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Remember your noob years?


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We weren't born RPG masters. These games are often quite complex, after all. While I've been reading in the CRPG Addict's blog, I've come across a nice discussion on magic and spell preferences in RPGs that reminded me of my own learning to master this genre.

Step by step, game by game I learned to use tactics based on the different games' mechanics. And I still have things to learn. So, let's compare which lessons we've learned throughout our CRPG years, and what influence they've had on our style of playing.

 

-In my first RPG series ever, the Realms of Arkania trilogy, I learned how important positioning my characters is. Protect your mages, make sure your paty members can't be surrounded easily. The number of spells I used was limited, and I didn't get very deep into the magic system. Basically, I used fulminictus for attacks, and turned my foes to stone, or scared them off the battlefield. I used alchemy to create healing potions, magic potions, or poisons. The rest was up to my fighters. This way I got through the games without a problem.

 

-Baldur's Gate I taught me how to use certain attack and different holding spells for tactics. In my play style, that was half the way to win a combat. I also learned that the order in which you fight your enemies is important, too.

 

-Before Wizardry VIII, I had mostly relied on offensive spells like fireballs, and on healing spells. Now, I learned the importance of protection spells. Hardly any battle could be won without casting mind shield and elemental shield first. Non-protective spells I learned to value were spells that kept my opponents from casting themselves, like silence.

 

-In Gothic, I often had to make use of the environment to succeed. Fighting unfair can get you far in the first two games of the series.

 

-Icewind Dale II finally taught me that even small buffs can make a great difference. I remember fighting some ice wyverns (or were they even ice dragons?), that would keep stumping my party to a pulp in no time. So I went through my spells and my inventory and discovered a spell that would give me a few percent of cold resistance. I also buffed my melee fighters' strength a little. To my surprise, my party suddenly swept the floor with those big lizards. I'd never thought that such a few percent could make such a huge difference. Obviously, I was wrong.

(After that lesson, Baldur's Gate II was a lot easier to beat)

 

So, what's left for me to learn? Well, I still haven't mastered the action combat of many modern RPGs yet. In the Witcher 3, I have a lot less trouble with it, so im finally going to learn how to judge my attacker's movements and block or evade on time. This will be very useful in future RPGs. Unfortunately, this game is almost unplayable on my current computer, so I'll just have to wait till I can afford a new one. But my time will come, so monsters and evil guys in modern RPGs, prepare. I'm going to get better and won't need to be so many levels above you anymore. Muahahah!

 

Also, I need to learn more tactics for games without magic, though I've already learned a bit about that in the first two fallout games. Otherwise the combat is quite dull, as it's just shoot, take cover, and heal if there's no cover or your action points don't suffice.

 

In the end, I can say that I just love a tactical challenge. It's so much fun to analyse the situation and even rethink my approach while I'm still busy losing my first attempt to defeat a group of evil mages, fighters, or monsters. The more tactical options I have, the better I like the game. No matter if it's spells, potions, environment, special weapons, or gear. Just give me something to work with in a tactical way, and I'm happy. And all that without power gaming too much. I still love to play a character after all, not a one-(wo)man-army.

 

So, how about you? How did you master our beloved RPGs as far as you have by now? How do you still want to improve? Tell me. Maybe I can learn a thing of two from you.

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Well, I was a teen and went to school during the Golden Age of CRPGs (Infinity Engine+Fallouts), a lot came from discussions among friends, classmates. I could never master BG or Fallout 2 without sharing tactics. So, I guess firstly RPGs taught me to seek knowledge and experience and use one's good example. At the time Internet was very rare in my region, there were printed magazines with walkthroughs. They helped a lot, I usually followed them directly in my first run, then I tried to do it my way. And finally, the idea of "Roleplaying, not Powerplay", once again from the community, and I still follow it, helps a lot against frustration that there is always someone who knows all this better than me.

 

Skills, hmm...

 

Fallout 1 and 2 - multiple path to solve a problem, attention in dialogues, planning character ahead

BG 1 and 2 - importance of math models, of understanding the mechanics

Arcanum - lorehunting and the habit to learn as much as possible about the world around before any decisions

Planescape: Torment - I think this ideal game gives it all

 

I can't say I got a lot from Morrowind or Gothic, I enjoyed them, but they are no match for the previous ones in terms of forming my game personality.

 

And Vampire the Masquerade - a trait to seek good options and solutions even in darkest circumstances, also it taught to follow the rules, and still find a way to feel free. 

Edited by neotemplar
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It's an RPG, just set it on easy and save yourself the trouble of poorly designed combat systems and leveling curve plus a random number generator.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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As a relative latecomer to the genre, my strategy is based on Ultima 8: keep double-clicking until either you or the enemy falls over dead. Some 25 years later and I've largely come full circle, screw tactics, I just want to get the combat over with and do more interesting things. In the intervening period I've held a number of different opinions on what good RPG combat should look like, but like my fashion choices, they all turned out to be but passing fads.

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Power Play Magazine. It came with a disc which had a bunch of demos on it, one of them was the original Fallout demo which took place in a small town called 'Scrapheap'.

 

Yeah, that was the first time I saw a crpg in action and my only thoughts were 'I want to kill that guy and loot that sexy minigun off his corpse'.

 

...and that I did my fellow Obsidianites.

 

That was July 1997. Good times. 

Edited by Katphood

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I've always liked fast-paced action for my combat. Not usually the 1st person in yo-face bambambam shooter type, but still real-time, fast paced, chaotic. Having to make skill and attack decisions in split seconds. I don't even care if I'm not all that good at it, I just enjoy it. Too much order in combat feels unnatural to me, probably one reason I don't like turn-based in rpg's.

 

I loved BG1 when I first played it. The real time with pause worked well for me and while that made combat easier to manage, it still felt frantic and chaotic because of giving all those commands to party members all the time. A lot of keyboarding kept the hands busy. Eventually I began playing BG1 without pausing, or at least as much as I could.

 

I did the same with the Might and Magic action-rpg series, where instead of using the awkward pause system I ran around in real time,  strafing with both melee and ranged attacks. Was mucho fun. Both it and BG1 (and the Diablo's...) taught me that I definitely like real-time over anything else. BG1 also gave me a healthy interest in knowing the backend of combat/weapon/dmg stats - the numbers and formulas, whatever they may be.

 

As you might imagine, I'm not too much the stealthy type, although I don't mind playing that way for specific missions here and there. I don't really have a combat system/mechanics that I prefer - at least nothing I could define - only that the resulting combat feels visceral and more natural in speed and flow. That said, I *do* still like being able to pause in mid-combat, not to give commands but when my fingers or self need a breather for a second or two. :biggrin:

 

My fave real-time-pause was probably Kotor2, tho. I'm not sure why. Pausing in it felt less disruptive for some reason. I don't remember.

 

When I was playing PoE, I initially really liked the combat because it reminded me of BG1 somewhat. But by the end the constant maneuvering in extended fights wore me out and I was rather raging at the system. I don't even recall what exactly it was that wore me out about it, but it was there. :D

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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Yeah, technically a newbie is just a newcomer, right? So you stop being a newbie very soon, just as time passes, but you still remain a noob in terms of your skills and your general approach, for there is always someone greater.

 

So my solution to that and my personal point of view on that - it is just a timepoint when some good TASTE for the genre is formed, and universal RPG principles (choice and consequence, factions/forces opposition, a personal role in the greater story) start to take over munchkinism and irrelevant behaviour. There begins the Role.

 

It's like reading to me. Literacy is one thing, good literature taste... almost unachievable. 

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First computer RPG I played was Phantasie in 1985 (or 87?) for the Commodore 64.   I had a bit of background on the basics of RPGs from having played D&D.  Still had to figure out the interface - the game itself was a lot more complex than anything else I'd tried to date on the 2600 or C64.  Eventually got the hang of it though.  At this point its been so long I can't really tell you what was difficult per se.  There was an initial learning curve of what I could do, but that was a looooong time ago.

 

I liked the genre enough to try some other games I could get my hands on (I remember Ultima and Questron II (?) and the roguelike Sword of Fargoal and the action RPG Times of Lore).  Weirdly the main WIzardry series missed me entirely until people here convinced me to try Wizardry 8.

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Some, perhaps quite a few, of us have become old farts who've abandoned mastery entirely. With talk of just wanting to relax, enjoy a story, or play a style without worrying about optimization being common enough.

 

I know that I spend most of my gaming time with adventure games and visual novels. But I do also trek into action and strategy games, since most of the joints in my hand don't yet hurt from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep.

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"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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It's an RPG, just set it on easy and save yourself the trouble of poorly designed combat systems and leveling curve plus a random number generator.

 

Heh. I'm just replaying Tyranny because DLC is on sale yadda yadda, and much as I like the game, I'm really struggling to finish because the combat is just so bad. For some reason, designers figured that it made perfect sense for enemy casters to have higher defenses and physical resistances than melee fighters, as well as comparable HP, becuz muh challenge or something. Game's combat is plagued with that sort of stupid ****. And it's one of the newer iso CRPGs, you'd think they would have it down pat by now.

 

I'm much happier after switching to story mode. Shame this game doesn't just have a killsw01 equivalent that I can use to reduce the time wasted to a minimum. I more than fulfill my raging quota in PUBG, thank you very much. Don't need any extra aggravation.

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- When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.

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My first RPG was Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord because I am old. I was a kid so rarely had patience to grind so I would bravely venture forth and die, and back in those days when you died your bloody corpse would rot in that dungeon forever. I never got far in that game.

 

When I got 'The Bard's Tale' a bit later I had learned the joy of endless grinding. I have a very conservative and completionist play style because I learned RPGs in this era I think.

Edited by Valmy
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My first cRPG was Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, and at the time I had but a few weeks of learning English at school (I was eight at the time). I spent days with a dictionary my parents got me just for the game, deciphering the user interface and figuring out what the hell all these abbreviations were supposed to be.

 

I got pretty far but eventually got stuck on a teleporter riddle.

 

Had a similar experience with LucasArt's Loom (edit: I know it's not an RPG), but that game I managed to finish. Without ever figuring out what the hell was going on. The last leaf of autumn...

 

Good old times indeed. Got both games on GOG. I guess I know what I'll be doing now. ;)

Edited by majestic

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It's an RPG, just set it on easy and save yourself the trouble of poorly designed combat systems and leveling curve plus a random number generator.

 

Not to mention enable "God mode" so you don't even have to worry about silly tactics. ;)

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It's an RPG, just set it on easy and save yourself the trouble of poorly designed combat systems and leveling curve plus a random number generator.

 

Not to mention enable "God mode" so you don't even have to worry about silly tactics. ;)

 

Don't believe him, there is no such thing as tactics in RPGs. Just stats.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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since most of the joints in my hand don't yet hurt from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep.

I envy you (and anyone else). :p

 

Not that mine hurt all the time but they don't feel "normal" either. "Pinching/grip" strength is nearly gone, some days super hard to pull off things like yogurt foil tops or hold dishes w/out dropping them. Although most games don't require a lot from those two fingers, thankfully. Thumb just sits on the spacebar for example. But damnit, I'm going to keep gaming thru it until the fingers fall off.  :biggrin: 

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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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First rpg I played was dragon warrior on the NES when it came out. I remember being blown away at my cousin's telling me that the entire map was as big as their wall lol. I remember getting my ass kicked by everything but quickly learn a staple that was needed for rpgs until present day and that was grinding. I remember just wandering around the starting area for an hour til I was lvl 5 and had all the gear from the shop. The bbeg castle I knew how to navigate without a torch or light spell bc of all the times I had to travel out to go rest/items/etc. I beat it before I beat super Mario 1.

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I do not remember much but yes, I was there when it all began (Before Bulders Gate, Icewind Dale, etc.)

 

I still feel like a n00b sometimes though, even though my specialty is retro rpg's, I seem to excel at platfors and hardcore action/adventure games - the difficult ones.

Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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since most of the joints in my hand don't yet hurt from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep.

I envy you (and anyone else). :p

 

Not that mine hurt all the time but they don't feel "normal" either. "Pinching/grip" strength is nearly gone, some days super hard to pull off things like yogurt foil tops or hold dishes w/out dropping them. Although most games don't require a lot from those two fingers, thankfully. Thumb just sits on the spacebar for example. But damnit, I'm going to keep gaming thru it until the fingers fall off.  :biggrin:

 

I do hands and finger exercises all the time these days, and that seems to help with pain and dexterity some. My hands are too valuable to let rot away from repetitive motion injury and carpal tunnel syndrome, and never mind old age!

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I feel like anybody who thinks their n00bie years are behind them is probably deluding themselves, but then I watch competitive StarCraft tournaments quite a bit so it might just be an inferiority complex I've built up over the years. :p

 

This thread's been active for a couple of weeks now. My first thought when I saw the title was: you mean last night? :D

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Okay, then I can be honest with you: I suck at every RPG that I haven't played during my starting years. I have mastered the IE games and Realms of Arkania. But give me just four characters instead of six or different spells, and I just don't seem to get it right. I'm not even able to get the first ambush in Dragon Age: Origins. That's why I started this thread. To remind myself of what I've learned, and maybe to see, if I can snatch a few general tricks from you. I'm just glad to see that I'm not the only one who's still struggeling with some of these games.

 

If your looking for me, I'll be in the shame corner anyway. :blush: 

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I struggle with combat mechanics in any RPG, whenever I want to replay it after few months break again. In some games, I have to relearn the mechanics again, especially, when I am playing games with completely different mechanics in between.

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I never had "noob years" - if at all, it were "experience years" or something like that. No idea how to call that. You've explored something new and it could actually really get to you, even the simple things.

 

Today, all I see is fetch quests, pretty fetch quests, gated quests, triggers you are walking in, and variables switching. All the magic is gone and instead replaced with pretty graphics and cutscenes. Everything is so mechanical and "designed". Meh.

Edited by Lexx
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