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I'll be honest here. I didn't play the infinity engine games until recently.

I played PST two years ago, the Baldur's Gate series last year, and I played IWD this year.

Anyway, this project claims to be a callback to the infinity engine, especially it's combat. However, there's one thing I don't get.

The infinity engine did not have good combat. I can't see any reason people would want it back. The only thing the Infinity engine was good for was plot, which is why it's such a shame only one game had one. Here's my experiences with combat in the games:

 

PST: a thing that happens on occasion to spice up conversations 50% of the time, a boring slog through robot hordes sitting in identical rooms 10% of the time, a boring slog through demons sitting in very large and boring rooms 25% of the time, and running away from greater shadows 15% of the time.

 

BG1: 25% your mage pc getting eaten by a wolf five seconds in, 25% luring away single enemies to kill them one at a time, 25% getting killed by a kobold with a lucky crit, and 25% spamming wands at a boss with absurdly high MR.

 

BG2: 33% using AOEs on offscreen enemies, 33% buffing yourself to absurd levels, and 33% playing through the following scenario:

Minsc: I cast fist!

 

Wizard mook: Too bad! I cast protection from fist!

 

Edwin: I cast dispel protection from fist!

 

Wizard mook: Not good enough! I cast protection from dispelling protection from fist!

 

Edwin: I cast dispel protection from dispelling protection from fist!

 

Wizard mook: I cast protection from dispelling my protection from dispeling my protection from fist!

 

Bhallspawn: Let's just wait and beat him to death once the spell duration runs out.

TOB(I'm counting this as a seperate game): 75% timestop, 25% OH GODS THE MONK IS IMMUNE TO TIMESTOP

 

IWD1 and 2: 5% diablo, 95% me getting bored and wandering off because the plot isn't engaging and I have no investment in what is going on.

 

Am I missing something? What do people see in this that I don't?

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Personally, you're not really missing anything. Combat in the Infinity Games is terribly boring, though it's not the fault of the engine itself, it's the fault of the underlying rules mechanics governing the game. Seriously. D&D sucks so bad when it comes to making combat engaging. Unlike the above poster, I think that this is absolutely the game for you. Josh seems to agree with many of your points and he's designing the system to do away with them, particularly the mind-bogglingly boring mage fights. 

 

This game is indeed a spiritual successor to the Infinity Engine games, but not just the combat. The plot and characterisation is a very important part of the developers want to call on for inspiration. The combat parts that PE are trying to draw on is mainly things like look of animations and the feel of movement. Movement of characters in the IE games was incredibly sharp and precise, which made moving the full party rather easy despite the size of it. It certainly controls waaaaaay better than NWN2, DA:O, the KotOR games, or what have you. 

 

So basically, PE will be a callback to the IE game engine, not to the rule set which made the combat stuff very boring and uninteresting, particularly if one played anything but a mage. 

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This probably isn't the game for you, then -- oddly enough, some people liked the Infinity Engine games, and (in particular) the elements that you are complaining about, so...

I did like them. More specifically, I liked the writing. I loved how Planescape Torment managed to deliver a beautiful narrative while still being an enjoyable game. I had never seen it's like before, and the closest I've seen since was Spec Ops: The Line, a third person shooter that was simultaneously ripping off Gears of War and Call of Duty.

I'm not sure if this will be the game for me, but I'm holding out hope that Avalone will shine through.

@Khalil:

 

What do you want out of PoE?

A game with a plot deeper than "Those guys [are enemies of america/are terrorists/killed your father/burned down your peasant village/are other highlanders bhallspawn/wear blue shirts even though the dress code states that they should be wearing red]. Stab them until they stop moving."

So far, I've played four games that met those standards: KOTOR2, Planescape: Torment, Bioshock, and Spec Ops: The Line. Two of those games were written by Chris Avalone, so I will support anything that might result in him giving me a fifth game I can add to that list.

Edited by khalil
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Usually when someone comes on here and proclaims that the IE games had crap combat, I like to get a better idea of the mindset/barometer they're using - partly to assess whether engaging in this thread will be a utter waste of my time and intelligence, but mainly because I'm just curious.

 

To the thread starter: In your opinion what cRPGs have good combat?

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To the thread starter: In your opinion what cRPGs have good combat?

ToEE and Shadowrun Returns had nice turn based top down stuff.

VTMB, Deus Ex, and Fallout: New Vegas had enjoyable shooting. (also Skyrim and Fallout 3, but only if you're concussed enough to mistake them for roleplaying games)

If we count Roguelikes as RPGs(I don't but apparently some people do), DCSS has gameplay that manages to somehow be slow and tactical while also being quick and simple, and DF combat is extremely realistic, which results in absurdity when you throw impossibilities like dragons or necromancers into the mix.

Edited by khalil
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So you like Turn-Based combat. (ToEE)

 

And you like Twitch based combat (Skyrim)

 

And we've established that the actual rule system here doesn't make a difference (ToEE uses a very strict and by the book D&D 3.5 rule system.) And admittedly ToEE's combat is absolutely awesome in every way imaginable. It is turn-based though. And if the reason why you think it's good is because it's turn based then there's nothing more to say.

 

 

Although I do find it kinda weird that you'd specifically level criticism about the monotonous, same-samey nature of the combat in the IE games, while Praising what Skyrim does. There's nothing more simple and one dimensional than Skyrim's brand of Twitch combat. There's literally nothing to its combat, except for maybe hand-eye coordination (literally. See something? hit it with your sword as fast as you can. Then keep hitting it till it dies. Ditto with Archery. Although to be fair, Skyrim does archery about 10,000,000,000 times better than the IE games. Because it can. Because It's got 1st person view, Havok-enabled physics, 3d terrains, and other things that facilitate the implementation of good Archery mechanics. The bad news of course is that if you use Skyrim's shooting as a standard for "good", then you will be disappointed in PoE. since it's not going to do it even remotely as well. It can't.

 

But the reason why people love/appreciate the combat in some of the IE games is because of the other stuff. Its depth, for one. Combat is not simply the practice of "whittle the enemy down to zero as fast as you can by pounding him with your axe." There are a bajillion mechanics involved. Hitting, missing, defending, poisoning, stunning, charming, sleeping, holding, petrifying, slowing, strengthing, weakening, mirror imaging, disappearing, entangling, backstabbing, summoning, disrupting, greasing, bleeding, confusing, insta-killing, hasting, different weapons doing different types of damage. Different classes approaching combat with totally different skill-sets. There's a round and turn system that affects everything. Then there's the sheer volume of spells from several different schools (far more than any of the RPGs you've listed) Parties working together. Different enemies that use all of the same combat attack and defense forms that your party uses. etc.

 

If You're playing the IE games and find yourself just as interested in what's happening on the game screen as you are on what's happing in the combat log window, then you get it. It's all just more... dynamic. That is why people like the combat in the IE games.

Edited by Stun
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So you like Turn-Based combat. (ToEE)

 

And you like Twitch based combat (Skyrim)

 

And we've established that the actual rule system here doesn't make a difference (ToEE uses a very strict and by the book D&D 3.5 rule system. And admittedly ToEE's combat is absolutely awesome in every way imaginable. It is turn-based though. And if the reason why you think it's good is because it's turn based then there's nothing more to say.

That's not why. It just feels like turn based combat makes strategy and planning easier. If a game doesn't give you any options for strategy, being turn based won't make it any better. For example, the FF games have terrible combat. One guy attacks with swords, one guy attacks with spells, one guy heals the other guys, and one guy casts protection from death or whatever spell is required to neutralize the current boss's gimmick.

 

Although I do find it kinda weird that you'd specifically level criticism about the monotonous, same-samey nature of the combat in the IE games, while Praising what Skyrim does. There's nothing more simple and one dimensional than Skyrim's brand of Twitch combat. There's literally nothing to its combat, except for maybe hand-eye coordination (literally. See something? hit it with your sword as fast as you can. Then keep hitting it till it dies. Ditto with Archery. Although to be fair, Skyrim does archery about 10,000,000,000 times better than the IE games. Because it can. Because It's got 1st person view, Havok-enabled physics, 3d terrains, and other things that facilitate the implementation of good Archery mechanics.

I'll be honest, I prefer twitch based combat for when I'm controlling one person. Turn based and real time with pause combat is suffered because it's the only way to make strategy work. One is like a sport, the other is like a game of chess. They both scratch different itches.

Turn based and RTwP also get merits for being more likely to include dialogue, alternate ways to solve problems, and interesting characters.

But the reason why people love/appreciate the combat in some of the IE games is because of the other stuff. It's depth, for one. Combat is not simply the practice of "whittle the enemy down to zero as fast as you can by pounding him with your axe." There are a bajillion mechanics involved. Hitting, missing, defending, poisoning, stunning, charming, sleeping, holding, petrifying, slowing, strengthing, weakening, mirror imaging, disappearing, entangling, summoning, disrupting, greasing, bleeding, confusing, insta-killing, hasting, different weapons doing different types of damage. Different classes approaching combat with totally different skill-sets. There's a round and turn system that affects everything. Then there's the sheer volume of spells from several different schools (more than any of the RPGs you've listed) Parties working together different enemies.

 

It's all just more... dynamic. That is why people like the combat in the IE games.

See, here's the thing: I don't find IE combat to be very dynamic. I use these strategies and they have never failed me:

PST:

Spam missile of patience.

Cast Cloudkill or some other big spell that kills everything on the screen.

Just avoid it. Any lout can beat people to death and take their stuff, but only a few special men can talk people into handing over their stuff willingly.

 

BG1:

Cast AOE spells at offscreen enemies.

Have Minsc punch things until they stop moving.

Spam wands.

Spam summons.

 

BG2:

Continue casting AOE spells at offscreen enemies.

Have Minsc punch things until they stop moving.

Spam summons (at offscreen enemies).

Have Minsc use a scroll of antimagic globe to render the demilich harmless. Then have him punch it until it stops moving.

Wait for the enemies protection spells wear off, then punch them until they stop moving.

Apply buffs until you can't see any of the character portraits through all the little symbols. Then punch things until they stop moving.

 

TOB:

Cast timestop.

OH GOD TIMESTOP DOESN'T WORK AGAINST DEMIGORGON!

Return to spamming AOE spells against offscreen enemies. (Like Demigorgon).

Have Minsc put on the big metal unit and punch things until they stop moving.

Spam epic level summoning spells.

Put sticky bombs traps all over the control point wherever the boss is going to stand.

Edited by khalil
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That's not why. It just feels like turn based combat makes strategy and planning easier.

I agree. Or at least I totally see where you're coming from.

 

But this only reiterates what someone said earlier on this thread: You might end up not enjoying PoE's combat. It will be using real time with pause. No, no, More than that. It's going to be real time with pause on steroids, since time isn't going to be measured in rounds or turns like it was in the IE games. It's going to be measured in seconds. When describing different types of attacks and effects, Sawyer has used terminology like "DPS". And on top of that, there's been no mention of twitch mechanics. Hitting, grazing and missing will be based on calculations, not your keyboard and mouse skills.

 

A giant red flag should be waving in your face right about now. Me though, I'm going to withhold judgment

 

 

One is like a sport, the other is like a game of chess. They both scratch different itches.

Yep, exactly. (re: turn based vs. Twitch)

 

See, that is the reason why I personally loved combat in the BG games and the IWD games. it was a strange mix of the two that managed to work. Both extremes were diluted down and the end result was something that IMO succeeded in scratching both itches.

 

See, here's the thing: I don't find IE combat to be very dynamic. I use these strategies and they have never failed me:

PST:

Spam missile of patience.

Cast Cloudkill or some other big spell that kills everything on the screen.

Just avoid it. Any lout can beat people to death and take their stuff, but only a few special men can talk people into handing over their stuff willingly.

 

BG1:

Cast AOE spells at offscreen enemies.

Have Minsc punch things until they stop moving.

Spam wands.

Spam summons.

 

BG2:

Continue casting AOE spells at offscreen enemies.

Have Minsc punch things until they stop moving.

Spam summons (at offscreen enemies).

Have Minsc use a scroll of antimagic globe to render the demilich harmless. Then have him punch it until it stops moving.

Wait for the enemies protection spells wear off, then punch them until they stop moving.

Apply buffs until you can't see any of the character portraits through all the little symbols. Then punch things until they stop moving.

 

TOB:

Cast timestop.

OH GOD TIMESTOP DOESN'T WORK AGAINST DEMIGORGON!

Return to spamming AOE spells against offscreen enemies. (Like Demigorgon).

Have Minsc put on the big metal unit and punch things until they stop moving.

Spam epic level summoning spells.

Put sticky bombs traps all over the control point wherever the boss is going to stand.

While this should go without saying, the term "dynamic" does not rule out the notion that one can discover a specific tactic (like you did) that always works.

 

Dynamic means that the system is robust enough to support the success of dozens of different tactics. As it stands, I have a totally different set of strategies I use in, say, BG2. I can beat the game marvelously without using Minsc, without "fists", without timestop, without scrolls of anti-magic, and definitely without cheesing AOEs at off-screen enemies. (for example)

Edited by Stun
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I could probably use stealth or melee combat in Skyrim. I could use summons to do all the work. I could use buffs in combination with melee combat.

Also, is it even possible to get through the BG games without using melee combat? I ask because Minsc casting fist was shorthand for just having my melee fighters wail on whoever I don't like.

The antimagic scrolls were only used once, I put that in because that was the only way I managed to defeat the demilich. Kangaxx or whatever he called himself. He kept devouring everyone's souls no save, and antimagic were the only way I could figure out to stop him.

I will admit I cheesed through the game, which brings me to another point: the optimal strategy in any game should be fun, because the purpose of playing a game is to have fun. (Story based games get an exception, the purpose of playing those is to read a good story.) The most common manifestation of this problem is grinding, because victory dancing in the woods until you arbitrarily become powerful enough to slay the gods themselves is the opposite of fun.

Edited by khalil
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@Stun: Honestly, I have to say that you are vastly over-praising the combat mechanics of the IE games. You say it has depth, which I have to say I disagree with. It has complexity, almost exclusively through spellcasting, but little depth. (Disclaimer: I use the general definitions of depth and complexity as found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVL4st0blGU) This is almost entirely because the system is so piss-poorly balanced, meaning that there are few meaningful choices, particularly as someone who isn't a spellcaster. A game that has great complexity: Final Fantasy Tactics (it also has rather great complexity, to be fair). That game allows for a stupid amount a combinations of skill sets and abilities for every single character. It allowed you to use everyone meaningfully and everyone had options and could take actions that interacted tremendously well given insane replay value. The tactics and strategies one could stage in that game is extraordinary. 

 

In the IE games on the other hand, it often just devolved into (optional) 0) cast AoE from outside of line of sight. 1) strip protections from mage. 2) kill mage. 3) whittle enemies hp down until dead. 4) rest to heal up and recover from potential status ailments. Any variations were merely variations of how one whittled down hp, more or less. 

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Also, is it even possible to get through the BG games without using melee combat?

Of course. In fact, I'd argue that engaging in melee combat in BG2 is probably the most inefficient way to dispose of enemies.

 

I will admit I cheesed through the game, which brings me to another point: the optimal strategy in any game should be fun, because the purpose of playing a game is to have fun. (Story based games get an exception, the purpose of playing those is to read a good story.) The most common manifestation of this problem is grinding, because victory dancing in the woods until you arbitrarily become powerful enough to slay the gods themselves is the opposite of fun.

Well, I'm not going to try and come up with an objective definition of fun. Because that would be silly, and arrogant. And just to be clear: when I judge a game's combat as "good" or "bad" I am not voicing an opinion on whether I think its combat is "fun" or "not-fun". For example, Witcher 2. I thought combat in Witcher 2 was rather good. But I definetly didn't think it was fun. It was way too twitchy and actiony for my tastes. But I don't deny its complexity, or its visual brilliance. Edited by Stun
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I liked the IE combat in spite of the mechanics. They just don't work well outside of PnP.

 

PoE will hopefully provide tactical RTwP combat with a ruleset that doesn't require one specfic strategy in a given situation.

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

"I'm fine with humanity being wiped out" - majestic

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In the IE games on the other hand, it often just devolved into (optional) 0) cast AoE from outside of line of sight. 1) strip protections from mage. 2) kill mage. 3) whittle enemies hp down until dead. 4) rest to heal up and recover from potential status ailments. Any variations were merely variations of how one whittled down hp, more or less.

You forgot spamming summons and drinking fifty buff potions at the same time, but other than that it seems fairly accurate.

 

 

Of course. In fact, I'd argue that engaging in melee combat in BG2 is probably the most inefficient way to dispose of enemies.

Really? When I played it, spells were a great way to solve problems, but melee was usually required to keep attention away from the casters.

 

Well, I'm not going to try and come up with an objective definition of fun. Because that would be silly, and arrogant.

I didn't mean to imply I had an objective definition of fun. Sorry if I gave that impression. I meant to imply that there are some things most people consider to not be fun (level grinding, large areas with little to no content, and Metroid: Other M, just to name a few).
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I think, at the time, no other game that was as technologically advanced really tried to embody PnP mechanics like the IE games. Most games just went "Meh... we'll just simplify everything to ARPG mechanics." So, did those games have their flaws? Sure. But... well, it's something to build on. Since those several years of games, that style of game design attempt has kind of died off.

 

So, this is more picking up where they left off, in the same spirit of game making. Not so much copying the exact design because it was perfect. It's more about the creative aspects of the game. Sort of the skeleton of the game.

 

Honestly, I don't think you're gonna hate this game or anything. As was pointed out already, it seems like your general issues with the IE games (notably with combat) are quite similar to Josh and co's, overall. So, PoE will probably be mostly what you liked about the IE games, with improvements (from your perspective) to what you didn't like about them. Not perfect, but probably better.

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I love Infinity Engine combat and its way of pausing the game whenever I want to give orders to SIX party members. I haven't seen a better way to playing a combat in an RPG.

 

Combat in fallout, mass effect, neverwinter nights, actionRPG's, etc.. is in my opinion much worse than Infinity Engine combat.

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I notice that you seem to have played New Vegas but didn't include it on your list. This game has the same project director, while Avellone's development isn't nearly as prominent. It's not guaranteed to not be to your taste, but it's certainly a possibility.

 

And I don't see this being distinctly different from the Infinity Engine games in terms of combat style. That's what people wanted from it when they backed it. It will certainly be modernized and not have the AD&D ruleset, but still... making something similar is kind of in the territory.

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Personally, I really enjoy IE combat, because of the RTS-ness. It can definitely be broken, particularly through copious use of wands, scrolls, and potions. But if you don't do that, it can be really fun. That's a pretty big caveat, I will readily admit, but compared to most other RPGs I find it more interesting to control six characters than one (and I'm rarely a fan of turn-based, so I don't have a lot of good things to say about ToEE). But the IE games were not without their problems, chiefly the ruleset. 2E D&D is mediocre for pen and paper, and it certainly doesn't get better on computers. The rules used were the IE games' greatest weakness, in my opinion, even though the fundamental structure of the combat was fun anyway. Hence, I am rather excited to see Eternity take a whack at recreating that structure under a new set of rules.

 

So basically, I see where you're coming from, but it falls quite far from my personal experience. That said, there's a good chance that Eternity will fix the problems you have with the IE games. It also might not. Here's hoping.

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@juanval

Try Shadowrun Returns.

 

@Wolfenbarg

I know the combat was going to be similar, I just didn't (and still don't) understand why people like said combat.

 

@Jarrakul

Huh. What don't you like about turn based?

Edited by khalil
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@Khalil:

 

What do you want out of PoE?

A game with a plot deeper than "Those guys [are enemies of america/are terrorists/killed your father/burned down your peasant village/are other highlanders bhallspawn/wear blue shirts even though the dress code states that they should be wearing red]. Stab them until they stop moving."

No offense, but you just described every game ever.

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A game with a plot deeper than "Those guys [are enemies of america/are terrorists/killed your father/burned down your peasant village/are other highlanders bhallspawn/wear blue shirts even though the dress code states that they should be wearing red]. Stab them until they stop moving."

No offense, but you just described every game ever.

 

Except Lemmings. 8P

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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No offense, but you just described every game ever.

No, I described every badly written game ever. It just so happens there's a lot of games like that.

Have you played Planescape Torment? What about Spec Ops: The Line?

Except Lemmings. 8P

Scratch that. I described every badly written game that has conflict at the center of it's plot. Edited by khalil
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What don't I like about turn-based? Honestly, I have trouble answering that question. I can identify two things I don't like about it, but they don't feel like the whole story. I'll list them anyway, because they're what I've got. First, it's slow, and I don't like slow combat. It bogs down when it should be most frantic (when there's a million enemies on screen), and I'm left there sitting and waiting when I should be reacting. Which leads into my second complaint. The ability to react is highly limited. I can't go "he's shooting a fireball, better scatter fast." I have to go "he's shooting a fireball. I hope he misses." I don't like that. I like being able to react to things. JRPG combat sometimes addresses that first complaint, at least to an extent (FF7 and Chrono Trigger come to mind), but almost never addresses the second. Western turn-based stuff tends not to address either.

 

That said, I did enjoy Shadowrun Returns, especially Dragonfall. The combat was not exactly the highlight of the game for me, but it was enjoyable enough to add substance to the top quality fluff. So it's not as though I can never enjoy a turn-based game, I just won't enjoy it as much as I would if it were real-time.

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@Jarrakul

I'll give you the slow bit. I'm OK with that, it's a personal thing. I will say that having the enemies in a turn based game all act at one would be kinda nice, but sometimes I like seeing what each individual mook does. Some kind of toggleable option perhaps, I dunno.

However, the second point is a bit odd, as it holds true for real time with pause as well. When a wizard in BG casts fireball, no amount of button mashing will change my character's save versus spells, and no amount of running will get him out of the 20 foot radius. Even in games where almost everything is based off of reaction (such as first person shooters) you still get stuff like hitscan weapons where your reactions don't change the outcome. As a general rule, the closer to RPGs you get the more things end up based on statistics and the less they end up based on personal skill.

Edited by khalil
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