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Avernum: Escape from the Pit - Mac version beta testers


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The request for new beta testers has been out since September 16 on the What's New page of the Spiderweb Site.

 

For those that are interested there will be a few more days before Jeff closes the request for new applicants. Expect a week between closing off for receiving applications and emails to those that get accepted. It takes Jeff time to read them.

 

The beta version is about 128 Mb so it helps to have a high speed Internet connection. File size will vary as Jeff adds graphics and makes changes to the game.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Originally Posted By: left shift implies what velocity
Non-disclosure agreements forbid of from releasing details. I can, however, say that the beta is fun.

—Alorael, who can only pray that he will not be sacked for saying that. He needs this gig to pay the bills.


Wait, we can say that? Several of my friends have asked me what I thought of the game, and I told them that I really enjoyed the old Avernum and that Spiderweb has been slowly improving many aspects of their game engines over time ><
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It's very different, though. The game is complete, the balance work that will be done is pretty much done, and it's all just a big bug hunt. It's the Mac testers who get to complain that fights are too hard or too easy, skills are too good or worthless, and walk off the edge of the world where it hasn't been designed yet.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't know of any major balance changes that have come out of Windows testing. It's actually not unreasonable for there to be such things, he just doesn't think there have been.

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I think there have been a few Windows testing changes with monster resistances in the last Geneforge game, but mostly the bugs are caught in the Mac testing and game release.

 

There are always new bugs creeping in whenever a game is ported to another operating system or platform.

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Originally Posted By: Randomizer

There are always new bugs creeping in whenever a game is ported to another operating system or platform.


Yeah.

There was a problem with one of the A4 Shades being referenced in the code with an adjective in an early build (venemous vs. poisonous or something similar) that resulted invariably in the game crashing whenever it got into range. If it occurred in the Mac version, there's no way it would have made it into the Windows version.

Stuff like that comes up. Such is the nature of Windows.
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
Originally Posted By: Alorael
Non-disclosure agreements forbid of from releasing details. I can, however, say that the beta is fun.

—Alorael, who can only pray that he will not be sacked for saying that. He needs this gig to pay the bills.


I was really hoping for a secret beta-testers forum, where I could post things like "man that was the coolest battle ever, what do y'all think?" or "Help, please, I can't find any trowels!"

It's strange playing a game in a vacuum. wink
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Jeff likes to keep beta testers in the dark from exchanging information so one tester doesn't influence the game changes. It would be helpful in constructing the huge Item List to have others checking for missing information.

 

Basilisk Games for Eschalon has a secret beta tester forum for posting bug reports and discussing changes to make the game better.

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Originally Posted By: Randomizer
It would be helpful in constructing the huge Item List to have others checking for missing information.


I imagine most of us are keeping things like quest lists, and I'm certainly trying to keep track of where all the unique items are. Who trains what, who sells or buys, those sorts of things I've got written down.

But the exhaustive item list you do, that's a crazy amount of work. I'm not sure who else will have had the fortitude to keep track of such things! It would be nice to have that to check as we test.
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Jeff sends mail to all of us, but we don't even know who the other testers are unless someone posts like this. We're allowed to talk, I think, but it's not really encouraged.

 

—Alorael, who can understand the rationale behind that. He's not sure he agrees, but he understands it, and his game balance is not what's at stake if the Randomizers of the world convince all the testers that casual should be torturous and torment literally lethal to players.

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Originally Posted By: Necris Omega
Eh, isolation discourages rebellion.

Also group think and bandwagonry.


The latter seems to be a potential issue. But it's never been a problem to find out a couple of the others and dm them if need be. I ran into the need only once and that turned out something I should have mentioned to Jeff in the first place. He needs to know what issues people are having. If you discuss this past him it might get lost.
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Without rebellion we deserve to stay in the Pit.

 

Discussion help make sure you don't miss things. After all In Avernum 6, Jeff was not getting complaints about how hard the last part was until he found out how many of the later testers weren't finishing the game. The insane powergamers were pushing through even with the extreme difficulty. smile

 

I'm on Jeff's list of beta testers to ignore when I say the game is too easy.

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Originally Posted By: Randomizer

I'm on Jeff's list of beta testers to ignore when I say the game is too easy.


Well, I figure there's a paradigm shift, such that "normal" isn't supposed to be challenging, except maybe on really obviously optional battles. Our fault for choosing "normal" in the first place, if we were hoping for something difficult!

Even ten years ago I think gamers expected to hone strategies by failing and trying again on the default difficulty. I suspect those days are gone forever. frown
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It's true. CRPGs started out relatively hard and unforgiving, but after they came into their own as a genre, new entries in the genre have steadily become easier... not coincidentally, as the genre's audience has steadily expanded. I think this is relatively independent of subgenre and platform, too.

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Call me crazy, but I don't miss the days of dying constantly.

 

There's been an interesting balancing act: once upon a time, even random enemies could be punishingly hard. Then it was decided that they shouldn't be, but bosses should be hard. Except eventually that robbed so-called trash mobs of all purpose: they didn't really soak up any resources except time. The logical progression from here is either back towards making all enemies potential threats or towards Shadow of the Colossus-style games where only the important fights really happen at all.

 

Of course, logic has nothing to do with a genre that loves grinding, and players who want a challenge should be able to ramp up difficulty so that every fight is a potential disaster.

 

—Alorael, who could also see various implementations of making even trivial fights use important resources. Somehow he doesn't see that catching on, though. It's against the trend of having every meter refill automatically.

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Originally Posted By: LIKE A WHISPER
There's been an interesting balancing act: once upon a time, even random enemies could be punishingly hard. Then it was decided that they shouldn't be, but bosses should be hard. Except eventually that robbed so-called trash mobs of all purpose: they didn't really soak up any resources except time. The logical progression from here is either back towards making all enemies potential threats or towards Shadow of the Colossus-style games where only the important fights really happen at all.


I actually think Jeff's navigated this fairly well. There was one game of his I played -- I think perhaps A4? -- in which he failed horribly: it was loaded with chitrachs and other trash mobs. But the next game -- A5? -- I remember a distinct shift, with lots of little sub-bosses and far fewer meaningless roving hoardes.

I don't know that I want all battles to be Important Fights, but I do want the satisfaction of having implemented *some* strategy in every fight. Jeff's various damage types and resistances help keep things interesting: it's not so wise to fight undead in geneforge with a bunch of blue fyoras and cryodrakes, or in avernum by casting icy rain; it's not so effective to use fire creatures or fire spells against lava worms or sliths.

It's not rocket science, but it does force one to vary one's play style accordingly.

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Ah, found it.

 

Originally Posted By: jeff
When a player is on the default difficult level, has built his or her characters poorly, and is playing straight through the main storyline with mediocre tactics, that player should almost never be killed. (bottom feeder 2009)

 

Somehow I think giving "make this harder!" feedback for my normal runthrough would be a waste of time. wink

 

I'm totally okay with that, as long as Jeff hasn't abandoned those looking for a more demanding experience. This gives me hope:

 

Originally Posted By: jeff
if a player chooses to opt-in on higher difficulty, they should be seriously nasty.

 

Looks like Randomizer and I both have permission to ask for more difficulty if the harder settings disappoint. smile

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Jeff already made his opinion to be very clear about running a single character through on torment difficulty.

 

Originally Posted By: jeff
if a player chooses to opt-in on higher difficulty, they should be seriously nasty.

 

Although I have found some areas easier than trying to do it with a group of four. Besides in this depressed economy, not having to split the money four ways is better for training.

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Originally Posted By: jlsgaladriel
Ah, found it.

Originally Posted By: jeff
When a player is on the default difficult level, has built his or her characters poorly, and is playing straight through the main storyline with mediocre tactics, that player should almost never be killed. (bottom feeder 2009)


Somehow I think giving "make this harder!" feedback for my normal runthrough would be a waste of time. wink


I think Jeff was talking about my kind of party build. I like to put a points into every skill available just because I can. Jack of all trades and almost 100% worthless.

But I do agree with Jeff's thought that a person should be able to make different characters and still beat the game. If only on character build was worth while to have, then why have all the other needless skills to distract you from that build?
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Quote:
But I do agree with Jeff's thought that a person should be able to make different characters and still beat the game. If only on character build was worth while to have, then why have all the other needless skills to distract you from that build?


Bit of an excluded middle here. I agree that having only one (or a very few) optimal builds is problematic, but I hardly think every build should be equally good (or even in the same league). Ideally this should be a matter of skill and stat synergies: no skill should be worthless or game-breakingly good by itself, but chances are a dedicated tank, offensive caster, healer, what have you, is (and should be) better than a character with skills all over the place. Most importantly, there should be at least one 'competitive' build for each role. Preferably more: tanks that focus on survival vs. tanks that focus on pulling enemies, attackers or healers that focus on single targets vs. AoE, etc. Really, though, the former is the key, and usually something Jeff does pretty well. There are exceptions (e.g. G2's parry, which made tanky guardians/agents overpowered compared to everyone else; the extent to which dedicated archers suck in A5 and 6), but by and large I think he does better than most.
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It's a matter of game playing style. Jeff's earlier games could be won by parties that were balanced or just one attack type like all fighters or all spell casters. Now there are scripted fights where if you don't have the right attack type, then you will be lucky to survive at all.

 

Goes and attacks a monster and sees the message appear, "IMMUNE' and cringes.

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