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Paul Collins

A Midgame Review of Avadon

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A mid game review of Avadon (At the return to Dhorl Stead Mission)

 

*MILD SPOILERS*

 

 

CONS

- no individual party member movement outside of the combat engine, makes pre-battle positioning a little clunky.

- As mentioned, preset entrance points to each map, making some quest locations (and their respective turn ins) slightly tedious to reach.. See the mage tower in the Kva Lands, Runner Faiga's place in the Dhorl Stead (Although this may be understandable given the number of exit points, which do provide a convenience, on each map

- No leadership skill!!! Probably the most personal disappointment, given how well executed this game mechanic was in the Geneforge series (most notably, in my eyes, in G4 and G5). Whether in a grand way (modifying reputation among factions, adding allies in certain battles) or small (additional quest rewards, calming creations to avoid smaller encounters), the leadership skill provided diversification of the gameplay experience and a viable diplomatic path. In Avadon, there have been moments where I felt that a more charismatic character could and should have talked his/her way out of an encounter (see sorceress fight in the Jherl Deeps), but instead any decision to bribe/be paid off in lieu of combat are static. Also I feel the leadership skill could have been used to great effect as applied to companion relationships. It's hard in some ways to become emotionally invested in companions when I am practically guaranteed their eventual loyalty so long as I pick preset and fairly obvious dialogue responses (and perform their loyalty quests). This being regardless of the possible charisma of my main character. Sorry, rant.

- Little main character customization. As far as I can tell, there are only two differences that one's choice of main character makes. One, that only a sorceress or shadowwalker can pick certain locks in Avadon for low cost in terms of lockpicks (See chest near anvil in basement workshop). And two, that the choice of main character can be used to set party member preferences. Don't like the blademaster companion's dialogue? Choose a blademaster (assuming most people will play the game needing a tank). For the main character customization to boil down to this is understandable if one looks at Avadon as a merger of Geneforge (dialogue is mostly directed toward the main character as an individual) and Avernum (no individual party member focus) gameplay mechanics. But, for in terms of roleplaying that extends beyond NPC conversations (which are unaffected by skill) and perhaps for my ego as a player, I would have preferred something more.

- No general lockpicking skill. Mentioned above... Maybe a rare scarab(s) could grant cross-class skills such as this (lockpicking currently confined to sorceress/shadowwalker)

- Moar (sic) scarabs! A verrry minor observation...but given that they provided the most cross-class character tailoring, I would have liked more. Not overpowered, DLC, stroke/hold the ego type, just more scarabs for certain practical uses.

- Blackbeard, not Redbeard (completely subjective)

- Overabundance of wands. I found myself lugging around, on torment difficulty, a number of wands (fire, ice, venom) that, a few missions in, were rather ineffectual (either missed or did very little damage). It was probably meant for me to use the wands at earlier levels..but I feel a better mechanic would have been to make wands both more scarce and more powerful. Again, more personal than anything, and a product of a first time playthrough (not knowing what items would come in handy on torment). In fact, I probably should have sold them.

- Dragons. Why did it have to be dragons? This is, again, a minor point but after the amazingly original Geneforge universe I felt less so the inclusion of and more so a certain focus on dragons was a step backward in terms of storytelling. Enough games of far more dubious quality (DA, DA2, Divinity 2) focus on this massive fantasy trope.

- Updating Avadon quartermaster inventory. The quartermaster of Avadon, the seat of Pact power, has a more limited inventory than Goldcrag? Unrealistic, he should have an updated inventory as missions progress (see more scarabs)

 

NEUTRAL

- Automap/quest compass...Actually not a con, since it only seems to exist early on in tutorial format (in Avadon, for understandable reasons, since people live there and know the layout, and in the tutorial dungeon, again, for obvious reasons). So a neutral choice, if not a positive for new gamers.

- Combat... The only negative I can muster so far is that certain skills seemed overpowered (Shaman spirit claw), for wrong or right reason. This is an area where I feel more discussion, and perhaps tweaking, is to be had. I simply don't know and so, again, this is a neutral statement. However, there is a certain sort of auto heal mechanic exploit whereby a single character can escape (most) combat encounters, auto heal/rez the group, and then wait out skill cooldowns. Effecting, in most cases (there are some encounters that bar a return to Avadon and full vitality restoration, irrespective of vitality potions availability), the spamming of potentially overpowered skills. So, again, a neutral absent more player discussion.

- Difficulty. Probably the most contentious aspect of the indie RPG (I'm looking at you, RPGCodex). I've been playing on Torment, aka the highest level of difficulty in Vogel games and the difficulty I assume most people who care about difficulty will be playing at. So far, it pans out like this:

-- Tutorial (Avadon dungeons, first mission) is easy. Perhaps too easy. You will probably not use a health potion until the final battle of the first mission, although you might use wands/blessing crystals (short term buffs)/a speed potion? (haste, the question mark is for perhaps). But don't despair!!

--Later missions/quests become progressively more difficult, both inside and outside Avadon. For each mission, there is at least one quest that is quite difficult for one's level (See book steal quest, widow of bones, sorceress shade?! being perhaps the most difficult thus far).

Given that the game is linear and one must finish a mission to unlock new maps, it seems that the main quests have been made somewhat less difficult than those in Avernum 6 and G5 (the most balanced and thus most/more difficult). A byproduct, perhaps a preexisting one in Vogel games, of the linearity is that the player can skip difficult missions and return later to tackle them at higher level. So, while the main quests are less difficult than before, the side quest difficulty is entirely a product of choice, a sliding scale of difficulty depending on one's, let's say, guts.

The good news? Less hp whittling. What makes the difficulty in most cases is the encounter design (very good, as usual) and the use of status ailments (stunning, dazing, ensnaring which prevents key movement, acid/poison, charming, etc...). Although, It is arguable whether acid/poison status ailments should, even given the best character build, only last 1-2 turns *it shouldn't ever*.

 

PROS

 

Writing/Companions: A Vogel game (brand loyalty) seems to always guarantee quality writing and Avadon is no exception. Whether it is the several paragraphs of writing used to describe various new maps that the player enters or the way in which Jeff substantiates both important AND unimportant, stock NPCs (See New Vegas NCR soldier dialogue, a few sentences compared to at least a paragraph for many stock NPCs). And this is not a case of quantity over quantity. There is little to no cheeky, gamebreaking bad dialogue (I WANT TO BE A DRAGON), characters are real, often despicable in very understandable ways (as compared to EVIL), and at least one of your characters is genuinely interesting (having focused on her dialogue mostly). Nathalie is great. A power hungry 17 year old sorceress who you first meet relishing in the fact that she just blasted a few Avadon prisoners into nothingness. A character who starts shaking with excitement (as described in game) when faced with a tough adversary. Very well done.

 

Encounter Design: Ahh....Jeff Vogel has always had a certain knack for encounter design. Sure, there are trash mobs, but in Avadon you rarely feel bothered mowing through them. This is not only due to the auto heal mechanic (which is contentious and arguably unneeded were healing more thoroughly integrated into the shaman class) but more importantly due to great boss encounters. For example, the sorceress shade, who teleports, at random, your party members to different parts of a dungeon during the fight. Or an escape from a flooding cavern while fighting off bands of ogres (The flooding will kill you, not an illusion of danger). There are certain recycled elements from past Vogel games (boss that spits out monsters when hit), but it works and it works amazingly well.

 

Story: Looking for faction based gameplay, as in Bloodlines, Geneforge 2, etc? Well, you may not find exactly what you're looking for. HOWEVER, the storyline/in game universe is serviceable, if not well-done. This may seem like damning with faint praise, but in an age where RPGs are a mutating, if not dying breed, it is quite the compliment. As a player, I was interested in the world, more so the characters, and I had the understanding that this was the first game in the Avadon series and as such it would taking some amount of acclimation. Point being, there is an argument that new game worlds, or one-off gameworlds (Planescape, Geneforge) should be introduced at first in a limited way, through a personal tale, rather than through making assumptions about the player's commitment to a previously unknown lore. Case in point: G1 and Sucia island. Players were not traipsing across Terrestria and their character was very much alone, no servant or cog in a mass political/military structure. Or Planescape. You were not immediately a member of a faction or, *cough*, a Warden by necessity. You were tabula rasa (relatively speaking) from the start and as such you could accept aspects of the game world in time, not all at once as if it were natural or expected.

 

This was a rambling post and I firmly believe game reviews are made in the aggregate, so c'mon and share. Also, I want to thank Jeff Vogel for making great games.

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How does the size / length of this game overall compare to other recent Spiderweb games (e.g. Geneforge 4-5, Avernum 5-6)?

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One good thing that can come out of not having a leadership skill is that the dialogues could become more exciting knowing that there is no "win" option but rather different paths. This is something that can make you sit and ponder for a while and leave you with an uneasy feeling after the conversation is concluded, and in my mind that tension is helped along if you don't have to also consider "is my stat high enough?"

Comparisons to P&P RPG is perhaps not all that solid, but in my experience any 'convince npc' stat adversely affects all players willingness to seriously engage in conversations as a means to drive the story forwards.

Now, I'm undecided as to wether or not Avadon reaches this kind of tension but playing it for the first time I must say I have my hopes.

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In answer to your question, it does. So far, I have made many choices that fill me with doubt as to whether I've made a "good" choice (See Wayfarer meetings). And it was great and highly engaging. The question is, shouldn't some players, who prefer a certain style of play above and beyond battle + normal conversation options, be allowed to customize their character as a true diplomat. I don't think it is a case of sacrificing one style of play (a normal character with meaningful dialogue choices) with another (a character you roleplay, as in invest time and skill in, as a diplomat. Once again, the sorceress battle in jherl deeps is a perfect example...Even a subsidiary battle pending a successful dialogue check would have been nice (another ogre chief pops up/she leaves monsters to test your mettle, see if you're worth the investment)

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Running the risk of being a bit repetitive I have to ask if it is really the presence of a Leadership skill or an attention to details and possibilities in the dialogues that we hope for? For me the leadership skill means nothing without a really good context, but that context can just as well be used without 'leadership' being present as a stat. Sure, it is practical to use the skill to check in order to determine the outcome but instead you can check against earlier decisions, conversations, items, tendencies, alignments etc.

Perhaps I'm thinking of this in terms of economical game design and that warps my perspective...

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tldr to the original poster, but

Originally Posted By: Triumph
How does the size / length of this game overall compare to other recent Spiderweb games (e.g. Geneforge 4-5, Avernum 5-6)?

 

I finished it earlier this morning, and I do mean finished it. Did every quest and cleared every area.

 

Bottom line: It felt significantly shorter than Avernum 6 frown And not just short, but I felt like it ended abruptly. I suppose that's the best way to tease for a sequel, but I was still expecting the adventure to continue a bit more.

 

This is the first of a new series, however, so I understand the length and am ok with it.

 

Anyway, I hope Avadon 2 is less than 1.5 years away, and that it is bigger and lets you visit more places in Lynnaeus, like Svorgald and Corruption! Those sound cool.

 

Edit: Ok I did read one thing.

Quote:
Nathalie is great.

 

I agree 100%. I think Jeff nailed it when he wrote Nathalie. Her character really sucked me in to the world of Avadon more than any other aspect. Hoorah!

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To Olle,

I appreciate the viewpoint that a skill could be incorporated into the overall player experience of being a Hand and making alliances of a certain sort throughout the overall game. BUT, I don't think rpgs should boil down to a mentality where everything can be had in one playthrough. THE POINT of any rpg, as many might tell you from pnp and more recent crpg past, is to play a role. Why should every character be a diplomat, that being the natural outcome of static dialogue choice? It's a matter of play style. The fact that you may not desire it does not inhibit others from imagining an Avadon universe wherein they can talk certain foes out of combat, or into certain behavior, by virtue of investment. The real divide, as I see it, is between those who care about playing a certain role and those who don't. Regardless, I don't and frankly can't find it aspirational, from a design perspective, that certain diplomatic ends would require no investment. It takes away, it does not give... Unless you think an rpg character should be proficient without reason, in which case, don't level your characters and just hope they perform well in combat.

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The game is smaller than previous games, but part of that is the level 30 cap which means if you do everything, then for the last 20% of the game all you get is loot and no experience. Judging from all the unpickable doors and high difficulty locked boxes, I think Jeff had left room for more quests, but he didn't need them anymore to raise the player's level. He just left it as NPCs that may have more work later and you never get it.

 

On diplomacy, Jeff simplified the skill set, so there was no separate skill. The player got to decide if he wanted to choose combat or a non-combat way of solving the fights. Most of them were set up so no matter what you said, the combat was going to happen. You did get to decide if you wanted to be totally loyal to Avadon or gather information about how to join the other side.

 

Some things you do change the final ending that you get.

THIS IS A MASSIVE SPOILER

Click to reveal..
Support/challenge Redbeard to be Keeper.

Work to strengthen or destroy Avadon

What position you take for the ending

Helping the Hands that work with you

Killing the Hands that work with you

Kill Zephyrine

Kill Beloch the Scourge

Kill Duke Gryfyn at Castle Vebeaux

Turn in/destroy the Titan Papers

Slaughter or let flee the people of Dhorl Stead

Find and report the Dheless note/miss or keep quiet

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It was shorter than the latest Avernum/Geneforge games, but I didn't think it was that much shorter. I'd call it around 10-20% shorter. It also depends on how you play: Avernum 6 has an enormous number of sidequests, while Avadon has fewer. I'd say that the main stories, assuming one only does enough sidequests to keep from being underpowered, aren't very different in length. If you go for completion (as apparently both the pineapple and the fnord did), then Avadon feels non-trivially shorter. I agree that the ending was abrupt, though.

 

And yeah, Nathalie is easily my favorite character. Rarely is "adorably bloodthirsty" an apt descriptor, but it certainly works for her. Jenell and Sevilin are pretty cool, too. I didn't find Shima all that interesting, though that may be in part because I used him the least. It's nice to see Jeff work some substantial character development into Avadon; such tended to only happen between games in the Geneforge and Avernum series. While Geneforge had a very well done and original setting, the characters all too often felt like mouthpieces for the political issues and alignments in the game, with relatively little character outside of that. The Avadon party members (and other major characters as well) were much more dynamic and fleshed out.

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I am a completionist, and I like having lots to do. In fact, I quite like being completely overwhelmed with sidequests, to the point where I have to scroll through my current quest list. But that's just me.

 

Quote:
"adorably bloodthirsty"

 

Perfect descriptor, Thank you! Time to update my online dating profiles.

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Nathalie has the best lines and I think a few a quotes from Jeff's daughter. Shima has some good lines about fighting from wearing traditional garb in unsuitable climates to the head long charge into the enemy isn't the shadowwalker way. smile

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I am filled with wholehearted respect for Jeff's offspring. Good to know they've provided him with inspiration (well, besides the obvious incentive to put out quality games in order to keep putting food on the table).

 

Shima got on my nerves in his sidequest when he warns you to take the side path, gets you led into an ambush, then still chastises you for charging into a trap after it's evident that the only way to the Honored Forge camp is through the central (trapped) path.

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Originally Posted By: FnordCola
Shima got on my nerves in his sidequest when he warns you to take the side path, gets you led into an ambush, then still chastises you for charging into a trap after it's evident that the only way to the Honored Forge camp is through the central (trapped) path.


There is another somewhat less deadly way, especially on torment.

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Hmm. I must have missed that one. I only took the alternate path he pointed me toward. And yeah, the war wolves are brutal, even on hard, and that's not even considering the "rocks fall, everyone dies takes ~100 damage." Most of the actual camp is a pushover compared to those beasts.

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To Paul,

Whoa, I like the antagonistic streak in your reply, RPGs does matter! When you say that the point of any RPG-experience is to play a role I wholeheartedly agree, and in the case of Avadon I would say a diplomatic approach is not entirely compatible with a loyalist line. On several occasions you have to choose, shall I listen to this, milk for information or attack at once. If the divides multiply and are expanded upon, a player with a history of being a diplomat may very well be able to talk enemies out of a confrontation, but that would be based on earlier choices rather than a stat in the rooster. That if anything would make for an engaging re-playable experience in my mind. It all hinges on complexities in the dialogues and a sense that different choices do matter and are to some extent exclusive. Looking back at Planescape they had this system in part, part stat and part sacrifices, with that final aspect being a favorite of mine. Having a character considering giving up an eye, ally or perhaps something as etheral as childhood memories always makes me smile. So I don't think you are being entirely fair when you say that I'm arguing for proficiency without reason, and to me that argument seems like a slippery slope with end result being a map-making skill, a walking skill etc.

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I agree with you generally. BUT, we're not talking about a walking skill. Given that in RL, most conflict is solved through diplomacy/speech and by means of skilled diplomats, I don't find it a stretch to expect such a proficiency out of a facsimile fantasy world. Once again, should or do you expect to have your conversations to have preset outcomes in real life? And frankly it's simply not true that your manner of approach (charisma, diplomacy, aggression, cheekiness) has anything to do with the outcome of dialogue in Avadon. Certain choices (Ex: whether to help the Wayfarer) are cleary telegraphed and for dialogue not to be at least partially stat-based is to deny the value of RPGs that you yourself reference. As in Planescape, considered by most and rightfully so the best crpg ever. I don't understand the interference. There is a dichotomy. Another game, Arcanum, also make stat-based dialogue meaningful. You misunderstand your personal use of a game mechanic (and the tradeoffs it entails) with its intrinsic value. Point being, anything less than an investment in a character's ability to be diplomatic is a simplification of gameplay experience. I would trade a hundred *walking skills* to be able to appreciate my character in a more nuanced way

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Originally Posted By: Paul Collins
I agree with you generally. BUT, we're not talking about a walking skill. Given that in RL, most conflict is solved through diplomacy/speech and by means of skilled diplomats, I don't find it a stretch to expect such a proficiency out of a facsimile fantasy world. Once again, should or do you expect to have your conversations to have preset outcomes in real life? And frankly it's simply not true that your manner of approach (charisma, diplomacy, aggression, cheekiness) has anything to do with the outcome of dialogue in Avadon. Certain choices (Ex: whether to help the Wayfarer) are cleary telegraphed and for dialogue not to be at least partially stat-based is to deny the value of RPGs that you yourself reference. As in Planescape, considered by most and rightfully so the best crpg ever. I don't understand the interference. There is a dichotomy. Another game, Arcanum, also make stat-based dialogue meaningful. You misunderstand your personal use of a game mechanic (and the tradeoffs it entails) with its intrinsic value. Point being, anything less than an investment in a character's ability to be diplomatic is a simplification of gameplay experience. I would trade a hundred *walking skills* to be able to appreciate my character in a more nuanced way


I'd argue that Planescape: Torment is actually a perfect example of how stat-based dialogue can be done wrong. If you make a character with low mental stats in PS:T, you simply don't get to see a lot of the dialogue that's basically the main reason the game is even worth playing. It'd be one thing if the game gave characters with low mental stats less mechanically beneficial but equally interesting options (Arcanum does this, to some extent), but in PS:T your choices are literally "build your character in this specific way or miss out on a large portion of the game's content", and that kind of sucks.

Adding diplomacy skills doesn't do anything to solve the "everyone is a diplomat" problem that you perceive, either, because being able to see more of the game's content is such a strong incentive for most players that they'll feel obliged to load up on diplomacy skills in order to do so. A diplomacy skill that simply enables dialogue options that would otherwise be unavailable is effectively a skill point tax for being able to play the whole game instead of just part of it.

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I stand by my statement that the expectation that a player need be a practical god ingame and experience everything regardless of investment (should you have certain combat skills regardless of investment, aren't you missing out on gameplay experience by not having them?) is wrong. Unless the game is a pure ego pump, aka most ACTION rpgs, players shouldn't act petulant and expect everything at once. Good games require investment.

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Originally Posted By: Paul Collins
I stand by my statement that the expectation that a player need be a practical god ingame and experience everything regardless of investment (should you have certain combat skills regardless of investment, aren't you missing out on gameplay experience by not having them?) is wrong. Unless the game is a pure ego pump, aka most ACTION rpgs, players shouldn't act petulant and expect everything at once. Good games require investment.


Again, the problem is that when dialogue is one of the game's strong points, having access to more dialogue is such a powerful incentive that in practice almost every player will feel obliged to make the investment, so requiring the investment in the first place doesn't really do anything except reduce the number of skill points available for other things. It's a constraint rather than a choice. Combat is different because it's still possible to win every fight with good tactics even using a poorly optimised party: most social systems in CRPGs don't have any similar mechanism for compensating for lack of character skill with player skill.

As far as ego pumping goes, I'll just point out that one of the tags for posts on Jeff's blog is "adolescent power fantasy". Make of that what you will.

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It's not quite fair to say 'an incentive so powerful that in practice you feel obliged' is a constraint. But it's also not fair to quibble about this too much. A game with one best way to play it, and several other ways that are almost the same, only duller, is a game that might as well have only one way to play it.

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Of course, the other way to do it is the way that Fallout did; give a low intelligence player different, but equally entertaining dialogue options. In that game, NPCs actually treated you differently if you were dumb. With the lowest possible intelligence setting, all your character could do was basically grunt. It was still fun though. It actually made it worthwhile to play through the game as an idiot.

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I'm going to kick this puppy one last time by saying that I think the highest reward of a good dialogue/diplomacy system is the feeling that your decisions made a difference rather than that your high stat gave you the WIN-option.

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One objection I'd raise to your argument is that it assumes that dialogue featuring important moral choices and dialogue that has a "win button" have to be the same dialogue, and thus the two options are mutually exclusive. This is clearly not true in many cases, including the Geneforge series and various BioWare games (e.g KotOR, Dragon Age). For one thing, there are the pedestrian cases of asking for better rewards for completing tasks, asking for backup/troops from NPC allies, and so on. These don't seriously impact the plot, but they do offer a reward for picking conversation skills, to weigh against different rewards for picking other skills. In all of these games, players still have to make important choices that define their characters' world view and morality, and while conversation skills can occasionally make it easier to go with certain of these choices, they predominantly leave them untouched.

 

In response to Lilith's point: I agree that Torment didn't handle the dialogue-related attributes well, and that the game was much more interesting if you played a high int/wis/cha character. On the other hand, I think Clocknova makes a good point about Fallout, and that there are ways to make some options more advantageous in accord with high intelligence/speech skill, while still making all the options interesting and engaging.

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Conversation/Dialogue skills are not Win buttons generally if ever, that's absurd. Maybe in Planescape but how many games like Planescape exist? No one disagrees that if a skill, any skill, isn't balanced, it will become a "constraint" insofar as it obliges a player to invest in it if he/she wishes to maximize the gameplay experience(and this even assumes that many/most players have a compulsion to min/max). But as Fnord/others point out, there is a rewarding factor to investment (or lack thereof) in conversation skills when done properly that need not interfere or detract from the baseline dialogue the player is offered. Once again, how is it any different to say, assuming the dialogue skill is balanced, that the lockpicking skill shouldn't exist because it obliges a player to invest in it if they want to open locked doors. Why have locked doors in the game? Because it's realistic that people lock up goods, even in a fantasy world. Just as it's realistic that inhabitants of the world may require convincing in order to, say, give out extra awards or withdraw from combat. And it's nothing but a simplification to assume your character is born with such charisma, especially considering his/her years of experience training as a Hand, aka a soldier, and not a Heart.

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I was just about to make the same comment about locked doors and lockpicking!

 

I think the dilemma is very similar. And honestly, I'm not fond of lockpicking (or "Tool Use" -- whatever) skills. Opening locked things and finding treasure is fun. You get that little Skinnerian "ooh, something good!" rush. You know what's not fun? Having to decide between increasing my Tool Use skill, which will lead to FUN, and increasing a skill that's useful in battle. Because there is no SW game in which the stuff you need Tool Use to get to is significantly better than anything else. The analyses I and others have done of how much Tool Use / Mechanics / whatever is useful at a given time, and when exactly the skill point investment becomes not worth it... well, that's part of optimizing, I guess, but it's not really fun either.

 

So I say, good riddance to Leadership, and I wish Door-Opening would follow it out!

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That's not how I (or, I think, Eriksson) used the phrase "win button." What I meant by it, at least, is that it presents options that are in all meaningful ways superior to those available without the conversation skill. That doesn't mean that such a skill actually wins you the game, as you suggest. Though I do like that there are not only several ways to talk Planescape: Torment's final boss to death, but that these are the only ways of beating him that get you the best ending.

 

I think the presence of a "win button" as I've defined it in dialogue does not present a problem so long as it doesn't deny substantial amounts of content/character-building choice to players who haven't invested in the skill. I like the analogy to mechanics/lock picking skill: in situations with locks or machinery, having this skill is clearly superior to not having it, but the difference is almost always a matter of experience, treasure, or easier fights, rather than missing out on significant story or gameplay elements if one doesn't have it.

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Anyway, to digress, my point in writing the review, aside from to review the game, was to express my appreciation for Vogel's games as they are always fantastic, in small ways and large. My only hope is that, aside from keeping his head after two decades (?) of gamemaking, he will maintain the distinction between convenience (auto-heal, arguably, the post G3 battle system) and depth (ripping out leadership/lockpicking because players want/deserve to have everything in the first playthrough, replayability much?). But I guess the customer's always right. rolleyes

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Just want to publicly declare that your combined leadership skill just beat mine! No more polemics from me wink

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Originally Posted By: Olle Eriksson
your combined leadership skill


By your powers combined...!

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I don't have the time to play games through more than once. So I like to see and do everything. I agree that lock picking and leadership are lame. However, I'm all for NPCs treating me differently based on past dialogues.

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I like the idea that games should be tailored to the most uninvolved members of the gaming community. Maybe we should simplify tennis since people who don't usually watch tennis or are too busy to watch tennis don't understand the rules. Well? Do you see a difference? Are you proud of the fact that you demand simplification based on your limited investment?

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I'm confused. I could swear that a independent games forum would be a bastion of appreciation for non-mainstream RPG gameplay mechanics. Instead I find people lamenting the fact that dialogue and lockpicking skills exist. WHY DO YOU PEOPLE EVEN PLAY RPGS? WHY DO YOU EXPECT THAT AN RPG SHOULD ONLY EXTEND SO FAR AS YOUR PERSONAL PREFERENCE (I don't like to pick locks, it shouldn't exist)? RPGs revolve around choice. That anyone would laud the removal of gameplay mechanics, that work (and have worked in previous SW games) is disgusting.

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Tennis rules aren't locked behind any barrier. I don't need to invest in a special skill to read them. It may take time to understand them fully. But they are always freely available.

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Uh, what? The barrier is the time investment involved in learing how tennis works, aka an investment. Just because there isn't a direct relation between the time spent (minutes, hours) in real life learning about a certain activity/pasttime doesn't mean that there isn't an analogue to investing (through level-up point investment) in a certain skill. Once again, do you not deny yourself a certain amount of time (possibly spent on a plethora of other activity) in order to learn the rules of tennis. That there is finality to a choice in rpgs (games do not have the lasting length of human life) does not diminish the value of investment. And there's even a respec mechanic!

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Paul, calm down. First, use the "edit" feature and please do not double post. Keeping these boards clean and easy to read helps everyone.

 

Quote:
I like the idea that games should be tailored to the most uninvolved members of the gaming community. Maybe we should simplify tennis since people who don't usually watch tennis or are too busy to watch tennis don't understand the rules. Well? Do you see a difference? Are you proud of the fact that you demand simplification based on your limited investment?

 

The first sentence is being condescending, which we do not approve. You are free to make an argument comparing simplification of certain things to other things, but please do so in a way that avoids intentionally provocative statements. Also, please do not use ALL CAPS (other post), as this is considered shouting in internet speak.

 

Please respect your fellow board members, and I expect them to do the same to you.

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I think the pointfulness of leadership/tool use depends very much on the game. In the Geneforges, it's a big thing, to the extent that it's possible to win the games without actually killing anything in combat.

 

In Avadon, lockpicking is just a little thing that lets you get a bit more treasure from places, rather than something you'd build a character around. Whether to get lockpicking or not isn't a terribly interesting choice, and I suspect most people will maximise it early then forget about it anyway.

 

Sure, Avadon could have been a game with diplomacy as a big thing, but it would be a radically different game.

 

Incidentally, I suspect some resistance to a "leadership" stat comes from how making decisions in a game is generally the domain of the player, not the character. I don't know how to cast a fireball so it doesn't break suspension of disbelief to have to have the character learn to do it. I do know how to talk.

 

(And finally, I'm perfectly fine with complex games. My favourite game has 24 races, 28 classes and when you die you stay dead)

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...NetHack? ADOM? Good ol' Angband?

 

To Collins' point: no, a game designer has to base their design on what will appeal to their audience as a whole. That includes both hardcore gamers and those who like things relatively simple. Jeff's is a niche market, but not everyone who plays Spiderweb games wants a tremendously difficult or complex experience. At the end of the day, neither design decision seems overwhelmingly superior to me.

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Originally Posted By: Paul Collins
I'm confused. I could swear that a independent games forum would be a bastion of appreciation for non-mainstream RPG gameplay mechanics. Instead I find people lamenting the fact that dialogue and lockpicking skills exist. WHY DO YOU PEOPLE EVEN PLAY RPGS?


In general, I prefer making meaningful choices on a moment-to-moment basis instead of having my choices predetermined for me by the way I built my character.

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Err...Isn"t it subjectve to assume that some speech (caps lock, forceful irony aka the "condescending" first sentence) is somehow inappropriate? I'm merely expressing what I think is a valid and frankly consistent viewpoint. Let's not make straw figures out of valid argumentation. Especially when not one poster has agreed with me. Who is being invalidated here?

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Originally Posted By: Paul Collins
Err...Isn"t it subjectve to assume that some speech (caps lock, forceful irony aka the "condescending" first sentence) is somehow inappropriate?


It is. Fortunately, there are moderators and administrators who are empowered to make those subjective decisions on this forum. You can tell who they are because they have blue or red usernames. Their house, their rules.

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Well I'm glad you revel in seemingly arbitrary judgment. Hooray for meaningless rules! Otherwise, Lilith, maybe you should appreciate your ability to say what you want and what you mean

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In completely unrelated news, ooh, shiny new titles.

 

It looks like the feature to only show custom titles instead of both titles got turned off somehow. Dikiyoba will have to fix that.

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Quote:
Isn"t it subjectve to assume that some speech (caps lock, forceful irony aka the "condescending" first sentence) is somehow inappropriate?


You are correct. There is always subjectivity in decoding human behavior, and determining what is within and outside the rules. That's why we have moderators or board administrators such as myself to make such decisions. To clarify, I'm not arguing for or against your point, I'm stating, in my capacity as a board admin, that you are pushing the boundaries of the rules here.

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Originally Posted By: Dikiyoba
In completely unrelated news, ooh, shiny new titles.

It looks like the feature to only show custom titles instead of both titles got turned off somehow. Dikiyoba will have to fix that.


*blinks* Hand of Avadon? WTF is this?

EVERYTHING IS RUINED FOREVER NOW.

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Whether you have a thankless job is not the concern of the average poster. This "discussion" is entirely the product of the extra weight you carry as a moderator, aka, making sure certain people tow the line that is mild to medium criticism. Yah? The fact that you disagree with my statements and/or dislike my delivery (which contained no expletives and only general irony)only illustrates to anyone with a brain that you wield gags rather than constructive instruments. So please, no lectures.

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My objection to a leadership ability is that it does not play well with choices. If you want Leadership, or charisma, or whatever it is to give you better loot, or access to special things, fine. In Avadon, though, your force of personality is second place to the force of Avadon.

 

Dialogue skills don't work so well with making choices, though. You'll notice that even in Geneforge the things you can say and do that raise or lower your standing with the Shapers and rebels aren't Leadership-based. It's more interesting to be able to make decisions that are based on what you think, not based on your build. And in Planescape: Torment you can see how dialogue can lose some of its challenge when a high enough skill gives you access to the obviously correct thing to say.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't think Leadership is a bad thing in a game. He's just not sure that it needs to be in every game.

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I've always presumed that leadership and diplomacy skills were a mechanic introduced in D&D to allow uncharismatic or unintelligent people to play a smart and articulate character nonetheless, since smart and articulate people tend to have characters as smart despite perhaps having lower stats- for instance, if I was playing someone with 7 Charisma and 6 Intelligence/Wisdom and no points in any speechcraft skills, I'd still probably play him saying things that he reasonably wouldn't say- so a Diplomacy roll after my character delivers an impassioned five-minute impromptu oration to the king my character couldn't possibly actually have done is a way of stopping the system abuses that would result from having someone like that in the party. Of course, that becomes a moot point when you start playing CRPG's, as your CPU is not going to be moved by an impassioned speech like a DM could.

 

What I'm saying is that Leadership skills aren't really necessary once humans are removed from the decision making side of the equation. If that makes any sense.

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Paul, don't push it. Now you are being rude, and it will not stand. Look, I'm not participating in this discussion other than to ensure it is done civilly, and I see nothing wrong with the topic of discussion itself. I'm telling you and everyone else to please be nice.

 

I'll repeat myself:

 

Quote:
I'm not arguing for or against your point, I'm stating, in my capacity as a board admin, that you are pushing the boundaries of the rules here.

 

This goes double for your last post.

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