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Quintessence


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TERROR'S MARTYR

 

I previously stated that I would write a review for this scenario, but he who lives by the rubric, dies by the rubric...

 

The storyline is a unique one, and not common or overused.

6 - The storyline is somewhat unique, but contains elements of other, well-recognized stories. (While the story is unique, the pop lyrics morality used to portray it are not. On the other hand, the setting is pretty awesome, taking what Brett does with it aside.)

The storyline is cohesive; most major quests and encounters revolve around the storyline.

1 - The quests and encounters do not match the storyline, but seem to be a random collection of things. (The harmonics-shades? Monty Python references? The Crystal Castle? A Billy Joel cameo?! God almighty, almost NONE of the encounters have anything to do with the main plot.)

The story reacts to actions taken by the player.

0 - There are no changes in the scenario play no matter what the player does. (I certainly have no real lee-way in punishing a scenario for being linear, but this category seems to be the most appropriate for bashing a scenario that makes its party act in almost completely counter-intuitive ways.)

The storyline contains enough richness, variety, suspense, etc. to be engaging to most players.

2 - The storyline is OK. It's not the best, but it keeps you interested. (In all honesty, however, this is more a score for how much the narrative is pushed aside- and to be honest, it's a good deal.)

The storyline DOES NOT contain ethnic, sexual, or racial slurs that may be offensive to some players. The storyline does NOT contain foul language.

3 - No slurs OR foul language are present.

Tactical challenges are well-designed and reasonable for the party level expected.

2 - Most tactical challenges are good, but a few are not balanced properly. (The culet was a good fit, but the beginning challenges ranged from pathetically easy to god-awful hard with little in-between. Irritating.)

Logical challenges are well-designed and reasonable for the party level expected.These include traditional puzzles that may require the player to do something in a certain sequence, answer a riddle, find a key, etc. They also include navigational problems where the player must ascertain how to travel from point A to point B.

4 - The player feels a real sense of accomplishment upon successful completion of all logical challenges.

Quest rewards reflect the level of quest difficulty.

4 - All quest rewards match the level of quest difficulty.

Quests are reasonable given the expected party level.

3 - Quests are somewhat too hard or too easy for the party. (See the Tactical Challenges part)

The game is balanced in terms of tactical and logical challenges.

3 - There is a nice balance between tactical and logical challenges (The scenario DEFINITELY favors tactical challenges, but I won't punish on this.)

The towns and dungeons are well-designed:

3 - They contain most to all of the elements above and are remarkable in their design. (Interesting that Brett would make this category in his rubric, and then make a scenario that it doesn't apply to! Shade is a good town nevertheless.)

The outdoor sections are well-designed:

2 - They contain most of the elements above (some inconsistencies or some have no real purpose). (The gem is WIDEST at its TIP?)

Encounters fit the storyline.

1 - Few of the encounters augment or add to the storyline. (See above- way too inconsistent)

Custom monsters fit the storyline.

2 - Most of the custom monsters augment or add to the storyline. (See above)

Custom items fit the storyline.

3 - All the custom items augment or add to the storyline.

Custom graphics are high quality.

4 - The graphics are of publishable quality, equal to or better than the built-in BoE graphics.

Sounds are used appropriately.

3 - The sounds definitely match the current situation, and add to the overall enjoyment of the scenario.

Personality/Dialogue, both responses to queries and any related text, is interesting and in-depth.

3 - The major non-playing characters (NPCs) have depth to them, respond to obvious things they should know about, and add to the scenario in a significant way.

The scenario is free of spelling errors, as determined by the author's nationality, OR, spelling errors are intentional as part of the storyline.

3 - No spelling errors are detected.

The scenario is free of grammatical errors.

3 - No grammatical errors are detected.

The scenario comes with a ReadMe file(s) containing:

4 - The file contains all of the above information in sufficient detail.

Players can contact the scenario designer if necessary.

3 - The designer has provided a way for quick and timely feedback to occur.

All necessary files to run the scenario are included in the scenario download, including:

2 - All files are included.

The scenario shows up in the Custom Scenarios Menu properly.

2- All the fields are completed properly.

The scenario is bug-free. Some examples:

10 - The scenario runs without flaw or known bugs and crashes that are a result of a BOE program bug are noted.

The scenario was beta tested prior to public release.

2 - The designer has indicated this and given appropriate credit. Several people were involved in the beta test. The test occurred on both Mac and PC platforms. (I'm tempted to deduct points based on my hiddeously poor performance, but I'll give the other testers the benefit of the doubt.)

The scenario is updated when a bug is located.

3 - The designer has provided a way for quick and timely revisions to occur.

The scenario runs the same on both platforms.

2 - The scenario runs the same on both Windows and Macintosh platforms.

TOTAL- 83/100

 

Good

 

I probably should have probably given it a bonus for the hiddeously poor job I did of beta-testing it and the detriment it served to the scenario as a whole, but if poor beta-testing means bonus points, than B2 and Emulations would both be well above a 10.0. Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, but at the same time, many of the people reviewing this scenario are being equally reactionary in there support thereof in my opinion.

 

EDIT: After re-reading my review, I determined that some of my scores were a bit innacurate (I raised them up by a few points). 7.9 is a bit too low for this scenario.

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DRAKEFYRE

 

I may write a review too. Good

 

But since I didn't, I might as well write about how much I liked it! Quint forces you to adapt to the environment, and it's surreal how we keep jumping in and out of the soul crystal. I thought it was brilliantly done, cheeky humour that I thoroughly enjoyed (and it didn't detract from the serious parts either). A great scenario.

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BRUCE MITCHELL

 

Great concept. Found it lacked something that made it outstanding. Seemed a bit self-indulgent (e.g. some poetry) - I don't know if this is fair comment. Would have preferred Spears or Adventurer's Club 1 to win the 5th Scenario Design Contest. Really fun graphics. Be prepared to adventure in a blue colour world. Early difficulty for me was handling the essence supply and the Cloakers seemed brutal with 60HP (?) Flame spells. Average.

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BOOTS

 

Good

 

Considering that it's an encyclopedia of ways to guarantee a Blades adventure will irrationally aggravate me (from here on, I'm docking three points from the ranking of any scenario that yet again uses the old maze-in-pitch-blackness trick), Quintessence must have a few things going for it, since I ultimately enjoyed the experience. Plenty of Pointlessly Perplexing Puzzles for Precocious Pre-Pubescents, several more hours of running into walls and mountainsides than is necessary for a good time, and -- I agree with Mr. Mitchell -- one heck of an overwrought mugging by the unsavory combine of Big Important Ideas and gruesome pop lyrics: you'll have to slog through all of that, but it's worth it, especially for the first half or so. The opening movements contain some of the most interesting scenario design that I've played, as well as several virtuoso turns of elegant story-telling.

 

It is true that, as things progress, this intensity peters out. Vacancies open up in the plot and landscape, and the gameplay dwindles into serving the scenario's need to connect the pedantic dots of its metaphors (though there's a kind of refreshing candor in dramatizing Self-Actualization as a program of remorseless violence). But if the conclusion is a dud, that's only because the scenario seems not to trust what was unique and audacious about its original concept: the ending could be the ending of just about any Blades story, whereas earlier passages unmistakably belong to this story alone.

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DRIZZT

 

This is one of the best scenarios I've seen in a while, because it takes place in a different medium than the tired Empire universe or the various versions (including mine) thereof. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with the Empire universe, but Quint is something new. As I played through, I had a sense of discovery and wonderment several times as I realized what was happening, the mechanics of Brett's world, and the unfolding story.

 

Some of the puzzles _are_ a bit forced (explained on a mostly-satisfactory level) but overall this is a great work. I'm not sure why, but I loved the trippiness of some of the Outdoor encounters, especially thewordsrunningtogetherbit. Brett has raised the bar on BoE storytelling with this one. Best

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ROSYCAT

 

This, I think, is the best of all of Brett's "alternate universe" scenarios. I really enjoyed exploring in the crystal world, and somehow (don't ask me, I'm no expert) the novelty never wore off. Maybe because in each section (table, culet, etc.) Brett added new things to discover about his universe. I agree that the cloakers were youch-a-licious for poor Jonah, especially the ones outside of Fade's walls, if you weren't prepared for them.

As I've mentioned, the area to explore was really original, and this time, BB added a more familiar aspect, as the soul crystal. In my top ten.

 

However, I agree about the 'Big Important Ideas' entirely. I had been guilty of over-moralizing myself in some of my own unreleased efforts, and playing this made me hastily minimize that.

Nevertheless, this one earns a Best from me.

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MILU K

 

Good

 

The story was mostly interesting and set in a fascinating environment. I didn't like the romance, however.

 

Combat difficulty varied. Sometimes it was perhaps too difficult.

 

The secret doors have been made more visible in the recent version, which is good, but some of the towns seemed a little empty.

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ALEC KYRAS

 

Substandard - I felt, and still to some degree feel, that most of the reviews of Quint are reviewing the man rather than the scenario - each being a catalogue of horrible grievances followed by a rating placing it within walking distance of the top of the heap.

 

I liked it all right, and would probably have given it Average of its own devices. Brett has done better, and if it's to be his last scenario it's a pretty inauspicious end.

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Okay, the love story didn't work out too well. But still, I thought the rest of the story was quite good. I also liked the idea of being in a gem, and then flipping back and forth from reality to the crystal. Nodeworking is good as well.

 

Combat was challenging, but not overwhelming, which is good. My main problem is there seems to be to much headbanging (as others said), and sometimes it's too hard to figure out what to do next.

 

Overall, a good scenario.

 

Good

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THE CREATOR

 

Big Important Ideas is fine, but they have to be handled well. Of Good and Evil is a good example, as are Nephil's Gambit and (I hope) my own Revenge. Quintessence either over-explains things or doesn't fully explore the concept or both. Thus, it jars.

 

Quintessence is a good scenario, but would be a lot better if most of it were cut out. Gone the head-banging, gone the ceaseless combat which serves no purpose but to use Brett's graphics, gone the silly musical interludes... It sounds better already.

 

But not perfect yet. The love story just didn't work. I felt no attachment to Amber and I could not understand why Jonah did. He's seen her for a total of maybe ten minutes, and when he discovers she is to marry another man, he falls into such deep despair that he loses his sanity. That just didn't ring true, especially given that she is aging at a rate that would make her senior to my granny in a week or so. As for getting all romantic with her in full view of her dead husband's still-warm body and their son, that was just... off. This entire aspect of the plot needs dramatic reworking. Make it more believable. Make it more real. Make us care.

 

It's beginning to sound really good now. Now to iron out some of those little niggles. You know, like the stupidity of Grind following you to the Crystal Castle without being noticed, and the way the sections get bigger and bigger as you get closer to the narrowest point of the gem. Just little stuff.

 

Now it's into the nines, but to get it to a ten, we need to do something really special. Being inside a soul crystal is a great start, but we need to fully realize it. The essence idea is great, and a lot of stuff is done with it. There are some very nice things like this, such as burning essence to keep a beholder under your control, but they aren't central enough to the scenario to make a big difference. Bring them into focus, add more, and amaze us. Maybe a special spell that transforms you briefly into a collossus of a fighter (through stat increase) at the cost of some essence. A few more things like that and it's a work of genius.

 

Or would be, if all those things were done. In it's current state, all it has is a lot of potential. Average

 

Oh, and nice atmosphere.

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