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Masked Man of Inscrutability

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Everything posted by Masked Man of Inscrutability

  1. I did not mean my comment as a barbed one against you. It was instead a more general statement of the of a trend mostly seen in academic circles. For example, when Stephen Railton complains about Huckleberry Finn's treatment of race using his own standards. It seems asinine for Dr. Railton to ignore the cultural context in which the novel was written.
  2. This is how I read it too. I also roll my eyes at that genre of literary criticism which uses current practices and standards of ethical conduct to complain about an old work being "problematic." Social norms change over time. It seems silly and a bit narcissistic to assume that our current norms are the the objectively correct ones. This attitude, if taken to the extreme, leads to a really ugly culture like the one afflicting YA fiction twitter.
  3. I loved Name of the Rose. I thought it was one of Eco's most enjoyable books. I can understand your criticism that it isn't a great work of art because it's more of a pulpy/fun read. But I still recommend it to anyone who wants to read something by Eco for the first time.
  4. I am doing well, and have installed Basilisk so I can play Exile 1. So not only am I doing well, but I'm building up some hipster credibility.
  5. Hi friends! It is good to see you all here. I was most active on the forums from about 2003 to 2006, but never fully left this place behind. How could I? Spiderweb's games have been a part of my life since the 90s. And they still are. I first discovered Exile 1 on a shareware CD in 1995 or 1996 I think. I was in school at the time and didn't really grok cRPGs yet, so never even reached the shareware barrier. In 1999 I discovered Nethergate somewhere on the internet, and instantly was hooked. I'd been reading ancient Roman history in school and become fascinated with it, so an RPG set (however loosely) within that milieu appealed to me. I bought and registered Nethergate by phone—talking with a live spiderweb person no less (probably either Miriam or Linda)—within 30 minutes of downloading the demo. I also ordered the CD-rom for an extra $5; I still have that CD (and many others). A few months later I purchased the Exile Trilogy and Blade of Exile. Those games gave me countless hours of fun. As did the first Avernum games, which I also purchased. I remember in 2001 being absolutely blown away by Geneforge. I could not believe how well the story accommodated different approaches to each faction, and it was so satisfying seeing an ending authored solely by your choices. No other cRPG did that as well as Geneforge, and few have done it since. I remember Geneforge 2—which remains my favorite Spiderweb game—and that first play through. There, I played the entire game without ever using a single canister and loved that my straight-edge choice was acknowledged in the ending. It was around that time I became most active on these forums, and helped found the Cult of Richard White. Then there was Blades of Avernum. That was game I never really appreciated, and toward which I was somewhat unkind. That was followed by Avernum 4, another game I didn't appreciate and toward which I was even less kind. Looking back I can see that my judgment was clouded by anger and frustration completely unrelated to Spiderweb. Those were dark days for me, and Spiderweb's games and this forum helped me cope. Thank you for that. I stepped away from the forums eventually, but never from Spiderweb's games. Avadon and the Avernum 1 and 2 re-remakes helped relieve the stress of law school. Queen's Wish was a delightful game to play, and I appreciated the theme of family as my own family grew and settled. I haven't tried QW2 yet, but am sure I will enjoy it. And now I can't wait for the remastering of Geneforge 2. My favorite game-maker is busy remaking my favorite game. I'm sure I will love it. I also love that this weird little corner of the internet still exists. Its a bit like a Time Machine where I can see back to my entire life—from childhood to now—measured in turn-based role-playing games.
  6. If you want to experience Blades in a similar manner to playing another Spiderweb game, I would recommend playing it as follows: (1) Valley of the dying things (2) A small rebellion (3) Za-khazi run (4) Diplomacy with the dead then move on to Bahssikava, which has a very similar feel to Jeff's scenarios. Your party should be strong enough to tackle it after completing the four Jeff-built scenarios. Then, you can try Exodus. I never got around to playing Exodus, but your characters from Bahssikava will be at the right level to tackle it.
  7. Kel, your situation is sort of interesting to me given your experience. What, in particular, was so bothersome that made you want to stop designing scenarios? I ask because I want to understand what aspects of the criticism, from a designer's perspective, went into the destructive category. I mean, it seems like TM just always hated your scenarios no matter what, so I cannot imagine that was it. Also, did the criticism drive you away from scenario design, or just the forums? EDIT: Is it true that Exodus includes a reference to the Cult of Richard White? If so, that's *almost* enough to get me to reinstall BoA.
  8. Ha! Returning to Spiderweb's forums is always this weird timewarp where it is always the same people doing saying the same things. I love you! To stay on topic, I, too, drifted away from Spiderweb games because they just felt too similar. I think my last Avernum purchase was 5, my last Geneforge purchase was 4. I finished Geneforge 4, but never finished Avernum 5. Don't get me wrong - I don't dislike them - but I liked them more like I sometimes fondly remember an old movie or song I used to be into. I like them from a distance, but with no real desire to experience them again. But hey, for every person like me who moves on to other things, there is some newbie who takes my place. The comment about Blades of Avernum, for me at least, really hit the nail on the head. BoA was primarily marketed as a "Build your own RPG!" type game. The scenarios were never the attraction. But you cannot release a game like that with such difficult scenario editing tools. The documentation, too, was abysmal. The tutorial only shows you how to place things on a map, but never explains dialogue making etc. And telling the user to just open up random files and it will eventually make sense is a cop out. Part of me thinks Jeff knew it, or he wouldn't have released the editor as open source (thus giving him a convenient excuse for why it was decidedly not ready from prime time). The reviews were, predictably, cool. The game bombed from a financial standpoint. Compare the BoA experience to the BoE experience. BoE was a success, despite looking more out-of-date when released than BoA did. And despite the technical limitations. And despite having no established community of designers. I don't mean to rip on Jeff here. But you're so right that BoA, above all others, could have used serious player input. It had large structural problems that would have surfaced very quickly. And the real tragedy of BoA's business failure is that it seems to have turned Jeff off from ever making another scenario development game again. I guess what I'm saying is that I understand Jeff's stance toward interacting with his customers, but it seems too extreme. He doesn't need to turn into an Alorael-level engaged forum dweller, but more wouldn't be bad.
  9. The real question is where are the RWG shirts? I mean, how could you go wrong with: "Pan Lever: Seventeen apple roving mirror moiety. Of turned quorum jaggedly the. Blue?" "Keep laughing. Galactic Core 2 is coming" "Richard White is my Co-Pilot" "Do not adjust your implants" Also, did you know that Richard White is now working at McDonald's in NZ? I'm not making this up.
  10. Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity To some extent there's a legitimate criticism here. Jeff has been really slack on his in-game documentation, for years. The manuals have been brief and unclear, and in some cases flat wrong. The engine isn't explained anywhere; people have had to figure out how it works experimentally, by conducting long trials. This has always been one of the aspects I've really disliked about Spiderweb games. I'm not the kind of player who reads the manual first. I usually just start right up and play, looking things up as I go. I imagine most players only read the manual casually, but that isn't a good reason for how poor the manuals really are. It is frustrating when you have a gameplay question and the manual doesn't even come remotely close to answering it. The worst offender of all Spiderweb games has to be Blades of Avernum. Yeh gods that is the worst documented editor I've ever seen! And while it is arguably okay to have shoddy documentation for games, there really is no excuse for something like Blades. I especially got frustrated when reading things like "Just look around the files of Valley of the Dying Things and you'll figure it out". As with all things that suck about Spiderweb, I'm going to lay the blame squarely on Linda Strout. [Remaining attack on Linda Strout has been censored. It wasn't obscene or anything, just too harsh to pass Point 2 of the C of C.]
  11. Originally Posted By: Harsh Truths in Advertising ... where it isn't an entirely closed, self-referential... The real question is what this has to do with Richard White. And did you see him die yesterday?
  12. Originally Posted By: Zindahjira The Fyora has saliva that combusts on contact with air, as Nalyd remembers. Wouldn't that make it exceedingly difficult for a Fyora to eat its lunch without its head exploding, let alone breath?
  13. I, however, think the whole unlockable thing is nothing more than a foul plot to waste my time on a game I've already beaten. Want to make someone waste 3X the time on Diablo 2? Make three different levels which are exactly the same except "harder" (I put harder in quotes because you're using a more powerful character, so harder is just relative). If there's one thing that consistently irritates me about video game makers is when they use silly gimmicks like that to extend the life of their product. If you have some kick ass character class available, just let me play it, don't make me waste 10 to 20 hours using a less interesting class in order to use the more fun class.
  14. Quote: Originally written by Goldenking: Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire by Niall Fergusson. It actually makes a decent argument for why the American Empire should stay. I find Niall Fergusson has lost his mind. His last coherent book was the Cash Nexus. After that it's all been neocon bull****, with Colossus probably being the worst offender.
  15. Hmmm, I actually kind of like the idea of an Avernum-Rogue game. I kind of think Avernum 4 would have be improved with randomized dungeons, treasures and monsters, since there is very little about the plot that requires defined layouts for many of the dungeons. Then again, if it made every dungeon feel like the goddamn tunnels under the Eastern Gallery, then perhaps I should reconsider.
  16. Has the world gone upside down? Do cats and dogs now live together? No, something even more strange has happened. I tried out BoE for the 5th time, and I kinda liked it.... I have bashed this game for fun and no profit for years, and now I kind of like it! So BoEers, I need recommendations on a couple of custom scenarios suitable for my beginner talent (read, no silly hard combat) that tells a fun story. Size matters, to an extent. Z
  17. Quote: Originally written by Nemesis: That makes the bombers evil? They were just acting on orders. Ever seen "A Few Good Men"? Similar story. When someone in the armed forces gets ordered to do something, even if they think it's immoral, they still have to do it, or it raises all kinds of hell for them personally. In cases like that, it's lose-lose for them. Okay, let me stop you right there. When you take the oath to join the Marine Corp, you take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Not your CO, not the CiC, not the JCoS. Your oath is the the Supreme Law of the Land. One of the first things you learn in the Corp is that you are EXPECTED to disregard any illegal order. This is serious stuff - following orders is no defense from prosecution. And military justice allows for a much wider array of punishments than civilian courts. If we presume that the Hiroshima bomber pilot knew what he was doing, then he followed an illegal order (a war crime no less!) and deserves to be hanged. The legal standard is crystal clear on this point. Why it wasn't followed is a matter for political and legal theorists to debate. But the standard is clear. Z
  18. I'm going to call this one game, set and match for *I, Thuryl, et al. Emp, you sure like to argue like a sophist - something I somewhat admire. However, I find myself inclined to agree that great villains (or antagonists, if you prefer) are fully fleshed out characters with understandable, if flawed, motivations. Someone on these boards pointed out that a good RPG should be like a good novel with crossword puzzles (tactical combat). So I prefer my villains to be those whom would entertain me if I were reading about them. Z EDIT: Typos
  19. Quote: Originally written by Slarty (Italics are mine): ...The standard of living in Exile seems to have risen promiscuously after E3 (which makes sense). To quote Inigo Montoya - "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Z
  20. Quote: Originally written by Emperor Tullegolar: This makes me sad. How far did you get in Avernum 3, exactly? <snip> As for Avernum 4, I really don't see what made the plot so much worse than the other games. If your saying that the plot was reused and you were disapointed by that fact, then you would have more of a case. In A3, I defeated the slime-producing monster, and shortly thereafter lost interest. Also, my problem with A4 wasn't that it has a similar plot to A3 (as you correctly note, I hadn't played A3 for any meaningful length of time). The reason I lost interest was because the world didn't feel engaging. Things were mostly static. New areas were just basically rooms full of things to kill. Characters were not memorable. Also, I didn't like how un-human your player characters are - by this I mean that, unlike say BG2 or the Geneforge games, your characters never develop independent personalities. They're just basically a collection of stats (Warrior "A", Warrior "B", Cleric, Mage). Geneforge appeals to me more on two levels - (1) Your character has a tremendous impact on the world based on your (the player's) decisions. In Avernum, the only decision is whether or not to continue playing. The plot does not change based on your actions, it is only advanced. (2) The game responds and rewards your play style - some people like to play Shapers that use creations to kill everything, others like to become skilled infiltrators avoiding combat. These styles are not only viable, but they are rewarded differently. So your character becomes better at using the skills and strategies that you, as a player, like. Avernum is better than some RPGs on this element, but much more limited because of reason 1 – your goal is to kill things. You can choose how to kill things, but not whether or not to kill things, or even what to kill. In A2, you can't decide to join the Empire and assassinate King Micah. In Geneforge 3, you can decide to join the rebellion and kill Lord Rahul. I guess, for me, an RPG holds my attention if I'm able to make an emotional connection to the game. That connection is what drives me to care about the story, even if the plot is somewhat hackneyed. This can be done my giving me a compelling character to play, compelling characters with which to interact, and/or a dynamic world in which my decisions mean something. BG2, for instance, is strong on compelling characters, and somewhat weak on dynamic world (since the end goal is pretty much the same, no matter how you choose to play). The Geneforge games have less well-developed characters (compared to BG2), and a very dynamic world were it seems like nearly any decision (major and minor) have some impact on the world's evolution. If the characters are strong, then the emotional connection is with them – I care what happens to them and I want to find out. If the game has a dynamic world, then I want to find out what the results of my actions were on the world. A4 lacked (for me) compelling characters or a dynamic world. This resulted in me losing interest. The engine was great compared to A1-3 (in my opinion), but it wasn't enough, on its own, to do more than propel in to finish the first 1/4 of the game. Z
  21. Reading these topics, including peoples' opinions of Avernum IV and requests for the future direction of the series has put me in a philosophical mood. I, like several other board members, have been playing Jeff's games since Exile 1. Unlike others on these boards, I hated Exile 1 so much when I first played it that I didn't touch a thing Jeff made until I tried Nethergate and got hooked. I've now learned to appreciate the Exile series for what it is, and while I doubt I'll ever play it, I can see its charm. The Avernum series was a different story, for me. Avernum 1 was much more polished and accessible than Exile 1 - and I was no doubt more favorably predisposed toward it due to the interface features it shares with Nethergate. So in a sense, Avernum 1 gave me the best of all worlds - the interesting Exile setting with the engine improvements from Nethergate. Avernum 2 was also very enjoyable. It felt well constructed. The story elements fit together nicely and the improvements to the engine enhanced the overall experience. But things started, in my opinion, to go wrong with Avernum 3. I never really "got" it. I purchased it, but every time I've tried to play it, I found I was bored before long. Blades of Avernum had the same effect on me. I only finished VotDT, which was okay. I tried a couple of user-created scenarios (a couple of which were better than VotDT), but I still found the overall experience unsatisfying and boring. Avernum 4, alas, is the least enjoyable of the Avernum series. There isn't anything in particular that I didn’t like about it. The engine is better, I think, than the previous Avernums. But the engine improvements couldn't make up for an overall dull game experience. I felt very little motivation to advance from one area to the next, since nothing much seemed to happen. It was just another dungeon full of things to kill. Take a game like Baldur’s Gate 2 – each new area revealed new and often surprising plot twists, and the characters felt very much alive. This emotional connection with my own character, her party, and the world made it difficult to stop playing. These emotional aspects are largely missing in A4. Someone mentioned that A4 feels like a MMORPG and I couldn't agree more. I've bought all of Jeff's games (E1-3, BoE, A1-4, BoA, G1-3, NG, & GC), and I certainly would like to support his further efforts. Spiderweb games have always been hit-or-miss with me, but lately it feels they're much more miss than hit. I have hopes that G4 will reverse this trend of mediocre products, or at least, provide a game interesting enough I feel like finishing it. Z
  22. I, too, absolutely hate the D&D spell system. I prefer games like Geneforge or Avernum where the number of spells is more limited but they're all useful, and the spell's power depends on the skill of the caster. That said, I found Baldur's Gate II and the expansion pack to be excellent CRPGs. I found the first Baldur's Gate to be pretty good. I found Icewind Dale to be pretty dull. I never tried Planescape because it never made it to the Mac side of things. And now, to bring this back to the topic at hand, I think Avernum IV is the most technically sophisticated game Jeff has ever produced, and the combat system is much more fun than any previous Avernum. I prefer A4's combat system to BG's combat system. Z
  23. I, too, am looking forward to the "patrol group" style combat. As someone mentioned before, the patrol areas in Geneforge are especially fun because they really force the player to consider how he or she will approach the zone. Does the pay load up on spell buffs and creations to tackle the enemies head on? Does the player look for the opportunity to pick off members of the patrol who get too far behind? Does the player attempt to avoid combat all together and sneak around them? So far, I think we all agree that this group-based combat will create a more memorable and fun experience. Hurray! Z
  24. Wow! That sounds really cool! It plays up everything that is good about the Geneforge series! Z
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