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The good, bad, and the ugly in Infinity Engine games


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You're breaking my heart Prime.  I think my avatar's a dead giveaway that i'm a BG fan at heart.  I don't even know where to begin to be honest as we seem to be completely opposite in how we view what makes a good game or not.  Baldur's Gate is OLD for one (we've talking close to 15 years here) and came at a time where close to every game was holding your hand as you played it.  Even Morrowind which is probably my favorite open ended variant or some of the Gothics wouldn't kick you in the nuts quite as hard as BG could if you strayed off the path slightly.  Basilisks were the definition of death and you could easily run into them if you didn't watch it.  Tack on some of the other nasty creatures you could bump into and the game could end up being a "How I died in the Forgotten Realms" the video game.

 

It kind of reminded me of my masochistic DM in my D&D days without his overly large ego.  The game let you do what you wanted... but you paid for it.  Still, despite the difficulty level, it rewarded you for exploring it's "depths".  Hidden treasure, way the hell out of the way side quests, enemies *worth* fighting (not the Raz falls asleep on keyboard and enemy dies type) and a horribly varied landscape.  Even it's bare bones maps gave you a specific feel because you're out in the wilderness (which is very open in real life and in the game).  Playing BG felt like playing D&D on my computer.  As for the story, music and VA we'll just simply have to disagree.  The opening BG title, the Cloakwood forest theme, even the Friendly Arm theme is all great atmospheric music.  Concerning the VAs if Sarevok or the narrator don't impress you then I really don't what to say.  To be honest i'm a little curious what you'll say about the BG II music.

 

Planescape: Torment however, will require a point in time where I have a little more time to express my thoughts.  I suppose i'll save that for later.

 

@Malekith

 

 

http://www.kickstart...des-of-numenera

It seems many people disagree with you.

As for the rest of your post, let's agree to disagree. You are the

person who said once that DA2 has better gameplay than IE games. Your

tastes are completelly ****ed up alien to me. We'll never agree.

 

Pointing to Tides of Numenera is not concrete evidence that people who enjoyed Planescape would back it.  Torment: Numenera *already* looks a hell of a lot better then Planescape was.

In what excactly?

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You're breaking my heart Prime.  I think my avatar's a dead giveaway that i'm a BG fan at heart.  I don't even know where to begin to be honest as we seem to be completely opposite in how we view what makes a good game or not.  Baldur's Gate is OLD for one (we've talking close to 15 years here) and came at a time where close to every game was holding your hand as you played it.  Even Morrowind which is probably my favorite open ended variant or some of the Gothics wouldn't kick you in the nuts quite as hard as BG could if you strayed off the path slightly.  Basilisks were the definition of death and you could easily run into them if you didn't watch it.  Tack on some of the other nasty creatures you could bump into and the game could end up being a "How I died in the Forgotten Realms" the video game.

 

It kind of reminded me of my masochistic DM in my D&D days without his overly large ego.  The game let you do what you wanted... but you paid for it.  Still, despite the difficulty level, it rewarded you for exploring it's "depths".  Hidden treasure, way the hell out of the way side quests, enemies *worth* fighting (not the Raz falls asleep on keyboard and enemy dies type) and a horribly varied landscape.  Even it's bare bones maps gave you a specific feel because you're out in the wilderness (which is very open in real life and in the game).  Playing BG felt like playing D&D on my computer.  As for the story, music and VA we'll just simply have to disagree.  The opening BG title, the Cloakwood forest theme, even the Friendly Arm theme is all great atmospheric music.  Concerning the VAs if Sarevok or the narrator don't impress you then I really don't what to say.  To be honest i'm a little curious what you'll say about the BG II music.

 

Planescape: Torment however, will require a point in time where I have a little more time to express my thoughts.  I suppose i'll save that for later.

 

@Malekith

 

 

http://www.kickstart...des-of-numenera

It seems many people disagree with you.

As for the rest of your post, let's agree to disagree. You are the

person who said once that DA2 has better gameplay than IE games. Your

tastes are completelly ****ed up alien to me. We'll never agree.

 

Pointing to Tides of Numenera is not concrete evidence that people who enjoyed Planescape would back it.  Torment: Numenera *already* looks a hell of a lot better then Planescape was.

In what excactly?

 

Taken from the kickstarter page:

 

Reactivity,

Choice, and Real Consequences. The game emphasizes replayability and

reactivity, and your choices will make a real difference. You can play the

game with a different approach and discover entirely new pathways. Most

important, we won't tell you how to play. The best ending is the one you

choose, flowing naturally from your actions throughout the game.

 

I see entirely new pathways listed there.  Planescape kicked you in the balls if you didn't play a high intelligence character (ie a Mage).  Assuming that their above statement is not untrue, then it would stand to reason that you'd have a hell of a lot more choice then you did in Planescape.  That would be only one of my many gripes with Planescape.

 

Anyways, i'll give you guys some better answers later on in the day when I have some more time.

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You're breaking my heart Prime.  I think my avatar's a dead giveaway that i'm a BG fan at heart.  I don't even know where to begin to be honest as we seem to be completely opposite in how we view what makes a good game or not.  Baldur's Gate is OLD for one (we've talking close to 15 years here) and came at a time where close to every game was holding your hand as you played it.  Even Morrowind which is probably my favorite open ended variant or some of the Gothics wouldn't kick you in the nuts quite as hard as BG could if you strayed off the path slightly.  Basilisks were the definition of death and you could easily run into them if you didn't watch it.  Tack on some of the other nasty creatures you could bump into and the game could end up being a "How I died in the Forgotten Realms" the video game.

 

It kind of reminded me of my masochistic DM in my D&D days without his overly large ego.  The game let you do what you wanted... but you paid for it.  Still, despite the difficulty level, it rewarded you for exploring it's "depths".  Hidden treasure, way the hell out of the way side quests, enemies *worth* fighting (not the Raz falls asleep on keyboard and enemy dies type) and a horribly varied landscape.  Even it's bare bones maps gave you a specific feel because you're out in the wilderness (which is very open in real life and in the game).  Playing BG felt like playing D&D on my computer.  As for the story, music and VA we'll just simply have to disagree.  The opening BG title, the Cloakwood forest theme, even the Friendly Arm theme is all great atmospheric music.  Concerning the VAs, if Sarevok or the narrator don't impress you then I really don't what to say.  To be honest i'm a little curious what you'll say about the BG II music.

 

Planescape: Torment however, will require a point in time where I have a little more time to express my thoughts.  I suppose i'll save that for later.

 

Oh and let's leave the hyperbole for someone else Prime.  If a 14+ year old *could* write a better score/story/jokes/whatever for Baldur's Gate then it would be dead easy for *you* to do so.

 

@Malekith

 

 

http://www.kickstart...des-of-numenera

It seems many people disagree with you.

As for the rest of your post, let's agree to disagree. You are the

person who said once that DA2 has better gameplay than IE games. Your

tastes are completelly ****ed up alien to me. We'll never agree.

 

Pointing to Tides of Numenera is not concrete evidence that people who enjoyed Planescape would back it.  Torment: Numenera *already* looks a hell of a lot better then Planescape was.

I'm glad to see some defenders of BG1, I was surprised to see so many people in this thread dislike it so much.  Obviously people have different tastes and requirements for what is enjoyable in a cRPG.  I for one loved Baldur's Gate 1, and the adventurous feeling I got from it was far greater than what I got from Baldur's Gate 2, even if the sequel had a better story and NPC interaction.  Speaking of which, that was another major factor in BG 1 and 2 that is getting overlooked, and what made them stand out among the other RPGs of their time.  You actually felt like your companions cared about you and what you were doing, and had their own agendas (and weren't afraid of letting you know what they were).

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@Raszius, yeah, I guess we do have fundamentally different preferences about what makes a good game. I think it's a pretty good demonstration of the flexibility of the IE -- and the strength of the more general concept on which it's based.

 

I hope you don't consider my dislike of BG as a personal affront. You're a seriously good egg, even if you have terrible taste in games. ;)

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Baldur's Gate is OLD for one (we've talking close to 15 years here) and came at a time where close to every game was holding your hand as you played it.

How many RPGs that came out before 1998 were holding your hand?

 

Even Morrowind which is probably my favorite open ended variant or some of the Gothics wouldn't kick you in the nuts quite as hard as BG could if you strayed off the path slightly.

 

 

In Gothic 1&2, exploration = instadeath. BG was nowhere near as bad; first you had scouting (= completely invisible for all purposes), and if you followed the main story line, you had a safe path to travel: i.e., the shortest way from Candlekeep to Friendly Arm Inn is ok for your level, just like the way from there to Nashkell. It had nasty surprises - like the mercenary company waiting for you when you take the back entrance out of the mines - but to these points 1 and 2 apply.

Hidden treasure, way the hell out of the way side quests, enemies *worth* fighting (not the Raz falls asleep on keyboard and enemy dies type) and a horribly varied landscape.

Hidden treasure and quests were far and few inbetween, though. That's exactly the point. Also, 3-5 bows and a Stinking Cloud: _me_ falls asleep on the keyboard safely.  

Even it's bare bones maps gave you a specific feel because you're out in the wilderness (which is very open in real life and in the game).

Moot to argue, but what exactly made you feel like you're taking on the great outdoors in BG? Actually the only real danger was when fast travelling between areas, since you couldn't scout and avoid these encounters, and you often were surrounded, bad luck for those squishy mages. Ok maybe also getting poisoned at a low level, because getting to a temple was an expensive nuisance.

As for the story, music and VA we'll just simply have to disagree.  The opening BG title, the Cloakwood forest theme, even the Friendly Arm theme is all great atmospheric music.

I wouldn't call BG's music bad, even though I prefer IWD's.
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Baldur's Gate 1 is cute like no other game be, it is a perfect baby steps to grand adventure, roaming country side as level 1 noobs, killing gibberlings and meeting awkward NPCs. It's like your school years, skipping classes, chewing on chips and mountain dew and rolling dice in a basement with your friends, with a book which has an ugly devil on it's cover.

It's just perfect in that regard. And it's still looks very pretty.

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Baldur's Gate 1 is cute like no other game be, it is a perfect baby steps to grand adventure, roaming country side as level 1 noobs, killing gibberlings and meeting awkward NPCs. It's like your school years, skipping classes, chewing on chips and mountain dew and rolling dice in a basement with your friends, with a book which has an ugly devil on it's cover.

It's just perfect in that regard. And it's still looks very pretty.

 

This exactly!  Weird how I agree with you on this particular point Shade.  The first Baldur's Gate is like a sandbox D&D session and I just enjoyed the hell out of building my "castle".

 

 

@Raszius, yeah, I guess we do have fundamentally different preferences about what makes a good game. I think it's a pretty good demonstration of the flexibility of the IE -- and the strength of the more general concept on which it's based.

 

I hope you don't consider my dislike of BG as a personal affront. You're a seriously good egg, even if you have terrible taste in games. ;)

 

*Chuckles* there's no way a simple difference in taste would come between any of the relationships I have you'll always be cool in my book even if we do disagree on various topics.  In fact, in general most of the people on this forum board are all in all pretty damn smart and can on occasion step back and take a second look on any of their stances.  As well, there are simply times where both sides of any particular issue argue ourselves to at least some understanding of "the big picture" which makes this place a very enjoyable place to chill in.  Though i admit i've got a build up of weird and overly complex ideas that I haven't posted that I really need to get around to doing....

 

Getting around to topic at hand however, I do recall you couldn't get into Arcanum as well which makes me think.  Do you really like sandbox games at all?  It would certainly explain your position.

 

As for my tastes you don't even know the half of it.  Take this YouTube video for instance:

 

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_rn=5&gs_ri=psy-ab&cp=25&gs_id=6&xhr=t&q=Eikoku+Tantei+Mysteria&es_nrs=true&pf=p&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&oq=Eikoku+Tantei+Mysteria+OP&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.43287494,d.aWc&fp=4b2fb19019d4620c&biw=1280&bih=873

 

This, my friends, is an otome game which means it's a Japanese dating sim/visual novel for girls.  Yes, girls.  Mind you I am an American male.  The first thing I thought was "Yea that looks pretty cool" but then again I love Victorian Age stuff along with Visual Novels.  As well, that OP is just cute as hell which scares me a little that I think that... *shudders*.

 

As a side note, I can recommend two indie games that are much more in the style of Planescape atmosphere and storytelling assuming that you really did like it for it's setting and it's ability to drag you in.  That would be To The Moon and Lone Survivor.  Both are simply amazing games for their storytelling.  The atmosphere of these low bit games is just... well you just have to experience them.  To The Moon has a bad habit of staying in your head for days, weeks and months on end.  It's distinctly human story with characters that are beyond realistic and it haunts you ever after.  Quite frankly, it was probably the best 10 dollars I ever spent for a "game" (see: short story).  Lone Survivor is a mystery/horror 8 bit game that provides atmosphere on a whole different level.  It's a game also largely based on the Driving Question trope like Planescape.  Namely, the question being "What the bloody fing hell is GOING ON!?"  However, unlike Planescape it doesn't use the trope as a crutch.  In fact, most of the main questions in the game remain unanswered even after you've gotten the best ending (green) yet despite this the ending is again one of the most satisfying i've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  The music for it is just... wow.  I wouldn't recommend listening to the Survival track however as it's pretty pivotal in mood setting when you do finally hit it.  Lone Survivor is the title track btw and more then worth the listen to get a feel for the soundtrack as a whole.

 

Whatever crappy games you're currently playing aren't worth the effort of not spending 10+ bucks to fund these indie guys and play their games for the (unfortunately) short stints you'll get to play them for (You can beat Lone Survivor in 3 hours if you're taking your sweet time).

 

More on Planescape and Tides of Numenera after i've played a bunch of Europa Universalis III.

 

Maybe...

 

Edit: Apparently YouTube no like being linked to anymore... or something.

Edited by Razsius
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I actually prefer BG to BG2. 2E does not perform well at high levels(even though I love a good 'epic" level romp) and BG2 seemed to be lacking the sense of discovery that BG had in spades. YMMV I guess.

Edited by KaineParker

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@Razsius: do I even like sandbox games? As I said, I'm pretty much agnostic about genre and style; what really snags me is content -- what a game is about as it were. Sandbox games are really tough to pull off well IMO, and yes, I do find most of the ones I've played rather disappointing.

Nevertheless, there are a few I did enjoy tremendously:

  • Fallout 1 (a true classic and IMO still unequalled in its type)
  • Gothic 2
  • Morrowind (despite those !!#@$☭⚒☠☢⎈⍟ cliff racers)

Make of that what you will. As self-analysis I'd say that FO1 and Morrowind have in common a deep yet quirky setting; in both cases, that's what snagged me. I would certainly have liked them just as much in hub-and-spoke format -- and in fact I would probably have liked Fallout 2 a lot better that way, as it would've brought the egregious balance issues under control, so there would've been more constantly enjoyable challenge instead of sudden flips from instadeath to falling asleep on the keyboard.

With Gothic 2, what got me was the way it hit a balance between perils of exploration and freedom, the way you yourself pushed the borders of your world as you gained in power. This IMO is the one thing sandbox games can do that a more restricted hub-and-spoke structure can't. It's very tough to pull off though. You need to have areas with varying difficulty, you need to constantly communicate that difficulty to the player so he can make intelligent decisions about where to go and what risks to take, and you need to populate the world with stuff that's genuinely worth discovering.

Bottom line? It all depends on what kind of game you want to make, but most of the time IMO a sandbox format just isn't worth the trade-offs, and usually they end up falling on their face for any of a number of reasons. More story-driven, structured formats tend to fail less as they're much easier to design. On the other hand, if you do manage to pull it off, sandbox games can be uniquely engaging.

 

FWIW, I'm mildly hyped by CDProjekt Red's talking up of Witcher 3. If they really can pull off what they say they're doing, that could be the sandbox game for my tastes.

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The BG 1 NPC Project is superbly done

I fully agree. The BG 1 NPC Project actually was the best game experience I ever had, along with the Longer Road mod from BG II TOB. Although on the latter, tastes might differ..

 

>>It is.BG1 was the weakest of the IE games and the "explorability" of half-empty maps was one of the worst things in it.

It isn't. Must I say much more? I don't consider the half-empty maps as something bad. I mean, that's just how it usually is in the wilderness.

And of course you're entitled to your opinion. But many people regard explorability as one of the good things in BG I, even if they don't  like the game much as a whole. 

 

I figure that if one has first played IWD and BG II combatwise, BG I might appear rather underwhelming. But overall, it's not a bad game. It has not all elements that a modern game should have, so naturally, today's players find it lacking. But the things it does, in my opinion, it does very well. 

 

 

BG1 was just the most believeable of the series.

The "half empty maps" gave the players a feeling of real exploration, whenever you found something - or somethign found you - it was a big deal and you got really excited.

You had to be carefull out in the wilds, otherwise you might just find an angry wolve who rips 1 or 2 partymembers into pieces.

The cities were crowded and there was so much to do - the wilds where what they were supposed to be: wide and lonely, but still very interesting because you KNEW there is something in this area thats going to be exciting.

You also were very poor from the beginning which fit perfectly in the amazing story.

"Father" dead, left alone in the wilderniss, no clue whats going on or what to do - and it felt right.

Edited by Co0n
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Just to qualify my own wilderness issues with BG1 - its's not the emptiness that bothers me, the density of stuff was a little low for my tastes but not outside the band of tolerability, but more that it was just visually bland - I live in the countryside and spend a lot of time in it, and for a fantasy world their outdoiors manage to be less interesting visually than a generic country path...

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@Sacred Path
 

How many RPGs that came out before 1998 were holding your hand?

 
A lot of them i'd say though in truth I *was* just a tad younger at the time and started with JRPGs so I missed most of the Ultima stuff etc.  Baldur's Gate was my first real delve into the open ended that could beat my face in.  I think I played Fallout later.
 

In Gothic 1&2, exploration = instadeath. BG was nowhere near as bad; first you had scouting (= completely invisible for all purposes), and if you followed the main story line, you had a safe path to travel: i.e., the shortest way from Candlekeep to Friendly Arm Inn is ok for your level, just like the way from there to Nashkell. It had nasty surprises - like the mercenary company waiting for you when you take the back entrance out of the mines - but to these points 1 and 2 apply.

 

The Gothics would often "telephone" a dangerous area (see: Orc lands). One map east of the Temple area near Beregost which is still civilization = basilisks. That's not far off the beaten path really. As for thieves their hide in shadows sucked balls till at least 3-4 levels in and in broad daylight you'd still have a hell of a time getting it to stick. Who would creep through every map like that anyways?

 

Also, 3-5 bows and a Stinking Cloud: _me_ falls asleep on the keyboard safely.

 

Which requires non-Stinking Cloud immune mobs, a whole lot of arrows, near endless Stinking Cloud spells, advanced mob placement knowledge and an overly large stack of cheese. I'm not a fan of cheese myself.

@PrimeJunta

All really, really good choices but I think the similarity between them is they all gated you really well. They also had pretty vibrant worlds. We'll have to disagree about Arcanum though. It pretty much had me at Dernholm. A city that looks like a Roman city in a state of extreme decay? Sign me up!

 

FWIW, I'm mildly hyped by CDProjekt Red's talking up of Witcher 3. If they really can pull off what they say they're doing, that could be the sandbox game for my tastes.

 

I really haven't been keeping up unfortunately as my 7+ year old computer made out of cardboard and bubble gum couldn't run The Witcher 2. CDProjekt had me at The Witcher though. I WILL buy The Witcher 2 the moment I can play it. *That's* the kind of storytelling I enjoy. That chapter 2 of The Witcher was some of the best written stuff i've seen in a long, LONG time. Two concurrent plots one of which you don't even see? I felt like The Wedding Singer "You had at hello." Good to know though, thanks Prime.

@Planescape:Torment the game I wish I could love

Well first off can I get a brofist from those who backed the new Torment. I feel it in my bones that game is going to be SICK. They had me at the Tides part. Non-alignment system ftw. Now... onward to the bad.

Planescape:Torment was a game ENTIRELY based around the Driving Question trope. This is a dangerous, dangerous thing to attempt largely because if the Driving Question itself is hyped up all through the book, series, game, whatever then the answer(s) to said question better damn well deliver. I give you Lost as an example. If you've seen it I really don't need to say more. Any media that doesn't end in No Naku Koro Ni should not attempt to overly value this trope (no matter how good the writer attempting to be Ryukishi07 is, it is an utterly futile attempt). Sidenote: seriously fail that his best friend and the entire reason he started writing died halfway through Umineko... gotta feel for the man. Planescape was almost okay in this regard except like 1/3 the way through your Driving Question went from "Where is my memory?" to "Where is my mortality?" this doesn't make ANY sense until you hit the Fortress of Regrets. This isn't an example of good storytelling let alone great or masterpiece level.

Second, the no death mechanic that Chris was so fond of doesn't make sense in the context of the story.  I'm not talking about the part where you get back up and healed all the time but rather that *when* you died the "you" that the player was playing would also have "died."  The Fortress explained in very explicit detail what an incarnation was and how it came about.  MAJOR design and writing error and for a world that's attempting to build up believability within it this is bad... very bad.

 

Third, why is TTO attempting to kill you in the Fortress?  Yet again, the writing and the game mechanics tell me I will *actually* die here if I get killed yet TTO simply wants me to lose my memory.... wait what? :blink:

 

Fourth, we have our companions largely stated to be the best ever written and yet I find myself wondering oh so many things.  Take for instance, Fall-from-Grace a (quite literally) truly unbelievable character likely the only chaste and Lawful Neutral succubus in the multiverse.  Inexplicably, there is basically no reason actually given for why she is both Lawful Neutral and chaste when she's a succubus.  Only extremely minor hints of her having any sort of dark side.  As for Ignus and Annah.. don't even get me started.  Wtb depth.  I read Joe Ambercrombie books these cop outs just don't fly with me anymore.  Oh and Deionarra, sweet Deionarra, you could've been so much more...

 

Fifth, there is NO gameplay in this game to speak of.  Combat is largely a chore and because of this you generally want to avoid it like the plague which leaves you with....

 

Sixth, Sigil.  City of fetching and delivering some things oh and occasionally talking that isn't a repeat of what you've already heard.  So much text in this game yet so much of it is the same thing written 14 different ways.  There's like 12+ people who will tell you where Lothar is oh and btw could you find my sister for me?

 

Lastly, number seven or adding insult to injury.  I call this one "We're cool because of anti-tropes."  There are zero swords in this game oh except Trias and Dak'kon have a couple.  The Nameless One doesn't know how to use armor but he's got a Wisdom score of 25 and an Intelligence score of 25 as well.  The secrets of the multiverse are his to command yet he's too stupid to custom order some armor for himself.

 

That, my friends, is the actual Planescape:Torment.

 

Edit: I almost completely forgot that Fall-from-Grace casts Cleric spells without believing in a deity.  That's the equivalent of a Mage not using a spell book in D&D.

Edited by Razsius
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Very interesting points, Razsius. And yeah, :brofist: -- I put in enough to get my name on a tombstone at least.

 

And I'll offer some counterpoints. First, I'll demonstrate that raging inconsistency in the "this does not make sense" level is not always a problem, if a story is told in a different way. Second, I'll argue that usual conventions of narrative do not apply in a game. This is going to be a bit long, so I hope you have the patience for it.

 

Case study: Blade Runner.

 

Blade Runner is justly considered one of the best sci-fi films ever made. Yet its narrative is full of holes you can drive that Goodyear blimp through. For example: why is Holden even adminsitering the Voight-Kampff test on Leon -- let alone being completely off his guard -- when the cops have complete files on the replicants, including perfectly lit, detailed 3D portraits of them? Why does Deckard bother doing that "enhance" sequence on the photo of Zhora, and then going through the elaborate charade in the backroom of the club, when he must already know exactly who he's dealing with, for the same reason? How is Roy able to just waltz into Sheldon Tyrell's bedroom, even with JF Sebastian offering an excuse for it? Where's the security? And so on and so forth.

 

There's a simple reason for all of this: it's because the film never was about offering a coherent and logical story. It was about exploring themes like what it means to be human, and doing that through a narrative that combines character, atmosphere, and music. The purpose of the story is to keep the movie flowing and let the audience gradually discover the tragedy of the replicants and the blade runners, and of course Deckard himself who is both, through sound, image, expression, phrases, words, scenes. The fact that it makes no kind of logical sense is completely irrelevant.

 

It's the same thing with that famously derpy question about The Lord of the Rings -- if Gandalf was BFF with the eagles, why not just fly the damn ring to Mordor -- or hey, even over the Misty Mountains -- instead of having to do all that tedious trekking? Same question, same answer.

 

Planescape: Torment and Blade Runner are thematically very similar. So the fact that things don't make sense and aren't internally consistent doesn't matter either. It's not based on everyday logic. It's based on dream logic; the kind of logic where a bartender has been keeping your eye in a jar for you for fifteen years, and plucking yours out and replacing it, or tearing out tattoos and sticking on others, is as natural as putting on a shirt or changing your shoes. It was totally crucial that TNO did not wear armor, or that the only swords in the game were so integral to their owners that they could not be separated from them. Bringing daytime logic into that context would've shattered the dream logic, and the whole game would have collapsed.

 

Now, the second part. About narrative logic and games.

 

The difference between games and linear narratives like books or films is that games are about discovery and exploration, where you are the agent. It's more like putting together a jigsaw puzzle where you don't know the picture, and less like reading a detective story or watching a film. There can be a narrative arc, of course, but it can and should shift and meander according to your whims and interests; there can and should be many ways to discover bits and pieces of that puzzle. Like having different people around who can tell you the same thing. The only thing that matters is that all the time there's something that grabs and holds your interest and keeps you going. The sandbox games I don't like don't have that. They just dump you into the world and go "Here, have fun," and leave you to figure out why even bother. Planescape: Torment managed to maintain that sense of urgency, the drive, that kept me going through the whole game, even as the focus shifted when you discovered who you were. The first time I played, I felt truly driven to find out who, or what, this part of me that Ravel had cut off was; to meet it, speak with it, discover it.

 

Bottom line? If you try to play Planescape: Torment like other role-playing games -- focusing on the mechanics, applying everyday logic, lawnmowing, and so on -- you will hate it. Just like you did. But if you allow yourself to be swept away by its dream logic which allows for chaste succubi, godless clerics using divine power, removable tattoos and no allowed armor, it's a whole different experience.

 

By the way, when I returned to it this time, I played with a self-imposed "no scumming" discipline. I.e., I only kept quicksaves and one save file that I updated after every session. I only departed from this discipline twice; once when I painted myself into a corner that would have been really tedious to dig out of (stuck in the Whispering Alley with very low HP, no healing, no hammer, and no crowbar, and the Chaosmen at full strength and angry), and for a second time in the Modron Maze -- which was specifically designed as a comment on computer games and was the most fun to play by grinding, rest-spamming and savegame abuse. And yeah, it was awesome.

 

So Razsius... let go. Let go of that everyday logic. Fly. Be free. And dream.

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And yeah, I do remember Baldur's Gate 2 being much, much better. Perhaps I'll return to it eventually.

Yeah, there's a reason why, when people talk about the BG series, they instantly mention BG2 and very rarely talk about BG1. It's like some people consider it a sin to talk bad about the series even in parts. It ruins their "cred".

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A lot of them i'd say though in truth I *was* just a tad younger at the time and started with JRPGs so I missed most of the Ultima stuff etc.  Baldur's Gate was my first real delve into the open ended that could beat my face in.  I think I played Fallout later.

I can't comment on JRPGs, but the true RPGs that came out closest to 1998 that I can think of are Albion and Daggerfall, and they didn't hold your hand one bit. Not to mention the many games before that.

 

The Gothics would often "telephone" a dangerous area (see: Orc lands). One map east of the Temple area near Beregost which is still civilization = basilisks.

Go anywhere in the "open world" of Gothic with a novice character and you'll die. Walk around the first city in Gothic 2 instead of going through the gate and you'll die. Gothic games were the worst examples of punishing exploration that i can think of.

As for thieves their hide in shadows sucked balls till at least 3-4 levels in and in broad daylight you'd still have a hell of a time getting it to stick. Who would creep through every map like that anyways?

You could get to level 3 IIRC just by sticking with the main quest until Nashkell (which was easy with plenty of hand holding, as I said). Also, if you don't "creep around" (= scout), and run into dangerous enemies, that's kind of self-inflicted, right?

 

Which requires non-Stinking Cloud immune mobs, a whole lot of arrows, near endless Stinking Cloud spells, advanced mob placement knowledge and an overly large stack of cheese. I'm not a fan of cheese myself.

Most enemies were not immune to Stinking Cloud, especially the more dangerous ones (NPC adventuring parties/ mages). Near endless supply? Nop, one casting was more than enough. You didn't need advance knowledge, stumble across an enemy party, pause, cast. Easy. Is it cheesy? Overpowered is a better word as it's a completely legit "tactic". Edited by Sacred_Path
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Planescape: Torment and Blade Runner are thematically very similar. So the fact that things don't make sense and aren't internally consistent doesn't matter either. It's not based on everyday logic. It's based on dream logic; the kind of logic where a bartender has been keeping your eye in a jar for you for fifteen years, and plucking yours out and replacing it, or tearing out tattoos and sticking on others, is as natural as putting on a shirt or changing your shoes. It was totally crucial that TNO did not wear armor, or that the only swords in the game were so integral to their owners that they could not be separated from them. Bringing daytime logic into that context would've shattered the dream logic, and the whole game would have collapsed.

Games aren't so different to other media like books and films in that they need to establish some degree of either realism or versimilitude/ internal consistency to be good. It's what draws you in and makes you summon up the attention you need to make sense of the details. The one thing that defines a game in contrast to these other media is that it's interactive.

 

PS:T had no internal consistency or verisimilitude and was a worse game because of it (not only because of this, but in part). Why did the Harmonium dudes who were all elite fighters (= knew their stuff) run around in heavy armor while TNO never needed any? "Dream logic" sounds dandy, but a dream has no internal consistency, and making a game resting on that is a bad idea.

This is not to say that people couldn't enjoy PS:T, it's just that they probably didn't enjoy it for its "gamey" aspects (= the obstacles that needed skill to overcome), but for its atmosphere and literary qualities. None of which would have suffered had there been more internal consistency, I'd wager.

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There's a cost to everything, Sacred_Path, including internal consistency. In this case, it would have constrained the writers' flights of fancy. I'm pretty sure I would've enjoyed the game a great deal less had the writers made internal consistency a high priority.

 

You're right about the reasons for enjoying it, though -- I would probably have enjoyed it even more had the "gamey" aspects been even more stripped down. For example, your ability scores should have been nailed down, with minor shifts when you change classes. This is because there's a narrow optimum to them, and you can only know what that is through metagame knowledge -- and if you're outside that optimum, the game is much less enjoyable. Being able to nudge them by swapping tattoos in and out would have been enough, especially with the addition of a tattoo or two that let you, say, trade CHA for CON or vice versa.

 

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." (R.W. Emerson)

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There's a cost to everything, Sacred_Path, including internal consistency. In this case, it would have constrained the writers' flights of fancy. I'm pretty sure I would've enjoyed the game a great deal less had the writers made internal consistency a high priority.

I stand by my assessment that fantasy, wether in literature or games, doesn't lose anything if they go for a degree of internal consistency. That is, unless your reason for enjoying the game is exactly its lack of internal consistency. We can't argue about subjective preferences, but in regards to PS:T emplyong "dream logic", let me illustrate this:

 

A: "I'm going to make a game where everything abides by 'dream logic'. That means that weird **** is going to happen all the time for no good reason."

 

B: "Don't you think that your game will be hard to play, or hard to enjoy as a game, without consistency on which good mechanics can rest?"

 

A: "Maybe, but I just can't put any coherence into the twists and turns I have planned for the story. It's also much more artsy that way as it challenges a player's perceptions. Sometimes, you will walk on the same spot for 10 minutes without getting anywhere. It all serves to enhance the feeling that everything is a dream. Also sometimes you will choose a violent dialogue options and people will just explode. Other times, you hit them with a big sword and they won't be hurt a bit. Like in a dream."

 

B: "So the game actually takes place 'inside' a dream? Is that the setting?"

 

A: "Ummm... no."

 

 

Or IOW, if you abandon internal consistency, I want you to be able to explain why this is necessary, and how the game profits from it. I haven't seen that happen with PS:T.

You're right about the reasons for enjoying it, though -- I would probably have enjoyed it even more had the "gamey" aspects been even more stripped down. For example, your ability scores should have been nailed down, with minor shifts when you change classes. This is because there's a narrow optimum to them, and you can only know what that is through metagame knowledge -- and if you're outside that optimum, the game is much less enjoyable. Being able to nudge them by swapping tattoos in and out would have been enough, especially with the addition of a tattoo or two that let you, say, trade CHA for CON or vice versa.

You're a hipster. But that's ok.
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You're still not getting it, Sacred_Path. 


Downgrading internal consistency as a writing goal gives you more freedom to explore other stuff. Blade Runner would have been a much worse movie if they had cut out the Voight-Kampff tests even though Deckard didn't actually need them to hunt down the replicants, and wouldn't have needed them in any case because he had complete files on them including perfect 3D portraits. That's because the test is a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the notion that there's some fundamental difference between replicants and humans. It's there to point out that any difference that requires an hour-long test of iris dilation responses to tease out isn't much of a difference at all.

 

I'm also a fairly serious Wagner enthusiast, and his operas aren't particularly strong on internal consistency either. They are extremely strong on deep exporation of themes of profound human importance, through a combination of text, music, acting, and stagecraft. Internal consistency isn't the point. Ditching it lets Wagner do **** that he wouldn't be able to do otherwise. Same for Blade Runner -- or PS:T.

 

What do you mean by "hipster," by the way? If you mean someone who finds most mainstream entertainment dull, then hell yes I'm a hipster. But if you mean someone who stops liking something if it suddenly becomes popular or cool, then... nah, that doesn't fit. I like what I like, some of which is thoroughly mainstream, some of which is not.

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You're still not getting it, Sacred_Path. 

 

Downgrading internal consistency as a writing goal gives you more freedom to explore other stuff. Blade Runner would have been a much worse movie if they had cut out the Voight-Kampff tests even though Deckard didn't actually need them to hunt down the replicants, and wouldn't have needed them in any case because he had complete files on them including perfect 3D portraits. That's because the test is a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the notion that there's some fundamental difference between replicants and humans. It's there to point out that any difference that requires an hour-long test of iris dilation responses to tease out isn't much of a difference at all.

 

I'm also a fairly serious Wagner enthusiast, and his operas aren't particularly strong on internal consistency either. They are extremely strong on deep exporation of themes of profound human importance, through a combination of text, music, acting, and stagecraft. Internal consistency isn't the point. Ditching it lets Wagner do **** that he wouldn't be able to do otherwise. Same for Blade Runner -- or PS:T.

 

What do you mean by "hipster," by the way? If you mean someone who finds most mainstream entertainment dull, then hell yes I'm a hipster. But if you mean someone who stops liking something if it suddenly becomes popular or cool, then... nah, that doesn't fit. I like what I like, some of which is thoroughly mainstream, some of which is not.

Junta,a little of topic but do you read books? Fantasy novels in particullar? If so and you haven't read it already try the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. I think it will be right up your alley.

Edited by Malekith
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I haven't read much fantasy lately; been more caught up with sci-fi, especially New Weird and New Space Opera. Miéville, Duncan, Banks, Reynolds, MacLeod and others. Back when I was a teenager I read a lot of fantasy but mostly just the "classics" like Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Ursula Le Guin, Moor****, Robert E. Howard and so on. In fact I've read almost no "new" fantasy at all and wouldn't really know where to start.

 

But thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out. Seems intriguing.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Baldur's Gate is the biggest disappointment since The Phantom Menace.

There's literally nothing I like about it. The combat is a repetitive,

slogging chore, the dialog with its godawful pseudo-medievalese feels

like it was written by a somewhat dim 14-year-old, the humor would only

be funny if you were that 14-year-old's stoner friend, the characters

are irritating and dopey, the voice acting is uninspired, the music

irritating and forgettable, the scenery is repetitive, generic, and

unimaginative, and the quests are generic.

 

 

 

 

you are dumb as ****

  After my realization that White March has the same XP reward problem, I don't even have the drive to launch game anymore because I hated so much reaching Twin Elms with a level cap in vanilla PoE that I don't wish to relive that experience.

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Downgrading internal consistency as a writing goal gives you more freedom to explore other stuff.

I think I'm getting it alright, but that statement is so broad that it's meaningless. It requires a case-by-case evaluation of what is gained by dismissing consistency vs. what is lost. It's blatantly obvious that you have "more freedom" if you abide by no rules other than the limits of your imagination, noone argue against that in principle.

Blade Runner would have been a much worse movie if they had cut out the Voight-Kampff tests even though Deckard didn't actually need them to hunt down the replicants, and wouldn't have needed them in any case because he had complete files on them including perfect 3D portraits. That's because the test is a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the notion that there's some fundamental difference between replicants and humans. It's there to point out that any difference that requires an hour-long test of iris dilation responses to tease out isn't much of a difference at all.

I cannot comment on Blade Runner, but in the case of Torment I'd like to see an example. That is not even mentioning that your argument is borderline fallacious. If they had gone for internal logic the whole game would probably have been designed differently. We simply have no way of judging that hypothetical product.

 

I'm also a fairly serious Wagner enthusiast, and his operas aren't particularly strong on internal consistency either. They are extremely strong on deep exporation of themes of profound human importance, through a combination of text, music, acting, and stagecraft. Internal consistency isn't the point. Ditching it lets Wagner do **** that he wouldn't be able to do otherwise. Same for Blade Runner -- or PS:T.

I think you're tiptoeing around the fact I already asserted - that games are defined by their interactivity, and that they must live up to a consumer's expectations in this regard to be objectively called "good".

 

What do you mean by "hipster," by the way? If you mean someone who finds most mainstream entertainment dull, then hell yes I'm a hipster.

What I read out of your last paragraph was "I wouldn't have cared about stats at all" which is, on second glance, not what you said. But as I read that the world immediately began to blurr and fade before my eyes. I also wanted to rant a bit. Sry
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I think you're tiptoeing around the fact I already asserted - that games are defined by their interactivity, and that they must live up to a consumer's expectations in this regard to be objectively called "good".

The problem with this is that every consumer has different expectations. Case in study: Torment. If you go from a "gamey" perspective the game is weak, and many people couldn't get into it for that reason.

If you go to have an adventure(not strictly games here,you can have that mindset when you read a book,watch a movie,etc),the atmosphere,the story,the themes make this game a masterpiece.For many people Planescape:Torment is the best RPG of all time and a work of art,something no other game has managed to achive.

That has also to do with what YOU personally consider an good RPG, and what value in your games most.

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This is from another poster in other forum. He talks about the Witchers. Some people don't consider them RPGs because of the combat. And in truth, they aren't.They are action/adventure games. But that depents on your definition of what an RPG is.

 

"Ok Bros, it is time for me to make a shocking revelation. You see, Polish RPG scene has very little to do with cRPGs - in fact until not so long ago cRPGs were seen as reterded offshoots of the 'proper' P&P RPG systems. Why this is important?

Bacause when Polish devs talk about RPGs, their complexity and paving new paths they don't think of 'worthless and boring' games of yesteryears such as Ultima, Wizardry, Eye of Beholder, Dark Sun, Arcanum and stuff like that. They think more about all the fun adventures they had with Warhammer, Earthdawn, Vampire, AD&D... with a twist. RPG scene here has utmost contempt for rulesets, tables, digits, dice and all that nonsense - instead they focus on storytelling. Yep, in their eyes cRPGs should not about 'tactical combat' (there are wargames for that) nor about boring character progression (every shooter has that) - all RPGs are means of telling an interactive story. And this is exactly the mindset behind TWitcher 1 and 2 - to make the most appealing interactive story there is. I have to say that while in this they may follow Bioware, they do a much better job than them. And yes, as far as storytelling is concerned they are doing much more complex RPGs than anyone since Planescape.

Apart from that the devs are very lax on combat system. They do not really enjoy the old 'proper' RPGs where nothing happens - again the purpose of an RPG (even P&P RPG) is an adventure, not rolling dice. And so they take hints from the games they do relish: hack&slasher, fighting games and other stuff they play on their consoles - stuff they can have fun with - stuff their audience can appreciate as well.

Lads, there's no way CDPRed will make a proper 'Codex approved' RPG - they simply do not care and they are not suicidal enough to shoot for such a small niche market. At least in the one facet their picked (storytelling) they prove to be fairly competent so far."

 

Edited by Malekith
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