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A5 seems to be a step up in difficulty


DarkTreader

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Is it me, or is A5 significantly harder at normal level than A4?

 

1) Most of the strategy guides are saying I should be hitting twice as hard as I am. My mage and priest were quite happy with their meatshields, as they themselves did huge amounts of damage, but my warriors kinda wanted to be a little more important in each battle. They tended to pick off the stragglers while I pounded with DF+FB or DR+AB from my spellcasters. Or maybe I'm reading the damage figures wrong, because maybe they include MB or WAB. That's not clear in the melee party guide to me. Even then, I'm not sure I'm reaching a high enough level

2) In most encounters, even in midgame, I had to spell up with as many enhancements as I could before entering even a simple battle. I expect spell ups for important battles, but I seem to get surrounded easily, even if I'm sneaking up on the enemy and know they are there. And my spellcasters being physically weak would

3) I seem to be taking damage twice as hard as I'd expect. Restoring was a common thing for me when I'd lose a party member because a bunch of average joe monster ran around my warriors and wailed on a spellcaster.

4) OMG could the monsters stop running around my warriors to get to my spell casters? My warriors would stroll up to the enemy call confident like, then as my warriors commenced their all but impotent attacks, massive spells would come from behind their heads and blow away a few beasties. The beasties would be like "hmmmmm, hey Dave, you think we should go bite off those spellcaster's heads first? These warriors are wussies." The AI is just mean when it does that.

5) I felt there was a lot more running back and forth to and from towns just to get spell points to finish an area.

5) There were so many special skills to work with, I'm not sure if I didn't have enough or not. I had 12 INT for both spellcasters, and 11 melee on one warrior, 14 poles on my slith. I probably spent way to much on basic skills and stats and not enough on specialty, but I didn't understand that. I'm not sure A4 was like that, as I only ran thru A4 once... didn't find it as interesting as A1-3 so I never learned the new engine and I must be still thinking A1-3 when playing A5.

 

I'm definitely not saying it wasn't worth it. This was a very good plot, the big battles were harder in a clever way, which is good (but Doomguards are wussies!!!! laugh ) and there were more puzzles. And the ending promises that there will be more. You can't end the Avernum series like that!

 

I guess I'm just saying... wow... it was harder than I expected smile

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1) Melee fighters shouldn't be your primary damage dealers beyond the early stages of the game. Get used to it.

2) Buffs are cheap. Use them liberally.

3) Enemies hit hard. Invest in Endurance. When fighting a single powerful enemy, Leg Sweep is your friend.

4) Keep your spellcasters as far as possible from your fighters, so enemies can't go past your fighters and reach your spellcasters in a single turn.

5a) This is true, but the game hands out far more energy potions than you really need, so feel free to use one or two if it'll help you finish an area when going back to town will be annoying. Also, don't overuse expensive attack spells like area effects or Smite if you can help it.

5b) I actually spent nearly all my fighter's skill points going for the Riposte skill, so a character built around that should be decent. Basically, go for Parry as soon as possible and get 8 points of that, then go for Blademaster and get 6 points of that, then put a few points in Riposte. You'll also need some endurance to survive against missiles and magical attacks. Feeding your fighter lots and lots of skill potions helps with this. For mages and priests, give them a little archery and build toward Magical Efficiency. Even if you don't get the skill points necessary for Magical Efficiency (you probably won't), a character built around the prerequisites for it makes a pretty well-balanced spellcaster.

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First it depends upon difficulty level. I found normal to be too easy and played through at torment.

 

This game has more balancing attacks to the situation. There are plenty of fights geared to fighters, but spellcasting is the way to go to finish things quickly.

 

The AI goes after usually the last or most damaging opponent. Having spellcasters too near monsters allows them to retaliate. Keep them far enough away that monsters lose AP breaking off from fighters and can't do anything that round.

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Others have commented on the specifics. But, yeah, I played both A4 and A5 at normal and found A5 much, much harder.

 

A4, I had to reload maybe half a dozen times throughout the game -- a couple times in the ruined fortress in the north of the great cave where the guy summons the demon, once when I walked up a stairway into the middle of a bunch of spiny golems near Fort Remote, once in the Vahanti ambush near the Surface Portal, once on the lava bats in the same area, and probably one or two others I'm forgetting.

 

In A5, I finished the demo area without reloading. I reloaded once in the Northern Isles when one of my characters died stupidly ("sure, I can go one more round without using a healing spell") early in the Fang Clan test and I didn't want to finish it without him getting the XP for it. Then I hit the Drake Pillers.

 

Went into the lava cave with the fire lizards and lava vents. Died. Buffed and tried again. Died. Went to New Harston and got the basement ambush quest. Died. Headed for Exodus and got the basement ambush quest. Died. Fought the goblin shaman by the road. Didn't die! Went back out and ran into the Unstable Mass. Died. Realized I'd forgotten to save and had to fight the *&*# goblin shaman again. Died. Went back and killed the gremlin in the northern rapids. Died on the pylon quest. Died twice on the ghost warriors quest (once to the tunnel ghosts, once to the warriors themselves). Headed into the main dungeon. Died twice to the rats on the elevator. Headed north and died twice on the lava bats before giving up on that area. Cleared out the first level of Kora-Vyss without dying! Died twice immediately after going up to the second level. Managed to fight my way back to the stairs and tried to continue on, but died to the Slith Temple Guardian and retreated to restore my spell points. Fought my way through the north wing of the Slith Temple. Died twice on the horror before giving up. Died about 6 times on the priest before giving up. Died on the chief. Almost got the chief on the second try, then died when the priest showed up. Gave up on that, too.

 

Headed to Lysstak's fortress. Died on the ogre. Died stupidly when one of my characters wandered too close to a chained beast. Died in the multi-level room full of archers. Amazingly, only died once on the Lysstak combat (which I found to be much easier than most people seem to have). Started searching the rest of the area. Did not die on the golem quest (but didn't realize I wasn't supposed to kill the golem and failed it, anyway). Died on the goblin shaman. Survived the lava bats, but died once to the pit crawler. Died once more on the cave with the fire lizards and the lava bats, then finally figured out the trick and finished it. Died once to the Slith kidnappers. Decided to try the priest in Kora-Vysss again and died a couple more times before giving up.

 

Moved on to Tranquility. The rest of the game went pretty much like that.

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Khora-Vysss is an expert area: it's supposed to kill you when you first get there. Most chapters have at least one area like that. That's not to say that the rest of the game is easy, though.

 

Lysstak was easy for me too, but my fighter had Bladeshield by then so he could basically soak up all the damage that three Lysstaks could dish out, especially with the assistance of a pet rat, a freed prisoner and a couple of summoned shades.

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The upper level of Khora-Vysss is meant to be a very difficult area, and the game explicitly warns you of that when you enter.

 

Avernum 5 is a harder game than Avernum 4, but not by a huge amount. If your strategy/play style is giving you trouble, try playing on Easy difficulty. It's there for a reason. :-)

 

- Jeff Vogel

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Oh, and if any beta testers are reading this? Especially testers who kept urging me again and again to make the game harder? And who were telling me up until the end that Avernum 5 was too easy? Reread the original post in this thread. This is why I very rarely listen to you.

 

- Jeff Vogel

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The people who are claiming it is too hard are very different from your beta testers. As has probably occured to you, your beta-testers are partially self-selected, not a random sampling of your users. I would venture a guess that more skilled Avernum players tend to apply to be beta testers.

 

I think the game's difficulty was spot on, neither too easy nor too hard. It was very hard as a singleton so with a party of 4 it should have been just right.

 

Actually, I did play up to the Anama lands with a full party and found it somewhat easy. I was using a fairly optimized but conventional fighter+archer+mage+priest party.

 

If you want to make it a little bit easier though, I would suggest getting rid of that 2 summoned creature limit wink

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"The people who are claiming it is too hard are very different from your beta testers. As has probably occured to you, your beta-testers are partially self-selected, not a random sampling of your users. I would venture a guess that more skilled Avernum players tend to apply to be beta testers."

 

Obviously, I am well aware of this. As I usually put it, the beta testers are the most jaded min-maxers Avernum has ever known. Any Avernum game that is difficulty for them will crush ordinary humans.

 

Balancing a game really is a no-win situation. You're trying to please two audiences: gamers and casuals, each of whom has a very different idea of fun.

 

Of course, that is why I include the Easy difficulty, and I make it easy. It saddens me that people who are getting crushed don't use it, but my powers are limited in this area.

 

- Jeff Vogel

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This is where I think a less wimpy-sounding name for Easy, like maybe Beginner, might help more people have less frustration. People who would feel bad about playing a game on Easy instead of Normal may be happy to admit they're beginners.

 

Or a page from monetarist economics: make more difficulty levels just so people will use the ones they already have. Include something below Easy, not with the idea that anyone will use it, but just so that people will feel better about selecting Easy.

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"This is where I think a less wimpy-sounding name for Easy, like maybe Beginner, might help more people have less frustration. People who would feel bad about playing a game on Easy instead of Normal may be happy to admit they're beginners."

 

That's a pretty good idea.

 

I will probably also give difficulty selection its own screen, with more explicit descriptions of what each difficulty means.

 

At least it's not as bad as Gears of War. It has three difficulties. Beginner is quite hard. Medium is really tough. Hard is soul-punishing.

 

- Jeff Vogel

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First off, let me say that I am practically a beginner. My last RPG was Ultima (1) on my Apple II. I lost most of a month of my life burrowed into the game, battling, mapping, keeping my parties stats, etc. Fun, but I realized it was as addicting as drinking or gambling and I needed to treat RPG with more respect - or at least better self control. I managed to refrain from epic Myst battles, etc. but somehow A5 snuck in and snagged me. I'd still say I'm more a casual(ty) than at the level of most of the beta testers.

 

That said, I have been having a fine time. First I was running the stock party, but started to 'boost' them with the editor. I found I overdid it and swithed the game to 'hard'. That helped me feel more balanced, but decided to start over after reading a lot of the posts on party building on this forum.

 

I must say that this forum has made the difference for me in terms of both playability and enjoyment. I found that it isn't so much the do this-find this that helped, it was that I wasn't the only brain dead goblin that was getting stuck when facing the Fang Clan ELder or the Pit Crawler. The reassurance that ordinary fleshy pink things had run into the same levels of difficulty that I was in somehow made it ok to go back and wail upon the foes one more time, with renewed hope for victory.

 

What I also have gleaned is the importance of strategies in the various fights. One style doesn't fit all, and some basic approaches from those who have seen many more battles has been great. What I still feel I lack is what a basic 'buff' bewfore battle is, and how free I should be using scrolls and wands. For instance, if I use Priest/Protection more than once, is there a cumulative effect or is it more an on/off thing? Do I waste spell points doing 3-4 Protections? There are also some things that are alluded to that came from long experience playing other Avernum games that are taken for granted in A5. Like, is it better to invest points in Endurance or Hardiness? A lot of the discussion of singletons has helped me understand some of this, but us newbies, especially starting out with A5 cold, are missing some of the finer points of play. That is why this forum has been so helpful.

 

I have generally been playing a new area 'straight', without checking forum posts or the tips book beforehand. Yes, I've read the posts and the book, but don't refresh before doing the new area. Once I've done some of the battles, I do check Synegry's list to see if I may have overlooked anything. If I did, I go back and root around.

 

I'd have to say that the difficulty on 'Normal' seems right. I have more and more trouble getting through fights the farther I go, and my skill levels seem to just barely get ahead of the foes I am faced with. Mind you, I am now in the Sentinel Workshop, facing the Prime Sentinel and having trouble staying alive. I'll get him I know, once I figure out how best to approach the battle. I have yet to face the SE quadrant or anything farther down the road. I must say though that I am having a great time with the game on all levels - much fun.

 

Thanks to all those who are helping me through, especially randomizer, bryce, thuryl, fael, a dozen others, and epecially Jeff.

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Welcome to the boards.

 

The basic buffs before battle are War Blessing and Protection at the very least. I almost always put Speed on everyone as well. I generally walk around with my fighters Augmented, Steelskinned, and Enduring Shield/Armored all the time, as soon as I have those spells. They last a really long time, so it's almost always worth the investiment. Before a really big fight I'll put those on the spellcasters as well, then tank them back up with energy potions. Arcane Shield, Prismatic Shield, and Mental Barrier are also always worth considering once you have them.

 

In other words, use every possible buff you can, routinely. Explore hostile territory in combat mode, so the buffs don't wear off too fast.

 

Wands, scrolls, and potions are mostly common enough to use regularly, rather than saving for emergencies. Some exceptions here are Invulnerability potions and Madness scrolls. These are extremely powerful items that can completely turn the tide of otherwise very difficult battles, and you don't want to use them up just so you can stay out a little longer before heading back to town. Jewelled and Inferno wands are also very valuable at lower levels because they apply heavy damage to many targets, but by the later stages of the game their effects become negligible, so you don't want to wait too long to use them.

 

Everything else, you may as well use whenever convenient. There'll be more.

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Originally written by Spidweb:
Oh, and if any beta testers are reading this? Especially testers who kept urging me again and again to make the game harder? And who were telling me up until the end that Avernum 5 was too easy? Reread the original post in this thread. This is why I very rarely listen to you.

- Jeff Vogel
Dorikas was a wimp, There were some areas where we really wanted it to be harder during beta testing. Part of the problem was that items weren't placed in expert areas to help replace spell energy and make future potions.

New gaming difficulty levels:
Easy, Casual, Normal, Hard, Torment. Soul Crushing
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I didn't say the game was too hard, just that I found Normal difficulty in A5 to be a lot harder than Normal difficulty in A4. A4, I could get through pretty much every battle on the first try. A5, for most major combats after Chapter 2, I had to try once to figure out what the winning strategy was, reload, and then fight it out a second time knowing what to do.

 

Yes, the Easy difficulty was there, but I'd finished A4 on Normal without too terribly much trouble, so I figured I could do the same with A5. And it was a point of pride to me that I did finish it on Normal (just as it's a point of pride to the power gamers to be able to finish with Torment Singletons). And not to have read the board's discussion of an area until after I'd finished it.

 

As to changing "Easy" to "Beginner" that would actually make me less likely to try. I'm 38. I don't stink because I don't understand gaming; I stink because I'm over the hill. Back when I was a l33t p0w3r gam3r, the games were River Raid and Pitfall. Easy, I'll accept -- I'm no longer interested in devoting the time to any one game to becoming good enough to win with a Torment Singleton. But I'm no beginner -- I was finishing Dungeons of Doom on my Mac Plus probably before some of the A5 beta testers were even born.

 

That said, a Beginner level below Easy, might make Easy more palatable to someone like me. Although I'd probably still try Normal first and then switch down if it was too hard. Which, I wouldn't have for A5 because 1) I'd finished A4 on Normal and didn't find it too hard, 2) it wasn't until Chapter 3 that I started having difficulty, and 3) it wasn't until reading this thread that I realized you can switch difficulty mid-game, and damping down the difficulty definitely wasn't worth starting over.

 

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I generally walk around with my fighters Augmented, Steelskinned, and Enduring Shield/Armored all the time, as soon as I have those spells. They last a really long time, so it's almost always worth the investiment.
See, this is one of the reasons that I found A5 a lot harder than A4. In A4, I'd cast those spells on my party the moment I left town and they'd stay up pretty much until I'd gotten beaten down, filled up my inventory, and was ready to come back to recharge, anyway. In A5, on the other hand, their durations were really nerfed and that doesn't work. If you know you're going into an area with a lot of combats in a small area -- Lysstak's fortress, the Giant's Spire, Dorikas's Keep, etc. -- then you can cast them before going in. But you can't, for example, just wander around the Dark River with all your enduring buffs up all the time. That meant that I was often going into combat without the enduring buffs, which I pretty much never was in A4.
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Originally written by Randomizer:
Dorikas was a wimp,
I actually agree with that. And really dependent on the order you did the Castle.

The first time, I started going around the first floor of the keep counterclockwise and walked into his room through the door in the northwest corner pretty early. But, I wanted him to be the climactic final battle, so I reloaded and proceeded to clear out the rest of the keep, saving him for last. Then in the end, with all the monsters in the rooms he retreats through already dead, the battle was really easy, even for me. So much so, that I went back to my earlier save point and re-fought it without having killed anything else, so I'd get the full effect of the combat. I still only reloaded once (after screwing up the room with the orbs) in that string of battles.

I reloaded less in Chapter 9 than in any Chapter after 2. It was much more like an A4-style level of difficulty than Chapters 3 through 8. Chapter 8, in particular, seemed like the hardest point of the game. Once you got past the hellhounds at the beginning of 9, it was all downhill to the end.
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I think that A5 is actually well balanced. Mostly. Better than many previous games. You have some tough moments and some steam rolling.

 

Some fights should be a bit tougher though, and others toned down. Some foes, who should be very tough, are pushovers. When I first met Tholmen, or whatever his name was, I killed him. Mostly by accident. I wanted to see how much I could damage him before he ran away. He didn't get a chance to run away, he just died. My fighters crippled him, my spell casters hobbled him, my fighters entangled him so his AP was drained when he moved, and then the casters just obliterated him. He should have lived longer.

 

Other fights are just right though.

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Having game difficulties with names describing the target player rather than an absolute difficulty is a great idea. Casual, veteran, hard-core, invincible uber-robot...

 

—Alorael, who agrees that A5 is actually quite well balanced. That doesn't mean it's the right level of difficulty, but it's a fairly even level of difficulty for how difficult each fight seems like it should be, if that makes any sense.

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I didn't say the game was too hard, just that I found Normal difficulty in A5 to be a lot harder than Normal difficulty in A4. A4, I could get through pretty much every battle on the first try. A5, for most major combats after Chapter 2, I had to try once to figure out what the winning strategy was, reload, and then fight it out a second time knowing what to do.
Fael gets what I'm trying to say, because he's been there too. Flat out, A5 is harder. Not too hard, and definitely not unfun, but definitely harder. It was more of a surprise than anything. If you are a power gamer who can analyze a game in 2 seconds and come up with a power party and you are at the top, you can't see the bottom as well. Many of my friends are marveled by my gaming ability, but absolutely none of them are computer geeks. In the gaming world, I'm average.

I also agree with Fael in general with the spells. I was almost totally dependent on the 3 long lasting buffs, as well as haste. In chapter's 8 and 9, I began to be dependent on arcane shield as well. Constantly. And I'm not just talking for the big fights, but the little and the medium ones as well.

That said, A5 was still a very good game. I've always thought Jeff has a way with storytelling, and that the Avernum world is one of the most original I've ever seen. Hell it's so good I would personally like to see it as a TV serial or a roleplaying game... or both! smile

Since there's always room for improvement, let me reply to Thuryl's post previously:

1) If fighters shouldn't be main damage dealers past the early stages, why does the default party include them? That's a good way to get an average gamer new to Avernum discouraged. In fact some people (not myself) might misinterpret that as arrogance (oh you used the default party and reloaded 500 times? Silly n00b!) With a reasonable amount of skill, the starting party should be able to beat the game in an approximate amount of time (set by programmer in however means he or she sets), with a minimal but not tiny number of reloads, and give the player a reasonable feeling of balance within his or her own party. Changing the difficulty is possible, but also realize your target audience. My cousin is a gamer who sets every game to easy so he can breeze through and feel like he's a god but never plays hard. I on the other hand, like multiple replays, and to make the game harder as I learn it. I don't like the feeling of reducing the difficulty because someone tells me normal is too hard for me. Normal should be normal.

2) Buffs are cheap to a point. what's annoying is that many you have cast over and over and over, just to get anywhere. That becomes a grind. Avernum was never a grind, because when you cleared an area, there's a new area to move onto. I did a bit of a grind thru A5, casting buffs, going thru the area, recast haste every few minutes, and if I ran out of mana I ran back to a town and came back and finished it. If I forgot a buff, I got hammered a lot. And that I had to cast steel skin 4 times each and every time? And when I did I had to wait for the animation to finish every time i cast it? In A1-3, before I had level 3 haste, if I wanted to haste the part, I could rattle off spells quickly, I'm a fast typist. Waiting for the animation to finish and catch up to me is never fun in any computer game. If I have to cast 12 spells before I go into an area, I need a way of casting it quickly at a speed I feel is good.
3) I played A1-4 and suddenly in a5 they hit much harder? Where in the instructions does it say "oh btw enemies hit much harder in A5, so pump up your endurance." From a replay perspective yes you are dead on. From a first run experience, especially those that have played prior titles, you can't expect a new player to know that. Specifically I'm talking mostly about first run, which is where you capture most of your user base with. Many won't run through a second time, and those that do, wouldn't have if their first time hadn't been enjoyable.

4) I tried that. The problem with that is that if I moved too far away, party affecting spells didn't take effect. The other problem is that it was easy to get surrounded, and your spellcasters get hung out to dry while your warriors can't act as meatshields to help them out. Then you have to recover by casting AB and DR multiple times just to clear out enemies surrounding your spellcasters. In a first run of a game, don't know that I will get surrounded until I get to that fight. If I have to reload for every fight just because I am at a tactical disadvantage because i didn't know the room I was walking into, I'm grinding again.

5a) I didn't have too much of a problem going back to town to recharge and heal... it was more the frequency I had to do it. Also I heard complaints on the opposite end of the spectrum here, that there weren't enough energy potions. Also there's a limited number of energy potions, since you can only find them or make them custom.

5b) I found spellcasters strong and fighters not as much so in A5, so I agree with you here. My concern is that, knowing what I knew of A1-4, this is a surprise to me, since my expectations of the game were different, and the strategy I used based on what I knew wasn't as good as I thought it could be. This is hard to address, because you have to give new options for power gamers, the game has to evolve to keep the most avid and vocal gamers happy, but you have to keep the casual happy. The biggest thing here is you play A4 and look at A5 and say "oh look same interface, same skills, must be just a new plot... whoops! no it ain't!" I don't have a good answer for that, to be honest, but being a support rep in a software company myself, I'm trained to be sympathetic and recognize any concern, so I'm just laying it out there even if I don't have a solution yet smile

A couple more points to round things out.

1) Most boss fights are awesome, and challenging. Jeff mixed it up, and forced you to think a little. Not solve a myst like puzzle, just know this isn't gonna be a whack/whack/heal/flamebolt type of battle. And in these, I expected to have to need to cast buffs so I didn't mind as much. The only issues I do have were the doomguard (without slow, OMG he's crazy, with slow, he's an utter wimp) and part of the Dorikas fight with the orbs (clever idea but when I saw the orbs, Jeff, you had sent so many other clever challenges my way I was well trained. I immediately asked myself "okay one orb is fire one is ice one is melee, etc, right?" so it was a bit predictable smile )

2) at first I thought the choices you had to make in the game were annoying (gladwell or no gladwell), but as the plot developed, I saw their charm. Plot wise this is the most intricate Avernum game yet. I just wish I hadn't given into the temptation for the extra power from gladwell... that's so not me... but I was suffering a bit by that point in combat and thought I needed it.

3) all the extra powerups are fun, and I like those as rewards. Larks quests were particularly fun for me. I look forward to more of that smile

And finally, some suggestions:

1) Bring back demonslayer smile There's something about obtaining it in A1 and A2 that was just so satisfying. A3 it was there but it was so anti-climactic finding it and it wasn't useful, nor was it the most powerful sword. A4 and 5 it's completely gone.

2) start making difficulty levels like Civilization did. You need a higher level than torment now, since you have so many power gamers familliar with you. Civ1 and 2 had 5. Civ3 had 6 and then 7. Civ4 i think might go up to 8 (I forget, my mac can't run that for me to check... I need a new mac! smile ) That suggestion for a "soul crushing" level sounds good wink

Thank you for continuing this very cool franchise Jeff!
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Originally written by DarkTreader:
1) If fighters shouldn't be main damage dealers past the early stages, why does the default party include them? That's a good way to get an average gamer new to Avernum discouraged. In fact some people (not myself) might misinterpret that as arrogance (oh you used the default party and reloaded 500 times? Silly n00b!) With a reasonable amount of skill, the starting party should be able to beat the game in an approximate amount of time (set by programmer in however means he or she sets), with a minimal but not tiny number of reloads, and give the player a reasonable feeling of balance within his or her own party.
Whoa there, sailor. Just because they're not the best way to deal damage doesn't mean they're not useful. Defensively, they're vital. They're as good as anyone else at dishing out damage against a single enemy that doesn't have high resistance to physical attacks, but against groups their job is to stand at the front and survive being swarmed while everyone else attacks from a safe distance. The default party hasn't ever been the statistically optimal party, but it's quite playable.

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And that I had to cast steel skin 4 times each and every time?
I only ever really bothered to cast the long-lasting buffs on my fighter, since the other characters weren't getting attacked.

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And when I did I had to wait for the animation to finish every time i cast it?
Okay, this is a legitimate complaint and it annoys me too. It seems to have been a quick workaround for a bug in Geneforge 4 where casting many spells in quick succession would sometimes cause some of them to fail to take effect.

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3) I played A1-4 and suddenly in a5 they hit much harder? Where in the instructions does it say "oh btw enemies hit much harder in A5, so pump up your endurance." From a replay perspective yes you are dead on. From a first run experience, especially those that have played prior titles, you can't expect a new player to know that. Specifically I'm talking mostly about first run, which is where you capture most of your user base with. Many won't run through a second time, and those that do, wouldn't have if their first time hadn't been enjoyable.
I'd think "I'm getting killed a lot because the enemies are hitting hard, so I should increase Endurance next level so I can survive more hits" would be common sense.

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4) I tried that. The problem with that is that if I moved too far away, party affecting spells didn't take effect.
What party-affecting spells are you using in the middle of combat? 90% of the time, Minor Heal and Heal are more efficient means of healing than Mass Healing. It's nice to be able to cast Divine Restoration when you get it late in the game, but by then your spellcasters are hopefully robust enough to take a hit or two.

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The other problem is that it was easy to get surrounded, and your spellcasters get hung out to dry while your warriors can't act as meatshields to help them out. Then you have to recover by casting AB and DR multiple times just to clear out enemies surrounding your spellcasters. In a first run of a game, don't know that I will get surrounded until I get to that fight. If I have to reload for every fight just because I am at a tactical disadvantage because i didn't know the room I was walking into, I'm grinding again.
I think this is just a difference in play style between us. I saved every couple of minutes, and usually reloaded if I ran into enemies without buffs active. Each save only takes a few seconds, so it's a precaution worth taking.

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5a) I didn't have too much of a problem going back to town to recharge and heal... it was more the frequency I had to do it.
Oh, I agree that it's a nuisance. I was looking at it more from the perspective of advising you on how to beat the game if you were having problems, not defending Jeff's design decisions.

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5b) I found spellcasters strong and fighters not as much so in A5, so I agree with you here. My concern is that, knowing what I knew of A1-4, this is a surprise to me, since my expectations of the game were different, and the strategy I used based on what I knew wasn't as good as I thought it could be.
Fighters weren't very good offensively in A4 either, and spellcasters have always been able to dish out more damage per round than anyone else when fighting multiple enemies, at least in the short term.
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The only issues I do have were the doomguard (without slow, OMG he's crazy, with slow, he's an utter wimp) and part of the Dorikas fight with the orbs (clever idea but when I saw the orbs, Jeff, you had sent so many other clever challenges my way I was well trained. I immediately asked myself "okay one orb is fire one is ice one is melee, etc, right?" so it was a bit predictable smile )
Remember, the Dorikas fight is a mandatory combat. Mandatory combats are always going to be somewhat easier than the hardest optional ones, because Jeff wants people to be able to beat his game.

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2) at first I thought the choices you had to make in the game were annoying (gladwell or no gladwell), but as the plot developed, I saw their charm. Plot wise this is the most intricate Avernum game yet. I just wish I hadn't given into the temptation for the extra power from gladwell... that's so not me... but I was suffering a bit by that point in combat and thought I needed it.
Strictly from a powergaming perspective, I do think that making the deal with Gladwell is worth it. Sure, you end up losing as much as you gain in the long run, but those precious stat points are more important early in the game when you first meet Gladwell than later on when you start missing out on other rewards that are mutually exclusive with joining Gladwell. (Getting a Mercuric Plate or Magus Vest by the end of the Anama Lands is pretty awesome too.)

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3) all the extra powerups are fun, and I like those as rewards. Larks quests were particularly fun for me. I look forward to more of that smile
Lark sent the party on a massive game-spanning quest in A4 and A5. I think it's a fair bet that she'll do the same in A6.

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1) Bring back demonslayer smile There's something about obtaining it in A1 and A2 that was just so satisfying. A3 it was there but it was so anti-climactic finding it and it wasn't useful, nor was it the most powerful sword. A4 and 5 it's completely gone.
Demonslayer exists in A4. It's not as impressive as it was in A1 and A2, but it has its uses.

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2) start making difficulty levels like Civilization did. You need a higher level than torment now, since you have so many power gamers familliar with you. Civ1 and 2 had 5. Civ3 had 6 and then 7. Civ4 i think might go up to 8 (I forget, my mac can't run that for me to check... I need a new mac! smile ) That suggestion for a "soul crushing" level sounds good wink
I'm not sure how well the combat would scale to even higher difficulty levels. Torment on A5 is already about as hard as it could be without forcing the player to either abuse game mechanics or skip a lot of things and come back later. Still, if a higher difficulty level exists in later games, I'll try it.
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Buffing as grinding rings true to me. I think it's a problem for Jeff's recent games, given Jeff's philosophy (which I wholeheartedly endorse) that games should be fun and that tedious repetition is not fun.

 

From way back, Jeff has wanted to make buffing spells really effective, because he was sick of games in which they effectively just padded out the spell list because they really just weren't bothering to use. That's a good idea, all right. But his buffs are so good, so effective for their cost, that they're effectively obligatory. So you're constantly hitting those same key sequences before each battle, again and again and again.

 

One could achieve the same effect, eliminating only the tedium, by just getting a Gladwell-like geas, once in the game, that permanently took away X amount of spell energy from your priest, and gave every character permanent blessing and protection. A bit later you could get a chance for permanent Speed, and so on. But when you put it like that, it doesn't sound good: it sounds much too good.

 

So in effect Jeff's excellent buffs are over-the-top goodies for the characters, for which the players pay in tedium. This is grinding.

 

Of course, it's not grinding in the league of fishing for hours to gain a point in Angling skill, or killing thousands of goblins. Because the ritual of slapping on all the buffs usually happens right before an exciting battle, you don't really remember the tedium much afterwards. So maybe this bit of grinding is just too hard to eliminate from Avernum at this point.

 

But maybe something could be done about this, somehow. Maybe some sort of suped-up spell hotkeys, that would let you apply whole batteries of buffs with one click? Or maybe the buffs could be toned down a little.

 

(Oddly enough, I think the problem is much smaller in Geneforge, because it's rather rare that you put many big buffs on all your creations, and there are Mass Energize and Battle Roar to pump up everyone in one shot. The 'permanent' spells last an entire zone, so at least you don't worry about exactly when they'll wear off.)

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Originally written by Student of Trinity:
(Oddly enough, I think the problem is much smaller in Geneforge, because it's rather rare that you put many big buffs on all your creations, and there are Mass Energize and Battle Roar to pump up everyone in one shot. The 'permanent' spells last an entire zone, so at least you don't worry about exactly when they'll wear off.)
Now that you mention it, I miss the combined buff spells like Major Haste and Major Blessing from the Exile series. In E3, Major Blessing was the only buff you needed; in A5, Arcane Shield does a lot, but not everything -- and most importantly, not hasting. Would a group haste spell really unbalance the game?
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Originally written by Alorael:
Having game difficulties with names describing the target player rather than an absolute difficulty is a great idea. Casual, veteran, hard-core, invincible uber-robot...
Quoted to emphasize!

As said before "Beginner" and "expert" aren't good names for the difficulty levels either. Someone who prefers to play easy mode does not have to be a beginner, and thus such a name would insult him. But Alorael is spot on here!

Alternatively, you could try the complete opposite. And make the level names as insulting as possible, in an exaggerated way.
easy:"daddy, can I play?" and torment:"I live in my parents basement and have no life"
This may sound strange but it can have a positive effect.

Of course, there'll be some people who can't appreciate a bit of dark humor...
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I've actually been thinking about the buffing issue a lot lately, partially because I was playing Eschalon. In Eschalon buffs are grotesquely overpowered, and make spellcasters much better at melee than melee-oriented characters. A lot worse even than Exile's buffs.

 

The problem in both games, however, is not the strength of the buffs. The problem is their timing. The majority of turn-based CRPGs use different screens for walkabout and combat mode. When you do that it's easy to have buffs last for one fight. Then even really strong buffs are not a no-brainer, because you have to use up a turn in the fight to cast them. War Blessing, Haste and so on would still be really useful, but they would be more on par with battle disciplines -- something to use a lot -- rather than something to use always, something to cast over and over again, something to grind.

 

Obviously that is not an option for Avernum, and it shouldn't be, as Avernum's seamlessness is implemented pretty darn well. But the need to constantly cast and recast buffs is clearly one of the more annoying, repetitive parts of the game.

 

What to do? One option would be to make most buffs last longer (like Enduring Shield et al.) and also more expensive. This mitigates the repetitive aspect without affecting game balance in any real way.

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Jeff decided during beta testing of the Azure Gallery to end the era of the glass cannon. No more running around with minimal endurance and relying on augmentation and essence armor to provide health. Part of this was to balance out regular parties and the Anama ones and the other was to end the abuse of 200+ health spellcasters at this point in the game. It was a way of restoring balance to the game that you couldn't create tank like characters without using tank like stats.

 

I played the game through on torment since the start of beta testing. There were expert areas that needed to be done later in the game because they weren't meant to be cakewalks when you first encounter them. I think that the game could have been made a little harder except for a few areas that were pure grinding dull on torment. The pro-Darkside Loyalist fight was toned down since it took a min-max party with plenty of energy elixirs to finish the fight. The others like Pit of Abominations, doomguards, and a few in Melanchion's Keep were just long unless you could figure out a trick to shorten the fight. Using slow and/or to reduce spliting monsters is an example.

 

I think there needs to be a new level for the most jaded of us gamers.

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What I think would take the annoyamce out of the buffs without affecting game balance at all, would be a macro recording system such as is used, for example, in TOME. Sort of the Quick Keys on steroids.

 

Essentially, we could record a sequence of actions, such as:

 

START MACRO

Mage casts haste one archer

Mage casts haste on priest

Mage casts haste on fighter

Mage casts haste on mage

Fighter casts war blessing

Fighter casts war blessing

Priest casts shield

Mage casts prismatic sphere

Mage casts arcane shield

END MACRO

 

Then, later on, I press one key and that sequence of actions will be repeated. Still uses the same amount of SP and turns, but eliminates a great deal of tedium, since I only have to re-do my buffs when I gain a new spell (or if I decide I want to forego a couple for a specific battle because I'm low on SP).

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Part of buffing is deciding when the turns it takes to buff are worth turns not doing something else. That doesn't matter when you buff before combat, of course, but it's an important part of combat tactics. Pre-combat buffing used to be largely covered by Beast Ceremony, but that's been gone for a while. For those of you who didn't play those games or don't remember, Beast Ceremony slaps standard buffs on your whole party and can only be cast outside of combat when there are no monsters around.

 

I think a new Beast Ceremony would be nice. It doesn't even need to be a spell per se. Just have it use one turn and one player action to cast all available short-term buffs on everyone.

 

—Alorael, who would be even happier if it were a little bit more customizable. Choosing which caster casts which spells and being able to pick only certain targets for certain spells would be nice. Convenience is the really important thing, though.

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I like Fael's macro idea. I find myself typing out the buffing sequences before each combat without even looking -- just keeping to the correct rhythm so there's no overlap.

 

Here's how I think about the difficulty levels (because I have a job and many other interests -- lame, I know):

 

Easy -> Quick Play: Enjoy the story and the puzzles, whizz through the fights

 

Normal -> Balanced Play: Story, puzzles, but give the monsters a fair chance

 

Hard -> Combat Play: The game is fun, but the fights really make it all worthwhile

 

Torment -> Addictive Play: No fight is too hard! Bring 'em on, Vogel -- you've got nothing!

 

I play on Normal, though I did edit the tool use up to 30 just because I got tired of interrupting quests or remembering where I had to back later to open whatever. Maybe an in-game marking system could address that...

 

Glad to know about the built-in extra tough encounter that comes with each chapter. And here I thought I was wussing out by skipping them and coming back later.

 

Otherwise, this is by far my favorite Spiderweb game. The blend -- action, story and can't-have-it-both-ways choices -- is really expertly tuned. Kudos to Jeff for his craft and creativity.

 

Eric D.

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Thinking about it again, the real issue is Haste. War Blessing, Protection, and Prismatic Shield take one keypress each under the current system. You can press three keys next to each other for them all using one hand. Hasting the party takes a minimum of eight keypresses that are not next to each other.

 

Steel Skin et al. also take more keypresses, but you don't repeat them for every fight, and for more of the game you won't use them: either because you don't have them, or don't want or need to pay their high SP costs. Also, Haste is by far the strongest of the buffs, so it's the one you're least likely to pass on.

 

Group Haste seems like a very strong ability, and if you couldn't buff BEFORE combat started, it would be extremely strong. But you can; and since it rarely matters if your precombat buffing takes you four turns or seven, Group Haste wouldn't actually be any kind of power boost at all.

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You know, I think Slarty's right. My conviction that Jeff's buffs are all grinds has dissolved: it's really just about Haste. The others are either really long-lasting, or are group buffs that eventually get combined into high level spells, so the grind factor really isn't much.

 

And Haste is indeed the most powerful buff. It's what that separates us from the beasts: we enter every combat already hasted, while they have to Speed Up during combat, or attack but once per turn. But everybody being hasted for every fight is probably just a broken mechanic.

 

For one thing, I suddenly have a nasty question: how many of Jeff's beta testers fight every battle with the entire party previously hasted? I'd bet, practically all. And how many novice players do that? Probably very few. And how much difference does this make to the difficulty of the game? A big enough difference, that Jeff's allowances for jaded min-maxers may well be far short of the mark.

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I think there are two useful perspectives on Haste. One is the gameplay perspective we are already looking at. Another is game balance.

 

The instruction manual says Haste is "extremely useful." This has got to be the understatement of the year. If Haste did nothing but double the damage output of your warriors, it'd still be a great spell. But it also hands you tremendous flexibility by being given two actions per turn indefinitely. You can mix and match spells. You can heal everyone without having to put your offense on hold. Group heals, group cures, and even area of effect spells become much less important than they would otherwise be, since you can spread out whatever you do. The ability to do 2 things in 1 round makes it hard for your opponent to get you in a tough spot by putting you in "check" type situations where you have to heal, kill the summoned monster, etc., a tactic frequently used by bosses in other games.

 

The game balance question I ask for spells is: how high could this spell's SP cost go, without my becoming unwilling to use it? For most spells in A5 this number is close to their actual casting cost. War Blessing, Protection, and some of the heal spells have a higher number, because they're so useful. But Haste? Haste has no high number. It could cost all my wizard's spell points to haste a single character, and while I wouldn't cast it frequently, you can bet I'd still cast it once in most tough fights. More realistically, Haste could cost 15 and I'd still use it frequently. It could cost 50 and I'd still use it repeatedly in boss fights. And this is ignoring the fact that the world is full of haste potions...

 

As SoT comments, the haste effect is so powerful that it drastically alters the balance of the game. It is so powerful that we cast Haste even when it's a grind.

 

Imagine. Imagine a world without haste...

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Originally written by Randomizer:
Jeff decided during beta testing of the Azure Gallery to end the era of the glass cannon. No more running around with minimal endurance and relying on augmentation and essence armor to provide health. Part of this was to balance out regular parties and the Anama ones and the other was to end the abuse of 200+ health spellcasters at this point in the game. It was a way of restoring balance to the game that you couldn't create tank like characters without using tank like stats.
I took this as a bit of a surprise. Not an entirely unwelcome one, but I fell behind the curve in so many places, I felt, skill wise, and endurance was one of them. There's just something about feeling your behind during most of the game that's a little distressing.

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Originally written by Randomizer:
I played the game through on torment since the start of beta testing. There were expert areas that needed to be done later in the game because they weren't meant to be cakewalks when you first encounter them. I think that the game could have been made a little harder except for a few areas that were pure grinding dull on torment. The pro-Darkside Loyalist fight was toned down since it took a min-max party with plenty of energy elixirs to finish the fight. The others like Pit of Abominations, doomguards, and a few in Melanchion's Keep were just long unless you could figure out a trick to shorten the fight. Using slow and/or to reduce spliting monsters is an example.
I didn't find the loyalist fight up the hill a major toll on my potions. But then again, I was pumping intelligence and I had like 14 in my mage and 11 in my priest. Your glass cannon may not be able to be made out of glass any more but you can still pump INT and get a nasty cannon.
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Originally written by Eluctable:
Imagine. Imagine a world without haste...
Joining the Anama in E3/A3 and playing without using potions (I use energy potions & dumbfounding cures, but ignore all the others) it's easy enough to get by without haste. You just have to accept that fights take a bit longer, that's all.

Edit: I should add a qualifier that of course the GF/A4-5 engine is a different matter.
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I played A5 as an Anama enough to know that without haste makes for a much different dynamic. Getting the last battle discipline or at least adrenaline rush for spell casters restores some of the balance.

 

Haste is a major difference in controlling the fight especially against an opponent that can slow you. Potions are hoarded because of the cost to replace speed elixirs versus skill training. Using an item and attack to replace haste tends to burn up items near the end of a fight when the monster is about to drop and except for healing elixirs isn't that helpful later in the game.

 

I agree with SoT that experienced players go in hasted even if it's not needed just to have an advantage. Crush the opposition and go on to the next area.

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Originally written by RiotGearEpsilon [great PDN, btw]:
I am going to propose removing Haste, or at least dramatically lessening it's power.
Agreed haste is a very powerful boost for experienced players, but I wouldn't support any move to remove it altogether. You have to remember the casual players.

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Originally written by Jeff:
Balancing a game really is a no-win situation. You're trying to please two audiences: gamers and casuals, each of whom has a very different idea of fun.
Back when I was playing Exile 2/Exile 3 for the first time, I was a casual player. I would never have survived the higher level fights without mass haste. It tilted the balance on the fun/challenge scale, making the long fights less of a grind. To remove haste altogether would be extremely hard on the casual players.

For experts, you always have the choice of self-inflicted challenges; like Thuryl's creation-free/canister-free/magic-free servile in GF4.

Edit: Of course, this is rather inconsistent with my earlier post, but meh.
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Originally written by Micawber:
Agreed haste is a very powerful boost for experienced players, but I wouldn't support any move to remove it altogether. You have to remember the casual players.
But casual players are precisely the ones who are underusing Haste now, while thanks to the betatesters combat is balanced based on the expectation that the party will haste before every fight. The idea is that by removing Haste and rebalancing combat based on the expectation that the party won't have it, the net result will be an easier game for those who don't use Haste compulsively. Of course, the same is true for any tactical option, and taken to its logical extreme this approach would result in a combat system with no depth, complexity or fun. So a balance has to be struck somehow.
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Can't disagree with your statement of the problem.

 

But my solution would be somewhat different. As I see it, haste is the single most effective way to make the game easier, and by removing it altogether you will cripple the less able players. In order to rebalance you'd have to make combat much, much easier, and the beta testers might as well just go home.

 

Instead, tweak the way that game difficulty works. Maybe war blessing, haste, and other buffs should only affect a single PC on hard/torment but affect all PCs on easy/normal. And they should be only castable during combat. That would have significantly enlarge the gap between normal and torment.

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Originally written by RiotGearEpsilon:
I am going to propose removing Haste, or at least dramatically lessening it's power. The difference in combat between a party of all-hasted and a party of not hasted is, well... It's like the difference between Lysstak the Singular and Lysstak the Trinity.
He's a heretic! Burn him! smile
Even newbies can see the obvious value of haste. A better solution would be to make sure they know about using it by mentioning it during the tutorial or something.
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Originally written by Micawber:
But my solution would be somewhat different. As I see it, haste is the single most effective way to make the game easier, and by removing it altogether you will cripple the less able players. In order to rebalance you'd have to make combat much, much easier, and the beta testers might as well just go home.
If game balance already assumes that the party will be using Haste for any significant battle, why not just give all PCs a base AP of 10, so that they're effectively hasted all the time? The number of spell points lost to hasting is negligible except at low levels, so this wouldn't really require rebalancing combat much at all.

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Instead, tweak the way that game difficulty works. Maybe war blessing, haste, and other buffs should only affect a single PC on hard/torment but affect all PCs on easy/normal. And they should be only castable during combat. That would have significantly enlarge the gap between normal and torment.
The idea of giving difficulty levels more far-reaching effects is a good one, and I think it could be explored more.

The "only castable during combat" idea isn't really feasible, since you can just enter combat mode at any time. Even if you made the spells only castable when a hostile monster was in sight, players could game the system by summoning a weak monster and attacking it to make it hostile.
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If we're also thinking about restyling the difficulty levels as 'attitude levels' (casual through to cooling-fan-skull), then it might make sense for the game to just get simpler on the casual setting: remove some spells and potions and stuff, or just make them automatic, etc. Of course, a certain amount of baffling complexity is what's fun about RPGs, so this might be a feature no-one wants.

 

But it could certainly be possible to ban Haste, but give all PCs a base 10 AP. Jeff can mimic those inopportune lapses of the spell that plague even veteran players, by just putting in a few more slowing opponents than he already uses. A super-haste could be added at high levels, costing a huge amount; or we could decide that Adrenaline was the new Haste.

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Even if you made the spells only castable when a hostile monster was in sight, players could game the system by summoning a weak monster and attacking it to make it hostile.
Gosh that's devious. OK, I'm convinced. Increase base APs to 10, remove haste. And also introduce greater engine differences for the difficulty levels - such as spells affecting more targets at easier levels.
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Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.

 

Haste isn't going anywhere. This is a simple fact. A lot of players like it, and that's the kind of removal that would get Jeff way more hate mail than a fourth appearance of Rentar-Ihrno would. I'm serious about that.

 

Thuryl was spot on about the impact of tactical options. (1) Every usable tactic increases the gulf between the tactically astute player and the beginner. The degree of increase depends on the utility of the tactic, and its difficulty to figure out and/or execute. Haste is very strong, but also easy to figure out. A more dangerous gulf-creator would be the hit-and-run tactic, or the closed-door tactic, employed in Geneforge 1-3.

 

Two other things usable tactics can increase, depending on how they are balanced, are strategy-based fun and grinding/boring.

 

(2) Having a variety of interesting tactical options, none of which are overpowered, increases strategy-based fun. It doesn't remove any challenge from the game, but it makes it more interesting due to the variety of approaches possible. Obviously, the more tactical options you have available, the harder it is to make sure none are overpowered.

 

(3) Having one or two tactical options that are much stronger than all the others increases the grinding/boring factor. Using those options is a no-brainer and there are few situations where you don't want to. This means that the choice to use them is not interesting and any time spent performing those actions may feel boring, especially if the actions take more than a few keystrokes or clicks to complete.

 

Haste is bad because of effect #3. The idea of haste itself is cool, but it's just so strong that it blows everything else out of the water.

 

That said, part of the reason Haste is strong is that other options simply don't exist. The tactical palette in Avernum is slender: you can attack (given the similarities in formulae, melee, missile and magic attacks are just different flavors of one tactic), you can heal, you can increase damage capacity, you can increase defense, and you can summon random creatures. You can use disabling attacks (stun/slow/daze). I think that's everything.

 

Compare this situation to Exile 2-3. Haste was in fact MORE powerful in Exile than in Avernum, because at high levels it allowed three attacks or spells per turn even without speed items equipped. But it was less unbalanced. Why? Because other tactics were stronger, and there were more of them. Melee attacks were processed very differently from magic attacks, and were potentially devastatingly strong. Magic had a plethora of options: besides the ones Avernum has listed above, you could create damaging fields, create antimagic fields, mindduel, mass poison without causing spell damage, use symbiosis, mass charm, mass disease, or you could summon the creature of your choice, utilizing any number of other tactics.

 

Exile excelled at effect #2. There were so many ways to do things. And so Haste was strong, but not always the most important tactic. Often it was less critical than an antimagic field or the right Simulacrum. In the early game, it was usually less powerful than a good Fireball, and in the late game the availability of Major Blessing greatly mitigated effect #3.

 

The engine change in Avernum 4 cleansed the series of half its interesting tactical options. Goodbye to Simulacrums, forcecages, and walls. Goodbye to melee and magic damage being calculated in different ways. Meanwhile the lack of group haste pumped up the boring factor.

 

Haste is a problem, but it's also a symptom.

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It may not be realistic to solve this putative problem in G5 or A6. For one thing, it's hardly the case that A5 and G4 were bad games devoid of tactical interest. I think we've identified some problems that are more than just nitpicking, but I'm not going to e-mail Jeff to say they're urgent, either. If Jeff finds some neat solution to the Haste problem for A6, great; but if he leaves some big plot holes because he spent all his time tweaking spell mechanics, I won't be happy.

 

I expect Jeff will think hard about these kinds of things when he contemplates whatever comes after A6. He has written publicly of his own recent epiphanies about basic problems in CRPGs, and he has also expressed interest in doing something quite new once his workhorse series are both wound up.

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Difficulty levels: I agree that changing the names is a pretty good idea. Matching the style of player is also good. In fact, change the name from "Difficulty" to "Play Style". From looking at things posted, here is a suggested list:

 

Casual

Standard

Veteran

Extreme

 

Haste: I think the problem stems from being able to do multiple spell attacks. I don't think melee is as bad. So if magical spells were treated differently I think it would restore some balance. Attacks drain the usual 9 AP whereas spells could use 14 AP. It's still possible to get multiple casting, but pretty hard unless you have special skills or rare items.

 

What this would mean is that melee fighters become even more effective. Spell casters would still be powerful, but no more double Arcane Blow rounds. If this were done, I think haste should just be a group effect spell as well.

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I fall into the category of finding A5 just about right... Sure it's a bit harder, but it's #5, it should be...

One thing about summoning aid does confuse me, why only two in total? Shouldn't each spell-caster be able to control their own creations?

Maybe 1 summon per 10 intelligence?

 

I kinda like the idea of the comical level names as the AV series is unique in it's ability to continually make me laugh...

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Originally written by playongrass:

One thing about summoning aid does confuse me, why only two in total?
Jeff got upset (isn't strong enough to really describe it) with how summoned creatures were being used against the Master of the Pit in Soultaker's Pit. First the divine host shades were tanks and second everyone just summoned until the Master couldn't reach the characters. Summoned creatures were being abused too much to make the game trivial for most major encounters. All of a sudden the party size tripled from 4 to 12 and the poor monsters faced an army.
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You're not the only one to find it confusing. I think it's a naive reactionary solution, a quick hack to prevent a worse bug (the summon spamming) rather than dealing with the underlying causes that make unrestricted summoning exploitable (monsters can't swap positions, many boss monsters lack ranged attacks, poor monster target selection and AI stupidity in general, summons are too cheep in terms of energy, etc etc etc.)

 

There are many possible solutions, some of them quite simple, even without treating the underlying causes, but this one was picked. It's not an open source game so you and I don't have any say in the matter however. It's not like Avernum 5 was horrible because of this one issue, though, it's just a wart.

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