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Everything posted by aiqidar

  1. I didn't mean to imply that the open-world style is incompatible with good stories, but rather that it makes it harder to imbue the "main" quest with any real sense of urgency. Especially if you combine it with a desire to make the game long, and to encourage the player to explore optional content without fear of penalty. This as opposed to treating such sidetracking as a potentially fatal distraction that they pursued at their own peril as in Fallout, which would be more thematically consistent with what the game's telling you. Even in the Elder Scrolls games, the first thing I'd do in Oblivion and Morrowind was completely forget about the "main" quest and go off on a complete tangent (I think Daggerfall might have had some scripted time limits etc., but it's been a while and I can't remember for sure). Now, this isn't to say that there's no urgency whatsoever; I actually feel plenty of urgency when I think about the NPC companions, or even when I think about random civilians that might be affected by my actions, since they don't have the same "plot armour" that I do. I kind of wish it didn't have to be that way, but if the game was actually ballsy enough to punish the player for not taking the main quest seriously (like Fallout did in a dramatic and unforgiving way) there'd be no end to the whining.
  2. I don't entirely disagree with you, but if you take a long, hard look at BG1 you'll find that it actually had a fairly mediocre story and the thing that really made it interesting was the companions, the exploration and the optional stuff. BG2 had a much better story, but even it wasn't spectacular by writing standards and the companion interactions were clearly the highlight of the game. This isn't the fault of the game's writers, though. It's actually a natural result of the kind of game they're trying to make. They wanted to make a game that was long, had a lot of optional content, and that gave the player freedom to explore. This runs contrary to what makes a story great in the mystery/literary sense you're talking about - for that, the story has to be extremely parsimonious, which is to say that there's nothing there that doesn't absolutely need to be there, and attempting to draw it out to pack in more "playtime" will necessarily affect the narrative's quality. And additionally you have to experience it in exactly the right way, which results in a more constrained and linear game. I'll highlight with two examples of games that I believe had some of the best stories I've seen in RPGs: Planescape: Torment and Fallout. Both of them, for all the depth they had and choices they offered you, were fairly linear games. In Torment you were basically herded from location to location right till the end, with just a few notable optional areas. In Fallout, you ostensibly had "freedom" in terms of where to go, but not really - if you didn't stick to the main storyline and follow a certain path, you'd just outright lose the game. Notably, they were also fairly short games by RPG standards. Now, if you were to change Torment and Fallout in order to increase game time, to give the player a bunch of extra content and more freedom, the natural consequence of that would be the central storyline losing its sense of urgency (which is what you've experienced in Pillars). This completeley undermines the sense of mystery. The game might repeatedly bash you over the head with "It is vital that you uncover the truth!" but it's meaningless unless it's actually enforced.
  3. That sounds hilarious. Do you know anywhere that might have some examples of that? I actually own Icewind Dale due to a quirk of eBay, but... Eh, I'm not really in it for the dungeon crawling, so I never installed it. It's been a while, but there is one example that stuck in my mind vividly. In Icewind Dale 2 there's an bit where there's some sort of intrigue going on between a demon and some goblin gang in some underground caverns. If you approach the guys with any normal character, you can get into this whole intriguing back-and-forth between some rival groups and get some quests too. If you approach with the Paladin, he talks for a few moments and then abruptly goes "Actually you know what, I think I'm going to kill all you guys." My memory of the first Icewind Dale is a bit hazier unfortunately. All I remember is that there's one moment where if you talk to one of the enemies with the Paladin it leads to one really hilarious exchange (could be more, but at least one that I know of). Though I don't think that actually affects the quest, I think that was just him trading insults with the guy before an uavoidable fight.
  4. I haven't played a Paladin in this game yet, but Paladins saying weird and crazy stuff would't be out of character for this kind of game. I remember in the Icewind Dale series, paladins were religious fundamentalists that occasionally acted like complete psychopaths if you let them do all the talking.
  5. Yeah exactly. Plus the fact that the game lets you know (if you so choose) the circumstances under which those extra options are unlocked means you won't waste time blindly rolling new characters hoping to see new stuff (or looking it up on walkthroughs which could potentially spoil other things about the game for you).
  6. It's kind of always been like this. In previous games, the options just wouldn't show up if you didn't meet the requirements so you could potentially go the entire game without ever knowing it was a thing.
  7. I play on hard and I haven't had any difficulties per se (though I've since had to take a break from teh game because I ran into that defense stacking bug with Eder and I just cannot play until this stuff is dealt with). But I did notice a lot of very basic AI issues, like targets not being automatically assigned after a kill. So even on easy I don't think you could do without micronanaging, at least with the game in its current form. I suspect most of it will be dealt with after the first patch though.
  8. and dies 2 seconds later, in any kind of challenging fight when backstabbing a key enemy would actually matter Endless Paths are a nightmare with a rogue, unless you make it ranged, not to mention dual wield (staple rogueish combat style) is terrible compared to two handed because most enemies who dont die from one hit have a high DR It kind of works if your rogue's using a ranged weapon. The idea of sneaking into a room containing multiple opponents and stabbing one of them always felt a bit absurd to me so I never really did it in IE games either, unless I was using an actual invisibility spell. I don't really like the "open with the rogue" strategy either, mostly for role-playing reasons. In most situations, I feel like no matter how stealthy my rogue, he would almost certainly be seen at the distances the game allows us to work with (especially if there are multiple enemies). My preferred strategy would be to open with my fighter and then launch a sneak attack on one of the people who are being distracted by him. The game doesn't let us do that, which is why they need to change it back to individual stealth.
  9. Planescape and Fallout had it. In Neverwinter with the exploration mode you could walk too. It´s Diablo style games the ones missing it. Pretty sure Diablo 2 had both walking and running. Diablo 3 I can't quire recall though.
  10. I agree, the game could have potentially been much better if they had made a clear decision around "No resting in any area that hasn't been cleared yet" and then built a combat system around that. The only proper solution to the problem of rest-spamming would be to eliminate resting altogether, at least the way it exists in its current form. Yes, it's absurd that people in previous games could rest infinitely in hostile areas, but it's not really that much absurd than being able to rest at all in a hostile area (as in setting up a campsite, as opposed to just catching your breath and patching up wounds).
  11. It's not about discouraging from combat at all, it's about making the decision about whether or not to engage in combat a meaningful one. It kind of goes to a philosophical issue I've had with RPGs in general. In every game you go through a spiel of "Oh what a dangerous world this is, death lurks around every corner" while at the same time there's the expecation that we'll be able to go everywhere and completely kill everything with not much real effort. That creates a bit of a dissonance that I find hard to ignore. This game was actually a big step forward in that regard because it played up the concept of areas that you couldn't complete right away, it toned down the facerolling aspect which was a big plus. My suggestion would just be taking that idea to another level. And again, I don't want it to be mandatory, just an option (I don't know much about the mechanics of this game, so I might be wrong about this, but I don't think it would be incredibly hard to put in a "chance of death" bit on normal attacks). As it stands, there are plenty of combats in the game where the only way I'm at any risk at all is if I deliberately play poorly or handicap myself, and that doesn't feel authentic at all.
  12. I disagree that the only outcome would be save-scumming. That would only apply if I was going through a playthrough where I was intent on clearing all levels, completing every possible quest and keeping all companions alive. If I was willing to avoid combat, and to accept the consequences of a combat gone poorly (and if I took the precautions necessary to make sure "my" character didn't die), I could easily get through an entire game without any serious issue. And I agree, if implemented it should be toggleable, I would most likely leave it off and go for a more casual combat style if I was trying a completionist run. As for appropriateness for isometric RPGs, I think Fallout handled this well, with the "shoot at the eyes" kind of stuff. It wasn't completely realistic, since both you and your opponents were shielded from the worst aspects of randomness (like my example of being instantly taken out by someone throwing a rock), while still leaving plenty of room for a combat situation to evolve in interesting ways.
  13. I disagree that tactics would be diminished with this added realism. It would still be relevant, but what it would do is change how we think. I.e. we would start thinking in terms of who's expendable and have them face the risks. We would put a great deal of thought into how long the combat lasts, so as to limit the risk of something going catastrophically wrong. And if we're not willing to sacrifice anyone, it would make us genuinely think about avoiding combat, which itself is an important decision which I feel we're not forced to make often enough in games. That said, I don't think it should be mandatory, it should be a toggleable thing. Even though I personally love it, there will be times when it'll be a pain (e.g. if I'm replaying an area due to some bug, and I just want to breeze through the combat rather than having to slog through it all over again).
  14. That's how I'd handle it. Though in my experience the D&D-based games suffered from the same problem. True, they did have more instakill abilities like petrification etc. but ordinary combat with weapons was generally quite predictable.
  15. The impression I get from reading the combat threads is that this kind of thing is frowned upon. People have issues if you're able to do it to enemies, and they'll certainly have issues if enemies are able to do it to you. My first issue with that is, it's unrealistic. The history of actual combat in this world is one that's largely a story of sudden kills. I.e. a combatant's life would typically end not due to a large collection of minor wounds, but a few severe wounds. Often just a single fatal wound. And even if the wound wasn't instantly fatal it would at least be incapacitating, i.e., a guy couldn't just shrug off a crossbow bolt to the chest as though it was some minor annoyance and go rejoin the fight, which is generally what we seem to expect in fantasy combat. And even the crudest of attacks carried out by the most inept of people - e.g. a small rock thrown by some drunk - at least have the chance, no matter how small, of instantly taking someone out. The realism itself isn't the main basis for my argument though. My real issue is that it sanitizes combat a bit too much, and takes out the surprises. The feeling of euphoria when I land a lucky hit (or of frustration when my opponent does the same) is diminished beause there isn't that much difference in the end between a lucky hit and a regular hit. In my humble opinion, instant kills shouldn't be reserved for special WWE-style "finishing moves"; it should at least have the possibility of happening anytime, anywhere and by any opponent.
  16. That's pretty much it. We'd like to think of "hardcore" style play as a triumph of survivalism on the part of the game's protagonist, but in an actual practical sense the only thing it tests in games like this is omnesience of the person controlling the character. Which itself isn't a bad thing; it's still a more difficult thing to do and that does give some people satisfaction. The hardcore feeling is more authentic in roguelikes and games with procedurally generated stuff, because your memory of what happened the previous time won't help you for the next run, except in a very general "lessons learned" kind of sense.
  17. This is one step towards eliminating the entire concept of "experience" and "levels" from video games. And boy will I be glad when that day comes. I mean seriously, imagine this happening in real life. "Why'd you kill all the children in that orphanage, criminal scum?" "It's not my fault, officer! I needed the experience points!"
  18. Kind of going off-topic here, but... You're right - there is thinking involved, but it's a very particular kind of thinking. Let me compare it to a different style of tactical game to illustrate my point. Something like X-COM or Jagged Alliance. I've heard these games described as difficult, but they never felt that way to me (even though you could easily spend a hour+ on a single map if you played on high difficulties and were serious and trying to limit casualties). It's because the kind of thinking I had to related to actions that were realistic or at least plausible (with the exception of mind control); it made it easy to immerse myself in that. Doing the thinking never felt like a chore. Here, on the other hand, the combat feels more like it does in Diablo 2 or Torchlight than it does in a true tactical game like X-COM. I.e. it's geared around making combat confrontational and artificially even, and "fair", rather than a more realistic approach where you would strive to make things extremely unfair and would be quite pleased with yourself if you pulled off a plan where you wiped out your enemies without even being seen. That's not to say that it's a bad thing; I've spent (and continue to spend) countless hours playing ARPGs. However, my relationship with them blows hot and cold. There are times when I have great fun playing them, and other times when I think "Oh my god, I'm wasting precious hours of my life doing mindless repetitive tasks that are superficially "challenging" but have no intellectual depth". When that kind of mood comes over me, thinking about build optimization etc. does start to feel like a chore. I would love for a true isometric RPG to have the same level of tactical depth as Jagged Alliance. I would even completely forget about the immersion issues I've been talking about due to the sheer awesomeness of something like that. The closest I've gotten I've gotten though is Fallout/Fallout 2. For some reason medieval/fantasy style games completely abandon the concept of real-world tactics and base their combat on a different logic. Even though it doesn't have to be this way (after all, there are plenty of spells that are very obviously analogous to things like guns, grenades, chemical weapons etc. so it's not as though it's impossible to translate things).
  19. Actually, the customizable scripts in Dragon Age were one of my favourite things about the game. I would say they handled it near-perfectly. Not only could I make the characters completely independent, but I could give them behaviours that kind of suited their personalities as well (even if it didn't necessarily result in the most efficient combat tactics). Another good example comes from Neverwinter Nights 2. Due to the settings I gave her, Qara would often do things like launch a fireball at a single orc, and in the process blow up the chest in the room, destroying some of its contents. This obviously isn't something that I personally would do if I were controlling a mage, but it makes perfect sense that Qara did it. And touches like this (even though this was an unintentional thing; I doubt the developers specifically had this in mind when designing NWN 2 combat) add flavour to the game for me in ways that I could never get if I'm just trying to go for some kind of hive-mind tactical optimization from the entire squad. As for why I like isometric games, my main reason is that it gives you a visual perspective that you don't get from first person or 3D games. Some of the best artwork I've seen comes from games with this perspective. And I've played plenty of isometric games that not only didn't have squad control but indeed didn't really have any combat at all - Sanitarium, for instance.
  20. Wait, what? How would that give away the stealthy dude? If I see five burly guys in heavy armour, why would I automatically think "Oh, there must be a rogue hiding nearby"?. And even if I did think that, for whatever reason, through which process exactly would I be able to actually detect said rogue? Woudn't the presence of other combatants make it even harder to search for guys who might be concealing themselves in the periphery? I mean, unless I'm severely misreading your comment here.
  21. Of course I've played Baldur's Gate. As I recall, those games did have AI scripts, which I made heavy use of to avoid this problem. Though that wasn't a perfect solution since A) some combats needed micromanagement, and B) the scripts were ultimately something that I had set, so the independence on the part of the companions didn't feel as genuine as it could be. As I said above, I think Fallout/Fallout 2's system was the best in this regard (which is not to say that I think it was the best game, merely that it got this one thing right).
  22. I breezed through Torment without ever controlling party members (except for pathfinding issues, and that weird bug where they'd sometimes target a party member after killing any enemy). The scripting in Baldur's Gate was also usually good enough to get the job done. The parts where I did have to assume direct control did break immersion, but I let it slide because of the overall quality of the game. Now, I get that you like the game, and you think that this aspect of it is a good thing, but let's leave that aside for now. Let's not even talk in terms of whether it's good or bad. Let's just go back to my very basic argument - that making the player control party members in combat is inconsistent with you not having control of them in other aspects. Now maybe to you this is something that doesn't even register, and I'm not faulting you for that, but for people like me it's a matter of immersion. It's like that other thread where the guy was asking for a walk option and people replied with "Why don't you just play in slow motion". It's an exercise in missing the point.
  23. Well yeah, I did fear as soon as they announced their intentions that the desire to create a game that's a cross between Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale (going by what was in the early promo material) might result in an awkward situation like this where the parts don't fit too well. Having said that, if you regard the old IE games as ones that were primarily tactical combat rather than role-playing (or even as games where the tactical combat was as important an aspect as the role-playing), that's fine and all, but I daresay it's not the definitive way to characterize those games. Torment, for instance - it had a nominal amount of combat by necessity, but if I were to call it a "squad-based tactical combat game with elements of role-playing" I'd just sound silly. It's kind of sort of true for Icewind Dale and it sequel (though even then I know quite a few people who breezed through on easy mode because they didn't really care about the combat and just liked the quests and writing).
  24. Oh absolutely, I don't want GOG to turn nto Steam. I'd actually prefer all achievements to be within the actual game that they're associated with anyway, even when it comes to games I play on Steam. Some of them are, but most of them aren't; they just take the lazy way out and put it all on Steam.
  25. First of all, it has nothing to do with difficulty, so hopefully that preempts any "play on easy mode" comments. It has to do with what I see as the basic nature in the game, and was brought on by an exchange I saw in another thread. Someone was wondering why spellcasters didn't just cast the appropriate spells automatically, and someone replied to the effect of "Well do you just want to watch the computer play the game for you?" My answer to that question is "yes", and for a very specific reason. At its core, Pillars of Eternity isn't a squad-based tactical combat game. It's a role-playing game where you're in control of one central character who just so happens to make certain friends over the course of his travels. As the game makes clear, these companions aren't under your control - you can't, for instance, decide what they'll say or how they'll react in social situations. So to me, it would be consistent to apply that to combat as well. That doesn't mean that you have no input at all, just that this input should be in the form of you giving them general instructions while talking to them, rather than handpicking each of their actions during combat. As clunky as it was, I liked the system in Arcanum very much. The companions acted on their own, and in fact they had their own leveling schemes as well, so they truly felt like independent individuals who just happened to be with you at that moment, as opposed ot units under your control in some strategy game. I believe Fallout and Fallout 2 did this as well, though it's been a while since I played those games so I might be mistaken. On the other hand, in games like Icewind Dale I felt perfectly happy managing the entire squad, because in essence I was the entire squad. I created all the characters, decided their race and class, chose who they spoke to and what they said, so it made sense that I had the same level of control in combat as well. Now, I don't know if system similar to Arcanum would be technically feasible here. I feel like the combat system has gone a bit overboard to the point where even on easy mode you don't really have much of a chance if you limit yourself to controlling just one character (even if the rest did have halfway competent AI). But I still think it would be desirable at least in principle. And to preempt another common argument: yes, I realize that some people enjoy the squad micromanagement. I'm not saying that the option should be taken away - just that it would be better for there to be an option for people who want to play differently.
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