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About Barleypaper

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  1. Tsh, "good". I eat "good" games for breakfast. I want a game that, well, > BG2. Spoilers, it's Planescape: Torment I refuse to let Deadfire go off and be its own game, with its own fans. It had the gall to call itself a spiritual successor to BG and it needs to answer for every single last one of its heinous deviations from the sacred IE formula! Or perhaps I just enjoy belittling the hard work of Obsidian Entertainment. Probably that.
  2. That's a terrible point; When one choice leads to success and the other one dooms you to fail, then there's no point in giving you a choice at all. When all available long-term choices are more or less equally valid then you get a system in which the game won't punish you for playing the way you want to - and isn't that the whole point of offering any sort of character customization in the first place? It's also a system that wont punish you, full stop. That's the problem. I'd rather be constrained by a system that punishes thoughtless action than let loose in a bubble-wrapped sandbox.
  3. There's nothing for them to figure out if they don't agree it smells bad in the first place, though. So you'd have to be rather more explicit on why balance-oriented design is a bad thing to convince them. Although I must say I don't see it as anything other than positive, good balance is of rather fundamental importance to the quality of (almost) any game as far as I'm concerned. I think it's less the application of balance where it's needed (if such need can be identified), something I'd agree is a positive thing, and more the abstract "balance-above-all" paradigm. The most obvious and egregious (for me) example being the notion that all classes should be equally powerful, equally viable and without any bad builds. I don't need to explain the advantages of this kind of system, they are obvious. But the problem should be equally obvious; if you don't let people build bad characters or parties, if you don't allow them to fail, then what was the point of giving them a choice at all? I don't think this kind of "player experience tempering" has any place in a singleplayer party-based RPG inspired by the IE games. Which is not to say that it doesn't work well in many other contexts, i.e. multiplayer games (he says condescendingly). Another example: encounter balancing. PoE1 tried a tentative per-encounter approach to combat, Deadfire fully embraced it. The reasoning, I'm told, behind the abandonment of the health/stamina system and the all-but-meaningless rest-system in Deadfire was to allow developers to more easily balance encounters. i.e. if you know exactly how many resources the player has at their disposal for a fight (all of them) then you know exactly how hard to make the encounter. Whether this worked out or not is irrelevant, the point I will make here is simply that, for the sake of the holy grail of balance, they threw out almost the entirety of the game's strategic layer. This, undeniably, had a big impact on the feel of the game and the experience of combat. Some might say it was worth it. Some might say they took the crawl out of dungeon-crawl and made their game an ARPG (nothing wrong with ARPGs, mind, but this is a discussion about BG2 > Jesus). Also, combat is a toggle because the game is scared to let you break it. Let me break you, game.
  4. I'm rather tired of people saying "BG2 isn't perfect", as though there exist some legion of impenetrably dim grognards who believe otherwise. Of course BG2 isn't perfect. But it was, and still is, loved by many people for many good reasons (yes, even after removing all nostalgia-enhancing headgear; not everyone played BG for the first time 20 years ago, nor is everyone in this thread incapable of exercising objectivity). Anyway... I actually agree with both of your strange thoughts completely. A perfectly balanced single player game (especially one where you build your own character) is boring. When everything is equal, nothing is special. This. For numerous, subtle reasons. The whole design focus of the game is balance-oriented. I think that many people, ostensibly including Obsidian and/or Josh Sawyer, don't understand how this can be a bad thing. I'm not sure I do, either, fully. But I know a bad smell when I smell it and I wish developers could figure it out.
  5. I think you can build interesting settings where magic is ubiquitous, but I think PoE has fallen a little bit short, for me. The problem I have with Eora is that it's powered by 1-size-fits-all phlebotinum batteries, "souls". It's, in my opinion, boring. gkathellar mentioned the "bizarro-universe charm" that D&D had as a contrast to this. D&D had almost as many supernaturally-enabled classes as PoE, but they each drew their power from some different, eldritch, esoteric source; mages/sorcerers from the weave and the like (similar to soul power), clerics/paladins from the gods (a fickle, external source), monks through sheer "mind over matter", not to mention psychics. Even fighters, if you handwave their apparently superhuman physical prowess, could be "magical" by wielding various artifacts of power. You know, like heroes from mythology did. People say "wizards shouldn't be special because fighters should be special as well", or the like. OK, but I'd argue that fighters have always been special in D&D, and derivative works, precisely because they don't have magic and still kick ass (Conan has already been mentioned). PoE loses a little of that. But, it's ultimately a narrative choice they've made and they have to stick with it. I'm not really against the idea of "everyone is a soul wizard", I'd say it's just missing a little spice.
  6. Have to chime in here on one point (because I feel it's quite significant): Perhaps, then, the mechanics of the game should be taken at face value. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, I haven't decided.
  7. We still talking about writing AI which analysis situation and reacts accordingly. AI can’t think for itself, and will follow scripted reactions. Strangely enough, the more “intelligent” AI is, the more stupid it becomes ones you understand how it works. I played original XCOM for many, many years and never got bored with encountered, because AI is basic to the point it will often do illogical things and surprise you. New XCOMs have much more robust AI with enemies reacting to your move, focusing vonourable enemies, refusing to run throug overwatch, if it’s probably going to kill you. That also makes AI very predictable, and after couple of hours of game any resemblance of intelligence disappears, with AI reactions you can easily predict and abuse. I think this “simulation” is possible but in a much less wordy, procedural RPG. To me it seems like developing entirely different game, which doesn’t support the game you are actually creating. I think this is a really important point. Firstly, because it highlights the subtle and, often, unwanted effects that seemingly benign changes can have on the overall feel of a game. But also, more relevant to this topic, it demonstrates one of the key reasons for putting restrictions on your players in the first place: players are much, much smarter than your enemies will ever be (in terms of scripted AI in Unity, at least). Take the pre-buffing example: the proposed solution is to make enemies more reactive to player actions before combat begins. If the enemies can spot you "cheating", they'll jump you, or run away, or do a dance. The problem is that now players just need to learn the simple rules (and they'll need to be simple) which govern this behaviour and play around it. Or, better yet, exploit it. How about a different solution? Lets let player's pre-buff before fights but make the fights tougher, to compensate. Give the enemies plenty of dispelling magic and let them cast cheaty sequencers to instantly protect themselves. This is how Baldur's Gate solved the problem: again, by making their enemies smarter. Did it work? A little, not really. Depending on who you ask. It certainly made for some, quite literally, colorful fights. So, now you're back to where you started: don't let players cast buffs at all. Well, now your players have 1 less tool in their arsenal to have fun with. But fights are easier to balance; saves some development time! (I don't consider this to be a particularly discussion-worthy benefit, but some people seem to think it matters) The best way to stop players gaming a system is to limit the ways in which they can interact with it. If you disallow pre-buffing, players can't use it to trivialise combat encounters. If you remove instant-death effects from the game, players can't 1-shot dragons with Quivering Palm. If you place invisible walls around all your levels, players can't get out-of-bounds. In short, you can't win. You can either let players beat your AI bloody, or you can hamstring their attempts: shackle them down so they can only play by your rules, and make the game easier to balance. That's not to say that reactive AI can't be used well or have a positive impact on the challenge of a game. Or, that you should never restrict player freedom because it always detracts from the fun. You're going to end up with a mix of both: freedom + limitations = challenge. (Also, for my money, I think it helps if whatever restrictions you do add don't feel too artificial.)
  8. But what is this supposed shift in design philosophy? You keep talking as if BG was the big, open, interactive game while it was a complete opposite compared to RPGs that came before. KOTOR didn’t change design philosophy, Mass Effect didn’t change design philosophy. They all strived to do the same thing - somewhat interactive tight, well paced stories, with better and better visual presentation and mechanics to boost said story. Did I like BG more than those titles? Yes, but not because Bioware’s ideology has changed, but because BG was this odd child of niche RPGs trying to reach out to mass market. Later games they further distilled what people cared about and didn’t care about. At some point they become games I didn’t care about that much. But it was always what those games were. I wasn’t happy when Mass Effect2 became more of an action game than an RPG. But that was what Mass Effect really WAS. It was a hybrid marrying RPG with 3rd person action game. If, like me, you liked RPG elements... that’s cool but they didn’t really work in ME favour. Feel the same about BG and PoE. PoE gets rid of things which BG had due to it being an early adaptation of paper RPGs, but which didn’t work well with what BG was trying to be. If you want more of an unrestricted do-what-you-want-RPG, think Divinity2 is more like that (can’t say, didnt play it yet, but it seems to be going for it). I love Pulp Fiction and dislike later Tarantino movies. Not because he has changed but because I don’t really like what he goes for. As he kept pushing the envelope he lost me, while Pulp Fiction’s early, more quirky than shocking, Tarantino worked for me really well. PoE took the concept of BG and played around with it a bit; added features, removed mechanics, tweaked the setting, etc. Broadly, the design goal is the same: make a decently interactive, reactive, open-ish world, linearly told, dungeon crawley type RPG/RTS thing. But it's clear to me that they're not the same game. And I don't think they're even trying to be. You use the mainline Bioware RPGs as an example of how design philosophy can remain consistent across franchises. But I don't think that's applicable here. Would you say, for instance, that Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate had the same design goals? What about BG vs Planescape: Torment? All 3 of these games used the same engine, as well as most of the same mechanics. But none of them felt the same, to me at least. I think that this is also true for PoE; it's its own, unique experience with its own style and set of "restrictions", just like BG2. Now, that's fine. Good, even. Except that, as Lephys says: it's not enough to just be different, you also have to know what you're doing and do it well. The primary point of contention, for me, is that I disagree with a lot of what Josh Sawyer has to say about designing games. I think that some of the ideas he has, while well argued and "innovative", are detrimental to my experience to the degree that I am contemplating whether this game is ever going to really suit me. Which, again, is fine. If enough people like the kind of game PoE is, that's enough of a reason for it to continue existing, intact.
  9. This argument is so, so overused. Great fact. How does that help us? Fun is subjective, so everything is correct? So game designers should just do ALL things? Nothing is wrong, because nothing is not fun to someone. News flash... getting stabbed in the leg is subjectively fun to some people. Objectively, we know it to be fun for very few people. There's probably a reason for that. There are very few things that we form opinions about that aren't based on some kind of objective reasoning to arrive at that opinion. What's your favorite color? That's probably purely subjective, as it's basically happenstance that your brain prefers one color over others. But, what's the best way to design system X? That's partially subjective, but largely ob-jective. There are core values for everyone's opinion of gameplay. Puzzle games and fighting games are "completely" different, yet people still want the same basic principle of challenge out of both. So, if you want a pure simulation, that's fine. You can want that. But you can't want a game that's about a story at its core, but then is also about simulation at its core. One has to support the other. Basically, people can make a game that's about your favorite color, OR they can make a game that's about something else, in which your favorite color will not be the only color used because different color choice better served the goal of the game's design. Very few people subjectively like the idea of losing in a game. However, they tend to like the idea of winning in a game -- of overcoming something. By the very nature of this, the ability to fail to overcome something must be in the game, or you don't have a non-overcoming state, and therefore do not have an overcoming state, either. So, that's fantastic that fun is subjective. But the world runs on objectivity. Subjectivity is just some randomized variables thrown in that we have to deal with. You can't make a whole game based on subjectivity. "How much health should this guy have? I dunno... I like the number 7 billion. So he'll have that much health." What he was saying was that you can't have simulation just because you like it. That's not a good enough reason to put simulation mechanics into a game. They have to have an objective reason for being in the game, within the context of the rest of the game. Some people do like getting stabbed in the leg. You can make a game about that. I will concede, however, that it is a mostly pointless argument. Obviously, you generally do not want your design choices to be arbitrary. But everybody here is backing up their arguments with some kind of logic so that's not a problem. "What he was saying was that you can't have simulation just because you like it" Yes, and I disagree. But I don't need to convince anybody of that. I'm only protesting the shift in design philosophy away from the IE forumula that PoE is, supposedly, a spiritual successor to. That seems pretty reasonable to me.
  10. Does it get a pass? Never used food pre-buff unless I felt I had to. It was a boring, fiddly process which didn’t bring any depth nor interesting choices to the game. And that’s why I am happy to see in repurposed for an anti-too-much-resting-system for Deadfire. Honestly, if I was designing this game, I would remove all bland stat bumps. Food, potions, in-combat buffs, the lot. I don't buy the argument that "opportunity cost" makes such bonuses interesting in combat, either. +2 strength is never interesting me, except maybe as a permanent weapon effect. Even then, I'd prefer something more interesting, the effect of which I can actually notice and appreciate.
  11. I don't disagree, in essence. The point I'm trying to make is that what you see as bad design, I see as simply different design. To give an example: I enjoy playing the "weaker" classes in IE games precisely because they are weaker; it poses a unique challenge. Yes, I suppose I agree. BG was not a sandbox and combat was a big focus. For the most part, I wouldn't argue that PoE fails at being a spiritual successor. I'll also repeat that I don't actualy want pre-buffing, I'd just like people to stop ragging on it so hard. This topic isn't even about pre-buffing. I'll also state this: IE games all had a bunch of restrictions, too. I can't be a dwarf druid? I can't make friends with the umber hulks? Laaame. Restrictions are the essence of games, it's literally what they're made of. I just think PoE is leaning a little bit hard on the combat balance angle, at the moment.
  12. Absolutely. The point I was trying to make is that games are not simulations of reality. Yes, there a simulators, but even those aren’t simulations. I like flight sims, car sims, I enjoy sims like Kerbal Space Program or Oxygen not Included but they are all games not simulators. Statement that making fantasy game combat “realistic” is objectively better is ignoring what games are. Games don’t work because they are realistic. They work because of mechanics, which create interesting problems to interact with/solve. And, again, Baldur’s Gate was never a simulator. Why are spells limited per rest? How do you “forget them”? It’s a game mechanic from PnP RPG. One that worked fine in tabletop and didn’t translate all that well to cRPG. Never said BG2 sucked (again one of my fav titles of all time), but it had design flaws. I also refuse to acknowledge prebuffing as some kind of higher, more intelligent, sophisticated game design. I also accept and understand that it is what some people want, though I am convinced reasons they want it is not what OP claims it is. I did get annoyed by constant suggestions by OP that changes made to game system are due to lazyless, financial constrained and lack of creativity while never responding to arguments against such system. Yes, I agree. There are a lot of outrageous statements being thrown around and I think OP could have phrased his arguments much more reasonably. I don't agree with you saying that games are not simulations of reality. But, that's just semantics; I understand your point. No, simulations do not strive to recreate every aspect of the thing they are simulating. That would be tedious and impossible. However, RPGs do seek to create believable, semi-realistic, reactive worlds that can immerse players into some role. That's their goal as a game genre, the mechanics service the goal. This is what I mean when I say "simulation". Some people, and I'll even point my finger at Mr Sawyer here, seem to be under the impression that the most important facet of a fantasy RPG simulation is having a perfectly balanced combat system. I firmly believe that combat balance and "smooth gameplay" is not only less important than most people assume, it is sometimes detrimental to the overall experience. The clip from Overlord made me laugh but it was, obviously, a parody. To look at that and say: "this is why pre-buffing is bad game design" is absurd. One of Josh's oft-repeated arguments doesn't sit well with me: "i've worked on 3 games + 4 expansions that allowed pre-buffing and it always, uniformly results in a large power gap that grows in size as the levels pile on. for every pre-buff that is a hard counter or reactive spell, there are 2 or more straight stat bumps. the straight stat bumps are no-brainers before any fight, have no opportunity cost, and bias the fight heavily toward the party." This assumes that "a large power gap" is automatically a bad thing, it's not. It's simply a different experience. Yes, I played a wizard in BG2. So did a lot of people. I found it a fantastically fun and dynamic class despite, or perhaps because of, its blatant disregard for the rules and balance of the game. It's a single-player game. There is no contract of fairness and, from my experience, the lack of such a contract adds considerably to the believability of the simulation. (this argument really can't be stressed enough) Also, PoE has pre-buffing: food. And, this gives you a "straight stat bump". Eating food in PoE is a no-brainer. Why does this get a pass? (this argument is weaker, and can probably be stressed enough) I could go on and nit-pick everything Josh has ever said but I don't want to give the impression that I think he's wrong. His ideas just aren't conducive to the kind of experience I want. Call it "innovation", call it "good game design", I call it a series of well-intentioned steps in the wrong direction. YMMV.
  13. And if simulation is fun? What then? Designers strive to make the games they want to make, nothing more. We can keep saying BG2 sucked until Baator freezes over but the fact remains that I enjoyed it a good deal more than PoE. And that goes for the rest of the IE games, as well. Different people have different, equally valid, views on what is and is not fun. Because fun is subjective. This should go without saying.
  14. I can understand the mentality; other people have opinions about the game that seem to conflict with the things you like about it. Therefore, to protect your own enjoyment of the game you must shut down and/or counter these arguments. Everyone does this to an extend, myself included. It's not illogical, just unproductive. The only way to improve a system is to challenge it. Whether that be by discussing the merits of different mechanics on a forum or testing them out in-game. We can only do the former. When I started reading this thread I thought adding pre-buffing would make PoE2 more fun, for me, than PoE was. Now, I'm not so sure. I also thought that I liked the PoE attribute system. Now, I'm not so sure. Maybe later someone will be able to convince me that I don't want more out-of-combat spell/ability interactions, who knows! The important thing, for me, is that things that are important to me about this game are being discussed, even if that discussion process is slow, painful and, ultimately, leads to nothing changing whatsoever. Anyway, back on topic: I'd love more out-of-combat spell/ability interactions. Okay, buffs might be a no-go, but what about Friends, Wish, Contact Other Plane? More uses for existing spells or mundane abilities wouldn't go amiss either: e.g. Lighting explossives with Fireball (This seems like it will be in PoE2, yay), leaping/teleporting over/through obstacles, interaction with corpses (see Arcanum's Resurrect or Conjure Spirit spells (could be cast on ANY corpse in the game, often to hilarious effect)). I think PoE1 lacked these sorts of interactions specifically because they were short on time/resources and not because of any philosophical opposition to their implementation. After all, their solution was to boil these sorts of things down to scripted interactions: a feature explicitely designed to save development time while still letting them add to the RPG experience. Of course, scripted interactions are nice and I wouldn't want to see them go. But, can we take a step back now and look at making the rest of the game more dynamic (read: less restricted), as well?
  15. What you're saying is not wrong but there is a middle-ground between a full simulacrum of a fantasy world and an arcade hack'n'slash where you get power-ups from gobbling up cherries. Josh makes a lot of good points about game design but I believe there's more to designing a good CRPG than just "getting the numbers right". Case in point: Baldur's Gate 2 (archaic attribute system, hideous class inbalance, etc)
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