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PsychoBlonde

Playing Baldur's Gate again--most of it feels a bit empty

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I like the idea of having "random encounters" like these, with the difficulty of the encounters progressing through the length of the game. Putting the player in combat regularly can help to center the balance of all the other strategic components throughout the length of the game, so you can have something along these lines:

Combat and enemy encounters should be designed so that the player would have to figure out how certain abilities or combinations of abilities work in order to deal with them. The demands of enemy encounters would be simple and varied at first, then go on to be more and more complex as you learn, so that you will have to properly use more and more of your characters' combat abilities as they increase. The same goes for most of the game's strategic components, even outside of combat. Later challenges will demand that the you bring you knowledge and experience from earlier in the game, where there was maybe some more room for trial and error, though it would still have been demanding enough that you had to learn the ins and outs of the resources available to you.

 

There are all kinds of things that the devs can (and should) do with these "random" or "generic" encounters, like putting them on night/day cycles, having appropriate kinds of monsters spawning after completing a portion of the game where you get new abilities, resources, etc., or having enemy ecnounters appear on timers. And everything should be appropriate to the story, of course (and vice versa, of course).

 

The Fallout/Arcanum travel system is pretty cool, but I don't have any problems with the Baldur's Gate 2 system. BG1, well... It has a lot of wilderness. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if it had a few less waypoint in between big important places.

As far as "travel" goes, anything would be better than completely non-interactive representation of space, like in BG2. The BG1 wilderness was pretty sparse, but wouldn't have been nearly as bad if the walk speed wasn't so damn slow.

Edited by Game_Exile

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I loved the wilderness areas in BG1. I liked it precisely because many maps were largely empty with a one or two nice encounters on them. It really added to the atmosphere and the feeling that I was in the wilderness.

 

The emptiness itself is what added that extra layer of fun for me. First time playing, I ran headlong into that Ogre mage and nymph encounter and died. Then I ran into a pack or direwolves and vampire wolves, then straight into basilisks. I quickly learned to have my ranger or thief always scout ahead and while chances are there would be nothing since most of the map is empty, there still was a chance that something horrible could be lurking somewhere. The emptiness added to the tension and the excitement when I discovered something new.

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DAO felt claustrophobic to me, like I was always in a small room, and nothing seemed to exist outside what was needed for plot, making it feel less like a world. Therefore I am all for larger areas and places and events that don't necessarily have a point, though not stupidly large or at the expense of other things, I don't want to backtrack over miles of empty already explored terrain either unless its interesting.


"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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Put me down as one who likes the whole BG1 exploration feel vs the more streamlined BG2 and forward feel. Been playing BG:EE since Sunday and other than the much smaller mobs I'm still into the wide open spaces with the occasional encounter one often has to search out to find.

 

I'm also OK with the slow walking speed of BG1 and would suggest PE offer multiple walk/run speed options if possible.

 

I really really prefer relatively large open mapped game areas (preferably with a fog of war to determine where you have or have not been) that need to be explored to discover whats there whether it is treasure, ingredients, or encounters vs a series of pathways where everything you can interact with is on the path.

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Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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I've been exploring those BG1 spaces in BG:EE lately, and I've come to a conclusion:

 

Bioware enjoyed putting TOTAL CRAZIES on those maps.

 

The fortune-teller/palm-reader lady (in the middle of nowhere, mind), the doctor trying to make amends (why isn't he closer to a city with sick people), the star-gazer who gives you an earful (comes towards you and then screams at you to go away), the dwarf who talks about his dream (fantastic scroll, thanks), even this girl who lost her cat (what kind of parents let her play in an area with a dire wolf or whatever). The tough mage merchant by the xvart village (dude, hawk your fake wares at the carnival or something). Et cetera.

 

Wow, the BG1 wilds are just chock full of singular crazy folks! :aiee: I mean, they're interesting to meet and all, gives a bit of flavor to that corner, but their placements don't make much sense. Those small groups of evil mercenary/blah types waiting to kill you--those are fun and can make sense if they're out in the wilderness hunting down quarry. But most of the noncombat encounters...

 

At least the cabin of hunters vs druid made more sense with the immediate surroundings, along with the Fist deserter. The mage experimenting on slimes, fine, since mad scientists can be out in the wilderness. The archaeological dig is always interesting (I tried to fight that spirit guardian at level 1-2, didn't work out so well). One of my favorites has to be the "boy" and his lost "puppy."

 

So I request that Project Eternity have some empty far-out spaces like this but include noncombat encounters that make more sense. Like a lost merchant caravan. A family of anti-metropolis homesteaders. A camp of diaspora. A real hermit. And, if possible, randomly draw some of the crafted encounters (both combat and noncombat) from a limited pool for per-playthrough variety.

 

The scenery--the landscape range is fine for the Sword Coast geography. There's enough topographical variety given the limited geographical scope, so while I understand how some might tire of the "green limestone" look, it's not like the landscape was tiled or anything. The Sword Coast just had a smaller range along with less geological diversity. Some entire American states are a swath of the same flat grassy field while other states with smaller area contain vast variety (think Kansas versus Maryland). I think most people can agree that Obsidian wouldn't go wrong with a wide variety of geological formations and geographical diversity (desert, mountains, marshland, snowy areas), but at the same time, that depends on how much of the world map will be revealed for Project Eternity's first installment since this will hopefully be a franchise.

 

BG2 was better in this regard but contained fewer true exploration maps (the one I'm thinking of is actually forced, so there may not even be any true random exploration maps, huh). I suppose something between BG1's low-density approach and BG2's would be great. At least, it's important that each map be unique enough to be be recognizable for the player.


The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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Instead of fully random encounters in the "exploration areas," why not pull from a pool of crafted encounters?

 

This is more what I meant--have some that are just random "five wolves attack" and have others which are crafted. The random element would be in precisely when/where they show up, not necessarily all the aspects of the encounter.

 

Which is essentially the same thing as special encounters in the original Fallout games (obviously Tactics and BoS don't count. Obviously.)

Edited by AGX-17

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I've been exploring those BG1 spaces in BG:EE lately, and I've come to a conclusion:

 

Bioware enjoyed putting TOTAL CRAZIES on those maps.

 

The fortune-teller/palm-reader lady (in the middle of nowhere, mind), the doctor trying to make amends (why isn't he closer to a city with sick people), the star-gazer who gives you an earful (comes towards you and then screams at you to go away), the dwarf who talks about his dream (fantastic scroll, thanks), even this girl who lost her cat (what kind of parents let her play in an area with a dire wolf or whatever). The tough mage merchant by the xvart village (dude, hawk your fake wares at the carnival or something). Et cetera.

 

Wow, the BG1 wilds are just chock full of singular crazy folks! :aiee: I mean, they're interesting to meet and all, gives a bit of flavor to that corner, but their placements don't make much sense. Those small groups of evil mercenary/blah types waiting to kill you--those are fun and can make sense if they're out in the wilderness hunting down quarry. But most of the noncombat encounters...

 

At least the cabin of hunters vs druid made more sense with the immediate surroundings, along with the Fist deserter. The mage experimenting on slimes, fine, since mad scientists can be out in the wilderness. The archaeological dig is always interesting (I tried to fight that spirit guardian at level 1-2, didn't work out so well). One of my favorites has to be the "boy" and his lost "puppy."

 

So I request that Project Eternity have some empty far-out spaces like this but include noncombat encounters that make more sense. Like a lost merchant caravan. A family of anti-metropolis homesteaders. A camp of diaspora. A real hermit. And, if possible, randomly draw some of the crafted encounters (both combat and noncombat) from a limited pool for per-playthrough variety.

 

The scenery--the landscape range is fine for the Sword Coast geography. There's enough topographical variety given the limited geographical scope, so while I understand how some might tire of the "green limestone" look, it's not like the landscape was tiled or anything. The Sword Coast just had a smaller range along with less geological diversity. Some entire American states are a swath of the same flat grassy field while other states with smaller area contain vast variety (think Kansas versus Maryland). I think most people can agree that Obsidian wouldn't go wrong with a wide variety of geological formations and geographical diversity (desert, mountains, marshland, snowy areas), but at the same time, that depends on how much of the world map will be revealed for Project Eternity's first installment since this will hopefully be a franchise.

 

BG2 was better in this regard but contained fewer true exploration maps (the one I'm thinking of is actually forced, so there may not even be any true random exploration maps, huh). I suppose something between BG1's low-density approach and BG2's would be great. At least, it's important that each map be unique enough to be be recognizable for the player.

 

I like your observations. However I disagree that the PE world should have less crazies. I'd argue that most adults on modern earth are completely nuts. Give earthlings swords & sorcery and they will make the Sword Coast peoples look like a nice collection of well balanced, logically thinking, calm and reasonable individuals.

 

Whose parents would let their kid play out in the woods with Dire wolves? Lots, and I wouldn't necessarily fault them for it. Different folks have different values as well as perceptions of danger. The girl might have been out without permission too: did you never go anywhere you parents forbade you? Or maybe she just came from a family that hoped she wouldn't come back, or didn't know about the Dire wolves. Who knows.... use the imagination.

 

Keep in mind too that each area map of BG represented a place of interest. You had to travel to them and random encounters sometimes happened along the way. Presumably the girl lived not far from the map you find her on, but the house she lived in was uninteresting when the party traveled by it (if they did). There were X hours of traveling between each area, and each area only took a few minutes to walk through. That means the vast majority of the Sword Coast was populated by peoples uninteresting and encounters uninteresting enough to put on a map.

 

I also very much preferred that map and exploration of BG1 to BG2 or any of the other Infinity games. Baldur's Gate did the world map exploration better than any RPG game I've played before or since. It most closely represented what one would find in a good pen and paper game. It allowed you to explore, finding random interesting things that had nothing to do with the main plot, or maybe did. It fleshed out the world. It allowed backstory. It didn't hold your hand much either (like most modern games... ie: *(?@)! the 'quest compass' and the ridiculous symbols over quest givers and enders heads, *bleep* them hard).

 

You're spot on about the geographic feature complaints too. I'm 100% alright with little variety in geography if our tale isn't spanning a globe. And heck, maybe our tale takes place on a planet with only one major geographic feature: ie: Dune.

Edited by Valsuelm
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The Fallout/Arcanum travel system is pretty cool, but I don't have any problems with the Baldur's Gate 2 system. BG1, well... It has a lot of wilderness. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if it had a few less waypoint in between big important places.

 

The Arcanum system is especially cool in that it has the empty wilderness feeling of BG1 when you don't use the fast travel system. Compared to BG Arcanum is a real vast emptiness, though.

 

While the wilderness-exploration was nice in BG1, what bothered me more in BG2 is the tight packing, there was not a single are that wasn't involved in a quest, most several of them. BG1 felt right for the setting, you could aimlessly wander around or follow the road, exploring the countryside gave a few interesting encounters, but usually there wasn't much to do. BG2 removed playing out the traveling, which was okay, as a mid-level adventurer party shouldn't find it noteworthy that they were bothered by wolves and a couple of gibberlings on the way to the next town. The problem for me was that you couldn't go two steps in town without stumbling over a quest, a NPC/creature involved in a quest or a lich.


"You are going to have to learn to think before you act, but never to regret your decisions, right or wrong. Otherwise, you will slowly begin to not make decisions at all."

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I like your observations. However I disagree that the PE world should have less crazies. I'd argue that most adults on modern earth are completely nuts. Give earthlings swords & sorcery and they will make the Sword Coast peoples look like a nice collection of well balanced, logically thinking, calm and reasonable individuals.

 

I don't mean clinical crazy RAAUGH types; I mean otherwise seemingly rational individual NPCs placed crazily (or with little forethought, little explanation, no hooks for imagining how they got there). Like the fortune-teller. The dwarf who dreamt about you. Basically, that type of encounter can dangerously lead the player to think "why did the developer do that?" rather than an immersive conversation of some kind. Just a bit more content in the dialogue could make those encounters feel less off-kilter and more anchored in their immediate realities, like the miner-turned-fisherman by the abandoned house.

 

I also very much preferred that map and exploration of BG1 to BG2 or any of the other Infinity games. Baldur's Gate did the world map exploration better than any RPG game I've played before or since. It most closely represented what one would find in a good pen and paper game. It allowed you to explore, finding random interesting things that had nothing to do with the main plot, or maybe did. It fleshed out the world. It allowed backstory. It didn't hold your hand much either (like most modern games... ie: *(?@)! the 'quest compass' and the ridiculous symbols over quest givers and enders heads, *bleep* them hard).

 

Oh yes, the minimap, quest markers, so on... Hopefully PE won't have any of that anywhere. In terms of "backstory," I'm not sure the low-density areas in BG1 really had that. Rather, I think a more interesting issue for the free exploration is allowing quests to span the maps. The specific bounties are good examples that send people out to the wilderness (the evil cleric, whose crazy was fleshed out*) without any particular direction, for high risk/reward. The chicken quest was also good in that regard. And then stick around to explore the rest of the map...

 

 

*Edit: That kind of CRAZY can be well done when there is more backstory to it. And it may not even be given by the NPC him/herself. Like overhearing rumors or finding an abandoned house on one map containing clues and then a crazy and "seemingly rational" NPC on another map. Basically, I'm asking for more depth to these kinds of low-density encounters, I suppose, precisely because they're on low-density maps.

Edited by Ieo

The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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I absolutely love the emptiness and exploration of BG1. I sincerely hope PE will be similar and avoid the cramped feeling of most of the other crpg's I have played.

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Yeah, liked the BG1 'exploration' feel (for the most part) but disliked the emptyness and generally preferred BG2. Looking forward to PE combining the 2 as they've mentioned. Also a lot of random crazies in BG that feels weird playing again (i know i've said that before but srsly...weird).

Edited by Adhin

Def Con: kills owls dead

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BG1 had some areas that were just about right, and others that could have used a couple of extra encounters. Something inbetween BG1 and 2 would be fine as I and many others have said.

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BG2 felt like a story with a bunch of side-stories.

BG1 felt like a 'world'.

 

If those wilderness areas were more tightly packed with content it would have felt more like BG2.

Both are awesomely great, so it really comes down to which do you prefer: storytelling or exploring.

I prefer BG1 myself.

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I'm glad I'm not alone in this. Baldur's Gate 1 was an amazing ADVENTURE. Yes, adventure. It's not only the goal that is important (quest points, etc.), but the journey itself. I've never gotten that feeling of adventure in any other game I've ever played. The empty parts of the maps were great because you felt like you were trekking through the wilderness, finding your way to wherever you wanted to go.

 

Someone also mentioned that it added tension because you never knew what you were going to find in the wild, which makes perfect sense. Most RPGs these days try to hold your hand the entire way, and you never feel like you're in danger because you are in your "level appropriate" zone.

 

The whole exploration/wilderness aspect of Baldur's Gate made it feel much more natural and realistic, not to mention making finding a town that much more rewarding, and actually felt like a relief after spending all that time in dangerous areas.

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I didn't have an issue with the slow rate of wilderness exploration in BG. But there are probably a couple of things that amplified the slow marching rate:

 

The first was the enemy reaction: if you progressed in small chunks, then you were more likely to encounter just the outlying members of a larger group. Low level characters die easily, so it felt more sensible to whittle down enemy forces a few at a time. But if the enemy AI had caused them to react as a group, then this behavior would have been pointless.

 

The second was the disruption in formation caused by the party movement. Characters with lighter armor moved faster, so that meant the "weaker" party members usually got there in the van of your expedition. Moving larger distances only increased this discrepancy. If you weren't careful, you could end up facing tough opponents with your wizard and thief while the fighters raced to catch up. It'd have been nice if first contact with the enemy automatically kicked in a "reform party" action. Alternatively, the cross-country movement could maintain a cohesive marching order.

 

I did notice that when I replayed it later, the wilderness exploration went much faster because I already knew what to expect.

Edited by rjshae

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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Actually nothing hampers movement speed in BG except weight loads and spells like Grease / Slow. Usually the character you gave the Boots of Speed would run ahead first, everyone else trekked behind.

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Actually nothing hampers movement speed in BG except weight loads and spells like Grease / Slow. Usually the character you gave the Boots of Speed would run ahead first, everyone else trekked behind.

 

BG1 was originally slower than BG2, right? I don't know where BGEE is in terms of default speed.

 

PS:T had both walk/run modes. That would be the best of both worlds.


The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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BG1 "Ha puny overgrown lizard what can you do against the almighty party of six! the heroes of Nashkel the killers of ... wait what's hapening to the party what the F is hap..." You are dead.

 

Ahhhh ... good times.

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Actually nothing hampers movement speed in BG except weight loads and spells like Grease / Slow. Usually the character you gave the Boots of Speed would run ahead first, everyone else trekked behind.

Right, yet the party order can get greatly muddled up because of pathfinding issues. The result is that low armor characters can end up arriving well ahead of your tanks. It just doesn't favor rapid advances.

Edited by rjshae

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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I agree with people who say that it's ultimately about pacing. An exciting encounter every five minutes makes the game feel urgent, while an uneventful stroll for 15-20 minutes makes the game feel slow. Slow games don't have to be boring, but they do have to make up for the slowness: great atmosphere / scenery, banter between companions, meticulous world building, etc.

 

Wandering in a vast wilderness ought to feel that way. But at the same time, there are ways to not make this a boring affair. World building is rather important here - what is it about the journey that stokes a player's imagination? Tolkien is a great example. A lot of his books are about trekking through hills and swamps without major encounters happening, yet the world building in them kept readers reading. The question is how you transform this into games.


There are doors

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I loved BG1's wilderness areas too. They gave it the feel of a world instead of just a series of areas. However, if there's an overland map like in Fallouts or Storm of Zehir, such areas are unnecessary. The overland map is even better in giving that feel and satisfying the wanderlust.


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I have always loved BG1's style better when it comes to how you moved around it. I definitely liked it more than BG2's system where I could only go to an area that I had a quest that would take me there. I wanted to leave the city and explore, but I couldn't. BG1 could have had more in it for sure, but at least it didn't hold my hand and point me in specific directions. However, this is a preference thing. I remember a few weeks after BG2 released I was the only one in my group of friends that didn't like the lack of exploration. So, to each their own.

 

I think the only thing that hampered BG1 was the terrible journal, because if you didn't solve everything then and there... you were likely to lose the quest deep in the journal.

 

As to BGEE and its movement system. I do believe it is running the BG2 engine, and as such the movement speeds are faster now. Not 100% on the movement speed situation though.

 

I hope PE takes the open freedom from BG1, and refines it. The BG2 system, or the DAO system on that note, are far too restrictive IMHO.

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