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About Althernai

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    (5) Thaumaturgist


  • Pillars of Eternity Backer Badge
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  1. I don't think magical items were that scarce even in BG1. From memory, right at the beginning, there was a Ring of Wizardry that gave a significant bonus to spell slots and very slightly later on (at the gnoll village), there were the Gauntlets of Dexterity which, if given to a character with average Dexterity, amounted to a massive bonus to both Armor Class and ranged attack. If those gauntlets exist in, for example, Pillars of Eternity, they would be an endgame item (which is part of the reason PoE was not as good as the BG series). And of course BG2 kicked this up several notches. There were several good items even in Chateau Irenicus and once you got out into Chapter 2, there was all kinds of totally awesome stuff the likes of which simply isn't found in modern, balance-obsessed games. I think if Larian structures the loot distribution as it was done in the BG series, this would be a good thing.
  2. This is true, but the drawback of being part of such a large corporation is that you're at the mercy of some rather fickle forces to which you just aren't that important. Microsoft has a few products at the heart of its business (Windows, Office, Azure and to some extent hardware such as XBox and Surface) and the total revenue of stuff like RPGs is basically a rounding error compared to those. Today's executives may have a plan for Obsidian and inXile, but a couple of years from now, there might be a new set that wants to focus on something else and sees cutting RPGs as an easy way to get money for whatever it is they're interested in.
  3. It's an interesting question, but keep in mind that this is not relevant for gaming on your local hardware and is not likely to become so anytime in the near future. Here's a slightly more technical article on the DotA2 bots: If you follow the link in the quote, it will take you to a site with detailed descriptions of the hardware where it can be found that in addition to the 128,000 CPU cores, they also used 256 GPUs (Nvidia P100s). So yes, the AI can beat humans... but it requires a decent-sized server farm to do so. Unless you play at a high enough level to get into e-sports, it will be years or perhaps even decades before you can personally play against this level of AI. What it might do (as AlphaGo did for Go to some extent) is teach human beings that some tricks are more useful than they were previously known to be and thus change play styles.
  4. I agree with you regarding the state of the two games, but I disagree about the desirability of one compared to the other. Part of what made BG2 great was that its classes spanned a broad range of the passive to active ability spectrum. That is, it went from the Fighter, who could be played almost entirely by mere target selection, to the slightly more active Barbarian, Ranger and Paladin and all the way up to the Mage and Sorcerer who were pretty much useless when not being actively managed by the player. This introduced an additional difference between the classes and, more importantly, made it viable to have more companions in the party without slowing the combat down to a crawl. Note that with the exception of the original PoE, most non-Infinity Engine games of this nature (including Deadfire) have fewer companions.
  5. I don't think the issue is that BG2 had a better story, but rather that it did not take itself seriously. It made no secret of the fact that it was an archetypal heroic adventure and its characters were cliches with a few humanizing twists here and there. In fact, a lot of its humor came from lampshading this and making fun of itself and the conventions of the genre (sometimes even breaking the fourth wall in the process). Later games (Pillars of Eternity, but also, say, Dragon Age) do not do this or at least no nearly to the same extent and, for the most part, their stories and characters are not good enough to work without it. Regarding bosses and cheese: there is a heavy bit of irony here. BG2 cheese is plentiful and famous mostly because a significant number of people played BG2 many times. Except for the kind of person who thoroughly spoils a game before playing, the first time one played BG2, the cheese employed was fairly minimal -- a given person might find a few tricks, but not that many. It's only when replaying it and going to the forums (of which BG2 had many) that one would discover the full range of available cheese and the more people played, the more was discovered. Why is this ironic? Well, PoE was undoubtedly designed to be more cheese resistant and generally more replayable... but it doesn't matter because far fewer people want to play it even twice. It's pretty bizarre, really: PoE was made with replayability in mind and BG2 was not, but I played BG2 at least a dozen times (probably closer to twenty) whereas my second playthrough of PoE didn't get past the first chapter. Thus far, Deadfire is roughly as appealing as its predecessor (I haven't even finished it yet because I'm waiting for Obsidian to decide on what rules they want to use before I get too far in).
  6. Interesting. This doesn't look like an RPG in the same style as the others, but I guess it could work depending on the extent of the story elements. I'll give it a try. Looks like there are a lot of people who like Shadowrun here. I agree that they are good games (in fact, good enough for me to back Battletech without ever being into MechWarrior games before), but they didn't strike me as that good. Maybe I'll take another look one of these days.
  7. I recently got a new laptop and have been playing through the list of Kickstarter RPGs that I either backed or otherwise acquired (usually by backing a related game). I'm mostly done with the ones I have and some of them are better than others (though none are terrible). My ranked list is below. Does anyone know of similar ones which are good or have an opinion on these? 1) Divinity: Original Sin (Enhanced Edition). This is the best of the lot and it's not all that close. It's not the first to try incorporating environmental effects in combat (e.g. an oil surface hit with fire will ignite and water will put the fire out), but it has the best rendition of this that I've seen so far. The combat is turn-based, but it never feels slow or repetitive; the encounter design is very good and the skills of the party are varied. The story is fine and the companions are similar in style to Baldur's Gate 2 (i.e. they occasionally talk to each and the player as well as have a personal quest) although there aren't many of them. The production values are also very high: it's fully voiced, 3D (i.e. you can rotate the camera) and looks and runs great at 4K resolution and maxed out video settings on a measly GTX 1050. I have a few nitpicks (e.g. inventory management), but honestly, this is the best game I've played in years. 2-3) Pillars of Eternity. I think almost everyone on this forum is familiar with this one so I won't go into too much detail about. It's in the style of the Infinity Engine games and does a pretty good job of reinventing the latter... except that it has an unhealthy obsessions with MMO-style "balance". A good game, but quite some distance from being a great one. 2-3) Shadowrun Returns (Dead Man's Switch, Dragonfall, Hong Kong). I'm being lazy by lumping them together since Dragonfall is arguably better than Hong Kong and both are better than the original. The setting is a mix of cyberpunk, magic and and the humanoid races based on Tolkien. The turn-based combat and other conflict resolution mechanics are pretty good, but not revolutionary. The story and characters vary from decent to very good depending on the episode. I can't quite make up my mind whether it is better than PoE (hence the tied ranking) -- despite being quite different from each other, they share the quality of being good, but not great. 4) Torment: Tides of Numenera. The drawback of experimentation is that sometimes new ideas don't work out. T:ToN is extremely verbose, but I would not say that this helps it develop a better story or (with perhaps an exception or two) more memorable characters than any of the three games listed above. The idea of the setting is very good, but part of it was not implemented as promised by the Kickstarter and in general the whole thing doesn't feel finished. The combat is turn-based and not very good; the game's saving grace is that it is very rarely necessary. I'm kind of hoping that they do an "enhanced edition" of some sort because the game has potential, but it just isn't realized. 5) Wasteland 2. Another turn-based Unity game. To be fair, I haven't played its "Director's Cut" so maybe they improved it somewhat, but the original was not compelling enough for me to play it again. Four of the party slots are taken up by one's own characters so there is less room for companions with dialog. The combat is better than T:ToN, but worse than the other games above and unlike T:ToN, there's a whole lot of it that cannot be avoided. It's not a bad game, but not really my cup of tea. 6) Lords of Xulima. Everything that is bad about Wasteland 2 is worse here: tedious turn-based combat, minimal characterization and a relatively thin story. It also comes with a unique, but utterly generic fantasy setting. Meh.
  8. The long loading times in PoE were specific to certain configurations and mostly independent of how powerful the hardware was. I ran into them with a pretty good SSD, a relatively new quad-core CPU and a fairly decent GPU; they persisted until one of the patches did something about them. The Core 2 Duo E7400 in the original post is really old and probably not officially supported by anything any more, but given that CPU improvement has greatly slowed (Core 2 was the last big change and Sandy Bridge was the last medium one), it might still work.
  9. Vancian casting has always had an uneasy relationship with CRPGs. Systems that used it either had to accept that some players would just rest all of the time and thereby make the game too easy or come up with progressively more convoluted (and usually more contrived) means of limiting rest which never really worked. Thus, I'm not too sad to see it go. However... getting rid of it does have the potential to homogenize the classes somewhat: if all spells are per-encounter now, they're probably going to be nerfed accordingly. I don't want a game where there is little to no difference between spellcasters and warriors (i.e. where each has a set of per-encounter powers with per-rest boosts and the only difference is in the names, animations and perhaps function groups such as "ranged area-of-attack").
  10. Indeed. SWTOR did a lot of things right, but sometimes they were undermined by MMO conventions and sometimes they just inexplicably did not follow through (probably because whoever was working on it ran out of time). It's really frustrating because about 80% of the work for a great game is there, but there's no way its potential will ever be realized. Also, the stuff about Revan and the Exile is just annoying. KotOR I and II went out of their ways to provide some relatively different endings depending on the player's choices only for this one to collapse all of that down to one rather stupid continuation. I'm just going to ignore it.
  11. While PoE certainly does surpass BG2 in balance, I don't think that makes it a better game. It would be one thing if they came up with something brilliant and new which allowed them to have balance and player rewards at the same time, but they only achieved the former by sacrificing the latter and on the whole the outcome was worse. The same goes with aiming at serious drama rather than self-aware humor (although that is certainly a topic for another thread). That said, PoE does fix a lot of the problems in the BG series, especially at low levels. The idea to add per-encounter abilities (e.g. Arcane Assault) to Vancian casters was a good one.
  12. I disagree. There's no evidence that a well-designed game needs to be balanced beyond eschewing the corner cases. For example, consider Baldur's Gate 2 which had an average of at least one completely unbalanced spell or ability per class (some had more, a few had many more.. and you could combine them) as well as items which ranged from severely unbalanced to stuff which modern, MMO-influenced gamers would be unlikely to believe could be in a mainstream game. Despite this, BG2 was, in my opinion (and, if you don't trust that, also according to Metacritic), a better game than PoE. You are not wrong about balance, overpowered and underpowered classes and all the rest, but all of this has to be balanced ( ) against other considerations. Consider, for instance, how the player is rewarded for accomplishments. In the most balanced games (usually MMOs), they get a perfectly balanced reward consisting of something slightly better than what they had. This results in a treadmill: in the N-th area N-th level characters can find +N equipment and monsters of N-th level with +N stats so the game feels more or less the same throughout and the rewards are effectively meaningless. To be fair, PoE is not quite at that stage: it has a substantial number of unique items and some of them are even significantly more powerful than others (or at least that was the case when I last played -- from the patch notes it looks like there were some nerfs). However, it is not nearly as rewarding a game as BG2; balance is always the priority over giving the player something truly awesome. The same goes for the character progression: the initial version of the game had one outlier in making lower spell levels per encounter, but they nerfed that too. The same problem afflicts the implementation of Vancian casting. On the one hand, balance demands that such casters somehow be useful despite being per-rest, but on the other, it also demands that they not trivialize boss encounters. The game mostly makes this work... but is the result as fun as the old games which gave the player extremely powerful spells? In my opinion, no, it is not even close.
  13. The Consortium campaign is doing much better on Fig than it did on Kickstarter -- it has collected as much money in a few days as it had during the entirety of the failed Kickstarter.
  14. That is true, but it's not about the absolute amount, it's about the trend. I've seen a variety of Kickstarter projects. Project Eternity went about as well as such a thing can go: it hit the goal within a day or two of the beginning, then there was a slow decline in contributions up until near the end of the project at which point it picked up close to (but not quite) the same amount as in the beginning. There are quite a few such projects, usually by famous companies or individuals. Less famous projects which are still successful usually either trend towards the goal linearly or pick up a substantial amount (around half) in the beginning, then experience the same slowdown (adjusted for the fact that they started lower) as Project Eternity and then reach the goal and then some on the final spike. Consortium: The Tower doesn't satisfy any of these -- it's only a third of the way to the goal after more than three quarters of the allotted time. I'm not saying it can't get there, but there needs to be some game-changer for that to happen. In any case, I've backed Consortium: The Tower and also Planet Nomads, mainly because I think the latter would make a good test case for a VR rig which I plan to set up by the time it is released.
  15. Thanks for the link. I'll try it, but given that the sequel has raised less than a third of the goal with only a week to go, I kind of doubt they'll get anywhere whether I back them or not.
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