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I just saw the Spiderweb Software GDC talk the other day which was really good and got me interested in the developer! I am an aspiring developer myself and a big fan of CRPGs but only got into them relatively recently so I didn’t know much about Spiderweb, apart from having Avernum 3 on Steam (probably from Humble Bundle).

 

But I would really like to try their games and I was wondering what would be a good first game to start with?

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You'll probably get a bunch of different answers from different people on this. I don't feel I can properly answer this, but I can share how I got into the games. I started with the original Avernum, when I bought the bundle on GoG. If you can deal with the UI it is a great game. The Avernum 1 remake could also be a good starting spot. Or Avadon, or even the recent Geneforge: Mutagen. Again, a hard question for me to answer.

Edited by Chopkinsca
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Jeff's first game waaaay back when was Exile.  That was remade 20ish years ago into Avernum which in turn was remade a few years ago into Avernum: Escape from the Pit.  So there's a long history with that game universe (generally known as Avernum - of which there are six games/chapters in the story).  Geneforge (remake of #1 just came out a few weeks ago) has 5 games/chapters.  Avadon has 3.  Queen's Wish was a new story that came out about a year ago, at least a trilogy is planned there & #2 will be the next game released by SW.  Then there's the stand alone game Nethergate set in ancient England when magic was still around (which is actually two games as you can play both the Romans & Celts). Each are in their own unique universe with different back stories/game play.  Each are very well done & each game has 60-100ish hours of playtime (so you'll be getting your money's worth even at full retail - there are usually bundles on sale at Steam or GOG every month or so...).

 

My favorite is Avernum, but that's me.  Best suggestion that I have is go to SW's site (link at top of the page) & download demos for each of the games (most demos have at least 10-20 hours of play time so you should get a real good feel for things).  They all are good/great/interesting in their own way, but which one is best for you?  That's up to you to figure out.

 

Enjoy the journey.  If you do want to be a developer, there's a lot you can learn about many aspects by playing the games.  Not so much the programming end, but the world building, character development (or when to leave things a mystery), where & when to make things amusing/serious/confusing/etc, resource & inventory management, monster strength/balance with player's level, etc.  You've stumbled upon something special, enjoy it.

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I'd say that the recently-launched Geneforge 1: Mutagen is the best place to start. It's an excellent game, well-written, and a good introduction to its fictional universe, and Geneforge is Spiderweb's most unique, distinctive franchise, in terms of both worldbuilding (high sci-fantasy with philosophical concerns) and mechanically (a very detailed and involved summoning system, basically).

 

Queen's Wish: The Conqueror would be another good starting point- it's a very good game- although it's less typical of Spiderweb's games overall, in ways both large and small, and thus maybe not the best introduction to Spiderweb's games (it adds a base-building element not present in any other Spiderweb game, and its party/character-building, inventory, dungeon-delving, etc design elements are all also atypical).

 

The Exile/Avernum games are a well-loved series of more straightforward (but still offbeat and idiosyncratic) high fantasy RPGs, but it's trickier to recommend them to a newcomer. The original Exile 1-3 are very, very dated, and require jiggering to get running on modern systems; the original Avernum 1-3 remakes (titled just "Avernum 1-3") are good, but somewhat dated (they run on modern Windows, basically, but lack many small QoL conveniences in a way that can be intimidating if you aren't used to old-school CRPGs of that sort); and the more modern Avernum re-remakes (titled "Avernum 1: Escape from the Pit," "Avernum 2: Crystal Souls," and "Avernum 3: Ruined World") have modern niceties like changable screen resolution and achievements, along with plenty of modern QoL changes, but design-wise they are very very bland as RPGs, and lose some of the flavor of their ancestors.

Edited by googoogjoob
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Without more details on what types of games you like, it is hard to make a good recommendation.  I personally would suggest starting with either A:EFTP or Avadon 1.  They are both modern enough to not be annoying and represent two similar, but different, approaches to RPG development with A:EFTP being substantially more open than Avadon.  In either case, both of these games are closer to the traditional swords and sorcery, explore, kill things and profit, standard.

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Mechalibur's point about Queen's Wish being more forgiving is probably one of the key points. All of Jeff's games allow you a lot of choice on how your character's skill's and abilities evolve as they gain experience. But, the games are challenging. So, it's totally possible to build a character that is not up facing the final challenges of the game. Queen's Wish lets you reassign experience points. The Avernum series is probably the most difficult in that respect. It has a very complicated advancement system and you might have to play the first game through a couple of times (and consult these forums) before you can build a character that can finish the toughest goals.

 

All of Spiderweb's games are great games, though. You can't really go wrong. Pros and Cons in a nutshell:

  • Geneforge: most interesting world and unique play (if you play as a shaper) by far. My personal favorite... so no cons  🙂
  • Avadon: This is the one that got me hooked. It has the most developed NPCs of all Spiderweb's Games and a really engaging story line. But, the series leans more toward telling you a story and feels less like a completely open world than Spiderweb's other games.
  • Avernum: Very, very traditional fantasy RPG. Possibly the best games if you want to scratch that itch for a traditional RPG and great fun overall. But, the current versions of the first trilogy are remakes of games Jeff did many years ago. They sometimes feel a bit like the product of a young writer doing somewhat derivative work (though the setting is pretty original and well thought out). And, for that reason, maybe not the best place to get a feel for Spiderweb's unique style.
  • Queen's Wish: Also a very traditional RPG, but has a little base building, a few really well developed supporting cast members, and overall feels like the product of a much more mature writer. Can't think of any cons about this one either.
Edited by stilltim
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While I am certainly biased towards the traditional RPG and the Avernum series, I do not feel that it is as hard as stilltim has laid out.  Build matters in Avadon, Avernum ad Queen's Wish as well (I have not played Geneforge).  It seems like a lot of the complaints in the forums over the years on Avernum's difficulty level have been by people playing on one of the two harder difficulty levels.  The answer is simple, play on normal or casual. Your party does not need to be nearly as optimized on those levels and the whole point is to have fun.

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Thanks to all for taking your time to respond! They have given me a good overview on what people think about the different games and a general understanding what they are all about! I am leaning towards Queen’s Wish at the moment but if I can manage to get into that I will most likely play more of them!

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