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AAA Studios - Hypothetically...


Necris Omega
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EA! Imagine Avernum with microtransactions! To use fireball, wait 3:28 minutes or spend 5 averbucks!

You have been killed. You can reload in 5:00 minutes or pay 20 averbucks to start now!

To enter the Tower you need to have Crown Clearance or pay 200 averbucks to enter right now!

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Not only that, but now you can download 6 different character sprites by either paying 500 averbucks to get the whole package, or by paying them individually, 80 averbucks per piece!

 

You can also get yourself the disk-locke...downloadable content, "Generic Farlands of Doom" and "Wrath of Grah-Hoth"! All new enemies, exciting weapons and danger at every corner, only for 16,000 averbucks! Yay!

 

If you sign up right now, we'll also throw in "Let's Hold You By Your Hand" -bonus! Markers all over the map, so you don't need to ever think about those pesky quests or their descriptions, again! The world might appear wide and large, but there's really only one corridor that you can progress, so you won't need to worry about getting lost either!

 

(Finally, if you want to give up 50,000 averbucks, you can get the Demonslayer and level up your party right up to level 30. You could've done that with the party-editor anyway but... we'll just cut that out, shall we?)

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If you sign up right now, we'll also throw in "Let's Hold You By Your Hand" -bonus! Markers all over the map,

 

Tbh, having come to A:EftP after having grown up on the original Exile I already kind of felt this way about the world map and quest destination markers. Although in terms of adjusted difficultly I'll say that at least now it's no longer easy to kill Grah-Hoth and Hawthorne without taking any damage on either of them.

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In all fairness, I was more referring to how the quest markers in some games point directly to a character on the map (like a quest, find a random person in 10 square mile forest, and the person is shown on the map...) In Avernum, while it is certainly still a thing, it's not as bad; but I do see your point there. Fortunately I haven't found this to be a feature in Avadon, and I hope it continues to be like that. (About 15 hours in at this point.)

 

As for the adjusted difficulty, yes, we are in agreement. Especially the Torment mode feels much harder than it did in the original ones. Or maybe it's just the nostalgia. One of the things that kept me sane during last year's spring was the fact that I had a Torment run in Avernum 2: Crystal Souls, the new one. Man... the hours I spent trying something and loading over and over again. :)

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i guess obsidian doesn't really count as an aaa studio, since they'd be out of business by now if not for kickstarter

 

still probably the best answer, though. as relatively-big-name studios go they're the closest to working in the same territory jeff does

 

Yeah... maybe "AAA" is a little too restrictive.

 

I suppose I could have said "anything bigger than just Jeff and Mariann" but that might have the opposite problem of being too broad to have any real meaning. :x

 

Still... Maybe Larian? I've bashed them before, but I'd certainly take them over Obsidian.

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What, no Bioware?

 

Granted, that gets you some of the EA problem, and their specialty is really in a kind of character-driven gaming that doesn't mesh all that well with Avernum, but they're solidly in the RPG camp and do it quite well.

 

—Alorael, who will go ahead and co-opt the resurrected Black Isle for this purpose. What could possibly go wrong?

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I think we've just been throwing up studios which most closely fit the Spiderweb Gameplay mold. And, well to be honest...?

 

Really, this whole idea came to me while in Skyrim's Blackreach - just looking around at all that subterranean glory, I couldn't help but imagine Avernum so deeply rendered.

 

The gameplay wouldn't fit at all, but I still think it would be cool to see.

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Honestly, I had the exact same feeling when I was in the Blackreach, myself. It was one the most memorable things in a very memorable game.

 

Moreover, if some big gaming company could create Avernum in something like that'd resemble Skyrim's engine -- because I feel like that'd make it the most justice -- that'd be some GOTY material right there.

 

There would just be a huge problem, concerning the game-mechanics, because the charm in Avernum and Avadon and Geneforge is that they're all more or less turn-based. You have time to think, while a first- or third person game should have to be real-time.

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I mean, I remember playing Dragon Age: Origins and being impressed with the team dynamic. Maybe BioWare could do something good with Avernum.

 

Although, of course, Geneforge would be perhaps an easier fit. Lots of opportunity for real character development, factions, they could probably come up with an AI that would be equally as good as just controlling your own creations... I've always thought that Geneforge had the best character development anyway.

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I mean, I remember playing Dragon Age: Origins and being impressed with the team dynamic. Maybe BioWare could do something good with Avernum.

 

Although, of course, Geneforge would be perhaps an easier fit. Lots of opportunity for real character development, factions, they could probably come up with an AI that would be equally as good as just controlling your own creations... I've always thought that Geneforge had the best character development anyway.

 

Eh, I hear "team dynamic" and immediately go to Avadon when it comes to Spiderweb games. Avernum is really in it's own, kind of "Legacy" class by modern standards with it's multiple character customization set, and "party AS the character" mindset. I'm not sure what there is that it can be compared to off the top of my head.

 

Actually, no, I take that back - the closest thing I can think of in that realm in "recent" times is Legend of Grimrock. But that's being intentionally retro so I don't know if that counts.

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Avernum wpuld be complicated since its a team of four but in storyline terms they are like hivemind or what. Unless you'd rather play avernum with a single player in which case i would advise bethesda. I was playing morrowind recently and it fits like lego. Choose the character race and type, huge world. Non linear, item weight counts, its relativelly challeging, great story really dinamic only you dont get to really have a team. But it would have to have skyrim's graphics. I can play and enjoy avernum as is. But if it get on with morrowinds graphics i would feel cheated. Dragon's dogma while i didnt particularly like had a good thing with teams and no backstories, but its never like a unit. I agree with golden girl when she says geneforge is better for this. Not only with bioware, but with most companies

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One other thing to put Avernum squarely in Bethesda's court is... well, the concept. Think about how so, so many of their games begin.

 

"So the game begins sealed away undergrou--"

 

"Sold!"

 

"... I was saying, the game begins sealed away in an underground priso--"

 

"DOUBLE SOLD!"

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And even if it's not underground prison, it's the Empire that's about to chop your head off, like in Skyrim.

 

To be honest, I always found it refreshing that the Empire in the Elder Scrolls wasn't inherently evil like in seemingly 99% of every other invocations of that term in fiction.

 

... And a whole lot of non-fiction references, come to think of it.

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Have to agree with nercis here. If anything the stormcloaks were the racists ones. The empire was technically very openminded and such. Even in morrowind, most locals were against foreigners and the empire was the only one tryna get things a little bit more global. The main problem i saw in skyrim was not the empire but the aldmeri dominion. The empire was just weak and slightly pathetic. I didnt finish morrowind but i guess the empire seemed stronger back then.

 

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It's something of an interesting trope given how the Western idea of empires is mostly shaped but the Roman Empire and much later colonial empires. Rome was long seen as a bastion of civilization whose loss brought in centuries of stupidity and awfulness. And colonial empires, of course, were great until they weren't. The idea of the "evil empire" is an odd one to trace, and I haven't figured it out. The term itself, as best I can tell, actually really got started with Reagan.

 

—Alorael, who could see the idea having resonance in the Cold War and subsequent world. The Soviet Union was the enemy for a long time; the successor Russian Federation and China are probably the most imperial modern countries and both are uncomfortable semi-allies to the US and to much of Western Europe. And the Middle East is full of countries functioning as empires even though they were created externally and arbitrarily rather than by the usual imperial processes. They're not doing so well right now.

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Colonial empires were thought good by the West because they were mostly led by Western countries and they believed that they were improving the poor less civilized countries. That some of them were well organized and civilized like China didn't mean anything because they weren't Western civilized.

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Well, there are corrupt empires in some influential early fantasy writing -- in Tolkien, most obviously, in the _Silmarillion_. Here we're talking about empires that were good, but became evil due to human weakness and the influence of what are essentially demon/devil figures.

 

(Digression: Although early tabletops didn't do much with that, the Final Fantasy games picked it back up, first (with an identical demon/devil presentation) in the Japan-only FF2, and then in FF6. FF6 may be notable in a SW context because the English version uses the exact same language as Exile ("The Empire") and because it came out in the US a few months before Jeff started working on Exile. This is a somewhat iffy connection given Jeff's lack of ever citing FF as an influence.)

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Technically could be traced to the golden horde. And the huns. I guess since a lot of invasions of europe came from the east its easy to get that position. Otomans, persians, huns, mongols, and then the soviet union. But the whole nazi germany thing also fits most evil empire descriptions. I don't think it started necessarilly with Reagan. Maybe the term or so. But the concept must have existed for sometime. If im not mistaken even atlantis was supposedly an "evil" city state defeated by athens. I dont remember correctly though.

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(Digression: Although early tabletops didn't do much with that, the Final Fantasy games picked it back up, first (with an identical demon/devil presentation) in the Japan-only FF2, and then in FF6. FF6 may be notable in a SW context because the English version uses the exact same language as Exile ("The Empire") and because it came out in the US a few months before Jeff started working on Exile. This is a somewhat iffy connection given Jeff's lack of ever citing FF as an influence.)

 

Maybe its a coincidence. I remember thinking either christopher paolini ripped off drakengard or the other way arround specially on the two oposite dragon riders. But then they were released with a very small time difference so i realised it was likelly what i call convergent evolution. But since these are both in the gaming world i guess it is a bit iffy.

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For something to make it into our literary discourse it has to have the right terminology and the right flavoring. The German Empire (Second Reich) ended with WWI, and was an enemy but never really evil the way the Third Reich was. But the Third Reich also never persisted as an imperial power, nor did it have an emperor.

 

The Mongols could have been an evil empire to much of Asia. I'm not sure they got much of a value judgment in Europe, though. There were a bunch of Persian empires and then caliphates and sultanates of all sorts, and Europe definitely had conflicts, but they were seen as religious enemies in a way that the evil empire often isn't.

 

Maybe it's all of these elements put together. I'm not really sure how far the evil empire as a trope can be traced back. It might all be a creation of Tolkien.

 

—Alorael, who isn't even sure about FF6, It has an Empire, and the Empire is the enemy, but to what extent it's evil is something of a question. Emperor Gestahl is not a nice guy, but he doesn't seem to be a monster. Generals Leo and Celes are both good people. It's the emperor's right-hand monster who makes the Empire more than just a military enemy, and he in fact gleefully fails to care about the destruction of the Empire. Then he doesn't build a new one, he just spews random destruction from on high.

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Philosophically, Alo, I agree, but the game is unequivocal in presenting the Empire as the epitome of bad. The game does distinguish between the Empire and its constituents -- Edgar says "The Empire is evil, but that doesn't mean that all of its citizens are." And it certainly presents Leo as humane and Celes as sympathetic -- but it doesn't erase their contributions to the machinery of exploitation. "That's General Celes! She torched Maranda!" As for Gestahl... in a plan that spans decades, he enslaves another species, creates and manipulates human weapons, holds an elaborate fake peace summit, betrays and tries to destroy the other side, and does not ultimately diverge from Kefka until he is worried that Kefka's path won't leave anyone to worship him. He's well-spoken, yes, but he definitely qualifies as a monster.

 

I think that's precisely the same level and distribution of evil as we see in Garzahd's Empire, and more or less the same as is suggested to be in Ar-Pharazon's.

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I think that's precisely the same level and distribution of evil as we see in Garzahd's Empire

 

well, in E1 and E2 anyway. E3 and later games start to soften its presentation a whole lot

 

still sad that E3 doesn't give you a "work together with the creator of the plagues to overthrow the empire" option. maybe in A3:RW. hope springs eternal

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Well technically i agree with Alorael on most points. In the end might be a mixture of these all things. evil empire isnt something that can actually exist. (Cept for the third reich and some others) Most often than not they are manipulation of people's fears and points of view. So i think they could only trully exist in fiction. In that case... yeah. Tolkien.

 

And about Gestahl. Is a monster someone who does bad things not entirelly understanding the consequeces, someone who does bad things knowing full well the conseauences and not caring, or someone who does it because its their nature. Or all of them. Because really the dude from what i've read seemed more delusional than evil.

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I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned a movie that came out in 1977 for popularizing the concept of the "evil empire." Surely the other SW - Star Wars - played some part in making the notion more ubiquitous? I mean, the opening crawl text literally tells you there's an "evil Galactic Empire!"

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Oh geez. Given the Star Wars program, I suppose that has to be a pretty likely source for Reagan's use of the term, too.

 

EDIT: Also, google ngram's first, lonely result for evil empire is either 1976 or 1977 (I can't tell, which is just silly), so that would seem to fit pretty well with SW as origin of phrase.

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But is the idea that empires are evil, especially as opposed to kingdoms, older than that? That's what I haven't been able to satisfyingly answer for myself.

 

—Alorael, who recognizes that the actual phrase is a fair marker. But there's a more subtle sense in which empires may be, if not evil, than generally worse than upstanding (constitutional) monarchies.

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Aloraek, maybe because empire has an implication of power. Evil cant be harmfull if one lacks the power to exerce it. An evil county doesnt make most feel threathened. An empire is usually large and powerfull( unlike most kingdoms) and thus can be percieved by most as a threath. I mean the most basic point is that an empire can take over the world, the roman was surprisingly good at that since they relocated whole populations thus erasing inherent patriotism fueled rebelions. Katherine the great did the same with the crimean tartars. Most known empires if kept at their apex had the means. We percieve north korea as evil but do not feel threathened by it. Yet ive met various people that feel threathned by china due to size, population, economic relevance and technological advancement. Even if its rare to find it portrayed as evil.

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To what extent might academia have played a role in shaping attitudes toward fictional monarchical institutions? Certainly, real-world "imperialism" has been vilified at great length by a number of scholars (going back to the late 19th century), whereas I've never heard of "kingdomism" (to make up a word for the sake parallelism) comparably critiqued (which is not to say that monarchy hasn't been criticized because it certainly has).

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Imperialism has to do with aspirations beyond your traditional borders. Its cricticised because it usually involves chalenging or undermining the sovereignty of your neighbourgs or other weaker countries. Kingdomnism sorta implies you keep your actions into your own land. Imperial japan for instance reminds us of bad things. Just japan reminds us of good things.

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Yes, yes, my point is that even though the average person doesn't read Edward Said, the scholarly critique of "imperialism" may have trickled down into popular consciousness enough to make "empire" leave a bad taste in people's mouths. Since "kingdom" hasn't received the same kind of negative press, it's easier for people to romanticize kingdoms, and out of all this would arise the curious good-kingdom / bad-empire trope observable in late 20th / early 21st century fiction.

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I think this is actually a demonstration of how insufferable New Yorkers are. Damn Empire State.

 

—Alorael, who believes the US currently operates on trickle-down academics. And trickle-down facts. It works about as well as trickle-down economics.

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I think the idea of Kingdoms has had better press simply because they're generally less "invasive" (a kingdom is generally recognized as a long standing country with a unified history/culture), and their leadership is generally less... overwrought? Empires always encompass disparate cultures, usually in very lopsided arrangements. Emperors are far, far more likely to set themselves up as outright gods, where as kings have more of a track record of stopping at divine right, not direct divinity.

 

Yes, there have been a plethora of truly despicable kingdoms, and yes, but "empire" is so much more prone to widespread abuses and general evil that the term just leverages itself to "evil" with greater ease. Add in a literary propensity to root for the underdog for drama's sake, and... well, it's easier to count the number of NOT evil imperial powers in fiction than otherwise.

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I agree with Owenrus and Necris Omega. Kingdoms may want to fight you, but empires want to take you over. I think the other factor is just taking narrative tropes to their logical extreme. You want to have underdogs fighting against a big bad, and what's bigger than an empire? Make it an empire that wants to take over everything, and you're in standard fantasy territory.

 

(And if your protagonists are underdogs, the little guys fighting against the system, why not make them literally little? Boom, hobbits.)

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The politics of Mordor aren't much explored in LotR that I can recall, and I haven't read the vast supporting Tolkien material. But Sauron's military, at least, combined orcs, trolls, Haradrim, Easterlings, and Corsairs of Umbar. Maybe an alliance or federation of some kind, but given Sauron's proclivities I'm tempted to label it at the very least soft-power imperialism.

 

—Alorael, who sees a lot of good in Sauron's multiculturalism. Everyone can be equally subjugated under tyranny!

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I suspect that Star Wars had a bit of influence on the identification of empires as evil since the original trilogy of movies had a pretty big impact on much of the gaming community.

 

Historically, I am not sure that empires are much worse than kingdoms. Plenty of kingdoms were just as expansive as empires. Many of the empires started out as something else (Republic in the case of Rome, Sultanate for the Ottomans or Kingdoms in most other cases) before deciding that they had conquered enough places to be considered empires.

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I'm willing to bet there's a certain American zeal behind anti-imperialism, however ironic. The country was founded in revolution against the biggest empire, in terms of area, that ever existed (though at that time it was just a really big empire, not the biggest). American historical culture glorifies the Founding Fathers fighting the evil, irrationally oppressive empire - we just wanted to dodge taxes! Federalism balances the despotism of empire by making all states ostensibly equal. So, America's founding mythos is very anti-imperial, ignoring the plight of Native Americans, Mexicans, Filipinos...

 

And Jeff is American.

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Technically the reason why mordor was more stable than most empires is what alorael said. Subjugated eauality everyone. Tends to be actually realistic since sauron was mayar not orc or troll or anything else so he had no reason to give preferential treatment. But with a lot of other empires, they tend to give preferentail treatment to some over others. Even in colonialism it was like that. Only true effort not to do it that i know of, was made by portugal which gave portuguese citezenship to all mozambicans, angolans, cape verdians, goans, macau chinese, etc.. (brazil got independence slightly after the napoleonic wars, so im not really sure on how it was there but prolly the same) Actually in the beggining portugal insisted the explorers tp settle and remary in the colonies as the trip back home would be dangerous and expensive. As a whole they tried to integrate the natives into the portuguese society. It wasnt all great and flawless, they sorta failed. But all in all much better than most colonial empires. Evidenced by the relativelly low ammount of bad blood between eachother. Still gotta admire the romans. From a strategic point of view relocating and dividing the natives really lowered chances of rebelion.

 

TL;DR:

Empires tend to be unstable if there is preferential treatment given to some people over others. So smart thing is act like sauron and treat everybody equally.

 

Smart way to bypass that is relocating people from their homeland divide them. That way they are less likelly to unite and kick you off.

 

Copyrighted by owen's guide to world domination. ©

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