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Veterans fom old"Exile"


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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Yeah, that's unlikely. The 2007 Nethergate remake did not add any barriers or linearity beyond the fairly tiny amount that existed in the original game.

I agree that the games probably won't become linear, but that is a poor example. N:R uses the same engine as Nethergate. Granted, it is a much more developed version of that engine, but it is the same engine. I've always found it sort of interesting that Nethergate was the first game Jeff developed with that engine, and N:R was the last game.
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I think Jeff realizes that any major alterations to the basic formula of the original Avernums, such as segmenting things off like Avernums 4-6 as blatantly as he did, wouldn't be worth the tidalwave of outrage that would come from his old guard, so to speak.

 

It's one thing to change a formula as a series goes on, but to go back and ruin an all-time classic by such a rewrite isn't just risky; it's foolish. I don't think he's out to remake the wheel with these new recreations, I think he's more out to simply ensure that the story that started it all can still be conveniently seen/played on the most modern incarnation of his primary development platform.

 

On the other hand, it also gives him a chance to go back and further sync Avernums 1-3 with the later sequels. He did some of this with the original rewrites, of course, introducing Garzhad and the Vahnatai in the first Avernum, and he could likely do the same here as well. Minor things I'm thinking, like the Cavewood Fruit, which seemed really jarring coming off the original Avernums.

 

Avernum 2: Crystal Souls and beyond will more than likely have the bulk of any changes, as Escape from the Pit will have to front most of its development with engine changes, or even simply adapting the game for the new OS while leaving the base game mechanics alone, but I look forward to it either way.

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As a non-veteran whose first Spiderweb game was A4 and who finds A3 almost unplayable, I hope that Jeff eliminates the indoor/outdoors thing entirely in the new A1, even though I think I already read that he is not going to do that. The new rewrite should be judged on its own merits, and not based on how similar it is to any older game.

 

I think Jeff is quite aware that some people think he should still be using the E1 engine for all his games, and that others think the A6 or the Avadon engine is ideal, and so on. I don't doubt that the design of the new game will be strongly influenced by his perception of what features will bring him the most purchases, and that will inevitably mean some kind of balance which guarantees that someone will totally hate it.

 

FWIW I thought I would hate A5 because Jeff said it would be less open than A4, but I loved that game even though it was more linear. If the plot is compelling and the battles aren't too repetitive, and I can develop my characters more or less how I want, I am very likely to enjoy the new game as long as the controls don't annoy the hell out of me like those of A1-3.

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Originally Posted By: madrigan
As a non-veteran whose first Spiderweb game was A4 and who finds A3 almost unplayable, I hope that Jeff eliminates the indoor/outdoors thing entirely in the new A1 even though I think I already read that he is not going to do that.

NO!

NO NO NO!

That is one of my favorite things about games like these, an actual separation between the world map and dungeons/towns and such. I very much prefer that. It really helps you feel the scale of the game.

By contrast IV, V, and VI all felt...tiny.

I cannot tell you how angry I will be if he changes this. So very much angry.
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The new rewrite should be judged on its own merits, and not based on how similar it is to any older game.

I think Jeff is quite aware that some people think he should still be using the E1 engine for all his games, and that others think the A6 or the Avadon engine is ideal, and so on. I don't doubt that the design of the new game will be strongly influenced by his perception of what features will bring him the most purchases, and that will inevitably mean some kind of balance which guarantees that someone will totally hate it.

FWIW I thought I would hate A5 because Jeff said it would be less open than A4, but I loved that game even though it was more linear. If the plot is compelling and the battles aren't too repetitive, and I can develop my characters more or less how I want, I am very likely to enjoy the new game as long as the controls don't annoy the hell out of me like those of A1-3.

I don't mind new engines. The issues I originally had with AIV was that it felt so much like Geneforge and didn't feel like Avernum/Exile anymore. Then after I finally got over that, I took issue with the compressed size and lack of openness.

I don't mind the new engine. The new engine is beautiful. AIV, V, and VI are gorgeous games. The engine works well, and the redone spell system is interesting, if limited. Battle disciplines are a good idea, and so on.

The reason I found them boring was mostly due to how limited I felt. I felt like I had to play in a certain order all the time always, which bothers me. I like being able to go wandering about areas that could potentially kill me in a heartbeat, like wandering around Monroe province in E/AIII when I've just begun the game, because if I can get through it I can earn neat stuff that way, and the game feels like I can choose what I can do more.

I consider having a separate world map/overworld/whatever term you want to use part of the crucialness of this. A game feels bigger when it has that. Not every game needs that, mind, but it's such a crucial--to me--part of the Avernum series that to take it away would really upset me.
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Originally Posted By: Necris Omega
On the other hand, it also gives him a chance to go back and further sync Avernums 1-3 with the later sequels. He did some of this with the original rewrites, of course, introducing Garzhad and the Vahnatai in the first Avernum, and he could likely do the same here as well.

I didn't realize this at first either, but those appearances by Garzahd and the Vahnatai in Avernum 1? They were in Exile 1, too!

When Exile became Avernum, there were almost no changes made to existing plots, characters, etc. The major additions, like Lost Bahssikava, were fairly discrete.

Originally Posted By: madrigan
The new rewrite should be judged on its own merits, and not based on how similar it is to any older game.
Agreed when it comes to play controls, battle mechanics, and so on. Not agreed when it comes to storyline and atmosphere. Those are the heart of the game world, and for many players, they already exist: changing them drastically is like pulling the rug out from under their feet.

I do think there can be merit to changing these things, but only if the spirit of the original survives. To make a comparison, there are productions of Shakespeare plays that make all kinds of crazy changes, introducing anachronisms and unexpected staging and flashy CGI sequences, but still manage to make the play come alive, and preserve the beauty of the language. There are also productions that set plays in the present day just because, and are lifeless throughout. If Avernum still *feels* like Avernum, and the plot is largely as I remember it, I don't really care what other changes are made.

Another comparison: let's look at A4. A4 had a bit more leeway since it was a sequel and not actually a remake. A4 made a prolific number of changes. Despite all the complaining about A4, the vast majority of its changes were not met with complaints and in fact were often complimented. Although the most heard complaint was about the plot being recycled (which it was), I believe the thing that really got people going was the deformation of the world map. I say "deformation" and not "change" because that really is what it was: the map was deformed to accomodate the placement of numerous towns and caves within it. Landforms disappeared entirely because there was no room for them, and locations that had previously seemed far apart were now literally steps away from each other. The Great Cave, which previously had felt immense, now felt squished and overpopulated despite the fact that there were no more settlements there than before. That was a big turn-off for people: it introduced glaring inconsistencies with their internalized picture of the game world. The spirit of Avernum was the casualty there, and that was why there was such a fuss.
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Originally Posted By: Kyronea

NO!

NO NO NO!

That is one of my favorite things about games like these, an actual separation between the world map and dungeons/towns and such. I very much prefer that. It really helps you feel the scale of the game.

By contrast IV, V, and VI all felt...tiny.


A4 & A6 – Saving the CountryProvince County Unincorporated Township of Avernum.

This was my biggest gripe about the new games as well. A large part of Avernum's appeal was how HUGE it felt, especially in comparison to "seamless" games. Miles in classic Avernum felt like they could conceivably be miles. The only way they could be so in the new ones was if I was rising in a hypersonic rocket car the entire time. To me, what was gained by eliminating the "outdoors" did not even begin to compare to what was lost.

Originally Posted By: madrigan
The new rewrite should be judged on its own merits, and not based on how similar it is to any older game.


If you've played ANY of the original Avernums, let alone the Exile series, such comparisons are as inevitable as continental drift.

Originally Posted By: madrigan
FWIW I thought I would hate A5 because Jeff said it would be less open than A4, but I loved that game even though it was more linear. If the plot is compelling and the battles aren't too repetitive, and I can develop my characters more or less how I want, I am very likely to enjoy the new game as long as the controls don't annoy the hell out of me like those of A1-3.


Linearity aside, Avernum 5 is a far superior game by leaps and bounds. The Interface was better, the plot was richer, the very region was newer and fresher… It was a better game all around.

A4 will always be, in my eyes, the low point of all Spiderweb games, though I'm sure some will vehemently disagree. Nethergate was just plain… unremarkable and unmemorable to me, and really, after 5 games the Geneforge series just kinds melds into one big blur. I like the series, I just find myself at a loss to differentiate between the installments.
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Originally Posted By: Kyronea
There was something gained by eliminating the outdoors?

For me there was. Personally I see no reason to prefer the indoors/outdoors arrangement. When you are driving on an interstate, and then drive into a city, does the scale of the world change? Do you suddenly become larger, or the buildings more detailed? No, none of that happens. You are at the same scale at all times. To me the outdoors-to-indoors transition feels ridiculous, as if I've stumbled into the city of Kandor. I don't like the outdoors interface at all, I feel like I am moving pins on a map instead of walking through the landscape. In this aspect I find A4 superior to A1-3 in every way.

I never had a problem believing that the world was huge in any of A4-A6. It is the narrative and the flow of the plot that makes the world seem bigger. In A4 it took forever to get to the Great Cave. It is called the Great Cave, it is described as vast, it has the largest map (I think), and I played for dozens of hours to reach it. It seemed huge and it seemed very far away from Fort Monastery.

It was similar in A5. Harkin's Landing seemed quite remote from New Harston because of what the characters had to do to get there. In A6 the Western Excavation feels like the corner of the world, because of the way that the path leads so indirectly to the entrance and because the dialogue emphasizes that you have reached a place that is far away both physically and psychologically from where you have already been.

I know that people have practical and personal reasons to prefer the old approach, but I think the old approach was terrible. Jeff fixed this in A4-6 and unfortunately I think he is going to go backwards for this rewrite.
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Originally Posted By: madrigan
When you are driving on an interstate, and then drive into a city, does the scale of the world change?

In terms of size? No. In terms of detail that you care about? Yes, very noticeably. On the interstate, all you have to care about are other cars and exits. In a city, you have to care about other cars, cyclists, pedestrians, stop lights, street signs, buildings, parking spots, etc.

Dikiyoba.
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And I think your opinion is ridiculous. Half the point to the separation is to give a sense of scale to everything.

 

I mean, sure, in reality we don't suddenly switch sizes when exiting or entering towns or cities. But we also have to drive for hours to get a few hundred miles.

 

There's a certain sign I like to point to for the scale of Avernum. It's right outside Fort Avernum in the first game, and it says that Silvar and Fort Duvno are about twenty or thirty miles away from Fort Avernum(it does say "Don't hold us to any of these distances" which is either saying that's not an exact figure or it's lampshading about the interface, I'm not sure which.) By having the outdoors interface of the first trilogy(and of a LOT of RPGS, both CRPG and, incidentally, JRPGs) you can give this sense of scale while preserving decent gameplay.

 

If we followed what you say, to really give the game a sense of scale we'd make you spend hours just to walk between Silvar and Cotra, for example. That's not exactly fun. With the world map, you get the sense of scale while simultaneously skipping past the annoying part of walking those distances.

 

Seamless environments can work for games. Final Fantasy XII for example. Fantastic game. Fun. (Better in the International Zodiac Job System version, incidentally.) Seamless environments work for that game because each environment is so big that you feel like you're walking the world anyway.

 

Not so in the later Avernums. The later Avernums are just puny.

 

What's really funny about that is that the seamless environment not only makes the place feel smaller, but it simultaneously makes it harder to get around, necessitating the pylon system. By comparison in Avernum I or II I can get from, say, Almaria to Formello in just a couple of minutes by walking, while at the same time feeling like I'm walking the actual distance(which I think is about 400 miles, but don't hold me to that.)

 

Maybe this is just because I grew up on games that featured world maps. My first Spiderweb game, as I've stated before, was Exile III. Even with just the demo part of it, it's absolutely massive, and feels that way too.

 

The later trilogy doesn't. In fact, quite frankly, I hope one day he remakes the later trilogies with overworlds too. It could only be to their benefit.

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Avernum 5 seamless world worked because it was new terrain so there were no scale expectations. But Avernum 4 and 6 were old terrain. In the Eastern Gallery, Fort Avernum, Fort Duvno, Silvar and Cotra were now just a few steps from each other. There wasn't the spaces where you could run into a group of monsters as you go the "miles" between them. In trouble, then duck back into the city and let the guards handle it for you.

 

What the old guard really misses about the first trilogy was the non-linear world that you could just explore. No being forced to do things in a certain order to see the next area. Death was the only limit. smile

 

The first time I played Exile 3 I went into the Empire instead of Upper Avernum. I got all the way to Golddale just exploring the world without any plan on what to do next. Of course the Empire soldiers slaughtered my low level party, but it was fun.

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Originally Posted By: madrigan
I understand why people like the old approach. Despite that, I like the new approach.
Fair enough. I mean, I may not agree, but hey, if you like it, you like it.

And it does work for some games. It's not entirely a bad approach. We* just don't think it works for Avernum.


*Myself and others here, I mean.
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I suppose it all depends on how jarring you find the differentiation between the two modes. If you find the separation difficult to deal with, you'll take the seamless version. If it's less of an issue, you'll prefer the version where things feel more massive and more epic.

 

I personally prefer a level of size abstraction in my games, be it an "overworld" like classic Avernum/Exile, or a map system like Geneforge. With a level of abstraction your imagination has room to grow the size and scope of the realm you're saving. There might be more detail than what you're literally seeing, but it's not necessarily important. What IS important is the sense of size these techniques impose on you.

 

Without that, what you see is EXACTLY what what you get. Avernum 4 and 6? You call THAT a Castle? ... Sure, a lot of the individual areas weren't as big as they could have been, but at least with the outdoors system you felt like Avernum was really a MASSIVE set of caves underneath the surface.

 

A4-6? It's at best a "pretty big" set of caves, if you're generous.

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Originally Posted By: Kyronea
Originally Posted By: madrigan
I understand why people like the old approach. Despite that, I like the new approach.
Fair enough. I mean, I may not agree, but hey, if you like it, you like it.

I don't think it's healthy to support delusions. There are microchips and untraceable chemicals in the water supply for that.
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Think of it as matter of perspective. When indoors, spaces are enclosed and more confined. There is also a greater amount of detail that needs to be paid attention to. While traveling outdoors, the distances you can see are more vast. There is also greater distance between points of interest. The indoor/outdoor engine portrays this difference the best.

 

The thing I missed in the A4-A6 engine is the ability to build multi-level structures. Everything is on two planes. Sometimes you ascend to the second plane above the main plane, and other times you descend to the second plane below it. However it is always just the second plane. What is really peculiar is to be on a 'lower' plane and be able to see nearby terrain that is actually on an 'upper' plane.

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I agree--I like my dungeons sprawling and spiraling with many levels. I'm very curious to see what it will be like in the reincarnations.

 

Originally Posted By: Baron Duke von Earl
Jeff didn't create Exile in high school! He started programming in high school, but Exile is a product of his disaffection with the life of a math graduate student.

 

—Alorael, who believes Jeff is 40 now. If he were in high school in 1994, he took his time getting through the grades. Or he took his time on programming Exile.

Oh, that's odd. I remember reading that he did it "to survive high school" on his website some years ago, but maybe I misread. It certainly makes less sense that way.

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Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith

I don't think it's healthy to support delusions. There are microchips and untraceable chemicals in the water supply for that.

But it's true. It's perfectly fine to like something that someone else doesn't. I'm sure I like things you don't, and vice versa.

Originally Posted By: Harehunter
Think of it as matter of perspective. When indoors, spaces are enclosed and more confined. There is also a greater amount of detail that needs to be paid attention to. While traveling outdoors, the distances you can see are more vast. There is also greater distance between points of interest. The indoor/outdoor engine portrays this difference the best.

The thing I missed in the A4-A6 engine is the ability to build multi-level structures. Everything is on two planes. Sometimes you ascend to the second plane above the main plane, and other times you descend to the second plane below it. However it is always just the second plane. What is really peculiar is to be on a 'lower' plane and be able to see nearby terrain that is actually on an 'upper' plane.

Indeed, it's always jarring and immersion breaking to see something like that. Though the older Avernums were not immune to this either, such as the case with the royal palace from Avernum I where you assassinated Hawthorne being obviously on the same map as the escape exit back in Avernum.

As for sprawling dungeons, what might be nice would be to see respawning dungeons. Not necessarily "Oh hey it completely respawned even though all you did was step outside for a brief moment to rest" but more along the lines of respawning after a set amount of time, preferably at least a few in-game days and not while you're still in there. I like not having a finite amount of XP in the game.
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Originally Posted By: Kyronea
Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith

I don't think it's healthy to support delusions. There are microchips and untraceable chemicals in the water supply for that.

But it's true. It's perfectly fine to like something that someone else doesn't. I'm sure I like things you don't, and vice versa.

Great minds think alike.
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