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Everything posted by eschaton

  1. Not really. Moving away from HP, or at least gaining them upon levels, doesn't mean you couldn't have room for other stats. As I said, as one levels up, you could take ranks in dodge, parry, or combat conditioning, which would make you harder to hit and perform better in combat if you sustain a non-mortal injury. I have to admit, I do not like how stat systems have been utilized in general. Most game models either have stats be essentially static (minus a few in-game boosts) across your entire play experience, or add a few points each level. Neither one is fully accurate, because a person can go to the gym and buff up their strength, but intelligence is essentially immutable (unless you get brain damage or something). I'm not completely sure what the best answer here would be - perhaps simply renaming the stats so they more accurately portrayed the range of base capabilities of your character, and using feats/skills to further modify them as needed. I understand what you mean here. But provided formalized duels against skilled and/or heavily armored opponents were rare (say the option of 2-4 per chapter) I don't think it would get too boring. Movies, after all, have had long swordfight scenes for decades (although this has also been lampooned of course, as in The Princess Bride). To be clear, I am fine with some level of unrealism in cRPGs. For example, I don't think it's wrong if the PC mostly meets enemies which are significantly weaker than they are, and the enemies scale up as the game goes on. I just want the body count of the PC to be more like a fantasy novel. To have real - tension - when going into combat, because combat is a rare and chancy thing.
  2. There are ways around this though - realistic ways - much more so than the concept of hit points anyway. The first is of course armor. There's a reason why full plate, despite the weight and mobility limitations, was so commonly used by fighters who could afford it in the late middle ages and renaissance. It made you basically invulnerable to swords, and was pretty good protection against other weapons as well until the flintlock musket was perfected. If anything, the effects of armor in a lot of RPG settings are underemphasized. Then there is dodging and parrying. Honestly this is what I'd like to see improve with leveling up. After all, as a warrior gets more experience, they do not get harder to kill because it takes more blows to knock them down. They get harder to kill because they've gotten very, very good at making sure they don't get hit. Since KOTOR we've had RPG engines advanced enough to show the PC parry correctly. In a pinch, there's conditioning. A well-trained fighter, under a rush of adrenaline, can ignore even serious wounds for a time. Again, as a PC gets more experienced, they should be able to be better at shrugging off minor wounds - ensuring they can still fight even if they get hit. After battle, they still might be in a world of hurt of course. You could also work magic into defense depending upon the setting of course. I'd be careful with this however. If you're dealing with a setting with semi-realistic battle physics you either want to ensure magic is rare overall, or that every character can use magic. Otherwise you severely gimp non-magical characters. The bottom line though is there are many ways to ensure, as a character gets more experienced in combat, that they won't have a 50/50 shot of dying every combat encounter (provided they use sensible tactics, and don't just charge large mobs).
  3. My bad experience in Fallout: New Vegas was in part an inspiration for writing this. I remember I had a mission to take out a group of enemies. Several of them were asleep in their tents. I figured I'd finish them off with headshots before they could even wake up. I snuck into their tent, crouched down, aimed straight for their heads, and let loose. Even trying a dozen times, I was unable to kill. I could not kill a sleeping target with a sub-machine gun! Obviously the reason was because the combat mechanics in no way reflected how reality actually works. But it pretty much broke immersion in the game for me. I lost the will to play after that.
  4. Yeah, basically I'd like to see "action"-style mechanics, without it being an "action" game. I suppose it would be a bit excessive to expect developers spend a lot of time developing a sensible combat system, only to use combat rather minimally (allowing for most encounters to be solved through diplomacy, stealth, or assassination instead of in the open field of battle, if that wasn't the player's thing. I wonder if some integration of mechanics from stealth games and survival horror would be helpful? I've had limited experience with both genres, but it seems they both have elements of what might be needed (e.g., the ability to remain unseen, ambush, and assassinate if needed in the former, and a frail PC who can't stand up in direct combat in the latter).
  5. For the last few years, I've been thinking about how much I dislike some of the bog-standard rules of cRPG combat - rules which mostly spring from D&D originally. These include: 1. You can get hit dozens of times by something pointy (or even shot by a gun) without any real effect. Your "hit points" may go down whatever that means. In real life, if you stabbed someone they would almost invariably either be dead, dying, or so maimed as to be nearly useless in combat. Perhaps if they were hopped up on adrenaline, and highly trained, they'd maintain focus even with a major wound. But for the most part, you get hit and you're down for the count. 2. PCs can take on "trash mobs" which outnumber them significantly in hand-to-hand combat. Again, this always struck me as just plain wrong, because generally speaking a three guys with no combat training at all will win a fight against one guy who knows what he is doing. It's why peasant mobs were potentially so dangerous to knights in the middle ages. Unless you have some serious method of crowd control (being mounted, using terrain to your advantage, etc) you simply shouldn't be able to beat bigger mobs easily, even if they are low level. 3. Although not all games are like this, the kamikaze mechanic of many RPGs bothers me. I suppose if you're talking about supernatural enemies, or trained soldiers, a frontal charge and a fight to the death is perhaps understandable. But, for example, if you're facing down a pack of wolves, once you kill half of them the other half should attempt to cut their losses and disperse. The same goes double for self-aware (and self-interested) enemies like bandits - they're out for easy gold, not to get slaughtered. Basically, I'd love to see an cRPG someday where traditional combat is inherently risky, tactical, and most importantly, rare. For whatever reason, body counts have always been way too high (sometimes an order of magnitude too high) in cRPGs compared to paper and pen. Unless you're on an active campaign taking place during a war, you shouldn't be fighting to the death with enemies every friggin day. Hunting in the forest with ranged weapons or a spear? Sure. Ambushing, and even outright murdering people frequently? If that's how you roll. Getting into fistfights at the local tavern? Fine. But you shouldn't be running into random groups of mooks just waiting to charge and get bled out. Spending less time on trash encounters would give developers more time to focus on the elements which make an RPG truly shine, such as offering a variety of roleplaying options. Anyway, that's just my two cents. I wonder if anyone agrees with me.
  6. I am certainly a reader, but I think one issue the game has is it drops you right into the world's lore without much introduction, meaning some of the discussions about gods, nations, and factions can seem arcane until you get the hang of them. I honestly liked the DA:O system more, where your codex updated with lore as it was revealed in the game. I tend to read closely things which I know may be plot or tactics relevant, but skip flavor, because I work full time and have two kids, giving me only a few hours per night to play. For example, it doesn't take long to realize you're not going to find much of use in the vast majority of in-game books. I'm glad they were put in there, but the content is clearly skippable.
  7. We all know PoE does not give XP (mostly) for defeating foes in combat. Instead, XP is mostly given for: 1. Completing quests 2. Exploring new areas 3. Opening chests/doors, disarming traps, and "other interactions" Of course, there is a small amount of XP which you gain on the first few encounters with enemies, until you have completely filled out the bestiary entry for an enemy type. You of course miss out on this entirely for human and demihuman enemies. Given the relatively low XP cap in the game, there's also the question of if you need to maximize this area of XP. Of course, human/demihuman enemies drop a lot of goods worth significant cash, while monsters only drop 1-3 things (trash weapons and one crafting component) so it may balance out. Regardless, has anyone tried a party which seeks to avoid combat as much as possible? I would presume you'd need to invest in stealth for all your characters in order to sneak by as many encounters as possible, but also have one with maximized stealth/mechanics who would act as the scout grabbing everything which isn't nailed down to an enemy. It doesn't seem that the game can be as combat light as you could play the Fallout series, or Planescape:Torment. I do think you could get things away from the Icewind Dale side of the equation with work however.
  8. Hey all, To start with, I should say that I am a veteran of old IE games. Cut my teeth on BG and BG2 back in college, love Planescape:Torment, etc. I'm not a noob to cRPGs of this style at all. That said, while I'm loving the game, I'm finding the combat pretty challenging, and I'm playing on easy. I'm pretty sure I'm doing something wrong here. I'm just trying to figure out what it is. It's not like I'm dying all the time, but in the tougher combats one or two characters routinely drop to zero stamina, and I can tell I'm not utilizing my casters properly. Combat feels like an awful, horrible slog to me. So far, I'm into chapter 2, and my party looks like this: Protagonist: Chanter. I sort of envisioned the character as akin to some swashbucker/mage and blade builds I did in BG2. So I decided to make him into a dual-wielding melee character. This seems to have been a big mistake, because he's one of only two melee specialists in the party (due to the luck of recruitment) so he ends up taking a lot of hits even though he doesn't have incredibly high stamina. If combat lasts long enough though he can either summon skeletons or shadows though, which can be a big help since there isn't much on the front line in the party. Aloth: I don't understand how to use mages in this game. Almost all of the offensive spells seem to be AOE, which are damn hard to aim correctly. My biggest use for him is to paralyze (via fetid caress) and let the other characters whack the hell out of the baddies. Eder: Works as advertised quite well. One of the only characters I'm pretty sure I'm using right. Durance: Again, I'm not sure how to use his spellcasting well in combat. Yes, I cast spells to boost endurance in combat. But clerics have few offensive spells, and lots of spells which either inflict minor penalties on the enemies, or boost my party in a minor level. I can never decide which one is appropriate for the situation. Due to his quarterstaff, he ends up in melee more than I'd like. Kana: Seems okay, but aside from using a gun, he's sort of a repetition of my character (even knows most of the same chants). I only have him in because I haven't found more story NPCs yet. Sagani: Just got her a short while ago. I don't mind her so far, but I hear rangers suck. Still, It's sort of upsetting that I keep getting squishy ranged characters and casters. I should say I've accumulated a ton of consumables over the game so far. Ever since the IE games I've been a big fan of never using any consumables unless you absolutely have to, and I've crafted a good deal of scrolls, potions, and some food. But I seldom use any of it, because I don't know what particular consumables will be appropriate for a given situation. Anyway, tips would be appreciated. I am thinking of rerolling and just starting over again.
  9. I've seen this reported elsewhere, but not here. Pressing the F key does bring up a target. I can't aim very well once it does, the target stops moving. Then I click the mouse button and...nothing happens. No arrow fires. In contrast, using the left click to knock over items with my melee weapon works just fine. The weirdest thing is that around 1% of the time, if I sit there for 10 minutes, I can get a shot off. I did so on two occasions. However, I can also stand somewhere forever and not be able to get a shot. I think I'm getting to the point where I'm stuck in terms of side quests because I cannot use the arrow to knock hidden keys and the like to where the can be accessed.
  10. I think part of the issue is there's a wide gap between sexual/emotional contact between the PC and some of the NPCs and "romance" as it has been come to be known in later Bioware games. To use the example I gave upthread, I think it would be refreshing to have a romance which is destined to fail. Maybe there's a male NPC who seems (if you play a man or a woman who he isn't romancing) to be a fine, upstanding person. But if you get involved, he turns out to be possessive, controlling, and ultimately hits the PC. Or maybe your "love interest" is merely flightly, or a cheater, or something on that end. The bottom line is as in real life, some romances shouldn't have happy endings. Hell, the vast majority shouldn't, particularly for adventurers. The problem is, a lot of players take "romance" to be a minigame in and of itself these days. I don't mean in the sense that they're romancing for stat bonuses. I mean insofar as if the romance isn't completed with a "happy ending" (or at least, a parting on fair terms) they feel cheated by the game. They expect the same wish fulfillment from the romance they get from winning the game. When in fact romance is, at most, just one of many subplots, and can easily end up on the rocks And thereby lies the problem with making romance a core element. If featured too much, people expect to have an "interest" they will personally like. And they expect to get emotional charge out of the encounters, and leave with warm fuzzies. Not get their heart ripped apart at the end. IRL, even the most capable of people were often messes in their personal lives. We shouldn't expect any better of our heroic characters.
  11. This isn't true. There were friendship mini-games in, off the top of my head, KOTOR2, DA:O and DA2, at least insofar as if your companions had high approval of you, you got big bonuses. The same was true to a limited extent in Planescape: Torment with some characters.
  12. As I said, fundamentally, the only difference between a quest which is only undertaken after dialogue, and a quest option put into the log after another event (reading a tome, combat encounter, etc) is the former usually give you a dialogue option to accept the quest. So you can say no, and it doesn't go into your quest log. In contrast, unless the game actually had a pop-up after self-initiated questing events, the event would just spam your log, which would, indeed, encourage completionist play. Keep in mind though that a well-written self-initiated quest is every bit as real. Indeed, the main plots of many classic roleplaying games, including Baldur's Gate 1, Baldur's Gate 2, and Planescape: Torment, and Arcanum were essentially self-initiated. The plot heavily railroaded you, but ultimately no one set you out on your task at the start of the game. Still, this can have issues. Some people criticize Baldur's Gate II, for example, because the game not only presupposes you kept Imoen in your party in Baldur's Gate, but cared about her enough to go on this mad quest to find her. Player choice was taken away at the core of the story. Still, I don't see this as fundamentally different than say being told in Fallout you need to find a crucial piece of equipment to save your vault. The only fundamental difference is someone else told you want to do, but it still presupposes connections to frame the story. All plotted RPGs are going to railroad the PC to some degree. Anyway, to digress, self-initiated quests on a smaller scale make just as much sense because there are motivations besides XP. One could actually argue they allow for better roleplay. Using the example I showed, if one finds an ancient tome, they should be given the option (if a curious or greedy player) of following hints to an object of great power). If one roleplays a vengeful character, they should be given the option of exacting revenge as part of a quest initiated without any dialogue. Makes the game more fun, along with having a more classic narrative. Few adventure stories make the protagonist as...passive...as the PC typically is in RPGs. They don't bumble about asking others what they need to have done. They decide what to do themselves.
  13. I do sort of agree that since quest XP is the only kind of XP, the game should actually be more loose with what a "quest" is than RPG convention has called a quest. Think of a quest at its broadest. Often, an adventurer can be set on his (or her) task without talking to anyone. Maybe they read about an ancient treasure in a book they find. Or they decide to hunt someone down who picked their pocket. Don't these deserve recognition as well? The only problem I see with allowing for self-given quests is it has the illusion of taking agency away from the player. In truth, it will still be up to the player to decide to complete a quest. But if the game gives the option, after some event happens, of undertaking a quest, then it can read as if the game is railroading the player in a way the game does not if a player needs to find an NPC and accept a quest.
  14. Speaking historically, if you're an unarmed peasant (as if there's another sort) being alone outside of town (or hell, alone in town after dark) was very dangerous, between highwaymen and the chance of running into a bear or a wild boar. But there's little in a peacetime environment which should challenge a lawful armed party. After all, any threat big enough to attempt to take on a half-dozen armed, well-trained adventurers would pretty quickly run afoul with the local lord, and have some expedition sent out to wipe it clean. Only in areas which are nearly impassible (swamps, mountains), or in flux (like the Scottish Borders in the real world) was there not a quasi-monopoly on larger-scale violence by the state. So how do you fit this into a fantasy setting? I'd say the following. 1. Isolated, solitary monsters are fine. Presume something like an ogre keeps a low profile and usually makes sure to pick off only a few weak travelers on occasion. 2. On the other hand, something like a large war band of Orcs or Goblins is just silly. Similar bands of humans (who can at least blend in) didn't survive close to settlements except in severe times of political flux. How a group of hostile demihumans would is beyond me. 3. However, an exception can be made for groups of "monsters" who keep to a confined area, and aren't worth rooting out. Say a dungeon full of hostiles. Or a haunted city. Or a high mountain valley with wild tribes within. There are any number of scenarios, but for the most part, these groups have to be passive - if they're actively threatening local cities, they would have been pacified already.
  15. In general, I think role-playing games overplay the wilderness aspect given the period in question. True wilds became rare as the middle ages progressed, and as this is an Early Modern game, there should be even rarer. By the 16th century in Britain, use of coal instead of wood for home heating and cooking became common in large part because virtually all forests had been chopped down. That is not to say there might not be dangers in the fields, particularly in times during or after wars and famines. But virtually all good land should be covered with farms under normal periods. One would thus presume the amount of hostile wildlife would be rather limited. Do I think the devs will be doing this? Not a chance. Extensive wilderness is an established trope in RPGs. It's just it really belongs in something like a Bronze Age setting. The only way it works well with higher technology is if it's an established "frontier" area - such as a new continent more recently discovered.
  16. I think the problem is twofold. On the one hand, a mature, story-driven RPG should have some sexual content. After all, a world full of sexless eunuchs isn't very realistic. And it should generally be more content than the stereotypical prostitutes. On the other hand, a long-term romantic involvement between the player and a party member should not be a given. Compatibility is a finicky thing, and it's highly likely that not one of your companions would find you interesting. Later Bioware games not only failed on this, they got ridiculous, with every single character bi and immediately flirting with the player. Romances are best used when they tie directly into the plot. While I did not play a woman in DA:O the way that the Alistair romance developed, from everything I have read, worked into the plot quite well, adding some melodrama to choosing between the death of Alistair or yourself in the endgame. I thought in BG2 the Jaheira romance also worked well within the overall plot, albeit to a more secondary point, due to the understood history between the two characters. I guess my bottom line is I'd be fine with an option for something, but it has to make sense within the game, and not come across as bad slash fiction. Treat us as adults who can deal with grown-up subjects, not as if we're middle schoolers giggling every time sex is brought up, or basement-dwellers hungry for identification with the main character. It would be awesome if a generally unattractive and unlikable character, for example, propositions the player. Or if a "romance" partner turns out to actually be controlling and abusive later in the game. Or some "romances" are fore-ordained to break up before the end game no matter what you do. I don't need to live vicariously here. I need to be entertained.
  17. o rly? All 15 levels of it? Didn't say it would be easy, but it should be possible to create a dungeon full of traps, puzzles, and the like to keep the player entertained enough that they don't worry about the whole no combat thing. I'd be fine, as I said, with a few sensible encounters per level. Just no mooks please unless it makes story sense!
  18. I would LOL so hard if the mega-dungeon actually had no combat encounters. Lots of people would be pissed, but in a good RPG, you should be able to create a fun, dangerous and immersive dungeon without any combat encounters at all. My ideal, though, would be only a few, sensible and challenging encounters in a dungeon. Things like undead are fine, and maybe there's a hidden base somewhere down there. But the over-populated dungeons in D&D never made much sense, even with the whole "food chain based upon magic absorbing mushrooms" excuse.
  19. IMHO a game should have the following regarding loot: 1. You can take/sell just about everything not nailed down, but most things are of piddly value. 2. Inventory space is limited. 3. The really cool **** is only available at incredibly high prices, or as a result of special encounters/quests 4. Gold has weight. It keeps you from accumulating huge amounts. If you have too much, open a bank account, use writs of payment, or buy/keep high value things like magic items or precious gems. The beauty of such a system is it makes the payoff for selling vendor trash almost not worth it. For the obsessive-compulsive players who want to sell everything in the game, it still exists as a option. But most players, as they gain levels, will reach a point where it's just not worth it to pick up non-magical items anymore - as it should be.
  20. An interesting middle option would be short-term NPCs - party members who stay with the party for their personal quest only and then leave. This option is useful because it allows for an NPC to be somewhat fleshed out within their own plotline, but you really don't need to develop huge interactivity with the "regular" NPCs who are permanent party members.
  21. PrimeJunta pretty much hits exactly what I'm talking about here. The point is not to turn an RPG into a squad-type combat game with disposable party members. The point is to make combat with unfavorable odds so dicey that even "warriors" scale back their encounters tremendously from what we have in RPGs today. I think such a system would help tremendously have a much more immersive, reactive game. Let me give a few examples. 1. Even in the average fantasy novel, being ambushed in a dark alley at night can be terrifying. You don't know what you're up against and you're caught flat-footed, with no prep for combat. Might not even have your armor on. These encounters, however, are so commonplace in RPGs that the reaction is "oh, look, more mooks I'm supposed to mow down." 2. Too many RPGs have had a scenario where your squad, alone, takes out a whole fortress. While having a small squad go behind enemy lines has historic parallels, usually you'd be trying to do something like slit the gate guard's throat and open the gate for the main force. Or you'd steal or overhear battle plans. Or you'd be setting up explosive charges. All of these are realistic, and I'd argue more exciting than wanton slaughter. 3. As you grow in power and respect, it makes sense for you to become more of a "commander" and less of a "grunt." Of course up until relatively recently, generals did fight at the forefront of armies. But I think games which model your growth by having larger and larger logistical forces at your command are ultimately more rewarding than the whole "awesomesauce attack" thing - particularly because in modern game systems level scaling means generally you don't find combat getting easier just because you're getting more advanced.
  22. Not really, they were in fact highly reliable and very effective, it was an iron ball with a cavity inside (made of two parts molded together) filled with compressed gun powder, sealed with a lead plug with a hole for the fuse and some wax. Fuse cords are very reliable and easy to make out of nitrated hemp. Discounting early experiments with grenades by the Chinese and Byzantines, they didn't come into use in the West until 1688 (the Glorious Revolution). This is a bit later (probably around a century) than this setting technologically. Grenades didn't take off in a big way until trench warfare in the 19th century.
  23. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought there were local, periodic, yet critical shortages of saltpeter until the 19th century (when remote guano islands became accessible), which limited the use of gunpowder weapons to a great extent. It would be thus easy to deal with this in an in-game mechanic by ensuring that gunpowder was too expensive for a peasant to have access to. I'm rather hoping there are black powder bombs though. Hell, the Ultima games even had those. They would only really be useful as part of a trap - either set by the player or by foes. Setting up such a trap would be expensive and dicey, and of course you might have a way to disarm it if you run into them in your travels (hella loot as well).
  24. But this isn't a medieval game. The game technology is clearly set at the Early Modern period (1500s-1600s). And not just due to the use of early firearms - also because of the sophistication of sailing ships, and the proto-colonialism in the world. The only exception to OTL is the printing press isn't invented yet.
  25. In another thread, I mentioned a hypothetical scenario where you, as the player, are put in a seemingly impossible encounter, but one lucky shot (say lighting a barrel of explosive powder aflame) kills off a large number of foes, and evens the odds. It makes me think about the issues of narrative versus gameplay freedom more broadly. Scripted solutions to in-game problems are of course required to some extent, as a game engine cannot allow for infinite choices. But one can go further and say that generally speaking, if the solution (or solutions, preferably) to a quest is mapped out by the developers, the result will be more entertaining to the player, because it will be scripted to some degree. Indeed, the reason why grindy MMO-style quests aren't typically entertaining is because no scripting has been done worth speaking of. The player just needs to bring X to Y, or kill 5 X and collect their body parts. Any fun that exists is only due to the mechanics of the game being fun, or the imagination of the player - there is no writing to speak of. But the problem is the more "novel-like" a game becomes, the less freedom it allows a player. For example, forcing the death of a companion for the sake of narrative may be emotionally powerful if done right, but it also completely takes out of the hand of the player a choice on whether or not to save said character. While there can be player reactivity, the writer will never be able to anticipate and accommodate all solutions the player might see. Where do you think games should fall on this line?
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