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IWD2's use of 3E was a mistake


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JES NOTE: This topic was transplanted from the 4E thread in pen and paper. Please contribute your opinions on the terrible monstrosity that was IWD2 3E and the shining jewel of perfection that was 2nd Ed. in all other IE games.

 

Sawyer has suffered a lot of harsh criticism over the years. Hell, some of my praise counts as such. ...But I've never known anyone from Gromnir to Sand to say that Sawyer didn't play it straight. By playing it straight, I mean giving honest and open opinions within the confines of his position. Please don't respond by saying you saw him double park.

 

3E over 2E was an easy sell, for most people anyways, when you look at the state 2e was in by the late 90's with the goofy player option books and the now forgotten Birthright campaign... which with printing costs alone might have sunk the company. 4E over 3.5 will I think be a much harder sell, especially if they've done away with spell books and the way wizards learn spells, which I begin to suspect is what they mean by getting rid of Vancian magic. It can't be the once a day arcane powers, obviously, as that's about the same. And he's probably straight... whether normal or jack tripper straight I'm not sure... Hope he stays straight.

 

 

 

What does that have to do with my opinion on the various editions of D&D? Do you challenge the BioWare devs' opinions on D&D by saying, "Neverwinter Nights, a 3E game with no bonus stacking rules"?

 

It has nothing to do with it. It just shows a tendency to push the new system out the door, whether it's a good idea or not. At the time, in the waning days of BG2 throne of bhaal and the infinity engine it did seem a bit like jumping on a bandwagon attaching 3e rules to that old engine. And I prefer the way NWN does stacking. It's problem is having items boosting the same stat across multiple slots... ring of clarity and headband of intellect for intelligence for instance. With judicious loot drops and a bit of restraint you can work around that though.

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It has nothing to do with it. It just shows a tendency to push the new system out the door, whether it's a good idea or not.

If you think it would have been better to stick with 2nd Ed. than to change the engine as we did, I cannot disagree with you more strongly. There's stuff that BioWare never got working even according to 2nd Ed. rules (and, in fact, would have been very difficult to change given the code base) that we got working properly according to 3E rules for IWD2. For example: multiclassing. On a personal level, I feel the incomplete 3E in IWD2 was still better than the incomplete 2nd Ed. in the other IE games. Based on the reviews that sites and individuals gave to IWD2, I think that the general consensus was that the use of 3E was one of the things that made IWD2 very appealing to many people.

 

Our content in IWD2 was very uneven, but I feel that the gameplay was great, and our implementation of 3E was a huge part of that. ToEE got 3.x gameplay as good as it can get (though again, some bad content). NWN and IWD2 both really had good 3E gameplay (though I am biased toward IWD2), but neither was a "complete" 3E implementation. And then we have PoR:RoMD. PoR:RoMD was rushed out. NWN and IWD2 were not, and I don't think their gameplay felt like "rush jobs".

 

And I prefer the way NWN does stacking.

NWN doesn't have a system for stacking; its various spell and item scripts arbitrarily check for the presence of other effects and occasionally suppress them from stacking. That's the opposite of systemic. It's arbitrary and was vulnerable to (a great deal of) human error.

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The gameplay was still infinity engine gameplay which, lacking attacks of opportunity, the importance of which to 3E combat and feel cannot be overstated, spoiled attempts at the transition. Combat was pretty much as it had been in previous IE games(disarm?, knockdown/trip? sneaks? nope.). IWD2 had an excellent spell list, but many were home brewed and would have functioned just as well under 2E. Multiclassing is close to kits, which are just as good... people knew 'em from BG.

 

Not sure what is meant by arbitrary. Unless case/switch functions are written in to make it appear arbitrary, the script will do the same thing every time. Likewise with swapping items and the "you have multiple items which grant deflection and they will not stack" message we've all seen a bazillion times. How is that arbitrary?

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The gameplay was still infinity engine gameplay which, lacking attacks of opportunity, the importance of which to 3E combat and feel cannot be overstated

Actually, I think it is overstated. AoOs are an integral, and contested, part of 3E combat. Not necessarily "great". They work reasonably well in a tabletop turn-based environment. They work less well (and make a lot less sense) in a real-time CRPG environment. For an example that supports this, NWN's handling of AoOs felt very haphazard due to when they went off and how they were executed. They were great in ToEE because they were modeling the tabletop environment very closely.

 

Not to mention how feats like Power Attack and Combat Expertise worked in NWN vs. IWD2. Or skills like Parry and Discipline in NWN, which had no real basis in 3E. Similarly, knockdown in NWN was not mechanically modeled on the 3E rules. Or how spontaneous healing was handled, cleric domain spells, etc., etc. Unless you're willing to criticize NWN for the same types of things you level against IWD2, I think you're making unfair criticisms.

 

IWD2 missed or changed a bunch of 3E stuff, as did NWN. I still don't think either felt like "rush jobs", despite the relative development times of both games. I really have to question the sanity and sincerity of people who say, "You know, I hate IWD2, but what really would have made it awesome are attacks of opportunity." It would be kind of like saying, "You know, I hate BG2, but it would have been a lot better if they took out all of the Spell Compendium content and put in the racial bonuses that 2nd Ed. characters should get."

 

Fundamentally, the things from 3E that we did put into IWD2 made it a lot better (in my opinion) than if we had just rolled on with the IE's 2nd Ed. implementation, which was still lacking in a lot of areas -- both from a general system perspective and an implementation perspective. That is, 2nd Ed. was terrible and stupid compared to 3E AND ALSO, the way that some of those 2nd Ed. elements were integrated in the IE was terrible.

 

Multiclassing is close to kits, which are just as good... people knew 'em from BG.

A kit is the same as being able to make a barbarian/ranger/rogue or a monk/wizard? I don't think they're equivalent at all. 3E multiclassing in IWD2 allowed you to mix virtually any combination of four classes and levels. In BG, BG2, and IWD, you couldn't even make certain class combos because of how the class tables were set up, stored in data, and referenced in code.

 

Not sure what is meant by arbitrary. Unless case/switch functions are written in to make it appear arbitrary, the script will do the same thing every time. Likewise with swapping items and the "you have multiple items which grant deflection and they will not stack" message we've all seen a bazillion times. How is that arbitrary?

Arbitrary meaning it was up to individual scripters to check for effects across the various ones used in the game. Effect types and stacking rules were not explicitly built into how the effects worked. It's very easy for someone to add a new script applying an effect that modifies a stat and never checks (or is never checked for) other effect states on the character. To be honest, I think it's pretty weird that you like how NWN's stacking rules work. Considering that stacking rules were almost universally seen as a positive thing for D&D, and that NWN's ability scores (especially) got incredibly out of control because there were virtually no stacking elements in place for many things, it's an odd thing to support.

 

When we brought the stacking rules to the attention of WotC during NWN2's development, they were very much in favor of switching to an implicit no-stack system instead of continuing with NWN's method of implicitly stacking most things.

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am not gonna quibble over minutiae on this topic as it really not matter no more. is never gonna be another commercial released game that could possibly face a 2e v. 3e problem. our input will therefore be unusually brief and to the point...

 

iwd2 did many things wrong, though we has come to dislike it less as time and perspective has caught up with us. that being said, other than Targos and its associated quests and characters, the thing that we puts at top of our short list o' iwd2 positives, were the 3e implementation. for Gromnir, iwd2 had the most enjoyable d&d rules implementation o' any ie game.

 

HA! Good Fun!

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I'd just like to say that I thought 3E in IWD2 was awesome, and a huge part of why I enjoyed the combat in the game so much. Also, I've rolled up more parties "just for fun", in IWD2 than in any other IE game, and that wouldn't have happened if not for 3E, of course.

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Yes. It's sad that the mod project, converting BG2 to run on the IWD2 engine, died out.

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Finally common sense prevails. I thought IWD2 in 3E was a mistake, they should have kept it at 2nd edition rules. Because of the rules it s one of the IE games next to PST that I don't play much. The good thing going for it was the subraces where you could play as a drow.

 

Long live IE!

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3E ---> 2E
:thumbsup:

 

When rule implementation is the highlight of a game something is wrong.

 

"If you think it would have been better to stick with 2nd Ed. than to change the engine as we did, I cannot disagree with you more strongly."

Depends, did focusing on the change take away from improving other aspects of the game - coherent story, bugs, NPC development and so on....

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:thumbsup:

 

3E crushed 2E

 

I'm just as contributing to this thread as is Gabs. I think I should just shut up

How can it be a no ob build. It has PROVEN effective. I dare you to show your builds and I will tear you apart in an arugment about how these builds will won them.

- OverPowered Godzilla (OPG)

 

 

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When rule implementation is the highlight of a game something is wrong.
How is something wrong? The rules are the core of gameplay. Many people buy games for gameplay. I'm not seeing the issue. More games should focus on their rules. Edited by Tale
"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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When rule implementation is the highlight of a game something is wrong.
How is something wrong? The rules are the core of gameplay. Many people buy games for gameplay. I'm not seeing the issue. More games should focus on their rules.

At the expenses of creativity? I do not think so.

 

Sorry not a big fan of rules at the expense of creativity. Hate rule lawyers even more.

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When rule implementation is the highlight of a game something is wrong.
How is something wrong? The rules are the core of gameplay. Many people buy games for gameplay. I'm not seeing the issue. More games should focus on their rules.

At the expenses of creativity? I do not think so.

 

Sorry not a big fan of rules at the expense of creativity. Hate rule lawyers even more.

How the heck is creativity even at odds with rules? That sounds like a leap.

 

Rules are the means of players interacting with a system. Players interacting with a system is the core of gameplay. Better focus on rules should lead to better interaction. Whether it's more consistent interaction, more comprehensive, or just more interesting.

 

Unless by "rule implementation" you're meaning "strict adherence to rules designed for a different system." But then the problem is poor implementation, not lack of creativity. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding your language.

Edited by Tale
"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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Depends, did focusing on the change take away from improving other aspects of the game - coherent story, bugs, NPC development and so on....

Not really, no. Most of the work was on myself and programming, and I didn't spend the majority of my time working on it. The other designers were barely affected by any of the 2nd Ed./3E changeover stuff. As with any game, IWD2 had bugs, but the number and severity of bugs was pretty mild compared to the other IE games.

 

Most of the major flaws in IWD2 were developed during the first few months of the project, when we believed we were on a much shorter timeline. It was difficult to restore coherency or make other large course corrections later on. The 3E implementation was on a three-phase timeline that Malavon and I outlined early on. We never really knew if we were going to hit Phase 2 or 3, but luckily we did.

 

EDIT: A lot of the coherency issues came to light relatively late in the project, when we started doing extensive playthroughs. By that time, we could recognize that there were problems, but we didn't have time to overhaul the areas. For example, Targos and Shaengarne and the Ice Temple all feel very different and had many different problems during the course of development. It probably would have taken a long time to get those three areas to feel "right" and to better establish the story and characters in them.

 

Areas like the Fell Wood and Black Raven Monastery were the victims of vision exceeding grasp -- not because Dave made bad inherently bad designs, but because he kept running into engine and scripting limitations. There were aspects of the engine with which he was familiar on PS:T that were different in IWD2's code base, but he often didn't realize the difference until he had put a certain amount of time and effort into going down a particular path. He was disappointed with how he wound up having to implement those areas.

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Before BIS made the switch to 3e they polled the general forum populous for a final confirmation.

 

The vast majority was in support of it.

 

Except maybe WinterWolf9090.

 

In general, I still support the decision. It gave a fresh breath of life to the final days of the IE engine.

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I actually looked forward to 3rd edition in a way I do not look forward to 4th edition. For that reason, I was glad when BIS changed the rules to 3e. Overall, I was quite happy with IWD2. The series is one of my favorites.

 

If we were getting a new DnD game from Obsidz and they decided to change over to 4th edition, I'd probably still be happy because, no matter what problems they face in moving to 4th edition, it's a good way to see a lot of the basic design in a new DnD edition. Something as simple as character creation can tell you a lot about the PnP design. And that's assuming that the electonic game won't be able fully to simulate the table top game. It never can.

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Simply, at the time I felt black isle should have forgotten about IWD2, Torn, or whatever and gone ahead with Fallout3, while showing some restraint and giving their first 3e title the full treatment... meta-magics, AoO, 3d iso and so forth. Put their best foot forward in other words. Instead, in a fit of excitement, with ants in pants, they stuck 3E on the IE just like lipstick on a pig... But I guess that's enough of the way back machine... My how the world could have been different...

 

Hard coded stacking? Code is never easy... it either works or it doesn't and is always prone to human error. And yes, in NWN I preferred the gratification of flexible stat manipulation the lack of ability score stacking allowed, maybe because there are less things to draw gratification from, combat & the need for stat manipulation occur more often, and durations for effects can always be timed in the back of one's head. Thus configuring one's gear and chugging the potion of strength at the opportune time. All so much more rigid in the paper game. The key is not making things like belts of agility+5 and bracers of dex +5 available while presenting interesting compromises... two rings of clarity +3 for the better DC or one ring +3 with the ring that grants extra slots?

 

But that's enough. Moral of the story being don't get ants in your pants over 4e.

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Simply, at the time I felt black isle should have forgotten about IWD2, Torn, or whatever and gone ahead with Fallout3, while showing some restraint and giving their first 3e title the full treatment... meta-magics, AoO, 3d iso and so forth. Put their best foot forward in other words. Instead, in a fit of excitement, with ants in pants, they stuck 3E on the IE just like lipstick on a pig... But I guess that's enough of the way back machine... My how the world could have been different...

You have a different view of history than I do. We were working on FR6/The Black Hound, a very faithful 3E game, when Torn was canceled. Interplay wanted us to make IWD2, because they knew that it could be developed much more quickly than F3 (F3 later used the Black Hound engine). The question for us was never "do IWD2 or do something else". It was "leave IWD2 as a 2nd Ed. game or make it a 3E game". We didn't put 3E into IWD2 in "a fit of excitement". We put it in with a very clear idea of what we could and could not do in phased periods of development. We knew we couldn't implement meta-magic feats. We knew we couldn't implement AoOs. Given the responses of pretty much everyone in this thread (other than you and one other person), almost every professional reviewer, and my personal opinion on how the 3E in IWD2 came out, I have no doubt it was the right decision to make.

 

Hard coded stacking? Code is never easy... it either works or it doesn't and is always prone to human error.

I still don't think you understand the difference. The IE built effects through item properties in the item editor or spell effects in the Spell-O-Matic. In IWD2, bonus types were built into the effect parameters, with types pulled from code and resolved in code (including "unnamed"). Stacking logic was resolved at the code level; it was not dealt with in the parameters or logic of a script, as it does in NWScript. Some armor bonus types are built into the NWN code base, but most of the other effect types are not defined anywhere. Of specific merit, enhancement bonuses essentially don't exist. That's why you can easily get dudes running around with 50 Strength: most bonuses are of the same undefined type, so there's no way to sort them. If applied bonuses in NWN had an bonus type parameter built into them 1) they could have been sorted according to THE RULEZ and 2) builders could still have applied bonuses with the "unnamed" bonus types to produce monstrous 50 Strength 10th level barbarians for their own campaigns.

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I've played a lot of games since getting my first computer in 1983, and in CRPGs there were many different rule sets. Heck I didn't get into D&D rules until 1990 when a friend introduced me to SSI's wonderful Pool of Radiance.

 

PoR was a blast, and I replayed it more than any modern CRPG, or any modern game for that matter. It had attacks of opportunity, though I don't recall if they were called such back then. Basically if someone was moving away from you, you got a free attack at their back. It also had a skill called Sweep available to fighters, that let them have a chance to, in a single attack, hit one small creature per character level, starting at level 2, though it was modeled as multiple attacks in the same round, due to engine limitations. I miss that skill whenever a modern CRPG pits my fighter against a bunch of kobolds or goblins. It was great for clearing out the trash so you could focus on the bigger enemies.

 

When Baldur's Gate came out I was excited about the story and the fact this was a brand new CRPG based on D&D rules. For a long time I was frustrated with Bioware for their bastardized real-time combat, but it grew on me after awhile. (SSI's Gold Box games, such as PoR, were entirely turn based.) Once games started including more Autopause options (especially Enemy Detected), I didn't mind it so much.

 

Moving on to IWD2, I love the game for the story and similar gameplay. Yes the rules are a bit different, and it took me awhile before it all sunk in, but I adapted. The only gripe I have with the game is that the translucent text bubbles lag the screen, but that might be a driver issue. I haven't loaded the game since installing latest Nvidia drivers, but I have noticed they fixed NWN's Shiny Water issue so I can enable it again and not see odd outlines around certain things. :lol:

 

By the same token, I enjoy NWN and NWN2 (party issues aside), again because of the stories and gameplay.

 

I don't care that Bioware has decided to make their own rules for Dragon Age. It could turn out to be a very good thing, for all we know. After all, many older games didn't buy into TSR's D&D rules, but they did derive from them somewhat, and they were successful (Ultima series, Bard's Tale series, etc.) I understand some people are passionate about the rules, but to me the story and gameplay are more important. A game could adhere 100% to the rules and implement most of them, yet fail to be fun if the story is uninspired and the gameplay is frustrating.

 

That said, I've modified the Baldur's Gate games to bring them closer to the D&D 2E rules, just for kicks. Bioware fudged a lot of things for "balance". Rather than write intelligent NPC AI, they invented invulnerability bubbles and whatnot so BG2 ends up being a mage war most times, while the other characters stand by ("Naught but air!" "Something's not right here!" "I hit, but no effect?!") waiting to collect the loot. On that basis I much prefer magic in the IWD series. It's still powerful, but it doesn't make other classes seem mostly useless while in combat.

 

Stacking in NWN wasn't an issue most of the time because I modified the 2DA to allow more things to stack (within reason). Why? Because I'm a virtual packrat and because I dislike games that give us limited storage space and yet throw gobs of items our way (this was never an issue in SSI's older games). The only time stacking proved to be an issue in NWN were those occasions when a quest item happened to share an item class with everyday items, and the script checking for a quest item wasn't capable of detecting it when it was flagged as stackable (even if it wasn't part of a stack). A good example is the mirror shards in HotU.

 

Anyway, I'd only say use of a certain version of rules is a mistake if it horribly breaks the game, but I don't see that as being the case in IWD2 at all, or the other game's I've played. In fact it's a lot of fun playing IWD2 immediately after finishing IWD, and seeing old friends (Orrick the Grey, etc.) and places once again.

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I admit I don't really understand Stephen Amber's core complaint.

 

Firstly, IWD2 was going ahead due to a variety of reasons (such as financial) and did nothing to contribute to the hold-up or eventual cancellation of Van Buren (F3) or the Black Hound (BG3). I think Sawyer himself can attest to this, and if anyone is peeved off by TBH's cancellation it's him.

 

Secondly, IWD2's 3E implementation missed things out, changed things, and so forth, but as everybody knows, you can't implement a tabletop system to a CRPG without changing, adding or missing out anything - not only is it difficult, it would be silly and wouldn't make a good game. While everybody always differs on what should have been left out, put in or changed, I thought IWD2 did feel quite distinctly different from the other IE games in the way it played and the way you developed your character, as much as could be expected with the IE engine. (I mean, even with AoO, it's still D&D, the NWN series didn't play *that* differently from IE games).

 

Thirdly, the generally agreed 'big flaws' of IWD2, such as lack of consistency across areas, doesn't really have a lot to do with whether the game was in 2E or 3E... the real problem, if anything, was the amazingly limited timeframe; Sawyer can probably explain (and has explained) this in more detail, but nevertheless.

 

Finally, it must be noted that as a very similar game to IWD1, if IWD2 remained in 2E it probably wouldn't have had much of an appeal at all - the reason that it occupies a good place in the IE pantheon and is still loved by some is because of the different gameplay 3E gives it, as well as some advantages only available to that latest iteration of the engine.

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