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Malignacious

Will Pillars of Eternity have better combat system than Dragon Age Origins?

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The solution to this problem in the IE games, and what I think should be the default solution in most RPGs, is "the player should retreat (or, more rarely, advance) until they are in a position where there is a suitable bottleneck to prevent enemies from bypassing the front-line fighters." 

 

There are a couple of other mechanics that might address this problem (without impairing the AI of opponents):

 

Blocking opponents

 

* Fighters have the ability to prevent enemies from entering melee range of them at all (at the cost, obviously, of giving up all offensive capability).  In effect, "covering fire" but with a melee weapon.  Enemies would then be required to pathfind around the fighter(s).  Note that the fighter wouldn't be invulnerable, either -- he/she would still be vulnerable to ranged attacks of all sorts.

* A spellcaster could have the ability to create walls, creating bottlenecks where none existed previously -- again, the AI would have the opportunity to pathfind around the obstacles, if a path still existed, and wouldn't take any damage.

* A fighter could be given an ability to choose to push an opponent in a particular direction in exchange for lessened damage (and automatic disengagement)

 

Reengaging opponents that have bypassed the front line

 

* Charge / bull rush type abilities (that allow the fighter to move far more rapidly than normal to a target within a limited range) would work well.

* Displacement type abilities might allow mages to teleport opponents to the fighter, or might enable fighters to be teleoported between the mage and enemy.

* Invisibility type effects might prevent the target from engaging mages at all (in return for loss of all offensive capability) for a limited period of time.

 

In short, while the issue of "How to reward the player for attempting to use proper tactics" is an area ripe for improvement, solutions that are equivalent to "The player clicks on ability X and the monsters are forced to exclusively engage the worst possible target" are not the right answer.

Edited by MReed

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Indeed. Those two - dare I say blemishes? - need to be blotted out from this new iteration of IE-inspired sweetness that is PE! :)

 

And enemies out of thin air, tell me about it! Those war drums outside the goblin fortress and in that weird cave right by it which was a mixed bag of everything in there, even a spider-eating goblin that was explicitly good), well they showered you with goblins on worgs, orcs, bugbears, ogres, whatnot.

 

And don't get me started about cutscene induced stupidity...  "No you stupid computer, I don't want my squishy mage to walk right up the 8 elder vampires to carry on a conversation.  If I must talk to them before we fight, I'd much rather do it via shouting from the doorway!" :)

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The solution to this problem in the IE games, and what I think should be the default solution in most RPGs, is "the player should retreat (or, more rarely, advance) until they are in a position where there is a suitable bottleneck to prevent enemies from bypassing the front-line fighters."

The problem with this is that unless you -- the level designer -- want to make the encounter turn into a chaotic free-for-all, you're pretty much obligated to place these convenient choke points everywhere. That leads to linear, corridor-like levels and monotonous gameplay.

 

There are a couple of other mechanics that might address this problem (without impairing the AI of opponents):

Why are you still harping on this "impairing the AI of the opponents" thing, when it's nowhere indicated that the fighter ability will do anything at all to the enemy AI?

 

Blocking opponents

 

* Fighters have the ability to prevent enemies from entering melee range of them at all (at the cost, obviously, of giving up all offensive capability).  In effect, "covering fire" but with a melee weapon.  Enemies would then be required to pathfind around the fighter(s).  Note that the fighter wouldn't be invulnerable, either -- he/she would still be vulnerable to ranged attacks of all sorts.

Um. So, in your opinion, turning a fighter into a mobile wall that's not actually doing any fighting is somehow more exciting than allowing him to stickily engage multiple enemies at once?

 

Again, this is entirely incomprehensible to me, but there's no accounting for tastes.

 

* A spellcaster could have the ability to create bottlenecks where none existed previously -- again, the AI would have the opportunity to pathfind around the obstacles, if a path still existed, and wouldn't take any damage.

Now this is an excellent idea. Quite simple to do too. Have a "Wall of Iron" type spell, but with a narrow doorway in it.

 

* A fighter could be given an ability to choose to push an opponent in a particular direction in exhange for lessened damage (and automatic disengagement)

As an active ability, I don't much care for it. As a passive one, yeah, this would work.

 

Thing is, with both of your fighter-based solutions... didn't you just say that you're "very worried" about anything that interferes with gankers' ability to scoot past fighters? Yet you're proposing two alternative abilities that do exactly that. Why the apparently change of heart?

 

Reengaging opponents that have bypassed the front line

 

* Charge / bull rush type abilities (that allow the fighter to move far more rapidly than normal to a target within a limited range) would work well.

Lucky for you the barbarian has exactly that ability. So there's your solution -- have barbs instead of fighters in your front line!

 

In short, while the issue of "How to reward the player for attempting to use proper tactics" is an area ripe for improvement, solutions that are equivalent to "The player clicks on ability X and the monsters are forced to exclusively engage the worst possible target" are not the right answer.

I agree 100%. Aggro mechanics suck. Isn't it great that P:E will have nothing of the kind?


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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In short, while the issue of "How to reward the player for attempting to use proper tactics" is an area ripe for improvement, solutions that are equivalent to "The player clicks on ability X and the monsters are forced to exclusively engage the worst possible target" are not the right answer.

 

That's really not what the Defender mode does though.  It's NOT all or nothing.  Instead, it creates a cost-benefit situation.  Moreover, to use it really effectively you'll need a chokepoint in the first place.

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Indeed. Those two - dare I say blemishes? - need to be blotted out from this new iteration of IE-inspired sweetness that is PE! :)

 

And enemies out of thin air, tell me about it! Those war drums outside the goblin fortress and in that weird cave right by it which was a mixed bag of everything in there, even a spider-eating goblin that was explicitly good), well they showered you with goblins on worgs, orcs, bugbears, ogres, whatnot.

 

And don't get me started about cutscene induced stupidity...  "No you stupid computer, I don't want my squishy mage to walk right up the 8 elder vampires to carry on a conversation.  If I must talk to them before we fight, I'd much rather do it via shouting from the doorway!" :)

 

That's a good observation, the game making your character retarded by artificially setting up a situation.

 

I wish they would stop doing that. They even did it in Dawn of War 2 campaigns, you could actually lose whole squads due to forced ingame cutscenes.

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Defender ability gives fighters ability to engage multiple opponents, but same time it raises amount of glance hits they do, so they can slower enemy characters attack towards you more vulnerable, but same time weaken fighters combat proficiency. So if fighter fights against single enemy then using defender ability will hinder him as well if he fights against multiple higher level enemies.  

 

Engagement works in at least in three different ways to slower characters, first is that character's movement action is canceled (except when character has special abilities like barbarians than give them ability to ignore movement cancels [Wild Rush]) when character moves on engagement zone or suffers disengagement attack and second is disengagement attack (except when character has special abilities that give character ability move out from engagement zone without provoking disengagement attack, like rogues have [escaper]), which is regular attack with higher chance to do more damage, and non-engaged characters can do flank attacks against engaged characters. 

 

Character don't have engagement zone if s/he has paralyzed, knocked down or some other status effect that prevent him or her maintaining threat. Character can't engage new characters if has engaged with maximum number of enemies that s/he can engage (which is every other class than fighter one), which means that those character that s/he can't engage can run freely past her/him or do flank attacks against him/her.

 

And there will be enemies with their special engagement and disengagement bonuses.

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9) no aggro

Has this one been confirmed? We haven't had the warrior class update yet, (although Josh has tossed some warrior skill snippets at us.) But I haven't seen anything yaying or naying an aggro mechanic.

 

* No pre-combat buffs: http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/66073-new-pc-gamer-interview-with-josh/?hl=%2Bpre-combat+%2Bbuffs&do=findComment&comment=1441143 -- eliminating pre-combat buffs pretty clearly prohibits multi-combat buffs also

How do you figure this, exactly? The fact that your mage won't be able to cast a stoneskin spell when he wakes up in the morning to keep him protected all day, does not mean that there won't be multi-combat buffs.

 

In fact, there will be. They've been confirmed. Josh has repeatedly talked about the various non-spell buffs (stronghold resting bonuses, for instance) that will stay active with you for several encounters.

Edited by Stun

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I think we are talking at cross-purposes -- you believe that all the "Defender" ability does is allow the fighter to make attacks of opportunity against multiple targets.  If this is correct, then it shouldn't impair the movement of enemies at all -- it just punishes them if they choose to move in certain ways.  If your belief is correct, then the ability doesn't achieve the result that you are looking for:  if I was writing the AI for a game with the mechanic that I just described I would design the default AI to accept the attacks of opportunity if there was a high likelihood of successfully engaging a ranged / magical attacker in exchange.  To be technically accurate, I'd setup a number of simulated engagements where the AI 100% avoided AOO, rolled a die to determine whether or not to accept the AOO, or always ignored AOO when making movement decisions -- but I'd expect the "ignore AOO" strategy to have the highest win percentage against a human opponent, even one that was fully aware of the AI's decision making strategy. 

 

The only way to avoid this syndrome would be to make AOO far more than simple attacks:  in fact, you would need to make an AOO do, say, 25-50% of the target's hitpoints (calculated as a percentage of max HP, rather than as "6d6 damage") or apply a crippling status effect (most likely "slow" or "confused") with a high reliability.  This would result in the "AOO" being the single most effective attack that a player can make at any level / class combination-- far, far more effective than any activated abilities.  I don't know of any game that has taken this approach, because it would create truly odd combat encounters -- if I thought that Obsidian was really going to go this route, I'd be intrigued, because it would result in a very odd (and totally unrealistic) tactical situation.

 

On the other hand, if it works the way that I believe it works (like "flypaper") then those who engage the fighter in melee while the ability is active are mechanically prevented from disengaging -- not just punished for disengaging, they cannot disengage.   If the rules of the game are "Once effect X is applied to you, there are only two actions permitted:  One is to attack the target that applied this effect to you, and the other is to do nothing at all" then yes, I'd call that "disabling the AI".  If you want to be pedantic about it, the AI is still fully functional, but given that it only has one action available to it does it really matter?

 

In regards to my proposed alternative solutions:  The abilities proposed block the AI from moving in certain directions -- but (given that this is a wide open battlefield, with no bottlenecks -- otherwise, the discussion is moot, right?) it doesn't prevent it from engaging its preferred targets.  It merely takes longer to get where it wants to go, which gives the player's ranged attackers more opportunity to dish out damage.  On the other hand, the player is sacrificing some or all of the damage potential of his/her fighters to achieve this goal.  Is this a good tradeoff?  Hopefully the answer would be "It depends -- sometimes the AOO damage that the fighters do as the opponents bypass them will be enough to ensure that the targets are dead before they reaching their goals, while other times the best strategy is to maximize the amount of time that ranged / magical attackers have to attack them".

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Defender ability gives fighters ability to engage multiple opponents, but same time it raises amount of glance hits they do, so they can slower enemy characters attack towards you more vulnerable, but same time weaken fighters combat proficiency. So if fighter fights against single enemy then using defender ability will hinder him as well if he fights against multiple higher level enemies.  

 

Engagement works in at least in three different ways to slower characters, first is that character's movement action is canceled (except when character has special abilities like barbarians than give them ability to ignore movement cancels [Wild Rush]) when character moves on engagement zone or suffers disengagement attack and second is disengagement attack (except when character has special abilities that give character ability move out from engagement zone without provoking disengagement attack, like rogues have [escaper]), which is regular attack with higher chance to do more damage, and non-engaged characters can do flank attacks against engaged characters. 

 

Character don't have engagement zone if s/he has paralyzed, knocked down or some other status effect that prevent him or her maintaining threat. Character can't engage new characters if has engaged with maximum number of enemies that s/he can engage (which is every other class than fighter one), which means that those character that s/he can't engage can run freely past her/him or do flank attacks against him/her.

 

And there will be enemies with their special engagement and disengagement bonuses.

 

Do you have a cite for this?  As I stated, if all the "Defender" ability does is allow a figher to engage multiple targets, who can then disengage with the standard penalties, then I have zero objection to this ability.  On the other hand, I don't think it will create the desired results on the battlefield that some feel it should if that's all it does.

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I think we might all need to read update 44.  Josh goes very in-depth there about how melee engagement works, and I think it might address some of your concerns, MReed--assuming that it's still up-to-date, but we haven't heard anything to the contrary since then.

 

It also clearly shows that neither of our understandings of engagement is entirely in tune what Josh is doing with the mechanic.

Edited by tajerio

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9) no aggro

Has this one been confirmed? We haven't had the warrior class update yet, (although Josh has tossed some warrior skill snippets at us.) But I haven't seen anything yaying or naying an aggro mechanic.

 

* No pre-combat buffs: http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/66073-new-pc-gamer-interview-with-josh/?hl=%2Bpre-combat+%2Bbuffs&do=findComment&comment=1441143 -- eliminating pre-combat buffs pretty clearly prohibits multi-combat buffs also

How do you figure this, exactly? The fact that your mage won't be able to cast a stoneskin spell when he wakes up in the morning to keep him protected all day, does not mean that there won't be multi-combat buffs.

 

In fact, there will be. They've been confirmed. Josh has repeatedly talked about the various non-spell buffs (stronghold resting bonuses, for instance) that will stay active with you for several encounters.

 

 

That's a valid point -- does this sound more accurate?

 

"Buffs that the player can apply to themselves (vs. buffs granted for visiting a special location) in the field will last no longer than a single combat encounter.  Otherwise, players will enter combat deliberately (with no opponents) in order to buff before key combats, which is exactly the behavior that the 'no-prebuffs' is designed to prevent".

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I don't think "entering combat" will be something you can toggle at will. So I doubt josh has to worry about a gamer exploit like that.

 

Edit: Although I would be interested in hearing more about how stealth is going to work. If you send a stealthy character up ahead to scout and he spots a group of enemies, will he then be able to buff accordingly, or does the game only define "combat" as: "when both sides start attacking?"

Edited by Stun

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I think we might all need to read update 44.  Josh goes very in-depth there about how melee engagement works, and I think it might address some of your concerns, MReed--assuming that it's still up-to-date, but we haven't heard anything to the contrary since then.

 

It also clearly shows that neither of our understandings of engagement is entirely in tune what Josh is doing with the mechanic.

 

Thanks for the cite (I did read it back when it was new, but that was quite a while ago, and I had forgotten most of the details. :)

 

If disengagement is not a feasible option without the use of special abilities (because each successful AOO aborts movement and the opponent will be able to reliably reengage) then my concern still exists:  The player will be able to limit the AI to a single (losing) strategy far, far too easily.

 

On the other hand...

 

If the above only applies when the fighter is engaging a single target, then two (or more) targets should be able to reliably disengage by moving in opposite directions.  To explain what I'm talking about:  Fighter "F" is engaging two opponents,, "A" and "B", who are currently to the fighters "NE" and "NW" sides.  "A" moves "North" and "B" moves "South" -- the fighter gets, and hits, with an AOO on both targets -- however, before the AOO occurred, a significant gap opened between "A" and "B" and the fighter must make a decision -- move "North" to restore his engagement with "A" or move "South" to restore his engagement with "B", but there is no position from which the fighter can do both.  Therefore, one opponent "leaks" past (at a cost of two AOO's spread across two targets) the fighter.

 

If the second scenario is an accurate description of how the engagement model works with multiple opponents, and the AI can be designed to take advantage of these scenarios when they occur, then... I'm still a bit concerned about whether or not the AI will properly prioritize the benefits of bypassing fighters to reach squishes, but that's a problem common to most, if not all, RPGs.

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I don't think "entering combat" will be something you can toggle. So I doubt josh has to worry about a gamer exploit like that.

 

If this is the case and multi-battle buffs exist, then the (highly dedicated) player will ensure that a minor combat encounter occurs immediately prior to any major encounter to save time in the major encounter.  This would also have the benefit of being able to use "per encounter" buffs effectively twice in a single encounter (once in the trivial "pre-battle" encounter and then again, if necessary in the major battle).

 

Also, if combat mode isn't a toggle then it will be impossible for the player to attack non-hostile enemies, including other party members.  This would certainly be unusual in a western CRPG.

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If this is the case and multi-battle buffs exist, then the (highly dedicated) player will ensure that a minor combat encounter occurs immediately prior to any major encounter to save time in the major encounter. This would also have the benefit of being able to use "per encounter" buffs effectively twice in a single encounter (once in the trivial "pre-battle" encounter and then again, if necessary in the major battle).

No doubt. Or my personal favorite: leave 1 guy alive from the previous encounter and let him follow your party as you buff your ass off (in relative safety) for the next one, thereby insuring that you're fully buffed up prior to that giant "next" encounter. :)

 

Which just reiterates a point I try to make whenever josh discusses his laborious, grandiose efforts to stamp out degenerate behavior: For every well designed mechanic, there will be 10 ways to render it pointless. And usually it takes the gaming community less than a day after a game's release to start pumping them out.

Edited by Stun
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However, given the focus that Josh has placed on eliminating pre-battle buffing mechanics, the logical solution to absolutely stamp this out is to simply cancel all ("standard" -- the kinds of buffs that the player can apply anywhere) buffs at the end of each encounter.  This feature, combined with sharp limits on the abliity of the player to enter into combat without opponents present, should achieve the desired result.

 

I don't think it is worth the cost, but then my preferences aren't particularly important to Sawyer.

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From the point of view of the backers, who backed this game because it was going to be an "old-style" game...  Well, we are feeling a bit disappointed.  After all, if that's what we wanted, we could have simply waited for DA:I and paid a fraction of the $$$.

 

Sure, Sawyer has said something that flies in the facto f "what IE games are".

 

But saying that automatically makes it a AAA publisher-bred game is ridiculous.

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However, given the focus that Josh has placed on eliminating pre-battle buffing mechanics, the logical solution to absolutely stamp this out is to simply cancel all ("standard" -- the kinds of buffs that the player can apply anywhere) buffs at the end of each encounter.

<puts on his degenerate cap> I can counter that! Again, make the encounter not end. Keep one guy alive and let him follow you to the next encounter.... and feel free to buff your party along the way. Edited by Stun

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<puts on his degenerate cap> I can counter that! Again, make the encounter not end. Keep one guy alive and let him follow you to the next encounter.... and feel free to buff your party along the way.

 

 

OK, hmmmm...  Each encounter has a "fence" around it -- when the player (whether in combat or not) crosses a fence, all buffs are expired, but "per encounter" abilities aren't reset.

 

Beat that. :)

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MReed... methinks you are looking at engagement in some kind of vaccuum. Like the rest of combat doesn't exist.

 

If you knock someone on their arse, then roll past them, they're not going to get a leg-bite of opportunity while they're trying to get to their feet.

 

Also, someone might've said this, but I didn't see it if they did (since all the questions about Defender mode were thrown back and forth in here), but, I'm fairly certain that unless it's changed, the fighter's Defender Mode increases the number of engageable enemies specifically at the cost of offensive capability -- his attack rate. So, you asked way back, "When would you want to turn it off?", and the answer is "When you're not expecting to make enough use of the additional engagement targets to warrant the decrease in your standard rate of attack."

 

Another thing about it is, if there are 8 enemies moving around on the battlefield, and ANY of them cross your Fighter's engagement radius (which I think is larger than other classes' radii), he's going to attack them, for free (with some kind of Accuracy bonus, I believe), every time they do that. If you DON'T have Defender on, then, after the first guy engages your Fighter, your Fighter's engagement "queue" is full with that 1 opponent, so everyone else can just run freely past him with no penalty to consider.

 

Furthermore, you've gotta look at how Accuracy works in PoE. You say "Big whoop... he gets a regular old attack with a better chance to hit." But, not so. Accuracy vs. Defense leaves you with not only your chance to hit, but your chance to hit to varying extents. Assume the foe crossing your Fighter's engagement radius has the exact same defense rating as your Fighter's Accuracy rating. Well, he steps out of that circle, and BOOM, your Fighter gets... I dunno, +10 to Accuracy. Guess what? Now you have a fifteen percent chance to critically hit, as well as [/i] no chance to miss[/i] on that attack.

 

So, no, is having a Fighter in Defender Mode at a choke point somehow stonewalling the entire enemy force? No, but it makes them highly consider doing something about that Fighter, instead of just saying "Meh, first person in is fodder for that guy, everyone else rush the back lines!" They can still DO that. Maybe they have really good defense ratings, etc. There are also a lot of pretty cool abilities people can use, and some folks even get disengagement attacks that allow them to disengage without penalty.

 

The whole point is, though, that it's all stuff to consider. That's kind of the point of tactical combat. There are always multiple options. It's just a matter of figuring out how they're affected by the circumstances, and how they're going to fit into the context of what you did last, and what you can do/plan to do next.

 

Another thing to note about disengagement, as opposed to just D&D attacks of opportunity, is that it's a radial area, rather than a distance moved within melee range. Not that you could do this and live, I'm sure, but, once engaged with a foe in PoE, you could hypothetically run circles around that foe and never provoke a disengagement attack. You have to actually leave the circle before they get a free attack.

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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 can't believe that this is actually the first post I ever do in these forums, but I just feel the urge to say it:

 

It has been stated that there will be no hard-counters and pre-buffs in PoE and much less randomness compared to the IE games. And all I can say is:

THANK GOD FOR THAT!

 

Seriously, as much as I loved the IE games and still consider them as some of the best games ever made, the stupidly overpowered hard counters and the extreme meta-gaming on pre-buffing was just a slap in the face in terms of gameplay.

 

Hard counters are *not* to be mistaken with tactical depth. In fact, when I *need* to buff all my characters with protection from death before entering a battle with a Lich (that I don't even know is there, because it's right after a loading screen that I can not enter with just a stealthed thief for scouting) to survive the battle, then this is not a strategic decision. It's just a penalty.

The IE games where full of hard-counter abilities that just made the game frustrating, especially when you wanted to play with certain party setups.

I can only shudder if I think back to how useless certain classes became at the end of TOB, simply because a lot of enemies where just immune to most of my abilities in order to not make them pointless due to hard-counters.

Seriously, I couldn't backstab even a single enemy at a certain point. Most of the bosses where also immune to lower magic resistance. It was just ridicolous how in the end, TOB was just dispel & summon & beat the **** out of everything with physical damage.

 

 

I also feel that pre-buffing kills immersion in almost any game. Don't get me wrong: pre-buffing makes sense and is a cool feature if the character knowledge and player knowledge are equal. If an NPC tells me "don't go there, there's a fire dragon there!", then naturally I will buff fire protection before entering the cave. If I enter a tomb, I will naturally put on my bonus-vs-undead mace.

What I don't do, however, is expecting that there's a random demon behind the staircase that will immediately stun every single character in my party right after eye contact. What I don't do, is knowing that right after the staircase there is an enemy spellcaster with the symbol of fear ability. You didn't put up protection from fear? Well, pity you, horrid withing!

**** like this just ain't fun for anyone. It would be a totally different story if you could actually react to such situations during the battle. If for example the fear ability casts long enough to allow putting protection up. And you would still have an advantage on a reload attempt, now that you know the fear is coming as then you don't have to cast it during combat anymore.

 

I simply don't want to need meta-game knowledge to beat certain encounters. I want to play and beat the game with the knowledge my characters would have.

 

 

Hard-counter is what destroyed Starcraft II for me. Wings of Liberty was much more about soft-counters than Heart of the Swarm. Battles where much more entertaining without those extreme unit choices and strategies that were all about "either this works or you die instantly".

Rock-Paper-Scissiors is not strategic. It's pure luck. And while a certain amount of randomness can be cool and entertaining, the overuse of luck and meta-gaming preparation is just not fun anymore.

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Welcome to the forums, and thanks for that great virgin post! I agree almost wholeheartedly! :)


*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Translation: I really loved the IE games. They were the best games ever made.... But they were sh*tty, untactical, frustrating, and not very fun.

 

 

LOL

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Translation: I really loved the IE games. They were the best games ever made.... But they had some obvious faults.

 

That's actually what Zwiebelchen meant.

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