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No more GM sucker punches, and the gameplay challenges thereof


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Personally I prefer a mix with the witcher where game lore changes your journal with information of powerful beings that you will fight and so on. where you can learn in game most of the bad habits of the enemies you will encounter, and some surprices but still the game tells you more or less what you are doing will not work so well.

When I first fighter KangGaxx, I was destroyed, and then destroyed again, then I went to find a guide, and used some scrolls, and some more preparation leveling up two times later I beat him.

It could have been awesome to find some book in the BG world to let me know That KangGaxx was a powerful mage, that had powers that make him immune to most weapons in the game, etc. or that its known that one time X weapon wielded by Y hero managed to cut his flesh.
With that data, you then you can find that same X weapon, and seach a book of the story of Y hero, and then you learn that he was like level 10 when he run for his life when he fighted KangGaxx, then you can say if im in that level maybe I should not start this fight jet, or find weapons that are stronger that weapon X, to know you will do some harm.

Or that during the fight he stated the obvious so we fell like he is a James bond 60s villain.

Something like at the 6 hit of you weapon being ineffective, the fights stops and he states I can’t be harmed by Weapons!

And little my little he unfolds his powers to give you a chance to create a strategy.

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I would argue that the problem is less Kangaxx (the extreme case, but there's only one of him) and more BG2 mages in general. Barring exploiting their AI by ducking through area transitions, you don't have a lot of options other than True Sight + Breach, or inquisitor dispel. Now, you learn that pretty quick, and you start preparing for it just in general, but it's still a "be prepared or die" situation. Same with BG1 basilisks. Giant sacks of XP if you have Protection from Petrification, ultimate death machines otherwise. There should totally be some tactics that work better against some creatures, but they should not be as extreme as some of the things in BG. Although that could be neat in a few cases with proper foreshadowing and in-game information, this hard-counter behavior is best reserved for unique enemies.

 

Basically, I'm fine with needing a vorpal blade to kill the jabberwock, so long as I can piece that together from info in the game. I'm not okay with needing the vorpal blade to kill 10% of enemies in the game.

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I would argue that the problem is less Kangaxx (the extreme case, but there's only one of him) and more BG2 mages in general. Barring exploiting their AI by ducking through area transitions, you don't have a lot of options other than True Sight + Breach, or inquisitor dispel. Now, you learn that pretty quick, and you start preparing for it just in general, but it's still a "be prepared or die" situation. Same with BG1 basilisks. Giant sacks of XP if you have Protection from Petrification, ultimate death machines otherwise. There should totally be some tactics that work better against some creatures, but they should not be as extreme as some of the things in BG. Although that could be neat in a few cases with proper foreshadowing and in-game information, this hard-counter behavior is best reserved for unique enemies.

 

Basically, I'm fine with needing a vorpal blade to kill the jabberwock, so long as I can piece that together from info in the game. I'm not okay with needing the vorpal blade to kill 10% of enemies in the game.

THIS. THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS x1000.

 

Also, traps. Can my traps guy (who, right now, is Yoshimo) not take ages to find every single trap, and sometimes never find them? I totally support having traps in the game, and I totally support having a trapfinding skill, but my God, does it have to be so binary with every trap? Like, maybe not every trap is created equal. Maybe some traps are more obvious to the trained eye than others. This could be another thing to hint at in-game as well: "Don't go into the F***ing Scary Dungeon Of Scariness, friend! There be traps and tricks the loikes er which yer never seen!" Whereas if you're just searching for, like, a really obvious clicky panel or a wire trap, that pops up almost as soon as you turn Find Traps on.

 

At later levels, I mean, when you've invested some points into trapfinding. I'm not saying a guy who takes one level in trapfindind should be able to see super-well-hidden traps, or even obvious traps, without taking a lot of time to find them. That would be stupid.

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I would argue that the problem is less Kangaxx (the extreme case, but there's only one of him) and more BG2 mages in general. Barring exploiting their AI by ducking through area transitions, you don't have a lot of options other than True Sight + Breach, or inquisitor dispel. Now, you learn that pretty quick, and you start preparing for it just in general, but it's still a "be prepared or die" situation. Same with BG1 basilisks. Giant sacks of XP if you have Protection from Petrification, ultimate death machines otherwise. There should totally be some tactics that work better against some creatures, but they should not be as extreme as some of the things in BG. Although that could be neat in a few cases with proper foreshadowing and in-game information, this hard-counter behavior is best reserved for unique enemies.

 

Basically, I'm fine with needing a vorpal blade to kill the jabberwock, so long as I can piece that together from info in the game. I'm not okay with needing the vorpal blade to kill 10% of enemies in the game.

 

I appreciate and agree with your point, but will be a bit patronising in pointing out that there were quite a few ways to deal with basilisk's and mages - it might have been exploiting the ai to summon skeletons in front of a basilisk and pepper it with arrows, or cheese to use a protection from magic scroll on kangaxx/mages, but that and a few other options existed.  What I'd like from Obsidian is to see more of what you suggested in the foreshadowing - like my ranger being able to tell an absent minded mage hung his robe out to dry on that tree a few hours ago, or a cleric sense the eeevil in that tomb.  If they can keep/expand on the combat mechanics seen in the IE games, and iterate  those mechanics with roleplaying elements informed by character skills, I'll be one happy camper.

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My ideal combat "difficulty" would consist of engagement; it would keep me on my toes. Even if I'm the knowledge master and wrote the wiki on the game, a tough fight should still require mental effort on my part, the whole way through, and be easier, instead of easy.

 

But, yeah, it's kind of a mix of dynamic reaction, and static "this works effectively" knowledge. If some specific strategy just works, and all the "difficulty" is just HP numbers and defenses and things beyond my control (no amount of party positioning or reactions or timing is going to affect anything any further), and all there is to it is to successfully execute the strategy for a good 10 minutes, then I don't really see that as quality combat difficulty.

 

I know combat strategy is a bit similar to puzzley stuff, but I don't want to fight a puzzle for 15 minutes that I've figured out in the first 30 seconds. I think "the solution" to a tricky combat encounter should always consist of a set of various reactions and general effects in response to an array of combat behaviors and factors. It shouldn't ever be "Oh, as long as I just keep them sleeped, and have these buffs on my guys, we're golden." If you don't have to change what you're doing at all, then I think that "tough" fight is too simplistic, to be honest.

 

To be clear, I'm mainly talking about either boss fights, or very intentionally tough/tricky combinations/groups of foes. Not just your average "Here's three trolls." I mean, the same principle applies, really, just to a lesser degree.

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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 appreciate and agree with your point, but will be a bit patronising in pointing out that there were quite a few ways to deal with basilisk's and mages - it might have been exploiting the ai to summon skeletons in front of a basilisk and pepper it with arrows, or cheese to use a protection from magic scroll on kangaxx/mages, but that and a few other options existed.  What I'd like from Obsidian is to see more of what you suggested in the foreshadowing - like my ranger being able to tell an absent minded mage hung his robe out to dry on that tree a few hours ago, or a cleric sense the eeevil in that tomb.  If they can keep/expand on the combat mechanics seen in the IE games, and iterate  those mechanics with roleplaying elements informed by character skills, I'll be one happy camper.

 

 

This is fair. There are a few other options to deal with the enemies that require very specific preparations. I actually considered including those very examples. But the thing is, those are still fairly niche strategies that require some degree of specific preparation. Summoning undead is great against basilisks... if you memorized Animate Dead and happen to know that the basilisk can't petrify it. Protection from magic scrolls are great for individual encounters, if you thought to buy enough to cover your whole party for every single mage fight. I'm sure there are more ways which I haven't bothered to figure out because, hey, I've already got multiple working strategies. But that's not really my point. My point is that none of those strategies (except the area transition one, which is definitely an exploit) can really be used without preparation (unless you happen to be lucky enough to randomly have the counter prepared, which is feasible for things like Animate Dead against basilisks).

 

Traps are also an example of this, especially in Durlag's Tower. Don't have a thief with high find traps? Sorry. The dungeon is filled with highly lethal traps that don't go away when you trigger them. Hope you have more potions than God.

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Mostly the problem with all these is that the game ends when the main character dies. Otherwise you'd technically be able to retreat and come again prepared. I wonder if anyone ever got through THIS encounter without a reload?

Edited by Sabotin
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I appreciate and agree with your point, but will be a bit patronising in pointing out that there were quite a few ways to deal with basilisk's and mages - it might have been exploiting the ai to summon skeletons in front of a basilisk and pepper it with arrows, or cheese to use a protection from magic scroll on kangaxx/mages, but that and a few other options existed.  What I'd like from Obsidian is to see more of what you suggested in the foreshadowing - like my ranger being able to tell an absent minded mage hung his robe out to dry on that tree a few hours ago, or a cleric sense the eeevil in that tomb.  If they can keep/expand on the combat mechanics seen in the IE games, and iterate  those mechanics with roleplaying elements informed by character skills, I'll be one happy camper.

 

 

This is fair. There are a few other options to deal with the enemies that require very specific preparations. I actually considered including those very examples. But the thing is, those are still fairly niche strategies that require some degree of specific preparation. Summoning undead is great against basilisks... if you memorized Animate Dead and happen to know that the basilisk can't petrify it. Protection from magic scrolls are great for individual encounters, if you thought to buy enough to cover your whole party for every single mage fight. I'm sure there are more ways which I haven't bothered to figure out because, hey, I've already got multiple working strategies. But that's not really my point. My point is that none of those strategies (except the area transition one, which is definitely an exploit) can really be used without preparation (unless you happen to be lucky enough to randomly have the counter prepared, which is feasible for things like Animate Dead against basilisks).

 

Traps are also an example of this, especially in Durlag's Tower. Don't have a thief with high find traps? Sorry. The dungeon is filled with highly lethal traps that don't go away when you trigger them. Hope you have more potions than God.

 

This is exactly a problem for me, how did one find that you needed or could summon skeletons to fight basilisk. How did one know that you needed some protection of magi scrolls?

 

The answerer usually is trial and error, luck, and/or a guide.

Once you know it, is all downhill, the puzzle is solved and it losses some of the fun.

Combat should be fun, opponents should have some times tells, to pause, and move your team out of the area of an attack, something to keep you guessing.

 

This is not BG1-2, this is 10 Years later, we backed the game so to improve on something that was awesome!

 

For example a Smart Autopause, with some standard dialog that can be toggle in the options.

For example a Cleric that can sense evil, so if he has high resolve or something he can autopause the game, and states: Man this place feels wrong we should run from this place for now!

A Ranger Walking and stopping the group, to say: There is a pack of Wild Wolf near,  lets not go that road for now.

A Mage with hi lore, as soon as you see a basilisk it states: Man that’s a freaking basilisk we should bale NOW!

 

Etc, finding books and stuff to create a bestiary, with information to beat each monster, some lore, and other cool stuff.

 

But that’s just me.

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So, the sollution would be "massive handholding"...

 

Somehow I don't see that 'adding to the puzzle' or 'adding the fun'... it's more fun deducting tactics on your own then having them spelled out to you for each and every foe.

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^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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The key to making things transparent without makimg them handhold-y is, I think, is to always make the player the one who investigates. The problem with Rey's examples is that the player's companions are doing the work for her. If there's a mystery to be solved, I want to be the one to solve it.

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So, the sollution would be "massive handholding"...

 

Somehow I don't see that 'adding to the puzzle' or 'adding the fun'... it's more fun deducting tactics on your own then having them spelled out to you for each and every foe.

 

I think it primarily works for someone who enjoyed the IE games (particularly the Baldur's Gates and Planescape Torment) for character interaction and roleplaying. From this perspective, finding in-game, in-universe "advice" for encounters makes a lot more sense than having every fresh-out-the-door level 1 character getting by off the back of "metaknowledge" gained from his own recent deaths and/or past playthroughs. It'll still exist, of course, but it's about preserving illusions.

 

That's not to say that removing the advantage gained through player knowledge is advisable or even possible, naturally. But it is a reminder that ten people in a room who all like the same games often like them for different, sometimes slightly conflicting reasons.

Edited by Tamerlane
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So, the sollution would be "massive handholding"...

 

Somehow I don't see that 'adding to the puzzle' or 'adding the fun'... it's more fun deducting tactics on your own then having them spelled out to you for each and every foe.

 

So the only two options are forcing you to figure out everything by trial and error, and "massive handholding." No middle ground possible. Glad we got that cleared up.

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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Well, we got an Expert mode, sure, we can have a "nanny mode" too... the exact oppositie of ME3's 'Let us deal with that pesky dialogue' it could be 'let us deal with that pesky combat challenge'...

 

If there is a middle-ground, apparently no-one in this thread came upon it yet. I thought BG's did fine, but apparently, as I know learn, it was too much learning involved.

You learn something new every day...

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^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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Uh, guys, PoE's solution to "GM sucker punches" isn't to give players obvious signposts warning about them ahead of time, hoping that they pay attention.

 

It's to remove those sucker punches completely and create systems that are tactically more robust. This entire line of conversation is pointless

Edited by Infinitron
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Uh, guys, PoE's solution to "GM sucker punches" isn't to give players obvious signposts warning about them ahead of time, hoping that they pay attention.

 

It's to remove those sucker punches completely and create systems that are tactically more robust. This entire line of conversation is pointless

 

I'm not totally sure that's true. We're discussing which sorts of "sucker punch" situations are actually problematic, a which can potentially add interesting variety to the game. That strikes me as potentially useful info for the devs to have.

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Sucker punches are a problem because you're not expecting them. I think that's a consistency issue.

 

One game can build its difficulty curve. It can show you mechanics in safe environments, then introduce unsafe environments. Then over time it can complicate mechanics and combine mechanics in new ways to produce interesting situations. But as long as it builds up to that, it's not a sucker punch.

 

And another game can avoid a curve altogether. Brute force yourself against challenges, figure out what the mechanics do in the heat of the moment and by your own trial.

 

Both are cool. But they probably shouldn't spend much time together in the same game. Though I'm not averse to them spending some time together. The former could benefit from an optional encounter with the latter.

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"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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I actually close my eyes when I play Icewind Dale now. I find that the graphics are really just hand-holding bull**** that only casual players need to win fights. It'd be really nice if Obsidian made Expert Mode just a complete black screen. You babies could have your mode for people who aren't willing to learn and play properly and rely on in-game hand-holding and people like me can have our mode with challenge and complexity.

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I don't think that having a book or ignorable NPC that informs the player about a monster having a particular immunity or weakness is exactly handholding. As long as the game doesn't scream "only blunt weapons can harm this creature" every time I fight a golem, I'm good.

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"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

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

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Yeah, it's pretty hard to avoid those in the BG games...
But apparently, still people need 'you need +X to harm this opponent' spelled out?

 

@ Infil; I think that's the problem really. I can't really see 'sucker punches' being out without making the game a complete snoozefest. I hope OE proves me wrong though.

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^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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Eh. "+X to harm enemies" is a pretty silly concept with a shaky mythological basis (that is to say, creatures that can only be killed by a magic weapon are very common in mythology, but it's usually a specific weapon rather than any old Sword of Slightly Improved Swordiness) and I won't be sad to see that concept and boring old +x weapons in general go away, for reasons entirely unrelated to "sucker punches" for unfamiliar players.

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I still don't want immunities to go away, be it that or "fire elementals cannot be harmed (or be healed!) by fire" rather than the modern favorite "fire elementals have like, 20% extra fire resistance. Blast them away with your fire-spells."

 

Actually, some of that BG/old style goodness (if you mess up your damage, you might actually buff opponents) would be a welcome refreshment/welcoming back.

I miss it :(

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^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

TSLRCM Official Forum || TSLRCM Moddb || My other KOTOR2 mods || TSLRCM (English version) on Steam || [M4-78EP on Steam

Formerly known as BattleWookiee/BattleCookiee

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Combat 'n Sucker Punches.

 

Well, I would love to be sucker punched. It is only natural in the kind of game-play PoE will try to resurrect. It is something I may do to my enemies on occasion as well, so why not have them do it as well ? Chances are that by a certain point in game our heroes will be better geared than 98% of encountered enemies, making most encounters standard procedure or, even worse, a boring delay to the goal.

 

So have them surprise us, sucker punch the heck out of our party. Have them use clever traps or tactics and be prepared of our coming in general. That is, when circumstances allow such: NOT when we traverse an open forest area but YES when we enter the cave inhabited by a dangerous family of beasts.

 

 

I really hope developers will not try to equalize everything, else we may end up getting a different kind of game than what we were promised.

Matilda is a Natlan woman born and raised in Old Vailia. She managed to earn status as a mercenary for being a professional who gets the job done, more so when the job involves putting her excellent fighting abilities to good use.

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If you fireball the fire elemental, you deserve what you get. It's basically a walking mass of fire. What'd you think a fireball was gonna do? If, on the other hand, you fireball a flesh golem, only to see it be immune, you had no way of knowing that. It's not particularly fair to you. Which is still kind of okay, because you can adapt. Yeah, you were basically forced into a mistake, but it's one you can recover from. It's not so much a sucker punch as it is a block. A sucker punch is when something you had no way of foreseeing just sort of kills you because you weren't prepared, or if nothing you can do will hurt it because you don't have the precise counter. See demiliches, many of the stronger BG2 mages, and basilisks that show up without warning (but if you see a bunch of surprisingly-lifelike statues, it does kind of become your fault for not preparing).

 

As for needing magic weapons to hurt things... I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it adds more annoyance than interesting challenge. On the other hand, I really don't see how you're gonna hurt a ghost with a normal sword.

 

Now, Hassat, as to your "snoozefest" argument, I find that very interesting. To my mind, the sucker punch stuff in the IE games tended to be really frustrating until you figured it out, and then totally trivial forever after. The most sucker-punchy fights in the game (Kangaxx and the BG1 basilisks) were also the most boring, because once you'd figured out the trick they took no further effort. For the sake of PoE not being a snoozefest, I think avoiding those situations is key. Especially for non-unique enemies and repeated playthroughs.

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@ Infil; I think that's the problem really. I can't really see 'sucker punches' being out without making the game a complete snoozefest. I hope OE proves me wrong though.

 

Serious, well-balanced strategy and tactical games usually don't have the sucker punch/hard counter type stuff commonly seen in old RPGs. You might find strategy games boring of course, but I doubt it's for that reason.

 

In many ways Pillars of Eternity can be seen as an attempt to implement a serious squad-level real time-tactics fantasy combat game within the framework of a broader RPG.

Edited by Infinitron
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