at all any more", I'm not sure I'd say that the games have become less strategically deep.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Considering that the optimal strategy for most fights in the Exile series beyond low levels was "bless your party until enemies literally cannot hit you at all any more", I'm not sure I'd say that the games have become less strategically deep.


It's funny, if you substitute "Invis" for "Bless", that's the exact strategy you use in the early Final Fantasy games, too!

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: Lilith
Considering that the optimal strategy for most fights in the Exile series beyond low levels was "bless your party until enemies literally cannot hit you at all any more", I'm not sure I'd say that the games have become less strategically deep.


It's funny, if you substitute "Invis" for "Bless", that's the exact strategy you use in the early Final Fantasy games, too!
I never use that strategy in any rpg. Its cheap and just plain unfair to whatever is trying to kill you. Plus, the game becomes incredibly boring if you do that. Its just not that fun when there is little to no risk of dying.

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Originally Posted By: rage, rage against the light
I'm pretty sure there are walls and gates back in A1. I can't remember all the way back to E1.

—Alorael, who knows there are at least a few walls to make things safer. Also patrolling guards to remind you that walls are there for your protection, citizen.


In A1, Mertis did not have walls to protect itself. In A2, Mertis could've been a fort with the the walls and troops inside. In A3, we can't see Mertis. In A4, they talk about building walls for protection (maybe they somehow got destroyed between A2 and A4?). In A5, again we can't see Mertis. In A6, apparently (I only have the demo of the game) as some have said, Mertis has walls.

Post #477 cool

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I would love to see more difficulty in the games to be honest. Tone the HPs down some and add in some interesting tweaks like:

 

You must use a combat skill, potion or spell against this enemy before it can be hurt. Some sort of defense weakening you acquire through other quests. Make it on some side quest(s) so the main story isn't too hard for new players.

 

More "real" puzzles. Not so much lever-pulling or button-pushing, which can be fun, but needing to find answers by reading things in-game and knowing the story and background. Say the answer doesn't show up on the choices without having read the material.

 

Maybe a few "escort" type quests. Keeping an NPC alive, please give it an intelligent AI, would be pretty interesting even though it's been done to death in the mainstream.

 

Overall though, the only complaint I have is the HPs. Everything else is easy to understand and abuse as needed.

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Originally Posted By: Mringasa
Maybe a few "escort" type quests. Keeping an NPC alive, please give it an intelligent AI, would be pretty interesting even though it's been done to death in the mainstream.



Ugh, the reason Jeff doesn't include these is because the AI is always so frustratingly stupid that even if you make the dude to be escorted super powerful (then why would we need to escort him?), he's STILL a liability, because they will invariably run out and get themselves killed. And then you'll have to reload. Escort missions are way more trouble than they're worth.

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Jeff HAS included the things you're asking for, at least in A6. I can think of at least three escort missions. I can also think of at least two enemies where you do something special before you'd be able to hit him, because of the enemy's special defenses.

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And except for the fact, that one had get used to some changes in A6, I'd say A6 was a lot of fun, too.

I still remember several Slith Generals, masterly fighters, whom you couldn't get down easily by just hacking at them.

Or the way through the chitrach hive, that would give you a chance of passing through without having to fight their whole force at once, which was kind of overwhelming, the ruin with the skeletons, the spider queen, the addicts, some demons, etc. There really were a lot of places and opponents, where one needed specific solutions for better results, if you didn't like HP-hacking - or weren't able to do it. (I wasn't.)

What really got me mad and a bit unnerved where the many ends of the grid which weren't distinguishable from just difficult barriers. Several Forts, some place near or in the vahnathai colony…

(Sorry for the foggy non-name-dropping. It's been a while since I've played.)

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Totally agree with RogueThunder. And I especially appreciate his eloquence as my scribblings would be much blunter and far less well received. At 26 billion years from end to end, the universe just isn't big enough to contain the one word I would use to describe A-6. I keep trying to find redeeming value in the game but after nearly two full plays, I can tell that Spiderweb games no longer makes the universe spin but instead makes for a very dull and boring imaginary environment.

I plead with you Jeff, please fix this!!!!!

 

Now for those who would disparage my remarks, please notice I have never in all my years of visiting the forum which just happens to be several years longer then my sign-in date, had anything bad to say about Jeff's games. But this game has been eating at me for to long now.

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I definitely remember an escort mission in Geneforge 4, so he has done those before. And I don't see why "the AI is always so stupid" is a reason not to include an escort mission. Just make the AI better.

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Avernum 6 had an escort mission in Fort Draco, Geneforge 5 had one for rebels helping serviles, Geneforge 4 had helping soldiers escape and escorting a caravan, ...

 

Escort missions are hard the first time because you don't know the route so you can't get out in front to protect them.

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Originally Posted By: Celtic Minstrel
I definitely remember an escort mission in Geneforge 4, so he has done those before. And I don't see why "the AI is always so stupid" is a reason not to include an escort mission. Just make the AI better.


why don't you just ask jeff to part the red sea while you're at it

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
why don't you just ask jeff to part the red sea while you're at it


No!!!! Jeff might bring back Geneforge type boats.

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As long as the dialogue points out the path you need to go clearly, I don't think knowledge of what way to go beforehand will much of an issue.

 

I dislike escort missions in Spiderweb. Half the time the group or person I'm protecting can't keep rank and file and makes it harder to keep them protected.

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
Originally Posted By: meAzuma
But it's been done before!

Moses had help that Jeff can't count on.


I dunno, I would say that Jeff's beard could provide a decent level of competition with Moses'.

When you say help, you do mean beards, right?

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
why don't you just ask jeff to part the red sea while you're at it
I don't see how it would be especially difficult to make an AI that doesn't get in your way as Dantius described. Simply make them a) flee enemies and B) stay close to the party. Is that really so hard? I could probably write an AvernumScript to do that in a few minutes.

Of course, I can't guarantee that such an AI is intelligent enough to avoid the problems Dantius described... but it seems to me like it would be.

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Given the sheer number of games out there that fail at it (ie, every game with an escort mission), it's got to be harder than it looks.

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Originally Posted By: Celtic Minstrel
I don't see how it would be especially difficult to make an AI that doesn't get in your way as Dantius described. Simply make them a) flee enemies and B) stay close to the party. Is that really so hard? I could probably write an AvernumScript to do that in a few minutes.

Of course, I can't guarantee that such an AI is intelligent enough to avoid the problems Dantius described... but it seems to me like it would be.
What happens when there are multiple enemies scattered around? Multiple enemies of various strength? What happens when the party member are far apart from each other? Which member does the escort stick by? Most importantly, what happens when the party and enemies are right next to each other -- which is quite common?

Look, all I'm saying is that it's difficult to find a heuristic that works well in all situations.

(Another thing is that the AI for escorts need to be stupid to some extent, otherwise there's not much challenge to the mission. Really, what's the optimal strategy for the escort in most cases? Wait at the beginning of the area, and only budge once the party has eliminated all enemies.)

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A good escort mission would quite possibly make the escort behave as an extra party member. You can order your new fifth/seventh friend to do whatever you want, but of course your regular team will be far more combat-capable.

 

And why not leave the NPC at the edge of the map? Because of the endless onrushing horde of foes, obviously.

 

—Alorael, who does think that adding another NPC to the engine has to be easier than upgrading AI. And hey, it worked for Nethergate.

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Originally Posted By: RogueThunder

To top it all, the setting was immersive, cities were dots on the map you entered. Seriously it was sad to loose this. It gave a good feeling of scale that was seriously lost with the all-one-map(or ugh, geneforges map system) Exile(Or Avernum if you prefer) felt like a MASSIVE area. In the more recent games it feels... a bit... tiny.

...

And with these more rich tactics? Comes more actual difficulty... rather than just a wall you have to grind away at. Things like asking yourself "Do I want to use the less efficient, less reliable, or most reliable and efficient method" for a particular instance.



I totally agree with you RT, I'm more of an avernum trilogy fan myself (im to lazy to figure out the exile dialog system) but i agree that the A6 world seems so miniscule compared to the old world of A1, A2 and A3 and I am sick and tired of all the spider boss fights amounting to "there's the boss, stab it for half an hour" really, that fight with ghaldring was just painfully tedious and the monsters in A6 have riduculously huge health bars that take way to long to chop down. Here's to hoping that Avadon will reset the whole concept back to the Spiderweb factory settings.

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I partially agree with RogueThunder, I was a big fan of Exile 1-3, finishing each game at least 3 times (more for exile 2). I only finished Avernum 1-3 once, and didn't finished Avernum 4-6 even if I like them. It should be noted that I often delay in finishing my games, usually wishing to get the last XP from the game.

 

What I missed when going from Exile to Acernum 1-3 was the down sizing of my party from 6 to 4, less characters, less tactical options, less team building. But the skill system is far better. In Exile it was mostly "raise your STR to 20 and other stats a bit as needed", in Avernum you have far more things to do and to chose from.

 

With Avernum 4-6 and the all-one map, the world has shrunk. It's a huge loss for gameplay even if one map scale is more pratical for small encouters and tiny location not worth a large scale map.

 

What I don't like in recent Avernum games is the absence, or near absence, of respawning. When I play a RPG, I wish to always be able to grab more XP/gold if I wish to, or feel I need to, before going further in the game, I loved Exile 2 for this. Of course I may unbalance the game by getting a too strong party too soon, but only if I wish to unbalance it by overabusing. In recent Avernum games, you only get the XP the designer allocate you, enough to plays the game for sure, but with the extensive skill system (I love it!) it's very frustating (and don't tell me about character editor, I never use it except for game plot issues).

 

By the way, I tried to play Geneforge but never went past half the demo, only one character is bring. I fear I won't like avadon for similar reasons, I will try it anyway.

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Avadon is going to have a party system. You only have one character who MUST be in your party at all times, but it sounds like you'll be able to use the same three characters for almost all of the game if you want to.

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Avadon is more of a multi character game than Geneforge. The NPCs are much closer to your character than Alwan and Greta, it's similar to the early Avernum games where you could recruit NPCs for your party.

 

Enjoy Genevernum Gate.

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I like it that you can't get unlimited loot/experience by killing the same things over and over, if only because games that allow it tend to gravitate towards forcing you to do it.

 

Disclaimer: Despite this, I have played and enjoyed Disgaea and Etrian Odyssey. There's probably just something wrong with me.

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Originally Posted By: Khoth
Disclaimer: Despite this, I have played and enjoyed Disgaea and Etrian Odyssey. There's probably just something wrong with me.


if those games are wrong i don't want to be right

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: Khoth
Disclaimer: Despite this, I have played and enjoyed Disgaea and Etrian Odyssey. There's probably just something wrong with me.


if those games are wrong i don't want to be right
Then im lucky that im already not right, becuase I agree with both of them.

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I admit I haven't read the entire thread, but I don't want the games to be hard. I want them to be fun. I don't play games for the challenge, I play them because they are diverting. If they require too much research or min-maxing to beat, that's not fun or diverting. That's work. These are RPGs. Let me succeed with a character or characters that I like playing.

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To bring you up to speed: the discussion so far has mostly been about enemy HP numbers, rather than across-the-board difficulty. I don't think many on here are that concerned with the latter, since there are several difficulty settings. At least, I can't recall anyone saying that casual is too hard or torment is too easy.

 

On the subject of HP, I mostly agree with the first few posters on here. Enemies in Avernum 5 and 6, especially bosses, take for-effing-ever to kill on higher difficulty levels. On lower difficulties, they don't do enough damage to present a credible threat to my party. And contra what Alorael said early on, I think there's a meaningful distinction between challenge and tedium, and the recent Avernum games have often fallen on the latter side. On the other hand, I think that the earlier Geneforge games are too far in the opposite direction. I find in Geneforge 2 and 3 that on normal and hard even bosses die within a couple turns, while on torment they're a bit hardier, but can too often kill me in one hit.

 

For my money, the games with the best balance between enemies as glass cannons and enemies as punching bags are Geneforge 4 and 5.

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I think the plain fact is that there's not really so much you can do to make combat interesting in this kind of game. Big-company titles can disguise the limited range of tactics with fancy graphics, but on Jeff's scale, the genre is basically story and exploration, with combat as a frequently inserted minigame. His games might be aesthetically better for having less of it, overall. But I think he may be limited by the fact that some fraction of his customer base just loves smashing goblins, and he has to keep them happy.

 

Jeff is trying a significantly different approach in Avadon. I haven't honestly been doing enough work as a beta tester to have a firm opinion on how well it's working, but for what it's worth my impression is that he's making combat into a more sophisticated minigame. I see at least the potential for it to develop into a flexible system that works as an easy crush-the-goblins minigame on easier difficulty settings, but a serious tactical exercise on higher ones. I guess we'll see how it comes out in the end.

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I'm intrigued by what Jeff has said about Avadon's gameplay, especially the bit about making healing a less crucial part of combat. The lack of divine restoration spammage in Geneforge (I found mass restore useful, but only a staple for shapers/lifecrafters, and maybe sorceresses) was one of the main reasons I preferred combat in recent Geneforge games to that in recent Avernum games.

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So far from beta testing, the higher difficulty is really only noticeable with some mini boss fights. That difference is mostly on how fast you can die. smile

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
But I think he may be limited by the fact that some fraction of his customer base just loves smashing goblins, and he has to keep them happy.


Smashing goblins makes me happy.

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Hmm. As a moderator maybe I'm supposed to give you a two-week ban for hateful remarks about goblinkind.

 

But that would be sort of hypocritical, since even if I didn't actually enjoy smashing the goblins, I still did it. In fact, I did it just to complete a job board quest, and that's arguably even more demeaning to goblinkind.

 

What to do, what to do.

 

You know what? I reckon goblins aren't buying any of Jeff's games anyway, since Jeff pretty much burned that bridge when he put in all those smash-the-goblins job board quests. So, forget 'em.

 

You're good.

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