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What do we have to look forward to aside from remakes?


shadow9d9

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I honestly don't understand why Exile is being remade for the 3rd time. What do we have to look forward to that is new in the next few years?

 

Well, it's being remade because Avernum is Spiderweb's best-known and most popular series and A:EftP did well enough to justify further remakes -- a remake takes less work to make than a completely new game and can sell just as well. But if you're interested in new games with new stories, Avadon 3 is probably going to be Spiderweb's next release after A2:CS.

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New IPs are rare in any entertainment medium these days - the fact that Jeff is sticking to a proven formula is both understandable and ultimately more justified than larger companies with far greater budgets that can afford to take risks.

 

For my money, Jeff's stuff is unique enough on its face as it is, even if most of his work is a question of polish and refinement. While Geneforge is particularly unique, even "vanilla" Avernum is far more creative in concept than most games I've found n this genre.

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Spiderweb has never had a time when it wasn't making new. The only time there were two remakes in a row was Avernum and Avernum 2, and there was a long run of all-new material from Geneforge 3 all the way to Avadon.

 

—Alorael, who suspects the alternating remake and new schedule keeps Jeff's workload manageable and fends off burnout.

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"Jeff is sticking to a proven formula"

 

Remaking the same game over and over is not a formula. It is literally the same thing.

 

It's a formula for making money -- the guy does have a family to feed. Anyway, the remakes do have revamped gameplay and usually new content in the form of extra towns and dungeons.

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It's not literally the same thing. Have you actually played multiple versions of Exile/Avernum 1? The difference in game mechanics is immense. (The graphics are obviously all different, too.) The story is (almost) entirely the same, and the basic outline of the maps, but that's it.

 

To me, A:EFTP was by far one of the overall best products SW has produced, engaging and interesting and fun; whereas, although I definitely liked Avadon 2, I would not give it that sort of praise. So I find it hard to question the remakes.

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"Jeff is sticking to a proven formula"

 

Remaking the same game over and over is not a formula. It is literally the same thing.

 

I believe the "formula" mentioned is the Exile/Avernum theme itself. It's the longest running series/theme, with (correct me if I'm wrong) soon-to-be 13 titles. They're old to us, but they're timely releases with competitive graphics for competing isometric games on Steam, (which I can only assume is the new target audience), now that Jeff has access to it. That market has probably had little, if any, familiarity with SW in the past, and features players who seek out indie titles, such as these. In short, the remake-new pattern is likely to maintain its course until it's no longer profitable.

 

After which time, he's forced to remake Blades. :p

 

Edit: Also, what Slarty said; not only is there a significant playable difference between Exile 1 and Avernum 1, the same can be said for A1 and EftP. The same can be said for Nethergate, and just about anything that's had more than one variation.

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It's a formula for making money -- the guy does have a family to feed. Anyway, the remakes do have revamped gameplay and usually new content in the form of extra towns and dungeons.

 

Yes, but that is not what the person I quoted was referring to.

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It's not literally the same thing. Have you actually played multiple versions of Exile/Avernum 1? The difference in game mechanics is immense. (The graphics are obviously all different, too.) The story is (almost) entirely the same, and the basic outline of the maps, but that's it.

 

To me, A:EFTP was by far one of the overall best products SW has produced, engaging and interesting and fun; whereas, although I definitely liked Avadon 2, I would not give it that sort of praise. So I find it hard to question the remakes.

 

The story and the maps are the same you say. Graphics being different mean nothing to me. I don't play these game for graphics, obviously. Different game mechanics, in the exact same game... yeah, there are just way too many NEW games out there for me to waste time retreading on old territory.

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Well, I mean, hopefully nobody's got a gun to your head to make you buy games you don't want to. The remakes aren't going to be for everyone, but they sell well enough to justify the work it takes to make them.

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The story and the maps are the same you say. Graphics being different mean nothing to me. I don't play these game for graphics, obviously. Different game mechanics, in the exact same game... yeah, there are just way too many NEW games out there for me to waste time retreading on old territory.

 

The mechanics is a big part of the gameplay experience, so it doesn't feel at all like the exact same game to me. I played Exile 1 a couple years after it came out, Avernum 1 right after it came out, and A:EFTP right away as well - and I enjoyed all three. Yes, I knew the basic story before playing the remakes, but in the (many) years between releases, most of the details had faded into the mists of old memories...

 

So, I for one really enjoy Jeff's remakes (and the new bits he adds are fun to discover as well). But, obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinion of games ... If you don't like the remakes, there's always Avadon. Or all the new games you mention (personally, I find very few of those new games to be anywhere near as entertaining as Jeff's, though).

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Remakes should be special additions with a few extra side quest or items. Idealy we need an item editor so you can make your own custom items and name them and pick a pitcture for the item and what type it is and it's stats for use.

 

It would also be fun if you coulf actuly dig with some tools in tunnels to mine ores or just find hidden objects.

 

If may be fun to make new things in the game and design new spells and casting and usable potions and new herbs as well as making new custom skills.

 

Special skill Herb growing, If you find an herb and have a pot you can make a potted herb that will grow in a safe place and provide you with a supply with that herb.

 

As this skill increased by making more potted herbs you can make pots that magicly grow herbs faster than you find in caves or out doors.

 

Gems. Why not have a special skill to imbue crystals with magic for one time use in emeralds or one time use once per day every day for a special spell like move mountains or dispell magic fields and one to call aid, or just mass healing or curing or field of swords or set a trap.

 

Blessed crops special skill when cast on farm lands makes grees grow and appear or on ground have greens or some other food for eating and resting.

 

Gem slotting like on Diablo and spell books for holding spells? Or using pen and paper to write spells for non spell casters to sell for gold.

 

Special skill paper making turns some reeds or papyrus into paper and with ink well and quil work to write spells.

 

Traps could fire on monster or enemies. Also trap casting could be added to fight large groups of over whelming enemies.

 

Tinker skill to make new magical trinkets or imbue magical stats on items and weapons.

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Well, I mean, hopefully nobody's got a gun to your head to make you buy games you don't want to. The remakes aren't going to be for everyone, but they sell well enough to justify the work it takes to make them.

 

Yes, I'm sure it reaches many people that never tried the earlier ones, especially since everything gets IOS releases. My post specifically is asking about whether anyone knows what new is in the pipeline.

 

"The mechanics is a big part of the gameplay experience, so it doesn't feel at all like the exact same game "

 

The same story, maps, and basic idea.. yet it doesn't feel at ALL like the same game to you? I guess we look at things way differently then.

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For the sake of clarity and reason, a game along the lines of a SW title always contains a vast, vast, amount of content in terms of story, lore, conversation, etc. It's essentially like writing a book...three or four times, because there are always multiple endings based on your actions, even if that action might have seemed insignificant at the time. Choosing from a handful of factions means choosing from a host of significantly different plot lines. Every named character you kill, you could have had a conversation and an alliance with.

 

This level of detail and development is pretty uncommon. You have to find titles like Bastion and Transistor in order to match the level of depth that comes from a game with the screenshots that make it look little more than an arcade game. Even then, the story is pretty linear. So the key difference is that Jeff has made dozens*, (less one and counting remakes), where other companies are, at best, one-hit-wonders that have since gone out of business. The amount of content that is already out there is pretty significant, but developed over a long period of time. I can't help but feel that, for every one person that says they're turned off by Jeff making remakes, there are two other people who would never pick Avernum up if they had to start with Avernum 1 in its dated condition. So, generating these new players by giving them an improved version of the game in living color is more important than abandoning this material.

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Yes, I'm sure it reaches many people that never tried the earlier ones, especially since everything gets IOS releases. My post specifically is asking about whether anyone knows what new is in the pipeline.

Your post came across as stating quite a bit more than that, at least to me. Not trying to argue with you, just saying, that's why you got so many responses about this.

 

The same story, maps, and basic idea.. yet it doesn't feel at ALL like the same game to you? I guess we look at things way differently then.

Yup. Of the four gameplay elements we've discussed, two (story and maps) are nearly identical, and two (mechanics and graphics) are completely different. I don't think there's anything wrong with focusing on story and maps, as you do. But is it really that inconceivable that there are people for whom the other elements have as much of an impact on their gameplay experience?

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Yes, I'm sure it reaches many people that never tried the earlier ones, especially since everything gets IOS releases. My post specifically is asking about whether anyone knows what new is in the pipeline.

 

I'd expect Avadon 3 some time around early 2016, but beyond that, probably not even Jeff knows yet.

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It would also be fun if you coulf actuly dig with some tools in tunnels to mine ores or just find hidden objects.

 

Much of the rest that you said just sounds like BoA.

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BoA is Blades of Avernum. And there's the older Blades of Exile. Both let you design your own scenarios using the engine of Avernum 3 and Exile 3, respectively. The latter is free and open-source.

 

—Alorael, who rereads books. With a few years in between, sure. But the words are exactly the same! In fact, often the physical object is the same, so even the positions of the words are identical. No one questions the value of rereading books. How strange, then, to take such a dim view of playing a game that is the same in the way that books are the same but different in the ways that games can be different.

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Your post came across as stating quite a bit more than that, at least to me. Not trying to argue with you, just saying, that's why you got so many responses about this.

 

 

Yup. Of the four gameplay elements we've discussed, two (story and maps) are nearly identical, and two (mechanics and graphics) are completely different. I don't think there's anything wrong with focusing on story and maps, as you do. But is it really that inconceivable that there are people for whom the other elements have as much of an impact on their gameplay experience?

 

Nothing is inconceivable.

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BoA is Blades of Avernum. And there's the older Blades of Exile. Both let you design your own scenarios using the engine of Avernum 3 and Exile 3, respectively. The latter is free and open-source.

 

—Alorael, who rereads books. With a few years in between, sure. But the words are exactly the same! In fact, often the physical object is the same, so even the positions of the words are identical. No one questions the value of rereading books. How strange, then, to take such a dim view of playing a game that is the same in the way that books are the same but different in the ways that games can be different.

 

No one questions the value of rereading books? Of course people do... Your final sentence is preposterous considering your premise is flawed. It is dim to think that "no one" questions the value of rereading books...

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A potential benefit of remakes beyond the already mentioned graphics improvements, mechanics changes, and ability to run on modern operating systems without an emulator are enhancements to the user interface. With hindsight, it's possible to improve the interface so that it is just as useful without getting in the way of the game. I think this is one of the major improvements seen in A:EftP over previous Avernum releases.

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Literary critics and scholars will tout the benefits of rereading for deeper appreciation. Average guys just reading for fun will often reread for repeat fun, and get a deeper appreciation along the way. Sure, "no one" is hyperbole; there's no opinion that no one has. But saying books should never be reread is certainly not an obvious claim, and I think it's a distinctly minority opinion.

 

Of course, that's not really the same. I'd complain if a publisher re-released a book, maybe with a little bit of added content, and demanded the same price again. Or wait, no I wouldn't. That happens all the time with intros by critics, annotated versions, or whatever; republication is the norm for successful old literature. I'd question an author typing out the same novel again, word by word, to publish as something new, but I have no issue with authors spending time to adapt their stories to new media. Mostly e-publication, which is apparently a surprisingly large undertaking. That's a much closer analogy to game designers reprogramming a game to work on modern platforms.

 

But even that's not what Jeff's doing. He's recycling stories with new gameplay and graphics (which are themselves recycled for several games). As I said, the same story just doesn't bother a lot of people. New gameplay is just fine with everyone. It seems like a legitimate undertaking to me.

 

—Alorael, who can see preferring new content to remakes. He likes new stories too. But he's perfectly happy with remakes, and he's also pretty happy with Jeff remaining solvent. And he's just not going to tell someone else how to run a business when it's been successful for 20 years and he personally has zero experience to draw upon.

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Yes, I'm sure it reaches many people that never tried the earlier ones, especially since everything gets IOS releases. My post specifically is asking about whether anyone knows what new is in the pipeline.

 

"The mechanics is a big part of the gameplay experience, so it doesn't feel at all like the exact same game "

 

The same story, maps, and basic idea.. yet it doesn't feel at ALL like the same game to you? I guess we look at things way differently then.

 

Yes we do, and we don't. I don't think there's a single perspective that we all follow, we're all different.

 

For example, I don't really like remakes because it's like the old game in a newer engine, graphics, mechanics and all that stuff, but it's pretty much in the same tracks as the old games are.

 

I admit, I'm kinda superficial (did I use the correct word?) when it comes most of the time, to graphics of games. When I still had my inferior-quality netbook that runs as slow as any Windows 2000 computer, I can still appreciate the old Avernum series, or maybe even the first Thief game. By the time I got my laptop, which was never meant for gaming, I played games with better graphics for several months. Suddenly, I felt I wanted to play Avernum 3 again, so I did. But then couldn't get past Fort Emergence, because I felt somewhat bored. Compare that to my days with my netbook when I completed the game 87240839698327 times.

 

I don't know, but that's just me. Avernum 3 is the best Avernum for me, and I'll be waiting for its remake.

 

I rant too much, but here's what I think: I love the Geneforge series, I can play them without trouble but I'm still waiting for their remakes. That goes the same too for Avernum fans. In contrast to my less-favorite games, I couldn't care less about their remakes, but it's still worth to give them a chance.

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I thought the gameplay of the remake was excellent for Avernum. It felt much more like a real set of battles going on. If you started a fight at one of the endgame boss quests-even if you made the same move 2 times in a row, a different set of consequences would happen. The battle disciples in that game were great too. I played Avernum 4-6 and it felt much better in the remake. That and I played through the remake 4 times. That's more than just about any rpg I own.

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"The mechanics is a big part of the gameplay experience, so it doesn't feel at all like the exact same game "

 

The same story, maps, and basic idea.. yet it doesn't feel at ALL like the same game to you? I guess we look at things way differently then.

You put the emphasis on the wrong part of my quote. I meant it as It doesn't feel at all like the EXACT same game. Similar, yes, of course, due to storylines, maps, etc. My objection was to saying it felt like the exact same game. The game play experience, for me, was different enough that it felt like a different (and better), but closely related game.

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So long as he isn't planning to remake A:EFTP once again sometime around 2020, I have no reason to complain.

 

It won't be quite that soon unless he hires a programmer to help him. At a product a year he has 11 years to go (Avadon 3, Exile/Avernum 3-6, Geneforge 1-5 and Nethergate) putting the fourth version of Exile into 2025 or so. I am not sure that he is currently sustaining a product a year so that puts the remake even later, and of course he might do a new series in there, pushing Exile version 4 back even farther.

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its roughly 1.5 years per game (lately), Pit came late 2011 osx and early 2012 windows and late 2012 ipad and Avadon 2 osx/windows came soon year ago and early 2014 ipad and ACS comes late november/early decewmber.

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The remakes are largely to get Spiderweb's flagship franchise able to run on current Apple products (recent Macs, iPads). They also are making the graphics internally consistent across games (everything looks like Geneforge).

 

I bring this up only to say that I think the remakes are limited. I don't think anything else has compatibility problems. Geneforge and Avadon run on modern machines just fine, and I think Nethergate: Resurrection does, too. Geneforge isn't on iPad, and the early games look a little crude by current Spiderweb standards, but are those reasons enough to remake them? Nethergate is still under the old graphics branding, but is that reason enough to remake it?

 

My guess is that after Avernum 3 gets remade, we won't see much in the way of remakes for a while.

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The time per game may dwindle again. The time always goes up when he's designing a new engine or investing time in new porting options. There's been a lot of that during the last few games. Consider that Nethergate: Resurrection took only a few months of development time, since minimal modifications were made to the BoA engine and the scenario was mostly complete (and in a compatible format).

 

Avernum: Crystal Souls looks like it will only be slightly over a year after Avadon 2. I'm glad it's getting some extra time, though -- if there were ever a SW game that deserved it, it's this one.

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My guess is that after Avernum 3 gets remade, we won't see much in the way of remakes for a while.

 

Hopefully. I would not be interested in playing a remade Geneforge if it adopted the new limited skill tree and combat system.

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Hmmm... does Crystal Souls need more time? Deserves, well... that's not something I can contend.

 

I'm not sure there's a game whose memory fills me with more warm fuzzies - Exile 2: Crystal Souls was my introduction, not to this series, not to this company, but to this entire genre.

 

But does it need more time? ... Well, I doubt more time will hurt it. I'm looking forward to seeing what my favorite Spiderweb Title can gain of all the extra experience Jeff now has. That aside, If he can ratchet up the importance of the Empire Portal to match that of the other two main concerns, he'll have squashed what I always felt was the weakest part of the game.

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The Empire Portal, lacking in importance? I dunno: you hear about it all game, and in order to deal with it you end up closely retreading two of the three game-winning quests from Exile 1. That's a big nostalgia hit. The events at the portal itself are just as epic as anything at the Ziggurat or Garzahd's Fortress. And while it may be less instrumental to taking vengeance on the Empire, it's arguably the most instrumental when it comes to protecting Exile.

 

Also, despite having a Bobdavi, it's easily the most interesting of the three quests as far as needing to collect and integrate information from different sources around Exile.

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Eh, it never felt even remotely important to me. Compared to Garzhad, who's built up over the course of multiple games, and the "yay, we're in the title!" Crystal Souls, the portal is barely worth mentioning. I mean, how does that quest start? Essentially a post-it note stuck to the door you happen to catch on your way to go do more important things.

 

That's how side-quests start, not "fate of the kingdom" quests.

 

While the original game's three main quests all felt important and underlined by everything in the game, the sequel feels like two really main quests and a side-quest stretched out because just having two would be really awkward. It lacks the fanfare and weight of its counterparts.

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If you don't destroy the Portal, eventually the Empire gets enough troops to breakout of the Abyss. Right now they are in a stalemate while you try to secure the Vahnatai as allies and kill the commander, Garzhad. The longer the war lasts, the better chance the Empire has of using its overwhelming numbers.

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It lacks the fanfare and weight of its counterparts.

I just grepped my Exile 2 text dump. There are 56 references to Garzahd, 61 to Crystal Souls (or the three kidnapped ones specifically), and 66 to the mass teleporter (I had to do some manual sorting on "portal" there). Admittedly the portal references are clumped more in certain places, but I dunno.

 

Compared to Garzhad, who's built up over the course of multiple games

Lol? Garzahd has one extremely brief appearance in Exile 1, which consists of a few sentences of threats spoken into a scrying image. That's better than nothing, granted, but "built up over the course of multiple games" is simply not the case.

 

I would agree that a bit more color is given to the other two quests -- mainly because those are attached to people and faces -- Garzahd, Erika, the Crystal Souls, the Council, etc. Mahdavi, while a refreshing replacement for Linda, just doesn't have interesting connections to everything else that's going on the way those big names do. But I don't think there's any way to see the mass teleporter quest as a "side-quest", rather than a "fate of the kingdom" quest, without seriously twisting everything the game says about it.

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If you don't destroy the Portal, eventually the Empire gets enough troops to breakout of the Abyss. Right now they are in a stalemate while you try to secure the Vahnatai as allies and kill the commander, Garzhad. The longer the war lasts, the better chance the Empire has of using its overwhelming numbers.

 

See, I'm not saying it conceptually lacks significance. I'm saying it lacks the thematic impact and presentation of the other two quests. Garzhad is a major reality and in the minds of everyone everywhere. The Crystal Souls are the fulcrum on which much if not most of the game rests. The Portal? It's just another of the Empire's shenanigans compared to the other two. It's a big shenanigan, sure, and if you screw it up you could potentially end up making things worse than anything the series offers at any point, but while the Crystal Souls and Garzhad are specific threats and themes in and of themselves, the portal is just a manifestation of the greater war itself.

 

I just grepped my Exile 2 text dump. There are 56 references to Garzahd, 61 to Crystal Souls (or the three kidnapped ones specifically), and 66 to the mass teleporter (I had to do some manual sorting on "portal" there). Admittedly the portal references are clumped more in certain places, but I dunno.

 

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Lol? Garzahd has one extremely brief appearance in Exile 1, which consists of a few sentences of threats spoken into a scrying image. That's better than nothing, granted, but "built up over the course of multiple games" is simply not the case.

 

... You... have played the remakes since the original... right? That's not something you missed out on? I just want to be sure because either you haven't and I am very sorry for that, or you're willfully ignoring how since the first incarnation Garzhad's gone from fleeting reference to essentially the man who really killed the Emperor in the first game.

 

Beyond that, he's constantly referenced throughout the second game by every significant character in the war basically - there is no questioning or doubting his existence or significance.

 

The Portal Quest? That's just how the greater narrative of the War unfolds. It's not some great evil to defeat or some exotic ally to win. It's not an artifact to collect or prophecy to fulfill. All it is is a question of stopping the Empire from solving their logistics problems. It may have grave consequences, but it's doesn't have anywhere near the build up or highlighted importance as Garzhad or the Crystal Souls.

 

You want to make "Empire expedites its shipping synergy" stand alongside "Godlike Demon Sorcerer" you really, really need to give the portal a lot more fanfare than it's had. The Portal needs to come off as Garzahd's Death Star, an harbinger of doom and terror that strikes fear into the hearts of all Avernum as it draws closer to completion. And maybe for you it did, I don't know. But for me, personally, it was the weakest point of the original trilogy. It isn't headed up by anyone particularly important or interesting, anyone who IS important or interesting like Erika and Solberg are more concerned with Garzhad, there's infinitely more meat and development behind the Crystal Souls... If anything in Avernum 2 could stand to be improved upon, this is it.

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I can see where you're coming from, but you're overstating the case pretty dramatically. You're giving a lot of weight to the sorts of descriptors that make villains into Timmy cards. Why do you need to be Godlike, Demon, or Death Whatever in order to be an epic overarching quest?

 

Regardless, there are plenty of superlatives to apply to the mass teleporter. Your reduction to "just another of the Empire's shenanigans" is bizarre and, again, totally contradicted by everything the game says about it. If you really think that the impact of the completed mass teleporter would amount to "Empire expedites its shipping synergy" I suggest you take a second look at the script to E/A 2.

 

(Re E/A: I grepped the Exile dump for two reasons: first, because we both specifically mentioned Exile, and second, because not having the PC's questions in there makes it a lot simpler to get a reasonable count. It's true that Garzahd is more fleshed out (though still extremely minor) in A:EFTP. As I've stated, I agree that Garzahd has more personality, moxie, whatever, compared to a portal with no face to put to it; but I don't think there is a big difference in terms of fanfare or weight, and certainly not a big enough difference to back up the "side-quest" assertion. At this point I think we're just repeating assertions at each other, though.)

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Slarty, there's a good chance I'm the only other person here who knows about Magic psychographic profiles. :p

 

It's been about a decade (!) since I've played the original Avernum trilogy, and I haven't played any of the Exile trilogy, for what it's worth. My take is that the dominant quest throughout the game (once you finished the first three chapters) was rescuing the three Crystal Souls, with Garzahd being more of an end-game boss. This might be a result of the order I played the game, though. In terms of increasing focus, the quests go "this is something that needs to be dealt with, and we'll mention its importance from time to time", "this is someone that needs to be dealt with, and he'll show up from time to time and so will his underlings", and "these are three beings you need to rescue, each with their own subquest, and also two entire chapters of the game are dedicated to their importance".

 

Avernum 1 is another game with three "victory" quests, with different amounts of focus given to them. Sure, Hawthorne and the Empire is mentioned frequently, and sure, getting out of Avernum is something you and others are trying to do. But Grah-Hoth was the focus in my opinion, even though it was the first "victory" quest I finished in my playthrough. From the sliths, to Fort Remote, to the Tower, then finally to Skarragath and Akhronath (thanks EE), you deal with Grah-Hoth indirectly and finally directly. Whereas with the other two, it's more, "Hey, you know those brooches/passwords you've been collecting throughout the game? Turns out they're useful for something!"

 

Now I don't think either game suffers because one quest was focused on more than the others. It's not like you need all three to receive the exact same amount of screen time. But I do think in both cases, one is the clear "this is what you're working on for most of the game".

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I can see where you're coming from, but you're overstating the case pretty dramatically. You're giving a lot of weight to the sorts of descriptors that make villains into Timmy cards. Why do you need to be Godlike, Demon, or Death Whatever in order to be an epic overarching quest?

 

The tone for the rest of the game sets what it has to live up to. Why do you need to be Godline, Demon, or Death whatever? Because in comparison to quests that manage that impact, anything that fails to match it is going to feel lacking. This is supposed to stand alongside the Crystal Souls and Assassinating Garzhad, yet, by comparison isn't treated with the same level of importance or awe.

 

Regardless, there are plenty of superlatives to apply to the mass teleporter. Your reduction to "just another of the Empire's shenanigans" is bizarre and, again, totally contradicted by everything the game says about it. If you really think that the impact of the completed mass teleporter would amount to "Empire expedites its shipping synergy" I suggest you take a second look at the script to E/A 2.

 

I'm not saying it's unimportant in terms of conceptual effect, I'm saying that it isn't presented with the importance it's due for something supposedly so very dangerous. Realistically, it's the most dire and direct threat to Avernum the nation ever faces. Yeah, having the Vahnatai on board makes all the difference, and yes, Garzahd is very very nasty and bad, but... he's been there forever, and Avernum's been able to hold out for so far, even if they won't be able to do so in the long run. The Portal opens, and everyone dies in very short order. Yes, the Vahnatai and their (extremely powerful) hippie crystal magic are nice to have on board, and yes, Garzhad did needed to die, but even if you remove them, the Portal would still doom Avernum in the most immediate and direct sense.

 

And it isn't given that kind of weight or respect. Again, it begins with a note, and, like you said, is orchestrated by the least important and interesting member of the Triad. The Crystal Souls get the game's subtitle, and Garzhad spans multiple installments of the series. That's what the Portal quest has to compete with. All the really interesting and important characters are preoccupied with the other major quests, and it turns the portal into the neglected middle child of great Avernum objectives. "Everything the game says about it" doesn't equal what it says about Garzhad and the Crystal Souls, and that is ultimately the problem.

 

I downplay the Portal objective because it feels downplayed. I understate it because that's how it has always come off by comparison. There's no real significant face or voice to it, no characterization, and all the really big guns are pointed at other targets. It doesn't come with the same level of backup as the other quests, so it falls short.

 

If Jeff wants to flesh out any aspect of his second game, this is the best place to do it.

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I'm not saying it's unimportant in terms of conceptual effect, I'm saying that it isn't presented with the importance it's due for something supposedly so very dangerous... The Portal opens, and everyone dies in very short order. ... And it isn't given that kind of weight or respect.

You mean like where the game says

 

"The Empire has not destroyed us for one reason: it takes great energy to teleport people down here. But we know now that they are building a mass teleporter, to flood us with troops. If it is completed, we are all doomed, every one of us."

 

or

 

"The Empire is building a portal to bring soldiers down here en masse. If it is completed, you are doomed."

 

or

 

"I hear from prisoners the Empire's buildin' this portal, from up there to down here, so they can teleport down a whole army. They'd wipe us out if they could do that!"

 

There are more, but you get the idea...

 

Garzhad spans multiple installments of the series.

This statement, while technically correct, provides a misleading comparison. Garzahd has a small cameo in the previous game. The teleportation augmenter that formed the basis of the mass teleporter (and was in the same location, and reached the same way) was rather more significant, being the focus of one of the game-winning quests and pretty much the main thing Erika talks about. The mass teleporter quest also ties up one of the major loose ends from the previous game, the Onyx Scepter. Of course, Garzahd is also mentioned in the sequel -- as is the mass teleporter.

 

All the really interesting and important characters are preoccupied with the other major quests, and it turns the portal into the neglected middle child of great Avernum objectives.

Actually, there are surprisingly few interesting and important characters who have much to say about any of the major quests. Athron, Sulfras, and Khoth all talk about and/or are involved in the teleporter quest, as do Mahdavi and Linda. The Vahnatai mainly talk about their quest. Solberg and Micah talk more about Garzahd. Erika and Rentar-Ihrno help with both of the last two.

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Three disparate mentions a proper response to a doomsday device does not make.

 

The most important characters who should care about the Teleporter above all else. Garzhad's not going to kill all of Avernum lickety split if he's left to plot, but that's all Erika, Solberg, and Micah really seem to care about. Yes, your personal vendettas are all fine and good, but maybe we should ensure we're not completely overrun and obliterated first? Guys? ... Everyone else seems to ignore the issue, or be powerless to stop it, but even those who wouldn't be seem too preoccupied in just fighting the war to keep from losing it.

 

The fact that the Dragons are involved in the portal, meanwhile, doesn't play into the notion that the portal heralds the doom of Avernum. The dragons don't lend to the impending peril, they simply play their roles. Their motivations explicitly have nothing to do with preserving Avernum from total destruction - it's all self preservation and hate for the Empire.

 

Mahdavi's only significant as she's Linda's replacement. Heck, her only real contribution to the series IS her role in the Portal Plot - in Avernum 3 she's basically the Wal*Mart greeter of the Tower of Magi, and then she dies. As for Linda, her part in Avernum 2 is now less significant than Garzahd's role in A:EFTP given the changes there.

 

All and all, it's just the weakest the original objectives, both in Avernum and the Sequel.

 

Yes, the portal does imperil Avernum like nothing ever has before. Avernum should be reacting accordingly.

 

Yes, the quests involved two of the most significant mages in Avernum's history. Who should both be given every opportunity to remind us of that.

 

Yes, it has ties to the original teleportation augmenter, and that's great. They should be underlined more.

 

But fine then. You still disagree and you're entitled to that. It still leads me to beg the question then, however, if the Portal Quest isn't the major objective most open for improvement, which is?

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