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Posts posted by Emeraude

  1. The poll offers a pretty narrow and limited overview as it is stated, sadly.


    I'm willing to bet Baldur's Gate is first right now because it offers the most complete package, though each and every elements that compose it, taken on their own, would probably be deemed inferior by many - if not most - when compared with other games from the list. It doesn't have the best combat, user interface, dungeons, gaming implementations of narrative elements, script, or writing, but it does everything well enough and it does *all of it* well enough.


    My personal favorite dream version of P:E would probably be at the intersection of ToEE, P:T and IWD2 more than Baldur's Gate 2 taken on its own. But s a finished product, Baldur's Gate is probably the closest to what I hope P:E will be.


    If I make sense.

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  2. I find the game suffers from a design standpoint of its merging action/twitch-reflex-centered and RPG/stats-management gameplay.


    The first problem created by this is the difficulty curve: it only goes down (which kind of makes sense contextually if you're doing a rookie run, or had Obsidian been able to keep their original storyline - Mr Thornton 's getting better at the spy thing). The more you play, the less challenging the game will be.


    In a "pure" RPG, the growth in skills - stats and verbs - from the main character(s) can be matched by the opposition to create more interesting challenges. Not so much here, the action gameplay doesn't lend itself well to that (its demands and implications are different, which I'd boil down mostly to better AI and more challenging level design i.e not addition of elements, but more creative use of those already established), especially given the context of the story it tries to convey. If anything, the skill system had the reverse effect: it kept the challenges down. To the point that, say, if you liked one of the mini-games and wished to keep it interesting/challenging - relevant in itself from a gameplay standpoint, the only somewhat counter-intuitive solution was to *not* invest skill points in its related field.

    I guess this was all meant, design-wise, to go with the "there are no bad choice" stand of the game - which is a good position to design from if not taken too literally. But all of this is just overkill, especially when you add that the game was designed from the get go to allow players who don't like certain elements to simply bypass them (don't want to play those hacking mini-games ? Invest in grenades).


    The game clearly had balancing issues between the different skill-sets presented too, which didn't help. There were some "bad" choices. At least some less rewarding ones.


    It's the only game I know thus far that has justified the use of the dreaded "Wheel-of-choice" from a design standpoint. And made it work somewhat decently too, despite some problems. The time limit - though I'm no fan of it - generates tension and contributes in giving conversation the feel of reactive battles of wits (as opposed to, say, a game like Torment, where choices feel more like properly contextualizing your character).


    Talking of choices, the game's reactivity to those - its main selling point - is jaw-dropping. I'm at my tenth play-through, and am *still* finding new elements that changes from little details (and the attention to details and getting them right is refreshing if anything) along the storyline to complete ways to resolve plot lines. The amount of work that must have gone into this is staggering.


    The writing is good - at its worse competent with some moments of brilliance. Obsidian once again proves they're probably the only developer in the industry right now who knows how to write psychopaths, as opposed to villains.


    Last point, I kept earring about how the game was buggy on release, and the volume of complaints itself is enough to convince me there's some validity to it. But out of the dozens of people I personally know who've played the game, none meet any real problem past that sad embassy killing bug. I any way, I can't seem to understand how Gamebryo games can get a free pass from the gaming press while a game like AP couldn't - all being rather ambitious in scope, though not in the same perspective, should get the same leeway.


    All in all, good game, with enlightening failings. Well worth playing if you are into RPGs.

  3. I immediately upped my pledge by $20 just on the notion that we'd get some live instrumentation at $4Mil. I'm not rich. Yeah, it's not like I live hand to mouth, but the money I pledge *will* mean money I can't spend elsewhere, so I want to make it count for something. This is one case, and maybe the only one, where I will say authoritatively that a lot of the players say one thing, but it's not really true. Good music can make a game. It is becoming more vital, not less. I stopped pestering about live music because I got the impression that maybe it would be better to let the matter drop, but it has never stopped being an issue for me and I am extremely happy at the prospect of live music, not necessarily because the synthesized music would be bad. I'm sure it will be used extensively and well throughout the project, but because dedicating the funds and time, even modestly, to live instrumentation shows that Obsidian is taking the music seriously.


    Again, I resent the idea that not wanting live instrumentation equates not caring about music (which was coded in the very questions of the poll, no "No, it will detract from the overall quality of the music of the game" option there).And again, glad for you all who are getting what you wanted. Hopefully we all end up satisfied by the end product.

  4. It doesn't have to be about gameplay or decoding little messages. It's just about building a world that's different from our own, that in all probability would have a different language, or obviously languages, than our own.


    If it brings nothing to gameplay, and/or doesn't feed and inform the narrative, then I would be inclined to fill it in the cheap exoticism folder myself.


    To each his own I guess.


    Hmm if you say so. It builds the world. That adds a lot to gameplay in the sense of making it more believable and interesting. Yes, inventing a language is cheap exoticism. :blink:


    If they do not inform gameplay and narrative, or do not have the implications they raise explored, those languages are insignificant - What do they bring then but local color ? I understand how it can be aesthetically pleasing, the appearance of other languages, and the knowledge of the - proper - craft that went in them. I'm not indifferent to it. But as long as they are not designed to mean anything beside their very own existence, yes I do think it is cheap (or actually, expensive) exoticism.

  5. It doesn't have to be about gameplay or decoding little messages. It's just about building a world that's different from our own, that in all probability would have a different language, or obviously languages, than our own.


    If it brings nothing to gameplay, and/or doesn't feed and inform the narrative, then I would be inclined to fill it in the cheap exoticism folder myself.


    To each his own I guess.

  6. I don't know, as a linguist myself, I tend to be ambivalent on the whole idea.


    While it can be incredibly fun as a side aspect (decoding that made up notation system in FFXII and seeing the message displayed by traps was smirk inducing), it also tends to be really shallow in how it ties to the game and choice mechanics - overall it makes for good easter eggs, but is rarely used in ways that provide actual depth.


    I find the current onomastic approach of the game map, where the etymological name of mostly each place is displayed in English to be blunt but satisfactory (if it is indeed the intent, I may have misunderstood).


    Not that I would mind to see explored, say, the civilizational impact of various politeness systems in transcultural negotiations: what happens when you confront a people whose whole social miens are grammatically coded and implied to one where it <i>needs</i> to be expressed, either lexically or by using a secondary coding (say, clothing colors) ?

    That is if (and it's a big if) you can do that without falling into the trappings of cheap exoticism.

  7. Wow check that out! That's VERY old school.


    I'm such a sucker for old synths...


    On the Arcanum front: while I think the string quartet was a great idea, beautifully executed, which fit the game to a t, I did end up thinking its voluntary lack of breadth hurt it a bit in the end. Not to mention, it was probably too involved/involving for what it is supposed to be - I tend to find it works better on its own than as a part of the whole (one of my percussionist friends want to strangle "whoever thought it was a good idea" though... to each his own).


    As for that weird jRPG divide... Isn't great music great music, no matter ts origin ? Is Sakimoto's music diminished by your not liking FFXII (let's not talk about the compression) ?


    Count me in the camp of people that just cannot get the appeal the narrator/music of Bastion seem to have for some people... found it jarringly intrusive at best - and for no particular benefit.


    Oh, and if anything, all those Nier extracts comfort me in my opinion that the access to live instrumentation and better quality of sound actually hurt video game music in general (though it did wonders in some particular cases) - more isn't always better, and there was a sketchiness to older game music that matched the higher graphical abstraction of those, and I find was often more fitting.

  8. You also have to make compromises with pre-renders; it becomes almost impossible to do dynamic lighting and shadowing; it is very difficult to represent depth convincingly with the orthographic projections they use; every animation has to be isolated' date=' looped and pre-baked which makes it much harder to get good-looking stuff that moves like water, foliage, clouds, haze, etc., leading to unnaturally static scenes. I think at the point we're at today, we get better-looking graphics, with more detail and artistic freedom, by going with a real-time than a pre-rendered approach: plus of course we get camera freedom and resolution independence.[/quote']


    The problem I have with your argument is that you seem to assume that some of these things are inherently better because they are better from a technical standpoint.


    There is a lot to be said about the power of well conceived static screens being actually more involving for erring more on the side of abstraction rather than representation, which brings tighter control of affects and pathos.

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