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Here's an interview with Lord Vogel. Read it.


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Which is, I think, usually moderately annoying and potentially slightly costly to the alleged victim but highly annoying and potentially dangerous for a low-margin business that might take out its costs on the hapless deliverer.

 

—Alorael, who once had a free apology pizza delivered to him as recompense for a mistake in an order. Which was nice, except he wasn't the one who had ordered. That pizza place probably had some kinks in their business to iron out.

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Entirely the opposite. I said I wouldn't take the precautions Sarkeesian has. Which is entirely meaningless, I'm hardly in a comparable position, but also what I said.

Seriously? This isn't about HER safety so much as it's about the safety of the people attending her speeches. It would be incredibly irresponsible of her to risk their lives like that.

 

It hasn't been that many years since anti-abortion web sites used to post the names and home addresses of abortion service doctors. The sites never explicitly mentioned killing the doctors, but people that viewed those sites still went out and killed some of those doctors using that information.

Actually, Army of God did, and weren't they responsible for the Nuremburg site? Not on the page, but they have apologetics throughout their site which condone abortion clinic bombings and killing abortion doctors. I've waded through some of the filth as a guilty passion, and their view LITERALLY is that any evil is justifiable if it prevents even a single abortion.

 

oh, rest assured, those things all still happen too. if anything it's easier than ever to harass someone with unwanted deliveries of pizza or other items now that there are so many ways to order stuff online

Actually, Sprint Relay Online, and not a literal phone, is what was used to prank order all the pizzas.

 

Then there are games from White Supremest and Jihadist groups that are used to recruit new members. They desensitize the player to the types of criminal behavior that almost everyone considers offensive.

Do they really? There is such a massive difference between 3D immersive videogames and real life.

There is no risk involved in videogames. Committing a crime in an MMO will not get you arrested in IRL. The only would-be-criminals who would think that they are trained for "real crimes" because of the videogames they've played are so stupid that they need a keeper, anyway.

Also, it seems like an awdul lot of the white supremacists who do commit these crimes were violent to begin with. An awful lot of the ones who have been charged with murder or attempted murder have a rapsheet that includes rape and physical assault on women. I'm not even talking about the members of the Aryan Nations prison gang (a long rap sheet is a given, there)

 

There are also a disproportionate number of white supremacist leaders get caught with kiddie porn on their computers, but this seems far too convenient-- I have long suspected that many of these cases involved planted evidence-- and the fact that nearly all of these individuals were guilty of tax evasion and hunted by the IRS makes this seem even more likely (no, the tax evasion I am certain is real) Note that the CP thing only seems to apply to the leaders of the movement, and not the violent followers.

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I just spent the time reading Jeff's interview. I've been seeing a lot of websites with that general design style lately - design taking up the whole window in big blocks (for lack of better term) - it's not my favorite aesthetic, but I thought it wasn't too bad. Until I went to the main website. I can usually live with design choices that aren't my cuppa, but it was borderline hard to read. But, like Jeff, "I'm old." If they insist on their aesthetic, a directory to make their content a little more discoverable would be appreciated. But enough about that.

 

It's fascinating the way video games have changed from the 80s and 90s to today. Maybe even just from a few years ago until today. I mean back in the day to make an indie game you had to either bank on one of several computer platforms, or find a way to get your game onto one of those ROM circuitboards in the fancy plastic shell that could plug into an Atari or Nintendo. The barrier to entry is a lot lower these days, especially since pixel is cool again.

 

I have to wonder if part of the problem the past few years, as far as sorting through the mountain of shovelware to try and find good games, has been Steam's greenlight process. Now you may not agree with me here, but it used to be, that if a game was on Steam then it must be at least halfway decent. They really lowered the bar and opened the floodgates and, it can be pretty easy to slap something awful together and get it through the greenlight process by either offering "free key with greenlight vote" or by latching onto one meme or another. It's not to say that none of the stuff that pushes through there is worthwhile or creative, but there's such a mountain of crap to wade through that it's no wonder few people bother to do it.

 

I know Jeff likes Humble Bundle, but I don't think sites like Indie Gala or Indie Royale (R.I.P.) really helped much either. I've even wound up with spare Spiderweb steam keys from Groupees before, and while I like that that site tries to feature artists, musicians, indie games, and the like, they're not innocent of facilitating the "free steam key if you vote for our game in Greenlight" either. People don't even care whether a game is any good, they just have this compulsion to have their library count go higher, and to "farm cards." Let's buy a game, not because we care about it, but because we can get three cents return on investment selling cards! (an aside... maybe Jeff's games should have them; those thousands of residual pennies will probably buy him lunch for years to come)

 

I'm an administrator in a certain sports forum, and the clickbait thing is so true. We try not to play that game and our number of subscribers/participants drags behind as a result. New topics in a certain subforum are automatically broadcast to Twitter, and I can say that an honest-ish subject line will often get 40 clicks or so, while something sensational will get hundreds of viewers. It's not nice, but it's just the way it works, and people who run sites that need to generate clicks and money to survive pretty much have to do it. I feel like this is something Yahoo! is especially guilty of in their headlining. I guess the one thing that eludes me is why a site will advertise a list of 15 things, you go to it, and it's a slideshow where each thing has three slides, causing you to click many, many times, until you've read half the list and you're either sick of clicking or your browser crashes. You know people coming to your site are on adblock anyway... probably no use stretching things quite that thin. It's irritating too, because I'm a sucker for reading those kind of "You've been making eggs wrong forever!" articles - but I digress.

 

All I'm going to say about the discussion that has dominated this thread thus far is that I'm a pretty big proponent of free speech, but making specific threats is where I'd draw the line. After reading the thread I'd probably most similarly agree with what Slartibus had to say. I would also probably agree with the idea that what Jeff was probably saying was "a lot of things, what can you do about it besides get a thicker skin?" - though, specific threats and attacks, which is undoubtedly what happened to Sarkeesian, no, you can't do that, it's criminal, and somebody needs to stop you. I guess I wouldn't extend that to "hate speech" - if you're not issuing threats, then ok, you can say it. The thing about free speech though, they maybe can't fine you or lock you up, but there's nothing stopping you from taking on the social consequences of what you say.

 

Which maybe Jeff was getting at a little bit... "you have your thing, they have theirs, no need to seek to destroy." Well I think that's true in the context Jeff was talking about... what kind of things you like in games, what kind of charity a developer gave to... I guess what you have to admit though is that it's not a universal truth and you need to figure out where you draw the line. If a website posts or supports something that's deeply offensive to you or a community you're part of... maybe it's their free speech, but it's your free speech too if you want to tell everyone you can get in touch with to never use that website. It's true, some people will get offended by minutia and make a big stink about almost anything, but from my experience, rather than being ruinous to a company, that tends to backfire, and get a zillion people to say "pshaw, what a farce of a complaint, you have my support, here's 5x more business than I would have ever given you without this stuff."

 

 

As far as the youtubers, I suppose they have their place. It can be surprising what games latch on as popular ones, and there are a few out there who are annoying, excessively rude, whatever... but there are enough people trying to do it that you can probably find a couple suiting of your tastes. I would rather read reviews than watch them, but I'm probably in the minority there. Another thing that makes it so hard to sort through games are all the phony and joke reviews on Steam, often the only source of reviews for little-known titles but unfortunately just as full of junk as the Greenlight queue.

 

I guess the last thing I'll say that doesn't do gaming any favors relates to Jeff's comments on critics. While he didn't really say this, I will - I don't know why so many game reviewers are incapable of pointing out things they didn't like or that need improvement, without going into major bash mode. I don't even read a review if I see the word "flawed" - as though you could do better? No, you don't have to know how to make games to be able to critique them, but how about a useful critique? Tell me, what worked for you, what didn't work for you, what kind of people do you think may enjoy the game, what can you live with, what could use tightening up... don't just sit there and trash it for five minutes because the grass texture looked generic. Was it fun?

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I was thinking about something else Jeff touched on in the interview - this quote here:

 

But the Internet and gaming now, people act like there’s one true way to write a game and one true way to play a game. The Internet can ruin anything.

 

I recently got through playing Lords of Xulima, and while the fighting is done via battle screen, final fantasy-esque type combat, and the story wasn't as richly fleshed out, it otherwise had some reminiscence to some Spiderweb games. I enjoyed the game, the exploration, etc, immensely, even if it did feel a little grindy in spots. Now, one of the odd things I'm seeing with that game, is on the forums people will talk about the best way to level up and allocate stats, and pumping up character speed without fail every single level is "the thing to do, the right way to play" -- and then those same people will complain about how the second half of the game is too easy. While you can't get away with spreading your characters way thin, it's also designed so that you don't have to be an obsessive min-maxxer to enjoy and complete the game. But of course, if you opt not to min-max or obsessively crank the speed, you're doing it wrong.

 

I can get one more game in before school is back in session post labor day, and I've been considering replaying Nethergate, maybe as the Celts... both times I played it back in the day, I did the Romans. And I'm going to try my best to have a good time without obsessing too much over my point allocations.

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That's a topic that comes up here recurrently. For some reason, some people come in, horns down, with declarations that anyone who even talks about optimization is somehow abridging the freedom of people who want to play differently... or, in some cases, with sniping comments like "obsessive min-maxxer" and "I'm going to try my best to have a good time without obsessing too much over my point allocations." Don't worry, Count Hogan -- I don't think you were trying to dump on anyone there. But this is exactly my point: if the ideal we're holding up is that everyone has the freedom to play as they want, that's a two-way street. I don't see the point in demeaning anyone's approach to the game, whether it is carefree, optimal, meticulously role-playing, hack-and-slash, or what have you. So these sorts of comments always confuse me, because they directly contradict the ideal they purport to uphold.

 

people will talk about the best way to level up and allocate stats... and then those same people will complain about how the second half of the game is too easy.

Similarly, people will talk about how they want to assign stats the way they want, ignoring not just min-maxing but even simple realities about which stats are useful and which ones aren't... and then complain about how the game gets too hard.

 

Do any of these people have solid ground for lodging their complaints? I dunno, why not? Unless a game is deliberately targeted just at one sliver of the playing population, why not try to make it fun for everyone? Playtesting and analysis can't always catch every overpowered or underpowered element, but they can catch a lot; and with good design the options for character development really can be differentiated by variety rather than "these attacks have parallel mechanics, but they have different damage types, and oh yeah this one is just twice as good as the other one if you develop the skill."

 

That's what gets me: the answer to the complaints of optimizers and their counterparts is actually the same answer. More genuine variety where all options are viable. And I know, for a developer, that's easier said that done; but it's exactly the high water mark that we should be using in our criticism, formal or informal. When we criticize -- or complain -- we are comparing how things are, to how they could be. And that's an important function, not singularly so, but legitimately important.

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Slarty, I've often felt that same way as Count Hogan described, and it just struck me as to part of the reason: The min-maxers and optimizers tend to post a lot of in-depth threads about how to perfect their characters, which is of course the point of min-maxing, whereas I don't recall ever having seen any threads on any gaming website about how to play the game effectively WITHOUT min-maxing. It leads to an impression that the game can't be played at all without min-maxing and makes it seem difficult and not fun if you're not keenly aware that it's just one playing style. I don't really know what the remedy for this would be, what particular kind of discussion would balance it. I'm curious to find out if anyone has any ideas.

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I think I disagree with the motive you're imputing here. For some people maybe optimizing is about "perfecting" and having the "best" character -- and maybe particularly in games with PVP -- but for many it's more about enjoying the exploration of game mechanics, and wanting to know what the real impact of player choices are.

 

I'm not sure if it fits what you meant, but I think advice on "how to play the game effectively WITHOUT min-maxing" is exactly what we tend to talk about here. For example, a number of threads after A2CS came out discussed the fact that magic was significantly stronger than weapon attacks. Not "you need to put all of your skill points into magic", just "magic is stronger than weapons." (Which it is; sigh.) Or "Hardiness is really good." That's general advice that doesn't dictate particular builds. And yet, those threads seemed to result in the same complaints about "don't tell me how to play" even when nobody was doing that.

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I don't know exactly what I'm trying to get at, like I said. Maybe even just some Let's Plays of people using stats that sound fun and making seriously suboptimal choices and just adjusting to the consequences throughout the game? It's just a thought, really, but when I see minmax posts everywhere, pinned to the top of the forum, etc., it frightens me away from playing, like if I buy this game and play it, I have to read the fan-made documentation and follow what it says or I'll lose. Spidweb games are designed with both talentless casuals and hardcore minmaxers in mind, and I think more emphasis on the fact that you can totally suck at the game or even just not want to read about it and still win and have fun could be beneficial? Again, I'm not much of a gamer these days so I don't know what the solution or even the real problem is. I'm just musing.

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minmax posts everywhere, pinned to the top of the forum, etc., it frightens me away from playing

So, on the one hand, I don't want to minimize the reaction of being frightened away, which is obviously real and I'm sure there are others who share it. On the other hand... "minmax posts everywhere"??? Even if I assume that you don't mean "minmax" (which is semi-specific) so much as "optimizing"... I don't think that's the case.

 

I mean, let's look at the A2CS/AEFTP forum. There are four threads pinned to the top. One is a bug fix. One is a mod that says it aims to "make the game more balanced and more fun". The other two are Strategy Central topics with organized links. The biggest category for both is pure information (atlas of where stuff is, etc.), there is a section of game mechanics analysis, A2CS has a "Just for Fun" section while AEFTP's builds section includes one "Torment build" but also one "guide to fun party building".

 

Looking at the remainder of the current page of the forum (in my view setting anyway) we see a few types of topics:

 

- question about where to find something/how to do a quest/bug (22)

- question about mechanics from a player (11)

- atlas/information thread (3)

- cheat discussion (3)

- mod discussion (3)

- just for fun type thread (2)

- LP (non-min-maxing)

- other story-driven games discussion

- complaint about a fetch quest

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A:EftP had monsters that were completely immune to magic or physical damage. A2:CS had monsters that were highly resistant to physical damage, but none that were completely immune. This led to having more types of party builds in A2:CS versus A:EftP. While you play an all magic user party in both games, in A:EftP there were combats where magic resulted in 5 or less points of damage per attack in a tedious fight where you were chopping down the tallest tree in the forest with a herringbone. You could do the fight eventually if you didn't run out of potions to keep healing.

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Well I guess it's always a two-edged sword. I will typically read hints and character guides before I start out on this sort of RPG because, why not? And I can appreciate the work that people have already usually done in figuring out the benefits of different stats for different characters. At the same time, at least for me, there's a certain amount of stress involved in making sure I've built my character properly... checking and rechecking guides. So I have nothing against people who like to min-max, but I don't personally worry as much about it (because when I do, I get stressed out!) and I prefer more general types of advice. If you don't follow any advice at all, you can wind up with a party that's useless by midgame and that's even worse than a game that's maybe a little too easy in spots. I recall the first time I played Exile III in... more years ago than I want to think about... I wanted to evenly distribute all my stats. Yeah, that'll show them monsters. Oops.

 

Thinking over to Xulima's case, being adamant about adding speed is the same reason the game became too easy by the end. How do you address it? And is this why Jeff goes with skill caps in his games? I don't mean to keep comparing that game but it's my most recent experience so it's fresh: on my first playthrough I indeed followed the speed advice and when I got to the final boss, he got to launch a grand total of one attack while my party whooped on him.

 

Maybe it's even why Jeff has level caps. I know it can be frustrating to get to 30 and realize that's it, no more sweet reward for finishing off more baddies/missions. But if he didn't have them, he would have other problems to deal with... either the game growing way too easy at the end, or people complaining about the way the enemy levels were scaling and they could never earn a leg up, or whatever. I suspect no matter what could be tried as a solution, would leave someone complaining and someone else figuring out character optimizations. So in the end I guess there's no use arguing about it; follow the min-max guides or don't. Oddly enough, on games like these my first playthrough is likely to be the most completionist one, where I visit every possible NPC, reveal every pixel of the map, do as many quests as possible, you know. Subsequent playthroughs when I know where I want to go and what I want out of my mission, that's probably when the optimizations would help the most since I'm not grabbing every last experience point. But my first playthrough is when I'm more likely to read about the optimizations. Funny little paradox.

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a number of threads after A2CS came out discussed the fact that magic was significantly stronger than weapon attacks. Not "you need to put all of your skill points into magic", just "magic is stronger than weapons." (Which it is; sigh.)

 

Yeah, I prefer the heavy weapons approach myself, but fighting groups even with a good bows skill or whatever, was tedious compared to the power of casting spells. For what it's worth I never get mad that someone is "telling me how to play" but it's the internet, and those kind of arguments tend to happen under even the most innocent of circumstances. And maybe that's part of what Jeff means: the internet can ruin anything. And it's not like Jeff personally came to the forum and said "Let me tell you, if you didn't put a point into lockpicking when you got to level 13, you're just the stupidest of stupids." (Well it's not like anyone said that. But sometimes people act like they did. You know what I mean.)

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(Well it's not like anyone said that. But sometimes people act like they did. You know what I mean.)

No, they don't; and no, I don't. That's my whole problem with this line of argument: it always seems to be based on imaginary statements that were never actually made nor even implied, and then those statements are used to criticize the conduct of people who didn't make them.

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How do you address it? And is this why Jeff goes with skill caps in his games? ... Maybe it's even why Jeff has level caps. ... I suspect no matter what could be tried as a solution, would leave someone complaining and someone else figuring out character optimizations.

Yeah, Jeff has talked about both of those things on his blog in the past. In his early games the difference between smart skill investment and crazy investment was pretty huge. Level caps have always been there, but they're much lower in Avadon and the Avernum remakes than in older games. Skill caps are new with those games, although he did have significantly diminishing returns for skills in the old games. He's also said that he'll never write another open-ended game again, outside of remakes.

 

There will always be people who manage to break game balance at least a little, and there will always be complainers -- but I'd argue there are at least partial solutions that will make both of those outcomes less common. Those solutions are absolutely worth pursuing, and that means it's also worthwhile to see and discuss places where they weren't used, but could have been.

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Well I'm talking about the same thing that you referenced -

" And yet, those threads seemed to result in the same complaints about "don't tell me how to play" even when nobody was doing that. "

- people act like they're being told what they have to exactly do with their skills, even though they're not being told that.

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Slartibus and I discussed the "min/max is the only way to play" issue a little bit a few months ago. Seeing it pop up again caused me to re-read a lot of the early posts on various skills. I think that the perception of some of the people who believe that the very useful posts on skills are "directing" people towards a particular style of play could be mitigated a little by focusing on the positive and less on the negative. There are various statements about certain skills being useless or sucking. I think those are more off-putting to people than the statements that spells are more powerful than weapons or that hardiness is very useful. In other words, I think that it is tone more than content.

 

And I do agree that nobody was telling anyone that they had to play a certain way.

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Yeah, I tend to speak a little hyperbolically sometimes, and I suppose that was a great many pronouns.

 

There are various statements about certain skills being useless or sucking. I think those are more off-putting to people than the statements that spells are more powerful than weapons or that hardiness is very useful. In other words, I think that it is tone more than content.

 

I would have to agree with this. I hate to keep running back to Xulima as an example (but I just finished playing through it twice) but there, the mages can eventually learn a spell called "magical light" that has basically the same effect as a torch, and I read a few statements in the forums about how investing in that skill was just a total waste of resources because, hello, buy a torch. And that was more offputting than the posts that were saying "we can't stress enough how powerful speed is, it's a good idea to invest in speed every time you level." And the kicker: I actually enjoyed using the magical light, and I had to remind myself not to feel bad about investing in it.

 

I guess the best lesson is just to not get worked up about advice you find on the internet. Unless someone is literally saying "play exactly like this or you're stupid" - which really doesn't happen very often.

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So, seriously. You want to apply the tone argument to discussions of game mechanics and game balance?

 

If you can only talk about the skills (or items, or whatever) that are good, and you can't talk about the ones that are bad -- or rather, if you can be direct about how good the good stuff is, but can't be direct about how bad the bad stuff is -- then you can't talk about the balance of the game in a straightforward way.

 

There is a big difference between calling a spade a spade, and using demeaning or pejorative language unnecessarily. I want to be very clear that I'm not advocating for the latter. I firmly believe it's everyone's responsibility to consider how their words will affect others, before they speak, or post. But I -- I don't know, there's some kind of link that I'm not understanding here. If people are being polite and respectful, I don't see what the problem is in talking about what's better and what's worse casually and clearly and directly.

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Also, let's face it, there are some games that objectively are so horrendously bad that most of us just can't help but bashing and scathing sarcasm. I'm talking about "broken game" level bad (Big Rigs, Superman64, ET the Extraterrestrial, Pacman for Atari, and Ultima Ascension. Oh, and Action 52 or whatever it was called. Big Rigs and Ultima Ascension were in those "Goat Simulator" category of broken games.)

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I want to be very clear that I'm not advocating for the latter. I firmly believe it's everyone's responsibility to consider how their words will affect others, before they speak, or post. But I -- I don't know, there's some kind of link that I'm not understanding here. If people are being polite and respectful, I don't see what the problem is in talking about what's better and what's worse casually and clearly and directly.

While it may not be the case here, something I've noticed a lot of is that people have a hard time reviewing negative aspects or pointing out things that are not good, useful, etc, without going into major bash mode. It's fine to give critique or point out what isn't good, but at least in the Steam forums, there are a lot of bratty folks out there. And, at least that's what I imagined Edgwyn was talking about when I decided to agree. I don't mind simply reading about what doesn't work. On the other hand, stuff like this EFTP review is major offputting.

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Okay, but there's pretty much zero optimization in that review, just a ton of weird assumptions about what people will do. I imagine we're all in agreement about the type of "bashing" in that review being unhelpful. If that's the kind of thing you've been talking about all along, then my question is why the heck you're attributing that to "obsessive min-maxxers" rather than confused and rude internet forum users. There's a serious conflation going on here.

 

Anyway, I'm pretty much out of patience for responding to arguments that impute statements to optimizers that no optimizers actually make. I hope you can understand my frustration on that point. I'm also kind of done with the derisive labels. I know what the Steam forums can be like, but it's a bit hypocritical to call people "bratty" while complaining about them being in major bash mode.

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That was a clear example of games suck when they don't do things the way I think they should. Even with the example of 3 fighters and a healer, a player can do well if they think about the builds and take advantage of the right skills. It won't work as well as a party with a mage, but it is doable.

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Well I wasn't really trying to conflate min-maxxing with that post nor really complain about min maxing right there, but show the kind of negative argument that I think can be offputting. You also keep attributing me as bashing obsessive min-maxxers. That's not really what I said; I said that you don't need to do it in order to complete the game (which, at the time, I was talking about Xulima).

 

As far as the link I posted, it was the first negative review that came up in my search, so I used it. He was complaining about how the skill system is "broken" so I thought it close enough. Min Maxing was really a small part of the several long posts that I wrote, but... well nevermind. I started putting together a few links that were specifically people getting heated about optimizations, but I think I've been polite in this thread and I don't think I should need to get put on the defensive when all I was trying to do was contribute to the discussion about Jeff's interview. I'm done here.

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Well I wasn't really trying to conflate min-maxxing with that post nor really complain about min maxing right there, but show the kind of negative argument that I think can be offputting. You also keep attributing me as bashing obsessive min-maxxers. That's not really what I said; I said that you don't need to do it in order to complete the game (which, at the time, I was talking about Xulima).

 

As far as the link I posted, it was the first negative review that came up in my search, so I used it. He was complaining about how the skill system is "broken" so I thought it close enough. Min Maxing was really a small part of the several long posts that I wrote, but... well nevermind. I started putting together a few links that were specifically people getting heated about optimizations, but I think I've been polite in this thread and I don't think I should need to get put on the defensive when all I was trying to do was contribute to the discussion about Jeff's interview. I'm done here.

 

People are disagreeing with you pretty politely here, I think. If you post something in a discussion forum, people are allowed to discuss it.

 

Also, for what it's worth, some of that reviewer's complaints about the game seem to stem from completely incorrect ideas about how to optimise. For example, they say "fighter/mage/healer/rogue" is the only effective way to play the game, but in reality there's not much need to have a dedicated "rogue" character at all, since you can spread out Tool Use across your entire party. If anything, they'd probably have enjoyed the game more if they were better at optimisation, because then they'd have been better able to play effectively with the kind of party setup they wanted to use: it sounds like they tried to play the way they want to without caring about optimisation on their first playthrough and they ran into a brick wall. If someone didn't have fun because they found the later parts of the game too difficult with the party they tried to use, that's hardly an argument against discussing character optimisation -- character optimisation advice sounds like exactly the kind of advice they need. It may be an argument for modifying the game mechanics to improve balance between different possible party setups, but that's an argument you need to be having with Jeff Vogel, not us.

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Jeff has been changing the game so game balance doesn't require an optimized party.

 

Removing Avernum spells that increased hit points was the first step since that made a huge difference in whether a party could survive massive damage. Reducing summoned monsters in Avernum and Avadon was next since it was possible to summon an army to fight and then walk away. He also did it for spray acid spell where you could cast and return later to pick up the loot from that red splotch where the monster stood. :)

 

At least for normal difficulty, he wanted it so anyone could get through the game with some trouble on expert optional fights.

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Personally I really hate the no-closing doors thing. There should at least be a skill for it. I mean I don't see how an enemy 14 spaces away could prevent someone from slamming the door shut. Just make it so that you either need a skill for it (each rank of skill = able to close the door with the enemy 1 space closer) or make it take an entire round to close it. I rarely ever explioted doors to open, shoot the enemy, then close again before its turn came up. By rarely I mean I have only done that in a scant few battles-- enough to count on your fingers-- between all games. I predominantly use doors to regroup, recuperate, and rebuff for 2 or more rounds. Even doing this by running isn't an option with the enemy slowing you down when it's right next to you.

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I'm imagining a door-closing skill that increases the more one uses it, leading the PC to spend hours obsessively opening and closing the same door, while nearby NPCs just shake their heads. But then, when the PC's legendary door-closing skill enables them to save the keep from the ogre attack, they'll be more appreciative. You don't just shut doors - you shut them authoritatively! "I used to be an adventurer. Then I took a lesson in how to shut doors." Your PC might even go on to become the NPC that goes around shutting all the doors in a zone after you leave, such that they are all shut whenever you return again even though none of the normal NPCs ever seem to know how to do it. It's sort of an apotheosis into a deity of door-closing.

 

There could also be an Anama-esque cult that believes the power to shut doors is too dark and dangerous for anyone to use. If you join, you lose the skill and can't regain it unless you leave the cult. And they would give you quests to go around opening all the doors in a zone!

 

I am completely on board with this obviously awesome innovation. :D

Edited by Triumph
I must be tired.
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It starts with the simple doors on hinges, with locks.

It proceeds more and more. Barn-style doors. Curtains. Bead curtains. Portcullises. Magical barriers.

 

It's not just types of doors, either. It also includes more and more advanced techniques. It stars with just closing a door manually. Soon, though, the adventurers will be able to hurl projectiles to activate door closing mechanisms. A special wand or crystal might be able to do some of the work for them. Magicians will be able to cast a simple spell to do so. Finally, the endgame worthy heroes will be able to close frightened doors with a menacing glare.

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1. What Scepter?

 

"We didn't know what it did. Now we do. Hold it out and touch an open door with it, and it closes. The door does. Very powerful. It heals doors. If only I had it. But it's gone." (Very interesting. You take note of this.)

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Back on topic: My comment on this topic is that... yes it's really hard to find games for me these days in general. There are many titles, but that's not the problem from gamer-perspective by itself. If there are more titles I can simply increase my demands by limiting myself to games I actually really enjoy instead of having to buy random games because I'm bored. The problem for me is that when I want to limit myself on games I really enjoy, I simply have no means to find these games, even though they exist!

 

Say if I search for an SRPG that plays as much like Shining Force as possible. I can't do that. What can I even search for? If I search via google I only find the titles I already knew about. If I ask on forums, people will just tell me the popular games but never the hidden gems (guys, Fire Emblem is not even remotely like Shining Force!), because they don't know them themselves or can't think of them. Heck, I can't even find a game that I know exists anymore, when I don't know its exact title and even if I know the title, if it's a too common combination of words, it's still not coming up on google or iOS store (well that's a topic on its own, it doesn't even allow to filter for genre or available languages)! Ugh.

 

So while I'm happy that now even very specific games I like are released, it kind of doesn't help me when I can't find them. Why world? ;-;

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(guys, Fire Emblem is not even remotely like Shining Force!)

I know this was an aside, but I'm interested, because I have thought of those games as being relatively similar. I've mainly only played the older installments (8/16-bit) so I'm not sure if that would explain it.

 

There are definitely people who will talk about hidden gems more than popular titles but I guess they are in the minority. What sort of games are you looking at as jumping off points?

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I know this was an aside, but I'm interested, because I have thought of those games as being relatively similar. I've mainly only played the older installments (8/16-bit) so I'm not sure if that would explain it.

 

i mean obviously they're in the same genre but there are some pretty major differences:

 

* permadeath is an obvious one since it completely changes the approach you need to take to maps: shining force is balanced around you being able to throw your army at a boss and get half of them killed, while if you're fighting a dangerous enemy in fire emblem you pick your best couple of units for the job and have everyone else hang back

 

* fire emblem is a lot more transparent about its game mechanics: when you go to attack an enemy it shows you your hit rate and exactly how much damage you'll do, and the rules are simple enough that you can calculate this information for yourself from the character and enemy stats if you need to. this gives you the information you need to do things like choose which weapon you want to use on a particular attack. enemies also don't have surprise abilities like fire breath that aren't listed on their stat screen, as they can in shining force. maps are balanced around the expectation that you'll use this information rather than learn enemy abilities by trial and error.

 

* shining force has PCs and enemies move in semi-randomised order based on their agility, while in fire emblem you can choose what order to move all your characters in and then all enemy units get their turns afterwards. the result is that fire emblem gives you a lot more control over where exactly your units will be when enemies act, as well as making it easier to organise coordinated manoeuvres like having multiple characters attack a single enemy before it can get a turn, or having one character unlock a door while another goes into the room and attacks the enemy inside. on the other hand it also means enemy turns can be quite dangerous, encouraging you to have a good defensive formation prepared at the end of each player turn.

 

* compared to shining force, healing PCs in fire emblem is easier since there isn't really a meaningful per-map limit on how much you can heal (the equipment durability rules are generally only relevant for rare items). fire emblem has less emphasis on attrition over the course of a map and more on being able to keep everyone alive on each individual turn.

 

* counterattacks are another big difference: they're an infrequent random occurrence in shining force whereas they happen whenever you have a weapon of appropriate range in fire emblem, and they often mean that you do most of your damage on the enemy phase (which is something you have to take into account when trying to play defensively, since if you kill an enemy with a counterattack another enemy can fill the spot they occupied and get an attack in on you). and the counterattack rules apply to enemies as well so in fire emblem there's a bigger emphasis on being able to either one-shot enemies, attack them with characters who are unlikely to be hit hard by their attacks or hit them from outside of their weapon's range. this is especially true of enemies whose weapons have high critical hit rates or increased effectiveness against certain unit types (this is related to the permadeath point as well, of course: if you're trying to keep everyone alive you can't just recklessly send units into danger)

 

* shining force has numerous AoE attacks in the hands of both PCs and enemies and fire emblem seldom has any, while fire emblem has some attacks with much longer range than anything in shining force. both of these differences have significant implications for party positioning and movement

 

i could probably think of more

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For me the main differences are:

 

- Shining Force is mostly a game of exploration with SRPG battles in between, you can walk around between battles and it features many secret characters you can find only by doing specific actions in towns and there are tons of secret passages and well hidden treasure chests, finding all those secrets is at least half the game (in Fire Emblem, towns are simply a camp menu)

 

- Shining Force is for the quick challenge, you don't have to worry about long-term challenges like your items breaking or your characters dying and Shining Force allows you to grind by escaping a battle and trying it again while keeping all the Exp and Gold earned, in Fire Emblem you can actually get stuck in the game and have to restart from scratch because half your party is dead and you don't have enough money to buy the good equip you need

 

- The gameplay in Shining Force is generally a lot more fluent, your characters get selected automatically when it's their turn, you just need to move them and input commands which works in a really quick menu, it also feels more balanced because it's not one side getting to act all at once and you don't need to think too much about your possibilities, in Fire Emblem you often have to think for minutes which character to even move first and plan ahead a lot

 

So yeah, basically all aspects I like about Shining Force are not even partially present in Fire Emblem.

 

 

On topic: Another thing I want to point out is that I've quite opposed to Steam, I refuse to even register there. But I find it also really hard to find DRM-free games. Well, everything put on GoG obviously (I probably have bought half the games available on GoG by now), but GoG doesn't really get many titles, so it's still quite limited. Humble Store used to have a lot of DRM-free stuff, but this year at least 95% of the games released there are Steam-only. Several developers use Humble Widget to sell their game on their own website, the problem is that I never hear about their games that way, since it'll never on up on any release list. So yeah, even though probably several more games exist that I'd love to play, I will never hear about them and that's really a shame.

 

Which brings me your last question:

What sort of games are you looking at as jumping off points?

Well let's rephrase this to "How do you try to find games you like?". As of right now, my main source is GoG. I know if I game is released on GoG it's DRM-free and almost all games released on GoG are really good. I guess they get quite carefully handpicked by GoG. But that also means that many games do not get on GoG, even though I'd probably like at least every 20th game of these. So how do I find those? The second step I do is check new DRM-free releases on Humble Store as well as bundles, but that doesn't yield much anymore (the good DRM-free games on HB are almost always also released on GoG these days, and that's still only 2 per week).

So then, my third source is the website IndieRPGs.com. That website is really good and I think it's actually something Jeff wished for in that article. A lot of unknown hidden indie gems are presented there, not too frequently, but thanks to him I found out about some games I really loved that I'd never have found otherwise. I think that website right now gets closest to a website that carefully handpicks hidden gems nobody knows about and presents them.

My final source are developer websites, at least as long as I can remember them. For example after liking Reus really a lot, I started frequenting the abbeygames forums every month, so now I for example know they are about to release their new game Renowned Explorers. The problem is that this is a rarity. If the developer lets his forums die off by never posting any news for months, then I will simply stop visiting the forums and eventually completely forget about it. It's just too hard to keep all the different websites in your head that you want to visit every month. Heck, I only remembered about these forums here because I saw people discussing Avernum on GoG!

 

These forums are actually a good example. I got to know Avernum by a Humble Bundle. Because I liked it so much, I registered on these forums to not forgot to check upcoming projects. But y'know, when a long time nothing interesting happens, I stop frequenting them. Now imagine that Crystal Souls wouldn't have shown up on GoG or websites, how would I have ever remember to check in again? If you only have one favorite developer, you won't really forget about him. But if you have 200 indie developers that could potentially release something interesting for you, you just can't anymore.

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Thanks for the explanations, that was interesting. Makes a lot of sense too.

 

Perhaps it would be helpful on forums if you were more specific. Different people pay attention to different elements in a game, so saying "a game like X" will get you all kinds of responses unless you specify what you like about it. For example, with SF you mention liking the walkabout exploration, the lack of attrition, the lack of long turns requiring deep analysis, and the fluidity of the UI. I bet asking for games with as many of those elements as possible might get you improved answers. You'd probably get fewer answers of Fire Emblem, anyway.

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Honestly, I find Vogel kind of tiresome. For being as successful as he is, he certainly whines a lot. I swear, if I have to read one more interview where he complains about what an old man he is for being 45 I will never buy another of his games again (which is a lie, but.....).

 

You are a 45 year old with a desk job. Boo hoo. Welcome to the human race, buddy.

 

There are people way older than you working way harder (seriously, he should follow my 64 year old dad around for a week, who still works full time and who doesn't work from home at his computer all day).

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I often disagree with Jeff's comments, but I think he's frequently quite direct about feeling thankful and, especially, lucky for his successes and his relatively facile life, and also aware of the fragility of that position. I think he makes light of himself more than he complains, but I guess that depends on how you read it. I dunno.

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In all fairness, running your own business is a huge stress. Especially so for someone in indie gaming. Jeff doesn't really know if Avadon 3, which he'll have to work on for a year without any income from it during the process, will either make money or make him go bankrupt. That's pretty scary for a person to think about as he's embarking a year long process.

 

And, reading between the lines of his posts, Jeff's not that negative. Cynical, yes, but not overly negative.

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Well the whole, "Ain't I old?" thing is a shtick that he's been doing at least since his late 30s. Like most shticks it grows tiresome eventually. Even Louis C.K. doesn't do "I'm so old!" jokes anymore.

 

I imagine it's difficult to run your own business, but Spiderweb isn't that complicated as far as businesses go. It's not like Jeff is busting his ass trying to advertise his games or anything. At this point he has a built in audience who will buy whatever he releases regardless. The business has been incredibly kind to him. And, to his credit, he's open about how lazy he is when it comes to innovation (the man definitely has a formula).

 

Not sure why I'm harping on this, though, as I like Jeff fine and I love his games. People in their 30s and 40s complaining about how old they are is just a pet peeve of mine, I guess.

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Pah. I bet you kids don't even remember what it was like back before there was a layer of grime on the movie theater floor.

 

—Alorael, who also can't believe anyone tells kids to get off the lawn. Why, when he was your age, no one would even imagine that one day there would be lawns, much less kids on them!

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I'm very close in age to Jeff and I find the old man routine quite over the top. While I am certainly not as physically capable as I was in my early 20s, I can still do everything that I want to do as long as I am smart about it. If I made an effort to truly get into shape then I could do a lot more.

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I'm very close in age to Jeff and I find the old man routine quite over the top. While I am certainly not as physically capable as I was in my early 20s, I can still do everything that I want to do as long as I am smart about it. If I made an effort to truly get into shape then I could do a lot more.

 

Hey, it's like you're taking the words right out of my mouth - and I'm only in my late 20s!

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I've always found the grumpy-old-man persona a little silly and unnecessary, but it's never bothered me. I do think it sometimes makes his writing less clear, though - I occasionally struggle to determine how much his negativity on a topic is serious versus part of the shtick.

 

I'm fast approaching thirty and I'm a good bit less physically capable than I used to be (and it's actually not my fault!), which has led me to feel more sympathy than I would have in the past for anyone frustrated by that process, whatever the time or reason it occurs. However, acceptance and adaptation are much more worthwhile responses than deciding to take on the mantle of Captain Grump-Grumps over it.

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