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Entirely Premature Discussion of the Geneforge remakes


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Obviously, a lot of old fans have been real excited and pleased by the first Avernum re-remake. Just as obviously, there have been a lot of changes to the gameplay, in spells, abilities, monsters, even how leveling up works.

 

So what changes is everyone expecting, hoping for and dreading?

 

Lets start with the pretty clear cut:

1.) Graphics update. Duh.

2.) Junk bag. Oh la la. Paired in with the new encumbrance system for G1-G3.

3.) New un-uber buffing spell system.

4.) Bunches of new items

 

With that as a base, let us procede into the hinterlands of guesstimation and prognostication.

 

As an appetizer, lets start with Geneforge: The Original specifically. One thing that makes this game different from any of the other Geneforges, from most Spiderweb games entirely, is the lack of trainers. While there are one or two for each of the utility abilities (luck, mechanics and leadership), all other abilities and spells are obtained from canisters or one off reward givers.

 

The way this becomes an issue is if Jeff changes the spell library to be more in line with the later games. As many on this board can recall, G1 had only three spells for each magic school, twelve in total. I for one highly doubt that will remain true in the remake. G1 at the time was a gamble for Jeff. It was an entirely new unproven IP, and that had given Jeff much heartache in the past. Add in an almost completely new engine as well, and he can be somewhat justified in the simple spell library. No such justification would exist for the remake.

 

Put I prevaricate. The reason this would be no simple matter to drop in is that each new spell would require canisters for the PC to obtain the spells. Jeff has a few options:

1.) Leave the amount of canisters in the game completely unchanged. Jeff just alters preexisting redundant canisters that provided extra levels for previous spells.

2.) Radically renumber the amount of canisters available to make way for the likely 4-5 new spells in each spell school. Some of these could be put in the expected new areas that he would add to the remake.

3.) A mixture of 1 and 2. Somewhat increase the number of canisters while also altering existing canisters.

 

I propose that 3 is the most likely course of action. As stated previously, some of these new canisters could go in the new areas for the remake. There were also spells like healing and firebolt that could also be increased to rather high 5-6 levels through canisters and quest rewards that could have one or two of their levels safely shifted to new spells.

 

The canister issue is something that probably won't come up for shaping. I conclude this based on evidence from both remakes of Exile/Avernum 1. Both of the remakes only allow for human party members, despite sequels previous to the remake allowing for other race party members. Similarly, I expect that the kind of creations able to be made will be unaltered, despite the presence of greater numbers of creations in the later games.

 

The only potential wrinkle is if Jeff decides to add more creations to the middle of the tree. Then all bets are off. While a quite distant possibility, its something worth noting.

 

Similarly worth noting is the possibility of new classes. The first three games had Shaper-Guardian-Agent. G4 added the Shock Trooper and the Servile, with G5 completing the sextet with the Sorceress. While the servile class would not be possible due to lore reasons, there is nothing preventing Jeff from retconning in the other classes, or a human equivalent of the servile class. I for one would be quite interested to see how the new classes would perform in the older games.

 

What will likely prevent this is simple inertia. Balancing and testing three classes will be work enough for the remake, doing 2-3 more is unnecessary. And Jeff hasn't stayed in business by doing the unnecessary.

 

On a more minor note, it will be interesting to see how the game balance shakes out for the different classes. In G1 the Shaper was the undisputed king due to how shaping worked. Unlike any other Geneforge game, G1's shaping added 1 full stat point per level of ability, rather than the .5 of all the other games. This allowed Shapers who single mindedly leveled shaping to create Fyoras with 3/4s the damage of a Guardian's Drayk for 1/6 the cost, and even more ludicrously powerful monsters with the later creations. This will obviously not be the case in the remake, so it will be nice to see the shaper compete on a more even playing field.

 

 

More generally for all the remakes, one thing that has become clear is that Jeff is quite intent on doing away with his old spreadsheet version of leveling up in favor of discrete numbered ability trees. While this proved workable in Avernum due to the high number of abilities both visible and hidden, Geneforge would seem less amenable to this system. It has a relative lack of abilities, with both Shaping and especially spells having a lot more options than combat due their discrete abilities rather than simple number buffing. All these discrete abilities would come from trainers and world exploration, not an ability tree. So unless Jeff adds a boatload of more abilities, especially discrete abilities for the combat tree, I fail to see how he could square that circle.

 

That's all I got for now. How about chatterings from the crowd?

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Originally Posted By: MrRoivas
Obviously, a lot of old fans have been real excited and pleased by the first Avernum re-remake. Just as obviously, there have been a lot of changes to the gameplay, in spells, abilities, monsters, even how leveling up works.

So what changes is everyone expecting, hoping for and dreading?

Lets start with the pretty clear cut:
1.) Graphics update. Duh.
2.) Junk bag. Oh la la. Paired in with the new encumbrance system for G1-G3.
3.) New un-uber buffing spell system.
4.) Bunches of new items


These are all upgrades that we can all probably say that we're excited for. Especially the new encumbrance and graphics, for me specifically.
Quote:
As an appetizer, lets start with Geneforge: The Original specifically. One thing that makes this game different from any of the other Geneforges, from most Spiderweb games entirely, is the lack of trainers. While there are one or two for each of the utility abilities (luck, mechanics and leadership), all other abilities and spells are obtained from canisters or one off reward givers.

The way this becomes an issue is if Jeff changes the spell library to be more in line with the later games. As many on this board can recall, G1 had only three spells for each magic school, twelve in total. I for one highly doubt that will remain true in the remake. G1 at the time was a gamble for Jeff. It was an entirely new unproven IP, and that had given Jeff much heartache in the past. Add in an almost completely new engine as well, and he can be somewhat justified in the simple spell library. No such justification would exist for the remake.


I disagree, and there's a simple plot reason that lets Jeff get away with a certain degree of laziness - Sucia Island was abandoned 200 years before the start of the game. That means that there magic system wasn't advanced as it would be in a modern context, and certainly not by the time of all the research and development that occurs in military spellcasting during the Rebellion. This also counts for Shaping, obviously.

Quote:
Similarly worth noting is the possibility of new classes. The first three games had Shaper-Guardian-Agent. G4 added the Shock Trooper and the Servile, with G5 completing the sextet with the Sorceress. While the servile class would not be possible due to lore reasons, there is nothing preventing Jeff from retconning in the other classes, or a human equivalent of the servile class. I for one would be quite interested to see how the new classes would perform in the older games.


Again, there's a plot reason we won't be seeing the new classes introduced into a new Geneforge 1. The PC is a Shaper apprentice, and those are the only three Shaper classes. Obviously the Servile isn't a Shaper class, as you've already identified. A lifecrafter, which cannot exist canonically, is also void; infiltrators, warriors, shock troopers, and to an extent the sorceress, are all military members, not Shapers. As the plot hinges on the PC being a Shaper, this isn't an issue Jeff will have to deal with.


Quote:

More generally for all the remakes, one thing that has become clear is that Jeff is quite intent on doing away with his old spreadsheet version of leveling up in favor of discrete numbered ability trees. While this proved workable in Avernum due to the high number of abilities both visible and hidden, Geneforge would seem less amenable to this system. It has a relative lack of abilities, with both Shaping and especially spells having a lot more options than combat due their discrete abilities rather than simple number buffing. All these discrete abilities would come from trainers and world exploration, not an ability tree. So unless Jeff adds a boatload of more abilities, especially discrete abilities for the combat tree, I fail to see how he could square that circle.


Here's how I see an ability tree working. Let's say you have a Guardian - that class would have access to a branch of a tree on combat and one on Shaping, and something equivalent to the current general skills area (leadership, mechanics, luck) or maybe something different in the center. Shapers would have Shaping, magic, and the new one/general one. Agents would have combat, magic, and the new one/general one. That would allow for the current three tiered approach he's been using in Avadon, and I assume Avernum as well. Furthermore, that would help prevent newbies from dying after creating a melee Shaper - something Jeff seems to like to prevent.

Shaping and spells would be independent of the ability tree, as they are currently. You learn them from canisters and teachers, and that's that.
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Originally Posted By: Goldenking

Again, there's a plot reason we won't be seeing the new classes introduced into a new Geneforge 1. The PC is a Shaper apprentice, and those are the only three Shaper classes. Obviously the Servile isn't a Shaper class, as you've already identified. A lifecrafter, which cannot exist canonically, is also void; infiltrators, warriors, shock troopers, and to an extent the sorceress, are all military members, not Shapers. As the plot hinges on the PC being a Shaper, this isn't an issue Jeff will have to deal with.


I guess I wasn't clear. What Jeff could do is come up with new shaper classes, with new lore for each of the old skill combinations in the shaper society. As I admitted, its unlikely, but possible.

Originally Posted By: Goldenking

Here's how I see an ability tree working. Let's say you have a Guardian - that class would have access to a branch of a tree on combat and one on Shaping, and something equivalent to the current general skills area (leadership, mechanics, luck) or maybe something different in the center. Shapers would have Shaping, magic, and the new one/general one. Agents would have combat, magic, and the new one/general one. That would allow for the current three tiered approach he's been using in Avadon, and I assume Avernum as well. Furthermore, that would help prevent newbies from dying after creating a melee Shaper - something Jeff seems to like to prevent.

Shaping and spells would be independent of the ability tree, as they are currently. You learn them from canisters and teachers, and that's that.


There would still be an issue, even with that system. To compare, in Avernum the "combat" tree has sword and board, it has dual wielding, pole weapons, blademaster, archery, sharpshooter, you get the drift. As of now, the melee "tree" would have four skills in Geneforge, and that's it. And all of them would be general number buffs, rather than the more specific upgrades of the Avernum skills such as Anatomy or Sharpshooter. Same goes for Shaping.
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  • 4 weeks later...

Well change everything to the latest UI is the first thing.

Also change the graphics.

However, next up is the most important aspect.

Unlike Avernum and Avadon, you only control one person in GeneForge. This means you need to somehow fulfill all roles. I like to become a DPS/supportive hybrid Shaper with dozens of battle creation tanks, fire creation DPS, and magic creation artillery. (My build is two Tralls, one Drakon, and a Wingbolt)

Although I love the game. The easiest way to win is ironically, the fragile

Mage. Because the entire game is based on skill points, you must sacrifice your personal power to create a party of creations. All offensive capabilities must go to creations for a good party.

This is a serious problem. So we should switch the skills system to the Avernum system. We will have three pages based on character development, Melee and Ranged skills, Magic and Spellcraft, Character growth and misc. skills. We can spend skill points to increase the effectiveness of our characters this way. Meanwhile, creations can be placed on a separate page. If we tweak bosses and enemies a bit stronger, and make a few changes, it will be pretty good. However, the canister training in GF1 is not too bad. It prompts more exploration in order to cap your abilities.

We should also have class-based abilities. Avadon and Avernum are games where it doesn't matter how you build your character. However, in GeneForge we need a certain build to even SURVIVE, let alone deal decent damage without items.

----Skill Examples

---Shaper

-Genetic Mastery - Increases the base stats of creations by +1 per level

-DNA Consume - Has a chance to destroy enemy creations

-Shaped Blades - Increases physical damage by 2% per shaper level

---Guardian

-Conviction - Increases hardiness and physical defense

-Guardian Mastery - Increases defense by 10% when using shields

-Block Breaker - Shatters physical defenses for two turns

---Agent

-Stealth - Renders the Agent invisible for three turns, (Using this to sneak by enemies is a possibility)

-Creation Disruption - Deals extra damage against creations

-Assassinate - Deals a massive critical on humanoid targets

---Lifecrafter

-Genetic Mastery

-Rebuke Life - Takes a portion of your HP and Energy to heal creations

-Lifecraft Mastery - Increases effectiveness of Shaped Items

---Servile

-Vengeance - Deals extra damage against enemies based on HP (lower HP means higher ATK)

-Discipline - Increases Servile's defenses and resistances

-Stolen Arts - Increases magic stats by +1 every 2 levels

---Sorceress

-Sorcery - Increases all magic stats based on INT

-Invoke - Temporaeily increases the effectiveness of spells

-Arcane Arts - Increases energy and reduces cool downs on spells

 

Based on lore, Shapers gain abilities to increase their effectiveness and draw power from creations. Like completely ahnilating creations like you've always dreamed. Guardians may fulfill the bodyguard role as It should be with the listed skills. Agents should be stealthy and have the ability to solo battles, the listed skills increases her damage against creations (This matches the lore how Agents are dispatched to hunt rogues)

Lifecrafters have a more peaceful approach, as they aid their creations, rather than the skills of the Shapers would use them. Warriors are more damage-orientated and serve as frontline nuisances. Infiltrators will specialize in mechanics and leadership, this class will sweet talk their way out, or assassinate their enemies. Servile should revolve around their lust for vengeance against the Shapers, serviles can take down humanoids (this includes Thahds, Battle Alphas and Drakons) with ease. Shock Troopers are pretty odd, they are a reverse of the shapers, they should be based on tanking while their creations launch heavy artillery. Finally sorceress should be based on their magic abilities, vastly enhancing them and bringing them to godly levels.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's amazing how good these games are - people are still interested and actively posting on them. I've come and gone a bit; played some Avernum, and recently got the bug again when the re-release came along. I never played geneforge much, but I decided just now to try out geneforge 1.

 

So here's how it went:

 

ZOMG 800x600?! And no windowed option. This will suck. Perhaps I should wait for the rewrite. Could be forever, though - I'll try and see.

 

Woah, clunky graphics. Tiny screen - at 800x600 all that real estate really should be used for the main game, not wasted on the character image. Did they not have pop up screen options way back when? Yes they did, look at the level up!

 

I can't put things in cupboards and containers. Why!? And what is this! Everything in my inventory counts toward my burdens! Noooooo!!! Want bag of holding. JUNK BAG! JUNK BAG!

 

Oh no, you don't see the effect of stat increments on the character screen when you are levelling up. How annoying!

 

... and so on and so on. Gripe moan whinge complain complain complain.

 

... oh wait now it's getting late, but I just want to complete this one more quest. 5 more minutes. Just one more... and there's those bandits to wipe out and I need to see what was behind that door I couldn't unlock before. Oh dear, it's after midnight and I have work in the morning. Maybe I'll just go sell off my inventory and do just ONE more little quest. Hey, why is the sky getting light?

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Originally Posted By: Goldenking
Here's how I see an ability tree working. Let's say you have a Guardian - that class would have access to a branch of a tree on combat and one on Shaping, and something equivalent to the current general skills area (leadership, mechanics, luck) or maybe something different in the center. Shapers would have Shaping, magic, and the new one/general one. Agents would have combat, magic, and the new one/general one. That would allow for the current three tiered approach he's been using in Avadon, and I assume Avernum as well. Furthermore, that would help prevent newbies from dying after creating a melee Shaper - something Jeff seems to like to prevent.

Shaping and spells would be independent of the ability tree, as they are currently. You learn them from canisters and teachers, and that's that.


This idea probably wouldn't work though, despite it seeming sound. Shapers might want to use batons and missile weapons instead of wasting essence on spells (or because reaper batons are actually more powerful). Guardians who shape creations will have plenty of reasons to cast buffing spells, snd Agents might be terrible at making creations, but drumming up a couple of temporary ones to draw fire in a big fight is a tactic I've used a couple of times. Under the new system all this'd be gone.

The way I see it working is each of the three main categories (fighting/magic/shaping) would have it's own tree, like Avadon, and either costs between categories would differ, or (more likely, given the flat costs Jeff seems to be preferring), hardcoded penalties would be present. So, for instance, a Guardian might be able to get all the magic skills, but he'd suffer a really high damage penalty, or something.

*shrug*
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@Aethir don't you read?

 

Since when in G1 was a servile, sorcerer and livecrafter classes ever existed?

 

 

I'd be a nice idea to change the stat point chart of course, with anatomy being reintroduced, being both an offensive and a healing craft factor.

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm a bit of a Spiderweb Software noob, with Geneforge being the only game I've played so far (about 20 hours or thereabout), so I have no experience from the the newer games and what they do better. However, the thing that is bothering me the most is the sound. I love that there is no music in the game, and that you only hear birds and the wind, or children playing. If the sound had been of better quality, i.e. cleaner sound (when the sound pressure does not exceed the quality of the microphone) and perhaps a tad more varied (there is a lot of chewing going on in the towns at times), the atmosphere would be even better.

 

The other thing I would love in the game would be junk bag I've heard so much about. And of course I agree with the obvious graphics update, at least when i compare to screenshots from the newer games.

 

I haven't really played Geneforge, or other Spiderweb Software games, enough to have developed more preferences so far.

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Why remake vs. new content? I get it for the more archaic Avernum series (1st) but Geneforge 5 looks pretty modern. I'm not planning to return to an identical storyline just for a graphics/interface overhaul. I didn't even like the GF2 storyline, it was simply too much of a rehash.

 

I'd much rather see a different storyline somewhere midpoint in the series timeline.

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