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What PoE can learn from Wasteland 2 release? (faults and lessons to learn)


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I'm having a real hard time enjoying Wasteland. It feels like they were so close to a masterpiece of a game, but so many little things nag at you that the process becomes more tedious than enjoyable.

 

If my sniper with min/maxed skills shoots his friend in the back one more time, or his 3% chance to jam weapon jams MULTIPLE times in the same fight, and my team for some reason cannot make a formation in which to not shoot each other in the back, this game could be so much better.

 

The Camera is so awful, literally your window into the game, that it makes doing everything hard.

 

There are so many skills in the game that seem useless, (toaster repair... I know it has it's uses in the game but I just find it annoying). It also feels like the diplomacy skills are mostly useless. I almost rarely get a chance to use them, and even though I level them up fairly consistantly, I never seem to have the specific one I need at the time I need them.

 

The game is not polished. It needed another month or two to become the great game it could be.

I plan to give it another month until I'm convinced the "final-ish" post release patch comes out, otherwise the game is very good though, people seem to be horrendously critical and perhaps it is the rose-tinted glasses that others have alluded to, I personally try to evaluate games objectively and for me WL2 does most of the things that FO1&2 do and in some cases better. 

 

To be honest though for me BG1&2 are the pinnacle of crpg gaming, as a result I will be highly disappointed if certain things do not match my expectations (to be frank I'm already disappointed with the absence of romances). Ultimately though if I choose to judge this based on BG1&2 which is a rather lofty bar I will be disappointed.

 

But then I have to remember back in the day craving for crpg goodness I didn't judge Arcanum on BG1&2, I loved it, I didn't judge KOTOR 1 or 2 on BG and loved them so ultimately if I have to judge this on anything it will be DA:O which if it doesn't come up favorably against then I can be thoroughly disappointed, cuz that game was weak. (IMO)

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I plan to give it another month until I'm convinced the "final-ish" post release patch comes out, otherwise the game is very good though, people seem to be horrendously critical and perhaps it is the rose-tinted glasses that others have alluded to, I personally try to evaluate games objectively and for me WL2 does most of the things that FO1&2 do and in some cases better. 

 

 

My feelings exactly! :)

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

 

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I'm kind of the same way, Jobby, except that for me it's PS:T.  Of course, the Planescape universe is so... weird that it's tough to find games that really fit in the same way.

 

I *am* enjoying WL2 quite a bit.  There are some unpolished aspects and I agree that some of the skills are out of whack, but it's still been a lot of fun.  It makes me glad that I ponied up for Tides of Numenera.  I'm not all that far into the game, though, so I guess it could all go downhill and I'll have to own to it if that happens.  I've only seen four different locations outside of random encounters.

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  • Graphics DO matter. When asked people will tell you that they don't, but in the end they will have an impression of a "cheap" game. And graphics isn't just the amount of details game got, but also how "inspiring" locations are and how much "ave" do they bring, how good character animations are, how "alive" does the game world feel.

 

This is the most important bit, across all gaming genres. In fact, animations are much more important than graphics and more significant because there is a clear ceiling for it.

 

Poor animations just destroy any enthusiasm for a game, most people feel it but can't pinpoint it.

 

Anyone that says graphics don't matter are trying to do one of three things:

 

1) Properly express what they really are trying to say, which usually is "don't waste resources on shiny baubles"

2) More focused on gaining street cred than having an actual discussion (Witcher fans are the absolute WORST at this)

3) #1 and #2

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I'm kind of the same way, Jobby, except that for me it's PS:T.  Of course, the Planescape universe is so... weird that it's tough to find games that really fit in the same way.

 

I *am* enjoying WL2 quite a bit.  There are some unpolished aspects and I agree that some of the skills are out of whack, but it's still been a lot of fun.  It makes me glad that I ponied up for Tides of Numenera.  I'm not all that far into the game, though, so I guess it could all go downhill and I'll have to own to it if that happens.  I've only seen four different locations outside of random encounters.

Overall, I'd say it will get better! For some reason, after 20-25 hours and after getting tougher and more fun fights, at least on Ranger difficulty, the game really takes off. 

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

 

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Glad this turned out ok after the minor flap during the early release.  Bodes well for PoE and the new Torment game.

 

I'm quite dismayed that Dawngate has much better character animations than Wasteland 2; they feel very floaty, like they're not actually walking on the ground but gliding across it.

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I've never said that graphics weren't important for a release.  In fact, sometimes it seems that folks argue that the designers should go out of their way *not* to have good graphics, which I find bewildering at best.  ...But I like the graphics in WL2.  I don't like the fact that moving the camera around is clunky, but the characters animate certainly well enough to suit my tastes.  I *like* the feel of the game, and I neither backed WL2, nor had I any intention to purchase it during development.  I'm just lucky that my pledge for PoE included the game.

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I've put in 40+ hours so far and the only times I shot people in the back when I was starting off. I haven't shot a companion in the back for quite some time. Placement is really important and knowing how your weapons will fire is also important.

The craziest thing is how a standing character can accidentally shoot a crouching ally directly in front of him. 8P

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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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  • Graphics DO matter. When asked people will tell you that they don't, but in the end they will have an impression of a "cheap" game. And graphics isn't just the amount of details game got, but also how "inspiring" locations are and how much "ave" do they bring, how good character animations are, how "alive" does the game world feel.

 

This is the most important bit, across all gaming genres. In fact, animations are much more important than graphics and more significant because there is a clear ceiling for it.

 

Poor animations just destroy any enthusiasm for a game, most people feel it but can't pinpoint it.

 

Anyone that says graphics don't matter are trying to do one of three things:

 

1) Properly express what they really are trying to say, which usually is "don't waste resources on shiny baubles"

2) More focused on gaining street cred than having an actual discussion (Witcher fans are the absolute WORST at this)

3) #1 and #2

 

Sometimes #1 is a bit more specific, such as "don't even waste resources on graphics (even things more important than shiny baubles) until these more important areas of design have been satisfied..." it's often about priorities.

 

Are you suggesting with #2 that people claiming to not care much about graphics are simply trying to impress others? How is it impressive or deserving of street cred to not care about graphics? Are people that claim to enjoy reading books all just trying to impress others while internally wishing they were watching movies instead? I don't get this point.

 

Also, there is something to be said for the potential value of intentionally limiting graphics. I suppose there are those that see all media which lacks complete visual representation as a product of technological or other limitations, but I'd say that my first read of The fellowship of The Ring would not have been improved by a picture on every page to show me what every character and setting looked like. I don't see films as a form of media which is superior to books, and reading (even specifically reading written descriptions of environments or the body language of a character) has a hopefully lasting place in crpgs. I can't stand when a game drags me into a cinematic view every time I enter dialogue (NWN2) and I much prefer for a game to have a description of what it is trying to convey rather than attempting to immitate a movie and dragging me into a closeup first person or over-the-shoulder view every time some NPC wants to say something to me. I like the blend of graphical and written representation found in the PoE Beta, I think that they are generally striking a good harmony between the two: by which I mean that the world and characters are represented solidly with the graphics, while details of body language and other things not conveyed graphically are described in text. I don't think of those text descriptions as a limitation and I don't believe that the natural progression of computer games will involve graphics advancing to the point that such descriptions become unnecessary and are done away with, I think that they have a place regardless of how good the graphics get.

 

So I'd say that it's often about people genuinely not caring about expensive graphics as much as they care about the writing, reactivity, consequences of choices, combat mechanics, etc., which is pretty much what you were getting at with your #1 I think, just thought I'd expand on the thought a bit.

"Forsooth, methinks you are no ordinary talking chicken!"

-Protagonist, Baldur's Gate

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@GrinningReaper re intentionally limiting graphics: that is so very true.

 

Visually the BioWare game that I still find the most appealing by far is Jade Empire, and a big part of that is due to the relatively low graphical fidelity. It's a lot less work to create assets with those poly counts and textures than it is at, say, Mass Effect 3 level fidelity -- and I'm fairly certain that's one reason Mass Effect 3's environments all look like malls, office buildings, or bombed-out parking garages while Jade Empire has much broader variety.

 

Sometimes less is more, even with graphics. And, FWIW, I like the overall look of P:E a lot -- like, really a lot. If anything, some things like the spell effects need toning down rather than up. More animations would always be nice, of course, but they're nowhere near the top of my priority list ATM.

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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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The OP is so negative lol. The game is not nearly as bad as what OP makes it. It is old school yes. OP does not like Old School. I enjoy it a lot. If PoE bugs were removed and it was release right now current WL2 would be a superior product. At least in WL2 you know what is going on in combat and different RNG elements (like FF and Jams) make combat exciting and unpredictable (and both can be reduced by player actions). 

 

And to people that complain about not needing to adjust to combat I say, play on higher difficulty. You don't need to adjust only because you succeed too much. Once you lose a battle you will try something different. 

Edited by archangel979
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@GrinningReaper re intentionally limiting graphics: that is so very true.

 

Visually the BioWare game that I still find the most appealing by far is Jade Empire, and a big part of that is due to the relatively low graphical fidelity. It's a lot less work to create assets with those poly counts and textures than it is at, say, Mass Effect 3 level fidelity -- and I'm fairly certain that's one reason Mass Effect 3's environments all look like malls, office buildings, or bombed-out parking garages while Jade Empire has much broader variety.

 

Sometimes less is more, even with graphics. And, FWIW, I like the overall look of P:E a lot -- like, really a lot. If anything, some things like the spell effects need toning down rather than up. More animations would always be nice, of course, but they're nowhere near the top of my priority list ATM.

Art > engine. If you have to drop art quality to get a better engine, it's probably not worth it, at least for longer games. Shiny baubles don't entertain people for long, but good art can last for centuries(well, not on CDs, but that's not the arts fault).
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1. If youre gonna make closeups on character models part of your UI you better polish those models. PoE´s models, thankfully, look way way better, prettier and much more polished than W2´s. They have some clipping issues though.

 

2. Ensure that at least the first 5 hours have as little bugs as possible.

 

3. You will send out a hotfix/patch within the first 3 or so days of release. There is no avoiding this.

 

4. Your forums will be flooded with newbies, noobs, trolls and other internet fauna for the first weeks and then some asking the same questions/posts over and over and over again. Prepare both closed and open stickies for mods to link to when they close the excees threads. The discussion must be funneled SOMEWHERE no matter how incoherent.

 

5. Something catastrophic will happen. You will forever be haunted by the feeling "I could have done better" even if you have been on crunch time since kickstarter started. Apply that knowledge to the next project.

 

6. The afterparty never stops.

Edited by Fiebras
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I've been following this game for awhile - first post.  I really don't understand the relentless criticism of games like Wasteland 2.  I have a pretty long background in these sorts of games - back to Wizardry 1, actually.  I never finished Wasteland 1 because I got to the final battle and found out that I'd run out of bullets.   Not on my team - in the game world. 

 

Wasteland 2 does a lot of things right.  It has a definite feel to it, the skills almost all turn out to be useful, and there are a lot of ways to approach problems.  (e.g. you can pick a lock on a door, bash it down, or blow it up...or you can enter an area from multiple places with multiple methods.  You can slaughter everyone or talk your way around.  There are some haunting moments and choices in the game.  There is a strong element of strategy to the fights with semi-destructible terrain, and you can create effective characters in a lot of different ways. 

 

From a technical point of view it certainly has flaws.  It has a real element of randomness to it.  (I'm amused by statistically illiterate people who think that the percentages are lying.  If you shoot guns 14 times in a fight a 5% chance of a gun jamming means that one is more likely than not to occur.)  This is most annoying with things like lockpicking, and it promotes save/reload play.  It doesn't clue you into what a good build looks like.  The NPCs - 3 out of 7 - tend to have skill sets that are neither known to the player in advance nor terribly useful.  There are some clunky UI choices.

 

On the flipside, it rewards repeat play - both from a choices point of view (there are two large choices that you make in the first section that will strongly impact your game play) and from their persistence (decisons that you make at one stage can manifest consequences much later.)  You will also design a far, far better party on the second round than the first.  I like games that aren't one and done.  Some of the battles have a nice IWD tactical feel to them.

 

If I had any advice, it's that a good clean UI is a huge asset to a game.  A system that closely links cause and effect is also very helpful to start out with (e.g. avoiding trap builds), and having systems that come across as being "fair" (e.g. I messed up, but can see what I could have done better.)  For positive lessons, a decent story, meaningful consequences for your actions, and multiple ways of attacking a problem go a very long way. 

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I really enjoy Wasteland 2 up to this point, more then i thought I would. I am on my second playthrough at the moment with lots of hours sank into it.

 

Still, there are some points I hope PoE will do better.

 

1. Combat mechanics, balance and the "Weapon of choice".

I don´t want a washed down version where the weapon or class you choose is merly cosmetical. On the other hand, the underlying system should allow you to build around a certain spec, class or weapon to become effective. I am fine with one choice beeing stronger then another, because it adds applicability to their real world counterparts (for Wasteland that is). However, there should not be the "No-Brainer", the one weapon, the one spec you have to take in order to succeed in combat. Don´t get me wrong, I don´t believe that cookie-cutter builds can be avoided entirely, but at least make them less obvious. This is something D:OS did very well.

 

2. Avoid dumb stats

Fallowing this forum quite frequently I think everthing relevant has allready been said. In Wasteland 2, Luck (and Charisma to a certain extend) are completly meaningless stats. The later has not enough impact because it makes no difference on your "conversation character". It cuts off some contet though and certain NPCs initial reaction is, in fact, different.

 

3. Avoid systems that encourage save-scumming

Okay, this is somewhat controversial. A lot of people are frustrated by the weapon jamming, I am not one of them. First, because it adds to the realism and more importantly, you can completly avoid it with the right weapon mods. On the other hand, the critcal failure chance especially in the late game with the highest score in the appropriate skill available makes it frustrating at times.

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1. Any builds can work in WL2, just not as good as some other. Not everyone cares to min/max as much as they can

2. Charisma could use some more things, PoE has more use for attributes although weaker then IE games.

3. PoE will have Ironman mode if that is what you prefer, otherwise savescuming is a problem of the player, not the game

Edited by archangel979
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1. I am not talking about min/maxing everthing. I am talking about Assault Rifles outperform any other weapon in the game, especially at later stages, where you are able to  use bursts with 100 % accuracy all the time.

2. From what i ve seen so far, the attribute system in PoE looks promising.

3. There are doors / containers you need to open in order to progress in the main story line. Some of them have medium difficulty even with the highest skill available so you are forced to save scumm, even if you don´t want to.

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1. I am not talking about min/maxing everthing. I am talking about Assault Rifles outperform any other weapon in the game, especially at later stages, where you are able to use bursts with 100 % accuracy all the time.

2. From what i ve seen so far, the attribute system in PoE looks promising.

3. There are doors / containers you need to open in order to progress in the main story line. Some of them have medium difficulty even with the highest skill available so you are forced to save scumm, even if you don´t want to.

1. And that is still OK if you can also finish the game without everyone using ARs.

3. No there are no such doors/containers. Everything can be passed in multiple ways.

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1. Any builds can work in WL2, just not as good as some other. Not everyone cares to min/max as much as they can

The stats that raise action points, combat initiative and skill points are unquestionably superior to any other stat, by an enormous margin.

 

3. PoE will have Ironman mode if that is what you prefer, otherwise savescuming is a problem of the player, not the game

It's nobody's 'problem', it's simply a game mechanic. If the game rewards you for savescumming (randomized skill success, randomized HP on level ups, etc.), it's the designer who's ultimately responsible.          

Edited by Quetzalcoatl
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1. I am not talking about min/maxing everthing. I am talking about Assault Rifles outperform any other weapon in the game, especially at later stages, where you are able to use bursts with 100 % accuracy all the time.

2. From what i ve seen so far, the attribute system in PoE looks promising.

3. There are doors / containers you need to open in order to progress in the main story line. Some of them have medium difficulty even with the highest skill available so you are forced to save scumm, even if you don´t want to.

1. And that is still OK if you can also finish the game without everyone using ARs.

3. No there are no such doors/containers. Everything can be passed in multiple ways.

 

I would say that shooting twice per turn with end game sniper rifles using head shot with 100% accuracy is much more effective than using end game assault rifles with burst, as sniper can single shot most of the enemies quite far away.

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1. Any builds can work in WL2, just not as good as some other. Not everyone cares to min/max as much as they can

The stats that raise action points, combat initiative and skill points are unquestionably superior to any other stat, by an enormous margin.

 

And you cannot have all of those. If this was one character game like Fallout I would agree with you, but in a 7 man team, you can have less the optimal characters and finish the game. My 4, each of them is different and not optimal in your way and I am doing good on Ranger difficulty.

 

3. PoE will have Ironman mode if that is what you prefer, otherwise savescuming is a problem of the player, not the game

It's nobody's 'problem', it's simply a game mechanic. If the game rewards you for savescumming (randomized skill success, randomized HP on level ups, etc.), it's the designer who's ultimately responsible.

 

It does not reward savescuming, savescuming is player choice. You cannot stop savescuming anyways, I save savescumed in Xcom as well who uses seeds and I had to switch to Ironman to make sure I would not do it anymore. Edited by archangel979
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And you cannot have all of those. If this was one character game like Fallout I would agree with you, but in a 7 man team, you can have less the optimal characters and finish the game. My 4, each of them is different and not optimal in your way and I am doing good on Ranger difficulty.

I forgot how many points you get to spend during character creation, but I know you can invest a fairly high amount in the stats that favor raise action points, skill points and combat initiative. Those things are useful for every type of character. There's really no point in not picking them. The game is combat-heavy and getting turns more often (combat initiative) and getting to do more on your turn (action points) are undoubtedly the best benefits you can get. Having more and better skills is also always the best thing, whether combat skills or non-combat skills.

 

It does not reward savescuming, savescuming is player choice. You cannot stop savescuming anyways, I save savescumed in Xcom as well who uses seeds and I had to switch to Ironman to make sure I would not do it anymore.

It does reward savescumming. If you can pass every skill check in the game or maximize your HP by reloading, that's a reward. Save/(re)load is simply another part of a game's mechanics. You can design a game where skills don't have a random chance of success, you can design a game where you can only save at checkpoints, etc. The player is completely free to use these mechanics however he wishes. It's the designer's responsibility to regulate this (if he so wishes), not the player's.    

 

Edited by Quetzalcoatl
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You can't fully stop save-scumming, but you can make it a poor use of time. There's also possibilities to deal with certain kinds of save-scumming, especially those that deal with RNG.

 

Save-scumming is not problem as itself, but it can become problem if using save-scumming is most efficient or in worst case necessary way to play the game, then one could argue that there is something wrong in how game mechanics are designed, especially how rewards and punishments are designed. 

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And you cannot have all of those. If this was one character game like Fallout I would agree with you, but in a 7 man team, you can have less the optimal characters and finish the game. My 4, each of them is different and not optimal in your way and I am doing good on Ranger difficulty.

I forgot how many points you get to spend during character creation, but I know you can invest a fairly high amount in the stats that favor raise action points, skill points and combat initiative. Those things are useful for every type of character. There's really no point in not picking them. The game is combat-heavy and getting turns more often (combat initiative) and getting to do more on your turn (action points) are undoubtedly the best benefits you can get. Having more and better skills is also always the best thing, whether combat skills or non-combat skills.

 

You cannot max Int and have 10 AP and big CI. Also you need someone with good Charisma and Leadership or your NPCs will be going rogue all the time.

Also Luck reduces the chance of critical failure and increases the chance of critical success. And ignoring non-combat skills is not wise as you can run out of ammo and medical supplies if you cannot open enough containers (I seen people complain about it).

 

It does not reward savescuming, savescuming is player choice. You cannot stop savescuming anyways, I save savescumed in Xcom as well who uses seeds and I had to switch to Ironman to make sure I would not do it anymore.

It does reward savescumming. If you can pass every skill check in the game or maximize your HP by reloading, that's a reward. Save/(re)load is simply another part of a game's mechanics. You can design a game where skills don't have a random chance of success, you can design a game where you can only save at checkpoints, etc. The player is completely free to use these mechanics however he wishes. It's the designer's responsibility to regulate this (if he so wishes), not the player's.

 

No, you want to savescum. The game just does not make it extra hard to stop you. It has skill use that needs few seconds so each time you savescum you need to wait a bit. And you cannot pass all skill checks, sometimes if your skill is too low it says Impossible.

Random skill chance is fun, saving at checkpoints in a big no-no for PC games. Yes, the player is free. He is also free to not savescum like I am playing WL2 (except if one my rangers dies).

The game give you the option to savescum or not, it is still your choice as the player to do it or not.

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