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no he wouldn't. He doesn't sell the games for enough to get really rich. and plus, if he does get really rich, he'll probabley expand the company unless he wants to stay a Independent designer. And if he gets lazy, he'll lose alot of his loyal customers, including the older gamers

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One should also take care not to advertise too much.

Many forums frown upon a topic which just says;

Avernum 4 is out, it's so cool, go download it!!!

 

I've been on ambrosiasw's boards for quite some years as Opalius, and we've had many such topics. They don't contribute to a board community at all.

Alas, there's all ready a topic there.

http://www.ambrosiasw.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=101428&st=0&p=1518952entry1518952

You could say that that's advertising, but in a good way.

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Prometheus- I mean that we should help him advertise so he gets more money, therefore has more funding for games, therefore more and batter games. Off Topic=Have you played Age of Mythology: The Titans? It's because I remember the name from the game and its one of the things I remember most.

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Jeff works alone. If I understand the nature of his life anywhere near as well as I think I do, he will always work alone. Otherwise he wouldn't work alone. If he didn't like working alone in this environment, he wouldn't. He'd be a designer for some corporate entity, like he was for MechWarrior 4.

And one person can only work so fast, so he won't provide us new games any more quickly.

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I remember him saying in an interview that he has a couple friends helping him full time(meaning that they're desingers who work alongside Jeff) and that there are several other people who help him from time to time(it's the impression I got) And anyway, I'm pretty sure Jeff could hire a couple of decent part-time desingers if he got more buisness

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Jeff is highly misanthropic and values his independence. Getting a few buddies to do some of the grunt work for his games is one thing. Putting together an outfit for real collaboration is very different, and I don't think Jeff wants to do that enough to try it even if he could.

 

The only things I remember seeing anywhere are that Linda and Mariann do some of the town design. That's hardly a great deal of cooperation.

 

—Alorael, who played Pillars of Garendall for a very short time. He was underwhelmed.

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We can help him advertise..

 

..OR we can just flood him with millions and millions and millions and..(Yeah, you get the idea) emails, telling him to pull something creative out of his (censored) or we won't buy his games anymore, and he will be forced to live on the streets, selling (censored) to (censored, something about senators).

 

Of course, since we are all such weakminded ADDICTS, and Jeff, being a misanthrope that works alone, would never cave in..We would all go crazy during withdrawl from our Spiderweb drug, and thousands of pissed off gamers aren't pretty..Well, we would allready be pissed off if we sent him all those emails, and it obviously is not pretty, we know that..So...

 

In conclusion; Things are better off as they are. JEff will continue to milk his games and plotlines dry, and we will continue to buy them like the suckers we are. Because lets face it; They are still good enough to make you cream in your pants.

 

Contra out.

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"Jeff is highly misanthropic and values his independence."

 

Oh, not "highly". You'd like me if you met me.

 

I greatly appreciate every bit of word of mouth people give me, but I wouldn't go out of my way to do it.

 

I resist the characterization, by the way, that I've gotten so lazy in plotting. Though Geneforge 3 had a lot of the same story structure as 1 and 2, I think there was enough neat stuff in there to let me sleep at night. The character of Litalia and the whole Dhonal's Isle thing in particular.

 

Geneforge 4 will go heavy in the opposite direction from Avernum 4, by the way. Avernum 4 was a simpler combat game because that was what I felt like writing. Now I want to write a cool story with lots of funky scripted events.

 

- Jeff Vogel

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Quote:
Originally written by Glafna:
Contra-ooooookkkkkkkaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy.
Not exactly how I would put it. And you ARE aware that Jeff has a job outside Spiderweb, right?
Quote:
the About Jeff page:
Practically all my programming is done from noon to 6 PM and from midnight to 4 AM. The afternoon programming is done with the soothing sounds of Comedy Central and the Simpsons in the background. The late night stuff is done with Comedy Central playing on the telly. I say all of this only to make it absolutely clear I don't have a real job. We work in our basement here, with the TV always on, and we like it that way.
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Scorched Earth Party. Story About the Baby.

 

I think highly belongs right next to that misanthropic.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't consider misanthropy a bad thing, per se. Pick any random person and chances are good that he or she deserves to be disliked and possibly even reviled.

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Quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:
Geneforge 4 will go heavy in the opposite direction from Avernum 4, by the way.
Look out for Geneforge 4, looking exactly like Avernum.

Or would that be G4 going in the exact same direction as A4?

hmm.
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A core of board regulars likes to complain about Jeff's stories. I don't really get it, because his stories are good enough for me, and I've read, oh, hundreds of prize-winning books. But of course my artistic judgement is worthless, because I haven't played any Blades of Exile scenarios.

 

EDIT: Why is it that I so often start page 2? I don't try to; it just happens. Or does everyone have a similar impression?

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Quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:
A core of board regulars likes to complain about Jeff's stories. I don't really get it, because his stories are good enough for me, and I've read, oh, hundreds of prize-winning books. But of course my artistic judgement is worthless, because I haven't played any Blades of Exile scenarios.?
Oh, I know! And I study philosophy and yet noone puts any special attention to me! Let's combine our forces and start an elitist A-Team that look down on others and put our oppinions and worth over others. Because clearly, just because we read books, we know better than everyone else.
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SoT: Didn't you also say that you haven't played any part of the ET or the AT? I think it makes a difference. A4 might have been good enough for me, too, if several previous games hadn't been so much better.

 

Well, I take that back. It was good enough for me. I enjoyed playing it. The plot was not so bad that it ruined the cool things that Jeff did with combat. It just lacked the sparkle that A1, A2, Nethergate, and most of GF1 had for me, which made it less fun.

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Quote:
If I understand the nature of his life anywhere near as well as I think I do, he will always work alone. Otherwise he wouldn't work alone
As long as he doesn't go out of business at least. Which doesn't seem to be happening.

Quote:
In either way, I am now very optimistic about G4.
Yeah, me too. I'm still optimistic about A4 too, mind you (no mac). I now know what to expect.
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Quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:
SoT: Didn't you also say that you haven't played any part of the ET or the AT? I think it makes a difference. A4 might have been good enough for me, too, if several previous games hadn't been so much better.

Yeah, maybe I'd agree with you. Or maybe there's a first-love factor -- Geneforge was my first shareware game, and A4 my first real introduction to Jeff's underground world. In my brief trial of A2, the training pits drove me nuts; little things like this can sour you on a whole game.

Moderate criticisms like yours seem perfectly reasonable to me, anyway, whether or not I fully agree with them. That's not the kind of thing that made me grumpy.
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I'm pessimistic about all upcoming Spiderweb games, but I'm less pessimistic than I am about most things, which makes me comparatively optimistic.

 

Exposure to good stories does not tolerance of bad stories create. A4 isn't really bad, though. It's just not interesting or original. Bad requires a little more risk that really fails to pay off. As Kel says, other Avernums have been more interesting in the plot department, although I think that A4 is actually better than A3 there. At least things happen in A4!

 

—Alorael, who has a lot of first posts on the second page. This makes sense, since he has a lot of posts, period. Actually, he has a vague impression that fewer than one out of every 25 posts he makes begins a new page, which is a little odd.

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I think old-timers, if I may use that word, I disappointed because A4 is very different than the Avernum series while newer players like it because they haven't played the original Avernums, or at least havn't played them as much. But that's just a general observation.

 

Dikiyoba felt like Dikiyoba should post here in hopes of starting a new page.

 

Edit: Darn!

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Quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:
Avernum 4 was a simpler combat game because that was what I felt like writing.
I quote this to point out that Jeff consciously set out to make a game largely about good hacking with a basically passable plot. I'm pretty sure he succeeded in doing exactly that. I think a lot of the response to A4 depends on how we each individually feel about a game like that.
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Quote:
Originally written by Bent Spoon:
Actually, he has a vague impression that fewer than one out of every 25 posts he makes begins a new page, which is a little odd.
Actually, it isn't odd. Most topics never get to more than one page, so the proportion of total replies which are also the first reply on a new page of a topic is less than 1 in 25.
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Alo said: "other Avernums have been more interesting in the plot department, although I think that A4 is actually better than A3 there."

 

Dikiyoba said: "I think old-timers, if I may use that word, I disappointed because A4 is very different than the Avernum series..."

 

Well, if you guys are old-timers, then what the heck am I? A mummy?

 

It's worth remembering that A4 is basically the first new Avernum story that Jeff has created in almost NINE YEARS. E3 and BoE came out in 1997, and while A1-3 and BoA contained new embellishments, the vast majority of the story is not new. No doubt the man behind the curtain is very different now.

 

I agree with Alo that A4 is on par with A3 plotwise. Actually, it reminds me a lot of E3 in general: E3 had comparable upgrades to the graphics and changes to the engine that not everyone liked, but which ultimately were very important for the longevity of the series. The story was a natural continuation of the previous game without the sorts of contextualized details that made the world of Exile so rich.

 

It will be very interesting to see what happens in A5. Whereas A1 and 2 had heaps of loose threads leading into the next installment, A4 has pretty much nothing. The multiplicity of endings means that it will be hard to do much with a certain archvillain, and the whole Dorikas thing is frankly less interesting than the A1/2 plots that *didn't* get followed up on.

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E3 had some tuneups to the Exile engine, or Exile paradigm, that were helpful. That happened again to a lesser extent in A3. A4 is a new thing entirely.

 

A3's problem was that the story was marginally about Avernum but the setting was a forgettable and mostly generic fantasy surface world. The mystery of the vahnatai is neither difficult to unravel nor pressing. You just go on and kill plagues. The individual plagues are fine as quests, but very little ties them together in the plot or to the vahnatai at the end. Basically, the whole thing is a flimsy excuse for a romp through the wilds of Valorim.

 

This isn't a bad thing, necessarily. Heck, I enjoyed E3 and A3. I like Jeff's style even when Avernum is mostly omitted. The underworld of Avernum is really what makes the series memorable to me, though. A4 has that, which is a big step up.

 

More importantly, A4 has a fairly strong and quite linear plot. It's the most linear Avernum, in fact, with the exception of the brief interlude of Dark Waters in A2. In A4 you can do some stuff in the beginning, but you must help Fort Draco. Then you must help Formello. Then you must reach the Castle, which must be by way of the tunnels below Almaria. Despite all the temptations of the Great Cave, you must then rescue Ghall-Ihrno, find a box, and head west of Fort Remote. Then you're railroaded right along to the Abyss and the endgame.

 

The plot isn't especially imaginative, but it's not terrible and it does its job of keeping you headed in the right direction. A3 never managed that. A1 has no plot, and it works almost entirely on exploration. A2 has a plot in the beginning, but then it goes on background too.

 

I guess the real failure of A4 isn't that it has a bad plot, but that it's plot-driven without being miles ahead of other Avernums' plots. From what I know, Geneforge pulls this off. A4 doesn't, and it's failure to do so is even more striking because other Avenrums have "good" plots because they don't even make the attempt.

 

—Alorael, who has rambled enough. A4's plot is okay, but not good, which makes it look bad. It does its job just fine and succeeds more than A3's plot, but A3 has less enforced linearity and is thus a less obvious plot failure. If you enjoy Avernum the setting instead of A4 the plot, A4 is fine. If you enjoy tactics, A4 is better than fine. If you enjoy half of the garbage RPGs produced, A4 is actually a large step up.

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*nod* Wise words from Alo. A few bones to pick, though:

 

Exile *2* had tuneups. Exile 3 changed things entirely. The graphics were completely redone. If you thought seeing the trees mutate in A4 was a shock, imagine having the pale gray cave floor suddenly turn neon blue. Neon blue! Every piece of text in the engine changed font and size, often drastically. Loads of new mechanics were introduced, including Spiderweb mainstays like acid and one-shot widgets like owning a house and the first job system. Athron had a sex change. The list goes on...

 

A4 basically has a linear plot surrounded by exploration elements. I agree that the linear plot actually works decently, and I suppose it is more creative than the surface plagues. There are some nice touches, like Almaria. The problem is that the without the underlying need to gather information about a mostly unknown world in order to accomplish your goals, as in the first two games, the exploration gets extremely, extremely repetitive. Oh look, another bandit. I'll kill him. Oh look, another demon. I'll kill him. Let's find a quest reward.

 

Anyway, I really disagree with your comment that A1 (and mostly A2) have no plots. A1 has a marvelous plot, which unfolds at the pace of the player. You're thrown into the underworld - minor plot point there! - and you gradually become more and more involved in a huge tapestry of events: the nephil and slith wars, Sss-Thsss, the legacy of the First Expedition, Erika and the other wizards, Grah-Hoth and Adze-Haakai, the destruction of Fort Remote, the Abyss and the Scimitar... it's simply that instead of moving from A to B to C to D and so on, there are a number of different plot tracks that you can follow simultaneously. In the end, most of them crisscross. The big difference is really that there's nobody telling you "now go do this." A2 preserved this "gather information and resources from all over the place" format while centralizing the main threads. The Olgai Council, Mahdavi, Micah, and Erika help frame things, but without linearizing the story.

 

Finally, while the tactics are definitely a step up from previous games, I hesitate to call them better than fine. They are sometimes more interesting, but they are also sometimes more repetitive. That's what happens when you give all the monsters more HP than usual.

 

Okay, I have now officially turned into an old geezer rambling about the good old days, so I'm gonna shut up. cool

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First of all, I'd like to say I'm happy about my topic being such a success.

 

Quote:
Originally written by *i:

Quote:
Originally written by Glafna:

I'm optomistic about all of the Spiderweb games.

Apparently you have not been around Spiderweb very long. :rolleyes:
It isn't because I havn't been around a long time like some of the older players, but I have played every single Averenum and Geneforge and found them to my liking, a good decent break from all the crap of todays violent games, sex filled enviornment, and with a brother who makes me want to litereally kill him, it is a very nice break and puts a small hold on the crap of the real world. I have played a large number of stratagy and rpg games, and have found that Avernum and Geneforge fall under both these catagories, and that the somewhat indepth plots and charecters are good, as well as the graphics(for an oldies style of games)

 

And Lastly I would like to say I enjoy reading the opinions of the more experianced players, as well as learn from them.

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I've played A1 at least three or four times, A2 at least two or three times, and A3 once. I've played GF1 exactly once and GF2 exactly once. I'm not likely to play A4 again.

 

For me — and this goes to show that "replay value" is a personal thing, not an absolute — the AT has more replay value.

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to be honest, what rpg is fun to play more than once? it's absolutely no fun to start back with a level 1 party after making level 45. that being said, it's tough deciding to start over at level 10 too. it just gets mundane, boring, and repetitive to do the first simple missions. this is true with any rpg honestly.

 

geneforge had more replay value only because i played exile so much more that avernum was basically 90% of a rerun (cause there were a couple new dungeons thrown in and some other minor changes).

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My main complaint is that Jeff has not really done a whole lot original in a long time.

 

Yeah, Exile was great because it was new. Nethergate was pretty neat, although I have one complaint on that which I will discuss later. Avernum was just a rehashing of Exile, no new ideas there. GF1 was actually pretty cool in premise, but somewhat klunky. GF2 and GF3 started out being interesting, but quickly devolved. A4 is pushed by the plot which is quite unoriginal and is a departure from the explore mode.

 

My main problem is that Jeff's games do not really have what authors would call characters. Sure, they have constructs in the story, but there are not a whole lot of people who stand out very much.

 

The commonality in this is we have the premise of, find Bob (the generic guy who gives out the major missions throughout Jeff's games), do them, and get loot.

 

A1/A2 didn't really have a central Bob character in them and neither did GF1. In A3 it was Anaximander. In Nethergate and GF2 it was the leader of whichever side you picked (do these X missions to win the game). In GF3 it was Lord Rahul (if you choose the Shapers) or Akari Blaze and Litalia (for the rebels). In A4 it was Houghton and King Starrus.

 

Is Bob needed? Probably so. However, the person that gives the missions is a generic construct. Now Litalia changes this somewhat in GF3, but otherwise all of the characters I mentioned above could be interchanged with any other personality and it would work just fine.

 

Why is this so important? Well, it leads to the patented Jeff Vogel formula of game design:

 

1) Start game, kill stuff, collect loot and direction to Bob.

2) Locate Bob and do X missions for him.

3) You win.

 

Look at A4, everything up to the Castle is pretty much (1). Everything else before that exists for the purpose of leveling up and making the game longer. Sure we have the Alien Marking, but that's the justification to see Bob.

 

So we find Bob (err...Houghton) and we do his missions three. Jeff does something potentially really cool here and kills off Bob, I mean Houghton. Now with Houghton dead, there could be something interesting here. However, Bob is quickly resurrected and jumps into the guise of King Starrus, pretty much the same person with a different name and office. We do two more missions and win.

 

Look at the Shaper side of GF3. Greenwood and Harmony Isle are leveling up distractions. I suppose this is not quite fair as it does develop the "enemy" better than in A4. You get to Bob who now calls himself Lord Rahul, you do his missions three and you win.

 

The Rebel side is a little more interesting as we do not meet the real Bob, now dressed in a Drakon costume and named Akari Blaze, until near the end. But even still, Litalia gives us our missions until replaced by Akari Blaze at the end. This is better because at least Bob is a little more active this game.

 

Let's look at GF2. The game starts out as an interesting mystery until we discover the verdant areas. Well, we journey on until we find Bob (in this case Zakary, Barzahl, Learned Pinner, or Eaaas), we do whichever Bob incarnation's missions three and we win.

 

Look at Nethergate. We meet Bob from the very beginning, we do the six missions or whatever and win. A3 is similar in that we always have Anaximander to report to (who just sits in his cramped office), but at least is not so direct in do these x things for me.

 

So here's the deal: Jeff's games are formulaic. The names may change and a eye raising ripple may appear here and there (Houghton dying or the mystery with Shanti thing), but Jeff never capitalizes on it. If that's what you like, more power to you.

 

However, I would like to see some new spark, some new charm, a break from the old formula where I have characters and motivations. What's the answer? I don't know, I'm not the one getting money to think up these things.

 

This is not to say what Jeff has done is bad, it's actually decent. What troubles me is that it is the same game over and over again with different graphics, names, and text, but fundamentally the same.

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I can think of three ways to set up RPGs:

 

1. No Bob. You wander around and do whatever. This is how A1 and most of A2 work.

 

2. Bob. Already described.

 

3. Self-Bobbing. Nobody is telling you what to do as your boss, but it's abundantly clear what the huge mission is and you're expected to do it.

 

I don't really have any strong preference for 2 over 3 or vice versa. They're the same thing in different packages. 1 is at least different, but neither better nor worse.

 

If you want more variety from Jeff, fine. If you prefer 1 or 3, fine. Those are both preferences, though, and not really radical changes in game design that Jeff is missing.

 

—Alorael, who maintains that A1 has no plot. It has background. There are nephils and sliths and demons to fight, an Empire to humiliate, and other fun things to do. Your doing has minimal effect. Even the three chains of quests leading to the three endings are linked more by necessity than by causality. A2 is slightly better, because vahnatai involvement really is something you change, but the two versions of beating the Empire, Garzahd and the portal, are still a static situation that you do in a particular order because of technical requirements, not plot requirements.

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In G1 and G2, you can self-Bob just by staying unaligned. Or joining a sect at the very end. Or joining a sect, leaving, killing them, and joining another sect.

 

Dikiyoba thinks the playability lies not within the game but within yourself.

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You misunderstand me Alorael, I'm saying that the formula of: build levels, find Bob, do missions for Bob, win game is old and tired.

 

The problem is, as I said, is not that Bob exists, it's that largely he just sits there and dispenses missions. Lord Rahul, Anaximander, the GF2 Bobs merely sit on their thrones and give out missions and rewards and that's it as far as the story is concerned.

 

Of course, Bob is just one example I was using. Villains in Jeff's games tend to be the same way. They sit in their tower/castle/whatever until the party comes to smite them.

 

This applies to virtually every character in Jeff's games. They are largely inactive in Jeff's world. The only people that have real active roles are those that are in the party. Now the party should have a very active role and the world should respond to them; however, as part of the reaction to the party's actions the characters should react in more interesting ways.

 

Let's take An Apology from Blades of Exile. We had Bob, who is calling himself Xenophon and we have the villain who is Kriken. Xenophon does send the party on missions, but he also partakes in the action. Kriken also does not just sit in his tower. He does things to bug the party, he reacts to the actions.

 

Am I saying Jeff should make something like An Apology? No. Am I saying his characters are shallow and largely inactive? Absolutely.

 

EDIT: I'll add this as I was going to write this but forgot:

 

I don't mind if Jeff uses the above formula once in a while. One or two games, that would be great. However, when all games start following the same basic pattern it forces me to conclude that Jeff is stuck in a design modality. Is the modality bad? Not intrinsically so. Is the modality bad when used over and over again? To that I answer any modality is bad when used over and over again.

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That I can understand. As I said in another, entirely unrelated post, static worlds are part of the Spiderweb way. This can conceivably be a good thing, although I could stand some variety there too.

 

Even inactive NPCs wouldn't be so bad if they were interesting. Go through the Exile/Avernum games and name interesting, detailed characters. They're few and far between. In fact, strangely enough minor characters often get more fleshed out as people because they have less exposition to give and less plot to drive along.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't think there are really many villains in Avernum at all. Enemies, yes. Major enemies, yes. But long-running, major opposition to everything that the party stands for comes from demons, Garzahd (as a one-man encapsulation of the Empire), and Rentar-Ihrno.

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Well, there were Litalia and Hoge in G3. They were both quite active, at least by implication. You met them early, and they dogged your path for a while. And the system of islands makes for a succession of local Bobs.

 

G2 is pretty much as described. Bob sits there. At least you get to choose your Bob. But the reason why everyone just waits for you to decide the course of fate is hard to see.

 

In G1, I thought that staticity was actually an effective theme. The whole island was in a standoff, with the stopper half out of the bottle, and the PC arrives as a newb who has just enough capability to begin tipping things. The sects sat and waited, Trajkov and Goettsch sat and waited, the tombs and sealed labs sat and waited, the ancient spirit city sat and waited. And I thought it all made sense.

 

Maybe that's the root of the problem, though. The static world worked so well in G1 that Jeff stuck with it.

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Quote:
Originally written by Januarist Revolutionary:
In fact, strangely enough minor characters often get more fleshed out as people because they have less exposition to give and less plot to drive along.
I have to emphasize this point. In A1/2 the bit characters (shopkeepers and the like) were truly interesting. That was the part of A3 that most irritated me...suddenly the characters stopped being interesting people and become 3-line jobs (buy, sell, goodbye). And it happened again in A4. frown
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