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Kelandon thinks things about Queen's Wish


Kelandon
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In the vein of some of my other topics like this, here are my thoughts on Queen's Wish. I'm playing on Veteran difficulty, which is my standard for new games (though I played GF5 for the first time on Torment, which was probably a mistake).

 

And man, I'm not having any fun at all. Granted, it's early, but at this point I'm tentatively planning to quit and not finish. Here are some of the issues I'm having.

 

Combat

 

The "you have to complete a dungeon on one run" change is obnoxious. I always found the "jump down a hole and you're trapped and can't get out the way you came" dungeons to be the most stressful, and now every dungeon is like that. It's very easy to burn through energy, and you can't recharge it, but it's also not at all obvious how much farther you have to go, so I can't figure out how much energy to hold in reserve. Yes, you get some back after some fights, but not nearly enough to make a real difference. So I find nearly every combat annoying. I'd be tempted to just drop the difficulty down, but....

 

Plot

 

It seems like the plot kind of sucks. Most Spiderweb games start with a mystery. You've just been banished to a huge underground cave, and you don't know what's there, but it's probably hostile and wild and magical and you should go out and explore. You're shipwrecked on a island where secret, illegal magical experiments have been going on, and you have to explore to figure out what they are. You're a foot soldier in a corrupt, all-powerful, quasi-governmental agency, but things are starting to go wrong, and it's not clear why or who's behind it. You're a Roman soldier sent to a strange, magical land where bizarre things are happening and you need to figure out what or why.

 

Think of every great Spiderweb game, and there's some sort of mystery. Sometimes the mystery is the location (GF1, Avernum 1, to some extent GF2). Sometimes the mystery is a person (Redbeard in Avadon 1) or an event (Shanti's death in GF2, the murders and monster plagues in Avernum 3), but there's always an attention-grabbing thing that you don't know the answer to and (presumably) want to, pretty early on in the game.

 

There's just nothing here. I don't care about any of it and am having trouble figuring out what it is that I want to figure out. At least in Avernum 4 there were the shades, or the barriers/river journey in Avernum 2, or... give me some sense of urgency. But here it's just like: "Go clean up this mess that nobody else has bothered to do because it just isn't important or interesting enough."

 

Graphics

 

I can't stand the new graphics system. I never liked Exile graphics, and this is closer to that than the Nethergate/Avernum graphics engine or the Geneforge/Second Avernum Trilogy/Avadon graphics engine. It's too flat/low-tech. When I saw what happens when creatures die, I rolled my eyes. This looks like it was made by somebody's teenage younger brother. I get that it's Spiderweb and they skimp on graphics on purpose to stay afloat, and I've never minded before, but blech, I do not like these.

 

Overall

 

I'm not very far at all. I'm just at the point where I'm starting to enter the other regions (Vol, etc.). But I just have no desire to continue. There's nothing that is making me want to keep going. Maybe I will, because I've never skipped a Spiderweb game that wasn't a remake, but I don't know. I'm just kind of bored.

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3 minutes ago, Kelandon said:

I'm just kind of bored.

 

I have an immediate suggestion for you, Kel. This game is unusual, in that it's so immediately open ended. There are interesting mysteries here, but you need to go out and find them. Trust me. Here's what I suggest.

 

Go into one of the regions, whichever seems most interesting. From what you've said about combat, I'd probably skip the Ahriel Woods for now. Try The Vol, perhaps, which I think is the easiest entry on Veteran. Then look on your map, and find one of the three places that are represented by cave mouths. Go there. Talk to the people there. If you want, go and dream.

 

And then ponder what these places might bring to Queen's Wish.

 

6 minutes ago, Kelandon said:

So I find nearly every combat annoying.

 

I'd like to try and encourage you to stick with it, if you can. In my experience, the very early game is really very tight with energy on Veteran. Energy is very scarce, and managing it is tough. The early dungeons are certainly stressful because of this.

 

However, once you get into the regions, everything starts becoming much easier. In a sense, it's a little like the difficulty grading of the Avernum games – the beginning is tough on higher difficulties, but it starts getting easier the further on you get, particularly if you're being meticulous about going through quests. As you get into the regions, you start having more and more energy to play with, and that makes energy management quite a bit easier. You'll start getting potions to recover your energy at a pinch. The dungeons don't grow too much in size until much later in the game, and then you'll have so much energy that you don't need to worry too much.

 

In my experience, combat opens up and becomes less stressful not too much further on from where you are. If you can keep at it, you might just find a rewarding story and game experience waiting for you ...

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While Jeff made it so it's better to do a dungeon in one go, until you reach the Ahriel Thicket, you don't have to do it that way. If you can stand replaying the initial fight a few times you can do them in sections where you clear out the sides for loot and return to work your way to the boss fight. Since you know what the first few fights are like you can manage your energy better to have more for later on in the deeper parts.

 

The first mystery is finding out about what caused the Calamity and the Fort Haven sage send you to find information on it. Unfortunately it takes most of the game before you get any useful information.

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Re Combat:
So walk away and come back later? For Energy (on Normal, at any rate) I find keeping a reserve of about 50% works well. If I start getting to zero, I consider running away. Also, you know if you die you just pop back up at Fort Haven?

 

You will struggle more for energy in the early game. I recommend lots of ranged weapons focus firing.

 

Re Plot:
You feel a mysterious curse which drove your forces out of the colony isn't a mystery? What was that Curse and how can you prevent it happening again? Talk to the sage upstairs in Fort Haven and he sends you on quests to figure it out. There's also the issue of "what do I have to do to get these vassals back in line."

 

Re Overall:
You're really not very far in, and haven't gotten to appreciate much of the plot or story. The bit of game you're describing is maybe the first 5%? If that? I'd go further and see what you think.

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2 hours ago, Simulated Knave said:

You feel a mysterious curse which drove your forces out of the colony isn't a mystery?

No, not particularly, and here's why. As I understand it, the Calamity happened forever ago, and everybody just kind of accepted that something bad happened. There's like one loony sage who cares about what it was, but it's history, not a current event. Your main task doesn't even relate to that, at least not in the early game.

 

Compare that to, say, the barriers in Avernum 2. They just happened, they're totally screwing with everything, and your central mission is to deal with them.

 

Anyway, for what it's worth, I'm continuing.I made it into the Vol, but it seems like I may have done it prematurely, so I'm backing out and doing some of the quests nearer to Fort Haven first. I feel like I'm just grinding; nothing has grabbed my attention yet. 

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The barriers in E/A 2 are, IMO, one of the best plot devices I've ever seen in a video game, motivating and mysterious and powerful but also full of nuance, affecting the world in organic, human-level ways.  So while I can't disagree with the comparison, I think that's a high bar.

 

I was initially surprised to see this commentary from you, Kel, but the more I remember your design sensibilities (in Blades scenarios, and also on the old Exile vs Avernum question), maybe it makes sense.  (OTOH, I consider your stuff the pinnacle of BoA, and I am also loving QW, so I dunno.)

 

It does seem to me that a lot of the reactions to this game (whether postiive or negative) are driven by personal preference about RPG design questions that do not have one correct answer.  It feels a bit more like reactions to Blades scenarios where people get excited/angry because a scenario is perfectly/too rollicky or gritty for their tastes -- that sort of thing -- and then write a review that says "this is an amazing/terrible scenario."

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2 hours ago, Last Electorine of Haven said:

It does seem to me that a lot of the reactions to this game (whether postiive or negative) are driven by personal preference about RPG design questions that do not have one correct answer.

That's almost certainly true. All I mean to say is that, so far, I don't like this game at all. That doesn't mean it's a bad game, just that I am not enjoying it at all.

 

But I'm still going, just to see if anything picks up. I've played every other one of Jeff's games, and I've liked every other one of Jeff's games (most of them a lot). I'm as surprised as anyone else that I don't like this yet.

 

I've been going back and forth on dropping the difficulty to Normal, but I really don't think that's the problem, so I haven't done it yet.

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Perhaps it's my paranoia or my metagame thinking, but when I hear about a mysterious curse that drove people out, I assume it may come back and try to figure out what happened.

 

Honestly, I immediately assumed that a powerful evil curse would come back if I started having success and considered figuring it out a priority.

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2 hours ago, Kelandon said:

I've been going back and forth on dropping the difficulty to Normal, but I really don't think that's the problem, so I haven't done it yet.

 

Good to hear that you're keeping going for the moment. Hooray!

 

I'd like to try and encourage you to stick with Veteran for now, if it's tolerable. I believe your approach to Spiderweb games is fairly similar to mine and, if I'm right on that front, Normal will become a touch too easy for you before too long – even if it doesn't seem like that now! If you keep pushing against the wall, you should start making some decent headway pretty soon.

 

13 hours ago, Kelandon said:

Anyway, for what it's worth, I'm continuing.I made it into the Vol, but it seems like I may have done it prematurely, so I'm backing out and doing some of the quests nearer to Fort Haven first.

 

In case this is helpful, here's some insight from Jeff on this point. The first sections of each region were designed to be accessible to people who ploughed their way pretty much straight there, only doing a few of the quests in central Sacramentum. The regions might seem daunting when you first reach them, but they're not as bad as they first appear. In particular, with the exception of the Ahriel Woods again, all fights are clearly and helpfully telegraphed; it will be pretty clear what you're getting in to at any point. Don't be afraid to go exploring when you first go into a region – you won't be wiped off the map for doing so. There are interesting people to talk to, and introductions to the problems you'll be dealing with. This is the case in The Vol too, even if it seems like it shouldn't be. The armies both want to gain your support, so don't expect them to attack you right away. I had exactly the same reaction to you when I entered The Vol, by way – but it's unwarranted!

 

Still, if you go ahead and finish up central Sacramentum first, you'll be at a higher level than intended when you enter the regions fully. From a combat perspective, it will make your life much easier!

 

I mention this mainly because of my earlier suggestion. If you head towards that location, you'll get a standard Spiderweb warning message, mentioning that the fights in the region are scary and difficult. Don't be put off by that! It's just to ward off people who steamrolled straight into the regions. If you've finished central Sacramentum, you should be more than capable of dealing with the fights there. If you need further encouragement, here's a mechanics-level spoiler (no plot spoilers here!):

 

Spoiler

To reach the location, you'll only need to fight one outdoor encounter. It might be a little tough, but you'll get there with full energy and know exactly what you're dealing with – so you don't need to be stingy! Give them everything you've got!

 

Also, on the subject of game mysteries, I do feel that this game is structured a little differently than some others. There are little and medium-sized mysteries scattered through the regions, ones that the player will naturally stumble across. These are nice, and pick up the pace of the plot after the early game, where the player's motivations are fairly simple. There's also a really nice overarching mystery, the clues of which you'll pick up over the course of the game.

 

In a sense, you could think of central Sacramentum as big, meaty tutorial. The real fruits of the game, though, are out in the regions themselves. They're worth finding!

 

5 hours ago, Last Tangerine of Navel said:

I consider your stuff the pinnacle of BoA ...

 

Taken completely out of context, and in no way relating to the rest of the discussion, but hear, hear!

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I'm sorry you don't like the game. I can't convince you to like a game you don't like. I can say why I did what I did.

 

"The "you have to complete a dungeon on one run" change is obnoxious. I always found the "jump down a hole and you're trapped and can't get out the way you came" dungeons to be the most stressful, and now every dungeon is like that."

 

I want the game to stress you out.

 

Queen's Wish operates on a Darkest DUngeon/Into the Breach principle where the enemy dungeon is a puzzle you need to solve. You're supposed to always feel anxious and like you need to be careful and pay attention and be a little lucky, but still almost always win. It is VERY carefully balanced.

 

However, the difficulty level you choose matters a lot more than in the other games. Veteran is really quite difficult for most people. (Though I have gotten complaints it's too easy.)

 

"It seems like the plot kind of sucks. "

 

I love it. I love this world and these characters. They are a blast to write. I love the sort of quandaries the game gives you. Queens Wish 2 and 3 will be a lot more of the same.

 

"When I saw what happens when creatures die, I rolled my eyes."

 

This was one of the very first ideas I got when designing the game. It was meant to be reminiscent of a tabletop RPG. I love this effect and every time I see it I smile.

 

Hope you like Geneforge more.

 

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11 minutes ago, Spidweb said:

"When I saw what happens when creatures die, I rolled my eyes."

 

This was one of the very first ideas I got when designing the game. It was meant to be reminiscent of a tabletop RPG. I love this effect and every time I see it I smile.

 

I love the way creatures move during combat. Every time I see one hopping from square to square I smile.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/23/2019 at 2:06 AM, Kelandon said:

That's almost certainly true. All I mean to say is that, so far, I don't like this game at all. That doesn't mean it's a bad game, just that I am not enjoying it at all.

 

But I'm still going, just to see if anything picks up. I've played every other one of Jeff's games, and I've liked every other one of Jeff's games (most of them a lot). I'm as surprised as anyone else that I don't like this yet.

 

I've been going back and forth on dropping the difficulty to Normal, but I really don't think that's the problem, so I haven't done it yet.

 

It's been a while, have you played more, or finished the game yet? If so please share your current opinion, I'm curious if it has changed at all, because I had the same problems with QW as you. I'm wondering if it's worth going back to the game for the story at least.

Edited by Cruiser
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I would not recommend playing on anything above normal unless you want the tactical challenge that comes with the higher difficulties. I started the game on Veteran, but switched to Torment after Sutter's spiders and the first few raiders felt too weak. To conserve health and energy, a challenge I find wonderfully refreshing, you will need to consider all combats carefully and use tactics like hitting the foe with missile weapons while retreating to maximize damage and minimizing hostile contact and the subsequent drain on your limited resources (this particular tactic is extremely effective, possibly too effective, against enemies without ranged attacks). You can also maximize your speed with augments (even the 4% ones make a huge difference) and daggers, though I have limited myself to only using skills and items with speed bonuses, because the augments and daggers were making Torment too much of a walkover. Then there's summoning and charming, which can completely distract your enemies, allowing you to deal with them piecemeal.

 

As for the narrative, it is very different from previous Spiderweb games because you are no longer a lone adventurer or a single agent on a mission, but an actual political leader and powerplayer, albeit a junior one at the moment, with goals and ambitions to match. You frequently have to make political decisions rather than merely moral ones, and your moral decisions have an outsized impact. It simply requires a different roleplaying mentality than previous Spiderweb games, and most computer roleplaying games for that matter, and once again, I find that I like it and that the narrative and the different story branches are very well written.

 

And as for the graphics, you could try playing Realmz for a while (it should be available on the web somewhere) and see if that helps you feel better about Queen's Wish. If nothing else, Realmz can be pretty fun too (or at least it was, if you grew up in the 90s with only a PowerMac that couldn't even run Diablo I properly, let alone Baldur's Gate).

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16 hours ago, Cruiser said:

It's been a while, have you played more, or finished the game yet? If so please share your current opinion, I'm curious if it has changed at all, because I had the same problems with QW as you. I'm wondering if it's worth going back to the game for the story at least.

I played a little more, but I never got anywhere interesting, and I gave up. I'm sure there's something good here, but I just can't get myself to care long enough to slog through the stuff that I find boring to get to whatever I might be interested in. I can't stand the combat system and I dislike the graphics, so even if the plot picks up, it's hard to imagine liking this game.

 

FWIW, I had the same reaction to Planescape: Torment, so this isn't necessarily to say that the game is bad, just that it's not one that I want to put time into. I may come back later, the way I did with GF4. I'm less confident about coming back to Queen's Wish, though, because my issues with QW are not at all like my issues with GF4. I never came back to P:T.

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I've finished the game twice. My problem is the opposite of Kelandon's. I don't want to end the game. It's so open-ended that I don't really want to start over. For at least a week in RW-time I have been walking around the map re-visiting places I've already been to see if the mine or the prison has been restaffed or repopulated, or finding things I didn't kill the first time and killing them. My resources are all maxed. I keep watching the endgame and then reloading to just before I enter the portal, and walking around again some more. I built a library in Fort Haven. I suppose this is an odd problem. Two years until QW2 seems like a really long time. I think what I'd like right now is a character editor like in A5, so I can play around with different ability combinations and see how they work out.

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1 minute ago, madrigan said:

 I think what I'd like right now is a character editor like in A5, so I can play around with different ability combinations and see how they work out.

 

Are there any non-customizable abilities in Queen's Wish?

 

PS: Aside from special bonuses like from the Nisse dreams.

Edited by Minion
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40 minutes ago, Minion said:

 

Are there any non-customizable abilities in Queen's Wish?

 

PS: Aside from special bonuses like from the Nisse dreams.

 

What I mean is, I'd like the option of having all my skill points available at the start of a game, so I can play around with the combinations immediately instead of gradually. Sometimes it is fun to play that way. In A5, if I recall, the character editor lets you do anything to any ability but does not let you increase your actual character level or add gear. But as you know, in QW most of the best gear is purchased in your own forts.

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