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Re: Games discussion

Postby johndh » September 12th, 2013, 12:25 am

If anyone is familiar with Spiderweb Software, you know that they've made the same RPG over and over again about a dozen times, usually not even upgrading graphics or sounds between them. However, I just finished playing their fairly recent release Avadon: The Black Fortress (which I got as part of one of the Humble Bundles) and I was actually somewhat impressed. It still shares much of the basic gameplay of the earlier dungeon-crawling games, but fixes many of their minor annoyances while completely overhauling the look of the game. The combat is turn-based squad combat, so not much new there, but the new spells and abilities system improves it appreciably. Unlike most so-called RPGs, Avadon is an actual role-playing game with dialogue and real choices that affect the outcome of the storyline, and that is one of the most enjoyable aspects for me (and something that Spiderweb has always done quite well). I also like that it doesn't fall into the same fantasy adventure tropes that so many other games fall into, and thus presents an original and interesting story instead of retreading the same ground. There are a few cut corners and such, but overall I found it engaging and enjoyable. I'd call it a poor man's Baldur's Gate, which is a pretty high compliment because Baldur's Gate was a wonderful game.
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Re: Games discussion

Postby nexinor » October 10th, 2013, 12:21 pm

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Re: Games discussion

Postby Blarumyrran » January 1st, 2014, 1:39 pm

I played Skyrim! I enjoyed the game - definitely the best Elder Scrolls game yet - but the dungeons (indoors enemy areas) were definitely the weakest part of the game. They were very linear and very... consistent in the worst sense psossible - for every room there w as a consistent set of enemies to match your power - which gave every dungeon a very videogamey feel. I like ruins with large areas of ruins completely uninhabited by enemies... gives good feels. That you just explore and find out (the environmental features of it), and the ruin hasn't been created just to challenge you
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Re: Games discussion

Postby wolkenwand » January 1st, 2014, 6:38 pm

Blarumyrran wrote:I played Skyrim! I enjoyed the game - definitely the best Elder Scrolls game yet - but the dungeons (indoors enemy areas) were definitely the weakest part of the game. They were very linear and very... consistent in the worst sense psossible - for every room there w as a consistent set of enemies to match your power - which gave every dungeon a very videogamey feel. I like ruins with large areas of ruins completely uninhabited by enemies... gives good feels. That you just explore and find out (the environmental features of it), and the ruin hasn't been created just to challenge you

sounds like shadow of collossus! you should check it!
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Blarumyrran » January 2nd, 2014, 6:11 am

wolkenwand wrote:
Blarumyrran wrote:I played Skyrim! I enjoyed the game - definitely the best Elder Scrolls game yet - but the dungeons (indoors enemy areas) were definitely the weakest part of the game. They were very linear and very... consistent in the worst sense psossible - for every room there w as a consistent set of enemies to match your power - which gave every dungeon a very videogamey feel. I like ruins with large areas of ruins completely uninhabited by enemies... gives good feels. That you just explore and find out (the environmental features of it), and the ruin hasn't been created just to challenge you

sounds like shadow of collossus! you should check it!

i have heard many good things said about it! and i rtechkecked tyhe wikipedia page! But it's still only to be played exclusively by Playstation the second and Playstation the third!
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Dugi » January 2nd, 2014, 9:46 am

Blarummyran wrote:i have heard many good things said about it! and i rtechkecked tyhe wikipedia page! But it's still only to be played exclusively by Playstation the second and Playstation the third!
There are some emulators for Playstation, like PCSX2. But as far as I remember, my friend told me that it needs to be configured specifically for every game, and some games including Shadow of the Colossus are extremely difficult to configure for this, but guides how to do that exist. That game looks beautiful, but it isn't an RPG, just walking through a beautiful area and fighting ten bosses, you'll complete it much faster than Skyrim.
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Dunno » January 2nd, 2014, 12:50 pm

If you're intro exploration, you should definitely check out Mount & Blade series (Warband being my favourite). There are so many detailed and often beautiful villages, castles and towns there that I almost feel obliged to visit each one of them and just explore! It's really amazing that they worked so hard on this stuff, knowing that most players won't even get a chance to see their creations.
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Rigor » January 4th, 2014, 11:52 am

Who would have thought you like m&b :twisted: what else do you have in stock? Talking generic skyrim: I also find the generic fights infinitely boring and believe they do the opposite of what its inventors imagined. It was the reason together with the amazingly bad quick selection to bury it for good. Gothic although more simple was much more of an addiction to many players.
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Blarumyrran » January 19th, 2014, 2:34 am

exploration as a separate thing is not what i meant - what i meant was, an exists-by-itself feeling for.


I tried Gothic a while back but, it forced you to fight in melee against other melee creatures, in the beginning of the game and for what i could tell for at least most of the rest of it? I liked melee in Alien vs Predator where it meant that as an Alien you uncontestedly ate humans because you were into melee and they were not - otherwise i think melee in 3d games isnt very fun.
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Velensk » January 23rd, 2014, 7:00 am

I found myself unable to sleep last night because for some reason my mind was stuck on this topic so I decided to write down my thoughts to see if it helped. I think the people on this forum might be interested in them

Diskwars to Warhammer:Diskwars

Diskwars was a novel game that was released about fifteen years ago. It was very successful and had five expansions released in two years and then died very suddenly and was discontinued. It had many good, novel, and interesting, mechanics, high quality pieces but suffered from some design flaws and what felt like a bad lack of playtesting (it feels to me like most Fantasy Flight games are released like this and then get fixed with expansions and new edditions. Though I'd say in Diskwars case the design flaws were more severe than the average game). Well Diskwars has finally gotten it's re-visitation this time with the Warhammer Fantasy setting (though honestly the generic fantasy of the old diskwars wasn't really all that different) and it looks like the design team learned a lot of lessons from the first one. I intend to talk about how Diskwars was good what it's flaws were and how it looks like these are being addressed in the new release.

Diskwars as it was: In essence, Diskwars was a miniatures wargame except that it used collectible carboard disks rather than miniatures. These were sold as a CCG would be and each disk contained all the information you needed to play with it (barring errata which there was quite a bit of).
-These disks would move around the table by being flipped end over end a number of times given by the movement stat (and you weren't supposed to measure distance so having a good eye for distance and disk sizes made a big difference). They would engage with each other by moving and piling onto each other.
Each disk had four primary stats and would cost a certain amount of points to include in your army:
Movement: (the number of times you could flip it when moving)
Attack: (The amount of damage it could inflict to a single disk it was on top of)
Defense: (The amount of damage it would deal to a single disk stacked on top of it)
Toughness: (The amount of damage it would take to kill it or wound it if it had to be defeated multiple times).
-The order of play was that there would be a phase where each player would take turns activating three disks. (activating a disk would involve things like moving it, using an ability, ect). Then a phase where unactivated missile units on each side would fire missiles. Then there would be a phase where all the melee combat would happen(so you spend the entire first phase setting up engagements and then a bloody brawl would be resolved here). After this most counters and damage are removed from all units and you start again this time the next player activates first.
-You could not activate disks which had an enemy on top of them. Therefore when you would move your disks to attack your enemies you would 'pin' and effectively immobilize them.
-Balancing out that very aggressive advantage was the fact that the combat mechanics generally favored the last person to step into a fight last because combat was resolved from the top down so if you had one unit move onto enemy A and then enemies B/C step onto you and then another of your disks stepped onto enemy B the combat would start with enemy B and your second disk striking each other (hopefully killing off enemy B before he can deal damage to your original unit), then if they're still alive both B and C will attack your first unit who will only be able to retaliate against one of them and then if you're still alive then you can attack the unit you originally pinned.

What was good: Combat in diskwars would emphasis melee combat quite a bit (for reasons that will be talked about later), and yet it did a very good job of making melee combat very interesting. It was not just a matter of who has more power where, there were many different roles an interactions for all kinds of melee units that were handled through basic rules and not arbitrary counter systems. The game would look and feel like a giant, bloody, chaotic, brawl and yet underneath that there was a lot of deep tactics and calculation.
-Basic Examples: At your core, you might have units who focus on mobility and attack which would let you get to the unit you want to fight and deal heavy damage to them avoiding the tougher or higher defense enemies who could retaliate effectively. On the other hand a tough unit with a high defense and toughness might be able to attack an expensive enemy lacking in a high defense stat and keep it pinned while being very painful to attack in an attempt to rescue. On the other hand if an enemy with flying or a sufficient amount of mobility gets around your screen of defensive units they might find their low attack inadequate to counter attack Then you might have cheap cost efficient units who lack the attack to break the defensive units but are tough enough that they can't be killed by them and provide enough damage on both offense and defense that they can gang up on things to take them down, provided that they don't get individually pinned and picked apart by units with enough toughness to survive them individually. Said units may be slower and thus easy to screen from your vulnerable units with the tough high defense units who can take them down if they are attacked. Then you throw in many many different special abilities that further modify roles. One unit might have the ability to deal it's attack damage to all units it pins instead of just one making it's goal to pin several enemies at once at which point the fact that it'll inevitably die to the counter attack becomes moot. Most units couldn't move over allies or enemies which made manuvering to try to take advantage of all this an interesting challenge.
Then of course there are a ton of different support units who provide various boons the versatility of which may make it hard to predict/plan out the battles ahead of time even though the battles were fairly deterministic.
-Other good things: Diskwars had a wide variety of factions and a wide variety of different playstyles even within each faction. Games tended to be pretty fast and fun and the scale of which was very customisable. It was also much cheaper than any miniature game despite the collectible elements.

Iffy things/Problems with Diskwars: That being said there were some serious problems with it from the start and some of which were deeply embedded into the the rules enough that no amount of expansions would fix it and others got worse the more expansions there were.
-Ranged Combat: Before I go into this, I actually loved and still really like ranged combat in Diskwars but I still regard it as a bad design. In Diskwars ranged combat was done by taking a number of small carboard disks representing missile volleys and dropping them from a height above the target disk. Wherever the volley landed was what was hit. What type of missile, how many, and what range was given on the firing disk. In a way this was an amazing way to simulate many things about real ranged combat eloquently dealing with the chances of missing, how much easier it is to hit a larger target, volleys hitting multiple targets at once, friendly fire and all the downsides of firing into a melee, the advantages of firing against closely packed enemies and so forth. There were still some problems. Being a dexterity element in general isn't something that I favor for the medium but bigger issues could involve the opportunity to cheat (making sure you angle it just in such a way that deflections would hit a target out of range for example) and making it so that the surface you play on makes a huge difference (it's amazing just how much more scary archers were when you were playing on a carpet or felt than on a wooden table). Also the system required archers to remain unactivated to fire which made them a sink in activation advantage (covered later). There is also a kind of problem in that as you have to deal enough damage to kill or wound an enemy or it goes away and most enemies aren't killed by a single stray shot you'll find yourself in a lot of situations where your missile units are either firing at an unengaged formation of enemy and unlikely to do anything or firing into a melee where they're likely to cause friendly fire.
-CCG vs Strategy Game: The two genres aren't mutually exclusive but this one suffered heavily from the competition between them. The way the game played felt like it should be a strategy game between balanced factions but the way the expansions were released, and the way the game was sold, and other things that didn't feel very tested made it work more like a collectible card game contest to see who can come up with the cheesiest strategy. The game was never very well balanced even at the start, and the balance got worse with each expansion (as each expansion could only really remove imbalances by throwing in others and yet the base units for each army still remained frequently the most cost effective thus maintaining a number of the issues). Another issue that came with all the expansions was that each side had certain 'hero' units who would generally be pretty cost efficient but you could only have one of them per army. But then you would throw in a couple more heros each expansion and after five you have a whole pile of them and little stopping you from choosing them all (it got to the point where most heros released would start including lines like 'can't be in an army with such and such hero or can't be in an army with evil disks' ect. Then there was also the army building rules that would give players a great deal of freedom to mix and match units from any race (though this would deny them some of each races best specialists). Some of the ability combinations could get pretty cheesy which leads us to the next problem:
-The Magic System: The way it worked was that in addition to buying units you could buy spells. Each spell had a cost and a level and in order to cast a spell multiple times you had to buy it multiple times. A spell could only be cast by activating a caster of the appropriate level.
-It seems to me that the original set seemed to expect that magic would be crazy powerful and awesome especially the high level spells and made spellcasters of any sort and especially high level spell casters extraordinarily expensive. This made it almost useless in many cases as not only would you have to buy spellcasters each costing five basic infantry worth of points to cast your level III spells but then you'd have to buy the spells costing an additional 2.5+ basic infantry worth of points per and frequently their effects would be underwhelming. In fact, most of the spells that were actually generically worth their costs were the low level utility spells. As an example of the difference it wouldn't be too hard to contrive to get an elvish archer unit that can fire 6 arrows each doing 2 points of damage. A level I sure aim spell costing 3 points could make it so that all 6 arrows hit their target (there are very few units that aren't instantly killed by 12 damage including heros costing a dozen points and there are very few limitations on what a ranged unit can hit other than ranged, so for 3 points you could have a relatively basic archer unit into something that can instantly down an expensive enemy hero). By contrast for 10 points you can buy the impressive sounding Rain of Steel level III spell. This spell drops 10 arrows like a normal missile fire. The sure aim spell almost does more despite costing a third as much without including the cost of a level III caster.
In later expansions they did fix the caster cost issue somewhat but that left other problems. Spells by and large were still either worthless, prone to exploits, or served to limit options in other ways. For example the spell Fireball level II costs 6 and inflicts 6 damage to a target that the caster has a strait shot at without range limitation. This spell all by itself makes any front line disk that costs more than six points and which cannot take 6 damage (and there's a lot of those) very risky to include in your army. As an example of an exploit the Twister spell Level III (I don't remember the cost but it was high enough you couldn't afford it without a plan) did the following: Pick a spot within 12' of caster, pick up every disk within 6' of it. Pick another spot within 12' of the caster. Drop those disks from 12' above that spot. There was a spellcaster that let you double any numbers in a spell description you desired. Keep in mind that in a typical scenario the player spawn areas were a little more than two feet apart. So this caster could double all the numbers in that spell and essentially pick up the entire enemy army from all the way across the map and dump them in the middle of nowhere. The standard scenario had a king of the hill set up so you can imagine what that would be like. This leads us into the next problem.
Scenarios: Diskwars didn't really do much in the way of scenarios. The standard game was king of the hill style where undisputed control of the center of the map for two turns gave victory which lead to strategy being fairly forced in favor of brutal quick tactical games. It would be the approximate equivalent of playing a 2 player Isars Cross where undisrupted control of the central area of the map at the end of three turns in a row gave instant victory. There were others given but none really all that interesting. They technically had terrain disks but those didn't really see much play either and weren't very well done. You could come up with your own but that was about where tournaments were at.
Activation Advantage: the final issue I'll bring up involves the problems that the activation advantage gives. Quite simply, going first and going last both gave massive advantages and there were ways that you could get both. See during the activation phase, each player would take turns activating three disks until one player passes. Once you pass you're done no matter how many more activations your opponent takes. So if for some reason you have fewer disks that can activate than your opponent (for example if several of them have been pinned, or killed, or if you have archers and you want them to fire), your enemy can wait until you activate everyone or pass before smashing you with the high offense units he's been saving when you now have no opportunity to counter attack. This can lead to several rough dynamics (especially when both players are forced to rush for the center) which I won't laboriously detail.

If you've read this far I hope you've at least found it interesting. Even after it died and even with all those problems I have still had a great deal of fun pulling it out to play with various guests and enjoying it in any kind of non-competitive environment (which does little for the quality of my competition but is still more enjoyable than the alternative was). I will now talk a little bit about the new release and how it addresses some of the problems. It has my endorsement for you to try it if you like fast wargames that are both relatively simple and deep.

Army composition: The first thing that they wanted to address was how the armies were put together. Now instead of buying heros like any other unit type you instead play a game with a certain number of regiments each one led by a hero and the hero you choose determines the amount of points you have to spend on minions (thus the heros are balanced against the other heros and not all other units). Heros can only recruit units of their race however you can mix heros from the various order races together as you can the heros from the various destruction factions.

Ranged Combat: Is now handled by dice. I'll admit, I miss some of the dynamics of the old system particularly in how missiles scatter but I still regard this as a major improvement. I'm not sure how I feel about the unlimited range units but at least they balance that out with LoS blocking terrain which will be covered later. Ranged combat is also now done during the activation phase which smooths a few things out.

Activations: The way they fixed this also let them eloquently fix the spell system. Now instead of just alternating picking three in a predetermined order you both blind bid a card. The card will tell you how many you activate and a rock/paper/scissors mechanic in the cards will determine who goes first for each subround of the activation phase. These cards also have other effects and are a part of your army design and handle the spellcasting (being a spellcaster has some slight utility out outside these cards but the variety of effects magic can create as well as the limit to how much you can use them is brought out by these cards). Other than that, the new system provides a bit of variety to how things play out in general and along with changes to other dynamics make the activation advantage less an issue but still make it part of the advantage of pinning your enemies disks.

Living Disk Game: Diskwars is no longer using the CCG format but rather a living card game format. The core set alone provides a huge variety of options and easily a hundred hours of games without risking repeats. There is a slight downside in that there is a ton less variety than even the base set for Diskwars had (though cheaper to get everything) but it makes up for it by being several magnitudes more balanced and still very versatile (and I'm sure there will be expansions coming for those who are into it)

Scenarios: They made the base style of play considerably more sophisticated and strategic adding depth and variety of features including a diverse set of terrain some of which will appear in each match, alternate victory conditions and scenario effects, deeper deployment/reinforcement rules and alterations the unit design.

The Units in general: They've included more chance based elements which I think compliments the feel of the system greatly(not that it isn't still largely deterministic and very calculating but you can no longer be absolutely sure, nor start planning to fire missiles into a melee just in the hopes it will get you out of a hopeless situation). Other elements that they have included/modified seem to have simplified and smoothed things out. I think in general they've geared the game to be even more aggressive in a few ways. Units are even more mobile and they've scaled the units in such a way that now the damage /counter from any unit is a significant threat to any other unit. Also there are a lot more aggressive abilities while defensive ones are kind of rare.
It's kind of funny because units use the same general point scale as before and yet all the units are more powerful. For example, a typical infantry in Diskwars might cost 3, and have 3, 3, 3, 3, for MV AT DF and T. A basic infantry in W.H.D.W might cost 6 and have 4,3,4,5 for the respective stats. Using the old diskwars system I'd pay about 6 for a unit with the stats of the W.H.D.W system but that would be an stronger infantry and in the new system you aren't going to be able to field a 3 point unit (probably due to the new activation system) and that six point unit is the baseline. The extent that behemoth type units need to be dogpiled to be taken down has been toned down considerably (probably due to the fact that a dogpile is much more costly now)
Due to the changes in the ranged system and the fact that there are several skirmisher type units who can move and shoot, ranged combat is much more of a factor that it seemed to be before.
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Re: Games discussion

Postby johndh » February 3rd, 2014, 9:04 pm

For fans of deep, turn-based tactical games that forgive no mistakes, Frozen Synapse is a good pick. There's a lot going on in the game and it's much more complicated than "go here and shoot that guy". It's more like "go here, then here, crouch and slip past that window, then stand up so you can run faster, then go here but make sure your gun is pointing this way when you get there". It's quite hard but very fun.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... 7O0Y#t=337
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Sapient » February 5th, 2014, 6:53 am

If you haven't played some of Sid Meier's addictive games such as Civilization 3, now is an excellent opportunity to snag them from the Humble Bundle pay-what-you-want deal:

https://www.humblebundle.com/
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Deo » February 16th, 2014, 5:41 pm

Blarumyrran wrote: i think melee in 3d games isnt very fun.

Then I assume you have never tried Dark Messiah

And about simplistic, yet potent combat model from Alien vs Predator, when one side has huge advantage in melee and other side rules in ranged combat, I wouldn't consider it "melee" combat, it goes beyond that. BTW, what version of AvP where you refering about?
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Re: Games discussion

Postby Blarumyrran » February 21st, 2014, 12:54 pm

Deo wrote:Then I assume you have never tried Dark Messiah

Yes

Deo wrote:what version of AvP where you refering about?

1999

Sapient wrote:If you haven't played some of Sid Meier's addictive games such as Civilization 3

It has been a while and I don't remember the reasons, but Civ 3 never appealed to me the way Civ 1 and 2 (and Col and AC) did

speaking of 4x, I tried Endless Space a while ago and it was a competent game but way too conservative. It had what you would expect from a modern MOO-like - including unique enough and interesting factions - but nothing more. It was enjoyable for some 2 games, but then lost singleplayer replay value completely. Also it used that horrible Civ-style city improvements system where there's a hundred discrete buildings that you have to carefully build so that upkeep doesn't go too high, that has very little depth to it and drags the game speed down.
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Re: Games discussion

Postby johndh » October 30th, 2014, 11:43 pm

I just finished the default campaign in Shadowrun Returns and it was fantastic. I'm not a huge Shadowrun fan or anything and I've only played one session of the tabletop version, so I wasn't super familiar with the setting or the mechanics, but you really don't need any prior background for this game to be thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable. I never felt lost or confused about what was going on. There were a few points when I thought I was about to beat the game, only to find out that I had just scratched the surface of a great big conspiracy that I was going to have to sort out. When all was said and done, it still may have been a little shorter than I'd hoped, but there's an ample selection of UMC that I'm eager to check out. The story is compelling, the characters interesting and unique, and the combat dynamic and tactical. If you enjoyed the first two Fallout games, this is probably right up your alley. It's like a cyberpunk version of Baldur's Gate. 5/5, would play again. It's also part of the current Humble Bundle, for those who pay at least $12.
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