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omphaloskepsis

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Everything posted by omphaloskepsis

  1. IMO, this is a wildly varying situation of context and your personal values. If you're young and don't mind sacrificing your life for your work, it can be worth it for a while. You might learn skills or gain contacts that help you in the future. It seems like a fair percent of the more successful indie devs started out in those environments. A few things to consider: You'll get paid significantly more working for tech companies than for game companies. The few times I've looked at game dev salaries I thought they were extremely low. OTOH, you could still end up in the grinder, and the bigger salaries aren't necessarily enough to make up for that. In my 20s I went to work for a namebrand tech company. The two guys I lived with at the time couldn't believe how much I was making, and kept repeating things like "No one should get paid that much. That's ridiculous." A year or so later, after seeing my non-stop 80 - 100 hour work weeks, they reversed, and kept pushing me to quit the job. "Nobody should work that much. That's ridiculous. No money is worth that." Long-term I think work environment is more important than salary, as is a feeling of satisfaction with what you're doing. But short-term there are legit reasons to choose otherwise. The question of artistic merit is likewise a difficult one. Before Gaudi died he was going door to door begging for charity to finish his cathedral. You could argue that one is fine art and the other is just producing mass market junk, but the central issue is the same. Is it worth it? There's no answer for that. It's personal. In terms of ethics, yeah, it's disappointing, and not all companies are like that, but it does seem widespread in the game industry. I think that, like Hollywood, it's a perpetual buyer's market (for the companies), because they have an endless supply of young people with big dreams. In the US there are labor laws and a variety of employee protections, and yet, in the real world, companies disregard them and sometimes employees are too scared to speak up. The last place I worked had a recently promoted manager that generated 11 HR complaints within 2 months of starting his new position. Completely ignored. The whole company is a walking collection of lawsuits waiting to happen, but until it starts rolling, all protections are theoretical. Other companies I've worked for do take those types of issues seriously, but the real world is a case-by-case basis. I don't know much about Poland, but I suspect the differences between "on paper" and the real world exist there just like everywhere else.
  2. I generally agree with your post, and if I'd read a few posts like that I would have been sure that the game wasn't for me. But I'm really enjoying it. Also, FWIW, I feel like the writing has improved significantly. It turned me off in DOS1, but I'm at least enjoying the different origin characters so far. I'd be more informed, but I've restarted Fort Joy about 20 times and keep switching between different characters. Lucky Charm occasionally throws magic items your way, and extra money is really useful in Act 1. Loremaster gives info when Examining enemies. For practical purposes it also speeds up item acquisition (not having to wait), which can be nice if you recently leveled up. Also, you're exploiting the respec system, and then saying that money isn't a problem. I'm not complaining, just pointing out that if you played differently you'd have more need for cash. But yeah, despite what I said above, civil abilities are pretty meh, and Larian could do better. I just think they're a more useful than you implied, especially in the early game.
  3. A portrait pack when you can easily create or download much better ones? I don't think I'd be interested even if it was free. I've been enjoying the game for the week I've played it so far, but I'm not a fan of the portraits. The quality is meh and IMO the cartoony aesthetic doesn't fit the game at all. Maybe it's just me. Hopefully this is just a hold-over before the real DLC.
  4. Just so everyone knows, I got two offers for codes, so I'm taken care of. Currently obsessing over custom portraits. Thanks to everyone for being so helpful.
  5. Nice, well thought out write up. I agree with pretty much everything you say. But honestly, the only thing that would be an instant pre-release purchase for me would be to have ME 1 - 3 retold from a different viewpoint. ME: The Untold Story - the life and heroic end of Marauder Shields. The inevitable tragic ending, rather than detracting, would create a menacing, oppressive atmosphere throughout the course of the game. Other than the above, a prequel that included nuanced faction politics and allow exploration of a decent-sized galactic sandbox would be great. But I don't know if the majority of ME fans would be interested in an RPG, especially an isometric one. Also you didn't mention any of the dating sim aspects, which I'd prefer to be left out, but may be required to draw the existing fan base. Regardless, I'd love to see an actual sci fi game, and I'd be interested in an ME game that was both more adult, and closer to sci fi rather than the popcorn action-movie sci fantasy that it turned into after the first entry. FWIW, Colony Ship and Copper Dreams are coming, though not for a couple of years. They're not ME, but both have a good shot at being quality isometric RPGs
  6. 1 & 2 hell yes. Though really I'd like to see "any good cyberpunk" setting. I think it's unlikely to see more Shadowrun outside of Harebrained Studios for a while, and it's probably the same for C2077. WoT wouldn't make or break it for me, it would depend on game reception.
  7. Thanks. You were before me, and there seem to be plenty of folks offering coupons, so I don't mind waiting in the queue. Some people are in different time zones so it might just take some time.
  8. If you've still got it (assuming melkathi got one already), I'd love to have it.
  9. T:ToN does these same things too. There is mystery who you are and why you exist and where did you come, how you are related to Changing God or what ever entity's husk people say you are, and what is Sorrow and why it hunts CG and you. There are quite lot of people that say they know the answer but they all give different answer and quite lot of them seem to be more interested on how you can help them or get you go away. I'm not complaining about TToN's story, except in a nitpicky way of saying that what I've seen in the beta is good, but not PST good in terms of execution. I'd say it's surprisingly good, though, and I'm pretty happy with the results so far even though I backed at several times the price of a typical game. There's a lot to be discovered in the last part of the game, so my opinion could change a lot, too. But so far I feel like the mystery was done better in PST, and I think TToN frontloaded more information than was necessary, probably to make it easy to digest for casual players. I think the game would be stronger if I was more confused and uncertain at the beginning. But I don't think this is big deal or even close to a game breaker. The only reason I chose PST for comparison was because Gromnir was already talking about it. I mean, obviously there are going to be similarities, but I'm more interested in TToN being a good game on it's own merits than as a strict PST successor. OK, I think there's some miscommunication happening, or we're talking past each other here. The only reason I used PST for comparison was because you were already talking about it. The only reason I mentioned the special snowflake issue is that you, yes, you Gromnir, talked about that a couple of posts back. Did you forget that? It's a odd that you respond like it's some kind of bizarre non-sequitur when you're the one who brought it up. Anyway quick response: Many people, including myself, dislike the special snowflake status that characters are given in games. I understand and prefer that there be something interesting about a character, so it could be argued that that's just a different or more subtle variation on the the typical version. But the common use of special snowflakes in games is to pamper and feed some very fragile egos, and that's the aspect that bothers me. For example, being the only competent character in the game, and then being continuously rewarded and praised for that is extremely irritating. I don't think either TToN or PST suffer from an overblown version of SS-itus. My point was that you don't appear very special at the start of PST compared to the rest of the Planescape setting. You appear to be an immortal franken-zombie. While being unique, that is nowhere close to being the chosen one or the baddest XX in the world or whatever. In TToN you're apparently the shell of a demi-god, and one that happens to have greatly shaped the city that you start in. As a castoff, and only one of many, you're not the biggest deal in the world, but you're still relatively high up the food chain. But I don't want to go down this rabbit hole because I don't think it's that important. Neither of the games stoop to ego stroking, so I don't think it's a big deal. My main, and possibly only, issue with TToN right now is that everything just comes too easily. Combat is easy. Closing quests is easy. Getting what you want is easy. I'm a fan of the games reactivity and failure states (some of which are surprise successes), but I'd like to feel like there was some resistance. I'd like combat to be harder. I'd like NPCs to occasionally lie or give misinformation, or just unintentionally give bad information. I'd like to be misdirected by red herrings or other plot devices. And I'm not saying that I want this all the time in every situation. I just want enough of it to feel like the game isn't scattering rose petals down my path.
  10. Let me give an example: In PST, most of the NPCs have direct links to your past lives. But you don't realize that until much later in the game. So even though those characters revolve around you, because you've hugely influenced their pasts, you don't know it, and the revelations as the relations slowly unfold are fairly shocking. Morte is essentially suffering a mix of stockholm syndome and the transference effect. There's some irony or at least dark humor in this if you're playing a well-intentioned character. Ignus condition is a direct result of the machinations of your sociopathic forebear. Etc, etc. So there are a couple of things at work in PST that made it successful (with respect to what I'm talking about). First is the slow unraveling of the mystery of who you were. The second is that there are few or no coincidences in the game, and the story and world largely center around you, but you don't know that. The fact that you have to work to piece it together and that the realization is delayed until late in the game makes the setup compelling rather than repulsive. You're a special snowflake but you don't fully realize what that means (a frankenstein monster is a lot different than a demigod). You're a special snowflake but you can get killed by groups of thugs or random passersby, which doesn't really elicit the feeling of repeatedly being patted on the head and told you're a winner. Also, though the game provides helpers early on, they're more integrated/better disguised. And it's possible to experience setbacks and mild frustration, both qualities which appear to be absent in TToN. Anyway, I'm just trying to explain my previous offhand remark, and I don't mean to turn this into a PST discussion. I feel like TToN currently makes things too easy, and that there should be more resistance to the player achieving their goals. But my complaint is more about worrying that a potentially great game ends up a merely good one.
  11. This is a particular peeve of mine when it happens in fiction or games. Most commonly it seems to be a wizard whose power is in their staff or wand, or the loser who gets a magic sword and is suddenly a winner. It's a huge turn off for me. Torment seems to have gone the other extreme (at the moment) and made cyphers almost useless, though. FWIW, since you and Nonek seem to be casually firing shots over each other's bows, I feel like the game borders on being too player-centric and player-friendly, and would benefit from being harder on the player in a variety of ways (NPC interaction, quest difficulty, combat, etc.), but I also don't think it's gone over the line (yet, it's only a piece of the final product). And PST was better at making the player the center of the story while tying everything in without making it obvious. TToN could use some work to break up the coincidences and at least give the impression of resisting the player. OTOH, I've been pleasantly surprised with the story and setting, and have been sucked into NPC conversations and some of the borderline infodumps. And there have been a fair number of small surprises, which almost never happens to me with game writing. PST also had coherent thematic elements, which is rare in games. I'm not sure where TToN falls yet, but it seems to be above average in that respect. From what I've seen, TToN will at least be satisfying candy.
  12. Early Access, not Electronic Arts. FWIW, I played Darkest Dungeon about 6 months ago and loved it. The only reason I stopped was because I didn't want to get burned out before the final product was released. It's got extremely rough but manageable RNG. It's also got great art and a unique stress mechanic that I hope inspires other games. It's also unique because stress can ruin party members, so you can't get attached to members that you've built up for a while, even if they've become power houses. You have to have strategy about managing and dismissing members that become a problem. I can't explain how great the idea of the stress system is. Various factors like darkness, lack of food, and combat grind down morale, and eventually break one or more of your party. When that happens, things usually go bad, though occasionally they'll go crazy in a good way (like religious zeal that inspires others). The type of condition might lead to members constantly whining or directly insulting others during combat, which brings down morale further. In terms of development, from what I've heard there were different ideas about where the game should go, and the hardcore balance group won, leading to closing some loopholes in combat that others felt gave the game and party composition more flexibility. As I said, I haven't played in a long time, but I'm hoping that the game hasn't become tedious or a repetitive grindfest as a result. And even if it has, the art, atmosphere, party management, and stress mechanics would probably make it worth checking out for folks with an RPG or rogue-like bent.
  13. You level up faster with Oddity than Classic, especially during quests, but it might depend on how you play. You have more control with Classic because you can just keep fighting until you level up, but that might take a long time. XP from kills is related to your level vs the enemies, so fighting rathounds and similar creatures becomes a slog if you're doing it for leveling. Plus respawns are fairly slow. I took a break during the Rail Crossing quests to explore and try to level up to craft shields and better armor. You can buy shields, too, if you look around, but they might be pretty expensive at this point. Also, if you do the side quest to disable the Faceless shields/robots, it makes it much easier. And you can do that sidequest no matter which outcome you want.
  14. Just checking, but you know that you can look through vents, right? You don't even have to unscrew them to do this. You can also press TAB to get highlights, and sit there watching for patrols. Another bonus is that you remove the map "fog" for sections that you've peeked through, so you can see large sections of the layout after using the vents. You can get electrokinesis (kinetics, not metathermics) very early, and that does a fair amount of damage to robots and will stun them just like an EMP device. The "fireball" attack also does decent damage, and is available early. I got stubborn in Depot A and explored an optional map with about 6 robots. I took out all of them without dying with a pure psion. I don't think a non-violent playthrough is possible, but sneak is pretty powerful. And you can get overcoats and boots that grant good bonuses. Even with a fairly small investment (20-ish plus gear bonuses to get into 40s or 50s), you can do pretty well. In the early game, you can get within a couple of squares of most enemies (including robots) as long as you stay behind them. Security cameras are tougher, and it's a good idea to take them out if you can't avoid their line of sight. I'm really enjoying the game, though I have gripes like the lack of maps and the walking speed. I also think it's the highest difficulty RPG I've ever played, in a few situations maybe too much. I can't remember when, if ever, I had to reload so much in a game. Most of the classic RPGs on the hardest difficulties would probably rate as an Easy playthrough of Underrail. I restarted with about 6 different character builds and played through to Depot A (which is when you start to really see how viable your specs are), and I finally started to get it.
  15. Ok, that was the best description of the Alduin fight I've ever seen. It also made me imagine a macho Bruce Lee showdown, which could have been hilarious if done well. Anyway... BGS had always done horrible balance. In Morrowind, for example, all weapons except spears were the same length. So a dagger and a two handed sword had the same reach. This was fixed by modding, of course, but all of their vanilla games are horrible in this regard. That said, FO4 is the first game that they've actually put a little work in. I appreciate that, but then they added legendary weapons into the mix. Legendary weapons are unique, randomly generated magic weapons looted from legendary creatures. Most of them aren't anything special, but a couple, such as one that magically makes every bullet explode, is extremely powerful. So you can get drops that are more powerful than anything crafted, and of course they break the game. Well, unless you hate challenge. Choice and consequence has been slowly getting streamlined out of BGS games since morrowind. Back then there was a horde of upset players who slaughtered entire towns only to be shocked that they couldn't complete quests as a result. And this type of player apparently didn't believe in replaying with different characters, so the game was "broken". For whatever reason, this is the type of player that BGS has been catering to ever since. Skyrim convinced me that BGS was done with RPG mechanics and C&C, but the dialog was still flexible enough that you could at least LARP different characters, and there was some path variation in quests. It was enough for me to enjoy the hiking sim aspects. FO4 removed (already limited) branching dialog and quests, as well as the last vestiges of C&C. NPCs have been further streamlined into atm-like quest dispensers. But companions have more character and dialog, movement and shooting mechanics have been greatly improved, and a clunky crafting interface had been slapped on. You can't remove skeletons or weeds, though. I guess that would ruin the environmental storytelling. Anyway, yeah, if you like RPGs and don't think that every game should be a borderlands clone, then you'll probably like FO3 better. I put about 60 hours into FO4, then reinstalled (for the third time) FONV and put about 200 hours into that.
  16. I'd jump on a fallout game. But my first choice from the list would be a VTMB successor. What I'd really like to see is original IP that isn't fantasy. swashbuckling pulp title, or a pulpy retro-future or steampunkish setting would be great. I wouldn't mind another Arcanum, but I don't think the world is so unique or well-developed that they couldn't just run wild with a new setting. Another dream game would be something like Mage the Ascenscion, but light on the gonzo elements, that is, not a crazy superhero action flick.
  17. I bet there are a fair number of "invisible" people who have both Windows & Linux. That is, a small portion of the overall total, but a significant portion compared to the 1.5% of official Linux users. I was Linux-only for 3-4 years, but brought a Windows machine back into the fold just for games. I've been hoping for years (since the Loki days at least) that Linux would get some love from game developers. For a few years now I've had a Windows box for gaming, and a Linux box for work and pretty much everything else. But I only put expensive GPUs in my Windows rigs, so I tend to stick with those for games, even though I go out of my way to support Linux releases. If games continue to be made for Linux, I think we'll see a jump of at least a few more percent in those numbers. Because there are people like me who are ready, but not convinced that enough game devs are here to stay.
  18. A fan made voice mod makes a lot more sense to me. Personally, I'd rather Obsidian spent money elsewhere. It's an expensive resource, and not an important one (to me). I'd much rather have deep branching dialogue.
  19. If you leave out NPCs, I don't think you'll miss out on much except for flavor, but if I were you I'd do a full playthrough with the standard companions, then another (possibly with hard or other difficulty options) with custom ones. Or you could always try the opposite. Finish a playthrough and if you want to try another, use the default ones you skipped. You will have to micro-manage at least a little. The AI isn't anything to brag about, and I often have to nudge companions during combat. There are minor pathing issues, and occasionally I'll realize that one of the party has stopped attacking, or won't run around a group to reach an opponent. For resolve, there are a couple of ways to temporarily boost it, and often you'll have other special options competing with it in dialogue. There were only one or two times in the entire game that I used it for speech. OTOH, on my second game, I used it a fair amount, just because I'd skipped it the first time around.
  20. I've seen dozens of discussions about freedom to do whatever you want at the BGS forums, and for everybody who wants C&C, there's somebody who doesn't. That's in the short term when the game is most popular. After things settle down all that's left is the "hardcore" C&C crowd. I've tried to make the freedom-from vs freedom-to argument (i.e. freedom to walk out on a busy highway isn't the same as freedom from the consequences of doing it) several times, but it never takes. Certain things always seem to come up with any popular game: The game needs guns. The game needs multiplayer. The game needs unlimited "freedom". (only for sandbox games, obviously) And people seem to want unlimited cosmetic customization, but couldn't care less about the mechanics. If a dagger, a sword, a bow, and a magic spell do the same thing, it's fine as long the effects are next gen. Why? Because otherwise it's redundant, or nostalgia, or whatever. But at least there are certain keywords that immediately identify irrational posters. I'm all for providing options (such as an easy setting) for people who want casual play, but it would be nice to get thrown a bone once in a while.
  21. A lot of these issues are the lack of a reasonable faction system (which has steadily devolved since Daggerfall). You don't have to force a set protagonist if you can differentiate a few variables: is a member of X, rank in X, is X public/private/known to this individual? Modders have been able to mitigate psychic guards and a fair amount of other NPC issues, so the problem is that BGS isn't interested in doing that work, not that the design itself necessitates it. Another factor is the fans. Having choices and consequences "limits" gameplay, and a fair number of people hate that (from what I've seen in forum posts). So BGS has to choose to make one side or the other happy, and they seem to keep deciding against the RPG contingent. Though as far as the "leader of an organization" trope goes, I wouldn't mind that whole concept getting tossed, or becoming much less common. I don't know if devs are trying to satisfy a power fantasy itch or what, but it rarely makes sense to me that an active character would become a faction leader. Even disregarding the silliness of petty fetch quests, there's the problem of an adventurer having the time, experience, and inclination to sit at a desk and manage an organization. I don't see why they can't just stop at "you've become a respected member of the faction" and leave it at that.
  22. I don't think it's that simple. BGS deserves credit for the large amount of effort they put into the modding community (including having devs that respond directly in mod threads on the forums), and that results in a better product on the PC, because of the tens of thousands of hours of volunteer work it gets. But that doesn't mean that they should be given a pass on buggy or poorly designed products. It is legit for a game to be better (not broken, just better) on some platforms, and Skyrim just happens to be an exception, because a lot of games are console ports that don't get enough attention to the PC release. Technically Skyrim was a fairly poor console port too, but at least they provided the tools to address that. OK, I was trying to figure out how to tie this directly back into the RPG topic, but I've got nothing. I think that Skyrim deserves huge praise for their modding features, but that has nothing to do with whether it's an RPG at all, let alone a good RPG.
  23. Heh. No, you missed mine, which was that modded Skyrim IS Skyrim for PC. Especially a barebones list like yours, which is just vanilla + bugfixes and minor tweaks. Otherwise, you're just playing console Skyrim on a PC. I was just joking around with the second paragraph (though ENB is arguably worth it for the bugfixes and memory management, even if you want to keep the vanilla look). And stay away from my underpants! Plus I think you're missing why some people hate Skyrim (or any given RPG). Some folks automatically dislike single-character RPGs, or RPGs that are first-person, or hybrid RPGs. People will forgive a lot of bugs and even poor design, as long as a game scratches their personal itch. Skyrim was never going to satisfy somebody who wanted an IE game, for example, or somebody who wants C&C (which is probably my biggest issue with where TES has gone).
  24. So, you're apologizing for playing the PC version of Skyrim? Come back after you've properly loaded up a few hundred of the best mods and the ENB of your choice. Then you can feel guilty about your impoverished console brethren.
  25. Fair enough. Your perspective has actually improved my opinion of BGS and Skyrim. I personally would like them to have a more sophisticated (and moddable) combat system, but I actually like what they're doing with in the high-level sense that they're reifying abstract systems and exposing them as actual gameplay. (But I wouldn't want that to become widespread in RPGs, either.) Have you ever tried Duke Patrick's combat mods (in either Oblivion or Skyrim)? He's an SCA-er that tries to apply principles of real-life combat in the games. His mods make both games more extreme in terms of both player skill and RPG stats. So for example blocking becomes much more important for survival, with the timing entirely based on player skill but with the effectiveness heavily mitigated by character skill. Also, as an aside, both he and Arwen (of Realism Tweaks fame for the Fallout games) have complained about how difficult it is to port their mods to Skyrim because of the lack of stats. Arwen eventually gave up, and DP decided to fake hidden attributes in order to implement his mechanics.
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