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Slayerhero90

Just beat the game, got thoughts (Spoilers inside)

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Hello, forums!

 

QW:tC was an extremely different experience. Up until now, the only Spiderweb games I'd managed to play through thus far (despite owning them now after a long childhood of playing the demos) were the first two and a half Geneforges (I got part-way through the fourth island and life circumstances changed in a way that let me lose momentum and not really get it back). Other than that, I'd been making headway into the Avernum 1 remake (because I want to get to the third quickly, as the original 3 was a big chunk of my childhood). I tried Avadon, but didn't want to deal with the gender restrictions on player class there.

 

So, uh, yeah. Wildly different game. I understand a lot of the changes and how they function for the specific narrative and structural goals of the game (which is why some of the comments I've seen worrying that QW mechanics are going to be injected into the Geneforge remake make me chuckle). I don't hate most of them, and the ones I do hate I feel are necessary for some reason or other.

 

Loved the translation of Soulsborne exploration design into RTS terms (fort = bonfire, respawning enemies but resetting of most supplies, potion = estus flasks with expanded utility, energy sorta = spell slots & spell count). I'm miserable at reacting to monsters that are so big they're off-screen rearing back in very specific ways such that I don't get hit, so trading reaction speed for involved strategy suits me well. I only wish the shortcuts you'd open in dungeons stayed open in the same way certain encounters didn't respawn, allowing you to shorten the return to the boss if you can just barely make it over.

 

I hate level scaling and it did contribute to making the game "Less Fun" for me, due to never feeling powerful as I played and instead only ever feeling weaker and weaker. When I hit the difficulty spike in the Nisse caves, I played through Charme before swallowing my meagre pride and jumping down from Normal to Casual to go back to basically the exact same difficulty combat as I'd faced moments prior at the end of the Ahriel woods. I recognize that level scaling was necessary in order to ensure the player could explore the three lands in any order (though I personally would have been fine with an unchanging, interequal scale from easy to hard as one goes deeper into the zones), which was necessary in order to ensure the player was not gated into specific gameplay by which resources were available, yadda yadda yadda, down all the way to the importance of the lands having different resources.

 

I respect the shops-have-the-best-gear thing for story reasons in addition to their purpose in making construction gameplay meaningful. Of course the representatives of Haven are going to be decked out in the best Haven can provide. It's important that they look the part and aren't clad in the hide rags of rat, lizard, wolf, drake, and ornk somehow cow all on one person. Also I just now noticed there weren't any giant rat beasts in the game. Anyways, Haven knows how to outfit.

 

I liked exploring the lands, though it got samey at points when I was cleaning out yet another quarry full of lizards. Maybe a few dedicated sawmills to claim could have abated that issue.

 

The story worked for me. The player character's role as the primary representative of a faction, instead of a handful of powerful but subservient actors, was handled well and I was very impressed by the range of opinions the player could take on an equally-impressive range of subjects. I actually felt like my minor decisions had consequences

 

The Vol was the best of the three vassal zones in my opinion. It did several things "right". It set up the major conflict immediately, so you were able to go in with a hastily-formed opinion and decide whether to stick with it or walk it back. It also let you meet the faction leaders at about the same time instead of staggering them. I also liked its circularity-instead-of-linearity. I sided with the Owen immediately. I wasted a couple ingame days trying to help them without vassalizing them.

 

It might have been intentional that the conflict between the Ukat clans was hard to be decisive on, but nonetheless I found it hard to make a choice. Remaining traditional versus "Westernizing" seemed to be the core axis, but whether traditional values or the values and resources of a more advanced nation are "better" is rather variable. I ultimately sided with the Brokk from a position of minimal-interference being the best policy to preserve their culture, and instructed them to refrain from excessive force in seizing the Warrens. Honestly, though? The Gannel might have been unpleasant to the player but they were right. I felt like garbage clearing out their estate and killing their storyteller, which was kind of a portent of things to come, sort of.

 

Obviously I then equalized the gulf between the Trench Towners and the Blessed. I recognize that while I would have liked to meet with Istara and the supreme leader of the Blessed at about the same time I recognize the narrative function of every Blessed leader encountered until the very end having complete and total disregard for Haven.

 

So, uh. The Nisse... I recognize that that there was a conflict between a negligent, distant empire, that views the subjects outside of its core with utter condescension, and only pays them any attention when it comes to matters of vassal disobedience and national security, whereupon they use their superior knowledge and resources to terrorize them... versus Haven. All the same, evil mirror empires though we are, I sure felt bad stomping through their caves. It was shocking how much every single one of them hated me and Haven, and as I explored I realized I didn't even have the excuse of repairing infrastructure; I was just looting people's houses. I of course took their deal immediately. I never wanted the peoples of Sacramentum to be vassals anyways

 

But there was a plot thread that picked up here and there that I wish more was done with. The sage in Crossing Keep, the dragon in the Ukat... they had some fair criticisms of the monarchic organization of society as a whole. It would have been interesting to see the thirdborn have an option to grow disillusioned with the concept of monarchy and contemplate making changes to Haven's hierarchy, maybe even have the Nisse take note of the thirdborn's new politics and factor that into negotiations.

 

I'm really hopeful the next game explores a rising desire to find alternatives to monarchy.

 

Anyways, them's my thoughts. They're not wack, are they?

 

 

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On 2/1/2020 at 4:36 AM, Slayerhero90 said:

It might have been intentional that the conflict between the Ukat clans was hard to be decisive on, but nonetheless I found it hard to make a choice. Remaining traditional versus "Westernizing" seemed to be the core axis, but whether traditional values or the values and resources of a more advanced nation are "better" is rather variable. I ultimately sided with the Brokk from a position of minimal-interference being the best policy to preserve their culture, and instructed them to refrain from excessive force in seizing the Warrens. Honestly, though? The Gannel might have been unpleasant to the player but they were right. I felt like garbage clearing out their estate and killing their storyteller, which was kind of a portent of things to come, sort of.

 

It's interesting you say this because I felt that siding with the Brokk was the choice that would lead to the Ukat abandoning tradition. The Borgen may have adopted some of the external trappings of outside culture but it's Lady Brokk who promises to try to lead the Ukat out of their traditional hatred and resentment when you finish her quest. I sided with them for that reason, because my princess felt that having a vassal state less consumed by grudges would make them easier to rule. I also instructed them to go easy on the Borgen for that reason, to try to lessen the inevitable resentment they'd feel toward Haven for deposing them. My reward was the ending where they don't plot to revolt against Haven "for many years" which is probably the best I could hope for!

 

Anyway, if you wanna really feel like garbage, side with the Mascha. Playing as a Haven-First ruler I felt I had to support the established order to maximize stability, and slaughtering escaped slaves fighting for their children's freedom so your nobles back home can have cheaper stone castles to live in makes you feel every bit of what you're doing to that continent.

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First off, some notes I didn't get to:

- The only thing I didn't do other than wipe out the Nisse was I didn't make a decision about the Ukat dragon.

- RIP Brackdon Cawr, whom the Nisse have probably turned into a pillar man now. Would have been nice to smash more of their infrastructure and burn more of their records to save him.

- I also asserted I ought to rule instead of Sutter at the end of the game, in lieu of "We ought to stop ruling as a system", abruptly and completely alienating him from me. Hah.

 

I guess, strictly speaking, I hadn't finished Lady Brokk's quest by the time I made my decision on the Ukat. It was nice when I did that it reassured me on my choice.

 

Though I would argue this: Lady Brokk's cultural reforms come from within the Ukat. If Haven hadn't rolled around to do some odd jobs for her, she still would have come to the conclusion that the anger was eating their people from within, and perhaps some day left her mourning period to act on her musings. All Haven did, arguably, was expedite the process. King Borgen's absorption of Havenite culture is inherently predicated on the belief in and acceptance of outside influence in exchange for prestige and favor from the imitated culture, even if it's not rendered by the Borgens in such mercenary terms. Even if, say, they were civilizing to entice Haven to grant them access to the technologies that would improve their people's swamp-hindered lives, they are doing so by trying to appear civilized under the narrow pattern of Haven civilization.

 

6 hours ago, Toast said:

Anyway, if you wanna really feel like garbage, side with the Mascha. Playing as a Haven-First ruler I felt I had to support the established order to maximize stability, and slaughtering escaped slaves fighting for their children's freedom so your nobles back home can have cheaper stone castles to live in makes you feel every bit of what you're doing to that continent.

 

Funny thing is, beyond how I was playing according to my perhaps unrealistic ideals, I felt like supporting the Owen was the path to stability. The Mascha-Owen system and the other Vol laws had, in the absence of Haven, been manipulated by the Mascha to actively drive more and more people into generational debt, or at least enough fear of the potential, to sympathize with the Owen. If left unchecked, it would only get worse and the revolts would only get more popular.

 

If reformed, however, it would be a constant labor from then on keeping track of how the Mascha are influencing the laws of the Vol to try and seize their old extent of power back, trying to keep up with old laws being dredged back up and new loopholes being found. You would basically be constantly fighting the people who you ostensibly favor. To get political for a moment,

Spoiler

I'd frankly compare it to the capitalist mode of production and attempts to stabilize it through reforms and regulations as the capitalists within the system regularly seek out new ways around every leash placed upon them.

 

Hence why I thought, "Well, it'll be bloody for a few years, but I'll tell my troops to do some damage control and help them abolish the system so we don't have to keep just smacking the Mascha on the wrists every time they try to bring back the Owen rebellions. I trust them to adapt to free labor, given the numerous locales within the territory that were proud of not employing Owen."

 

There's a case to be made that every decision contradicting Your Mom is the decision for stability. With the Brokk, you don't have to deal with such energized reactionary or revolutionary movements as you would with the Borgen, as the only cultural changes inflicted on them come from, as I argued a few paragraphs ago, within. You also don't, strictly speaking, have any obligation to "uplift" them up to Haven standards and they can continue being basically whatever epithet you might have reserved for them on first encounter. With the Trench Towners, it doesn't need much debate to conclude that a vassal is more likely to obey you when a portion of their leaders can keep a thought in their heads for more than ten seconds.

Edited by Slayerhero90

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4 hours ago, Slayerhero90 said:

Funny thing is, beyond how I was playing according to my perhaps unrealistic ideals, I felt like supporting the Owen was the path to stability. The Mascha-Owen system and the other Vol laws had, in the absence of Haven, been manipulated by the Mascha to actively drive more and more people into generational debt, or at least enough fear of the potential, to sympathize with the Owen. If left unchecked, it would only get worse and the revolts would only get more popular.

 

While I, the player, completely agree, my Haven noble was of the opinion that upending the traditional social order of the region in favor of a bunch of angry slaves who have never had power or experience ruling would only lead to purges, chaos, and delayed shipments of that nice stone we need. And, if I'm being completely honest, finding the evidence of what really happened in the castle Dorothy Lee sends you to enraged and terrified her. Voluntarily giving power to a group that has shown it is completely comfortable murdering nobles to get what they want is not perhaps in the best interest of a royal family.

 

Also, if you didn't explore this conversation tree fully, when you sign the treaty with the Mascha you're given the power to demand many reforms to the Owen system and they agree instantly to every single one of them. There's at least the suggestion that most of them recognize they've taken too many liberties with the system and it needs reform to prevent any more bloody uprisings from happening, and that Haven demanding it is just the excuse they need to do the things that needed to be done for their own good, so minimal enforcement from Haven would actually be needed. The ending I got was vague, though, perhaps because my ruler did not choose to stay in Sacramentum; she didn't get to hear about how well the changes she insisted upon for the sake of stability were actually implemented. Apparently she lacks rigor as a regulation enforcement agency. But the stone continued to flow, so hey, all's well that ends well on a pile of slave corpses.

 

 

4 hours ago, Slayerhero90 said:

With the Trench Towners, it doesn't need much debate to conclude that a vassal is more likely to obey you when a portion of their leaders can keep a thought in their heads for more than ten seconds.

 

Honestly not sure if I agree. I don't know what happens if you empower the Trench Towns but it's hard to imagine that having a bunch of powerful, mercurial, long-lived wizards on your bad side is good for regional stability. The Watchers do a terrible job of ruling their own people for sure, but there seems to be almost no taste for political change in their lands anyway. The glorious revolution consists of one lady on the same path to crazy as the rest of them and her cranky friend who explicitly doesn't want to help. My ruler kept the Watchers in power with the idea that the drug-addled bozos would be easy to manipulate, and if not, then at least less of a danger on our side, and Haven could step in and provide the safer roads and functional infrastructure they could not. The ending basically affirmed the latter but the former was somewhat undercut by what she agreed to do for them (kudos to Jeff for absolutely nailing a request that is so trivial and yet so imbued with import). She got the stability she was looking for with the Ahriel at the expense of stability elsewhere.

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Fair on the point of arguable stability with the Ahriel. I think the route-of-most-stability would entail totally deposing the Watchers, perhaps executing them, but that option was not available from what I could tell, for a reason I'm not sure of. Since I went with the Trench Towners, my ending said "You provide assistance to the revitalizing government such that they are entirely dependent on your assistance," and I do not know if there's any other ending for such an outcome if I'd acted differently (my Princess was merciful to the extreme, rather informal but not to the extreme, and fully willing to render Haven and the Queen in a fallible light). Likewise, I don't know what happens after the century is up and they boot us out because it explicitly said "You have no clue what's going on. The woods let no one in or out."

 

On the "no taste for political change" thing, though, I do disagree. Even outside of the trenches, you have folks like the Blessed task-giver in the Sliven barracks who, though he doesn't go as far to as announce the desire for regime change, he does express his frustration with the inaction of the Watchers. There seems to be a common understanding in Ahriel lands that the Watchers are A: not addressing problems efficiently or favorably and B: responsible through neglect for the state of the woods. The logical deduction from these two things is that the problem is only going to get worse over time.

 

I think the reason it might seem like there's not a lot of demand is because the Ahriel, especially the non-Blessed, talk about the Watchers about half as readily as they talk about the Nisse. There are consequences for them when it comes to criticizing the Watchers that there aren't for a world-dominating empire like Haven. Compare to the Ukat, where, though we don't get much of a picture into the internal conflicts of any clan, we can extrapolate that their cultural emphasis on remembering and maintaining grudges extends to leaders they feel have done wrong by them/the clan; and compare to the Vol, where the various "we don't employ Owen" businesses openly criticize the Mascha-Owen system.

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I just want to commend you for this sentence:

 

"I recognize that that there was a conflict between a negligent, distant empire, that views the subjects outside of its core with utter condescension, and only pays them any attention when it comes to matters of vassal disobedience and national security, whereupon they use their superior knowledge and resources to terrorize them... versus Haven."

 

I see what you did there.

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I think the relevant question is less "are people dissatisfied with the Watchers" (obviously yes, and for good reason) than it is "is there an active resistance with a plan for filling the power vacuum that results from deposing them" to which the answer is no because, as you point out, everyone is scared shitless of the Watchers to the point where they're even reluctant to talk about them. With the Ukat and the Vol, regime change can be effected by Haven simply by backing an already well-established and powerful faction in the region. In this case it's Haven taking the side of a bunch of scared grumblers with no central organization. That's a bet my royal wouldn't take.

 

It's interesting that if you do, the ending is much the same--Haven gets what it wants no matter what. But I suppose that's what it means to be an empire! Assuming you actually, you know, play the game, and don't teleport home to flip Mom the bird as soon as you can scrape up 25 quicksilver, Haven always wins. The only thing that can truly stand in their way is another empire, and unless you voluntarily take their deal like some kind of Haven-hating coward (cough), the Nisse aren't up to the task.

 

I was worried going into this game that I wouldn't enjoy it like I do Avernum because of the extreme streamlining of various game mechanics. It looked to me like there were going to be fewer interesting choices to make. But I think there are plenty of them, they're just made in the way you shape the plot instead of how you develop your characters. I spent the whole game thinking about choices like this instead of which stat to develop. It was a very different experience but it kept me interested even when I was clearing out yet another quarry filled with lizards. I'll definitely stick around for the next game in the series.

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I was never big on the game mechanics in Spiderweb games myself, funnily enough. I think I ended up cheating at Geneforge 2 because I didn't want to touch any canisters but just couldn't move forward at all as soon as the enemies were tier 4 creations, but I had to see it through because I loved my group of rescued Mutant Animal Buddies. I'm kinda... bad... at making good use of buffs and debuffs, too. Queen's Wish kinda hammered some of that stuff into me, frankly. Again, the changes to the combat-resources system were fantastic to me and I was able to adapt to the challenges they provide nicely.

 

Instead, I was always about the Cool Worlds and the Theoretical Political Philosophy and the Empty Posturing I Get To Do. I don't care much about whether it's exactly smart to do a spear build for my tank instead of a sword & shield build, but I do care about, to use a different game for an example, offering my enemies the opportunity to walk away that they won't take, and I do care about the question if precarious Avernum should imitate the Empire that banished it or use their freedom to explore new modes of government, and I do care about stumbling across the alien architecture beneath the aranea webs and behind the cracks in the walls.

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As I have a huge dislike of enemy level scaling in games I personally am just waiting on something different.

Been waiting since the 90's mind you. For another 6 person party Spiderweb game...

 

Still waiting. On he bright side got Exile 1-3 up and running again. :) Still by far my favorite Spiderweb games.

Edited by Lundrik

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