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Default Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition: Review Roundup #2

December 8th, 2012, 21:02
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
…and I could like Morrowind if not for the motive that most people like it - the strange environment. But that's just a matter of taste. Deus Ex has rather bad voice acting, but in it's time was a great game nonetheless. Both KOTOR are great games. All these ones have nothing to do with strategy or tactical mentality. Baldur's Gate and all D&D inspired games have. And those I do not like.
Yes, compared to Baldur's Gate, the KotoR games have very subpar, simplistic and non-tactical combat. Which stresses the point I made: You seem not to like the gaming aspect very much. And I say this as someone who likes both, the BGs and KotoRs.

Regarding Morrowind, I don't think the strange environment is its main draw, although it certainly helps when you like that. The thing that fascinated me about the game was the world with all its factions, interlinked and working against each other, the great backgrounds, the fact that there was not only one truth to be known and that you had to make your picks without ever knowing whether you based in on the right choice. I also want to mention the aspect that you could just not think about the game and see it as the tired "hero defeats ancient evil" story, or use your brain and recognize what was actually happening to you. The game stayed behind its possibilities - as I already mentioned, the consequence department is underdeveloped in order to make most stuff available in one playthrough - but Bethesda unfortunately never tried anything like that again. That's why I find putting giant mushrooms into a Skyrim DLC doesn't quite cut it.

Edit: Just to make that clear: I don't like Morrowind because of its combat. It has a few neat mechanics, like levitation etc., but combat is definitely pretty bad.
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December 8th, 2012, 21:19
Sorry, no. While you seem to put much stress on the "role playing" as, if I see this right, acting, you seem to completely neglect the "game" part. This confinement on "playing a role" makes the whole genre description meaningless. Then you end up with something like this being the epitome of role playing.
I think you are mistaking my opinion with Chien Aboyeurs' who also posted above. It was he who was stressing the "playing a role" in that particular sense. I was in disagreement with that. Though, in the context of pen & paper, I do tend to give much more value to the "acting" - acting in an improv kind of way, not reading a part, not playing a role, as in street sweeper simulator.

Regarding narratives, do you still find PS:T or Fallout level stuff nowadays? Most of it is so dumbed down that I have to ask myself why I have to listen to that garbage. I mean, with a story like in ME3, you have to just forget about logic and try to enjoy the game despite the awful narrative, not because of it. But that happens when you have to broaden your audience to an extent that you have to be careful to be "all-inclusive".
Regarding narratives I find Fallout 3 and New Vegas to be better than Fallout (at least better than Fallout 2, maybe equal to Fallout, the first). I find the narrative of Deus Ex: HR to be superior to the original game, even if the newer game is a tribute Deus Ex's legacy. I agree that Mass Effect 3 has lot's of problems, and the story is one of them. But Mass Effect 1 and 2 are quite good on all aspects, except the driving bit. Both Witcher games have strong narratives and are excellent role playing games. I don't particularly like fantasy, but I enjoyed Dragon Age and Skyrim (not only in a narrative perspective, but also in that point of view). I love Alpha Protocol, a game that most people hate.
I do not agree that modern role playing games were dumbed down. They were made easier. You can choose your level of difficulty, and combat becomes rather easy on the lower end. You have pointers to you goals, and maps that show you where to go with a lot of detail. But this is not dumbing down, it's just making something easier. Most of them allow you not to use any of these mechanics that turn the pace faster and spare your time (sparing the consumers time is a mark of our time, not a mark of dumbness). And if it is a Bethesda game you have mods for everything, including disabling all the bells and whistles and increasing the difficulty ten times. That does not improve the story, but I do believe that the stories are quite good nowadays. Not always, but generally speaking. I mentioned examples…
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December 9th, 2012, 00:44
Yes, compared to Baldur's Gate, the KotoR games have very subpar, simplistic and non-tactical combat. Which stresses the point I made: You seem not to like the gaming aspect very much. And I say this as someone who likes both, the BGs and KotoRs.
Well, that is probably true. I don't mind the gaming aspect in other kind of games. I like Dead Island, and Far Cry 3 and their non-tactical kind of action gaming. What I don't like is the strategical approach to combat, even less in games labeled as RPGs. On action adventure games I'm expecting action, I'm expecting some stealth, some observation of the enemies activity, but not really strategic movements. I can deal with that. Moving units on enemy ground is boring…

Regarding Morrowind, I don't think the strange environment is its main draw, although it certainly helps when you like that. The thing that fascinated me about the game was the world with all its factions, interlinked and working against each other, the great backgrounds, the fact that there was not only one truth to be known and that you had to make your picks without ever knowing whether you based in on the right choice. I also want to mention the aspect that you could just not think about the game and see it as the tired "hero defeats ancient evil" story, or use your brain and recognize what was actually happening to you. The game stayed behind its possibilities - as I already mentioned, the consequence department is underdeveloped in order to make most stuff available in one playthrough - but Bethesda unfortunately never tried anything like that again. That's why I find putting giant mushrooms into a Skyrim DLC doesn't quite cut it.

I still think that Morrowind is overrated just because it is ancient and people are cutting a lot of slack because of that. It is different from usual fantasy, I give it that. But that doesn't work for me because I don't like fantasy too much, so I'm not fed up with the usual medieval kind of fantasy. Everything else, having factions and choices and options, are all aspects that are contemplated on most Bethesda's games. Maybe not Oblivion, but Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Skyrim, all have many factions, subplots and lot's of NPC's with their own agendas. All of these games have a main plot, Morrowind has it too, it just appears to be less epic, and so everything else on the game gains importance, only because of that apparently small detail.
And I hope the next Skyrim DLC isn't just about giant mushrooms!
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December 9th, 2012, 01:43
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
I still think that Morrowind is overrated just because it is ancient and people are cutting a lot of slack because of that. It is different from usual fantasy, I give it that. But that doesn't work for me because I don't like fantasy too much, so I'm not fed up with the usual medieval kind of fantasy. Everything else, having factions and choices and options, are all aspects that are contemplated on most Bethesda's games. Maybe not Oblivion, but Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Skyrim, all have many factions, subplots and lot's of NPC's with their own agendas. All of these games have a main plot, Morrowind has it too, it just appears to be less epic, and so everything else on the game gains importance, only because of that apparently small detail.
And I hope the next Skyrim DLC isn't just about giant mushrooms!
Morrowind "ancient"? I'm not sure what to think of that. It's a pretty modern 3D game, and Bethesda still uses a permutation of that engine (fortunately somewhat better optimized). If you want at least a little bit older, play Arena and/or Daggerfall. Especially the latter has a big fan following, and both games are still easy to install on modern machines. Plus, they are free. If you want ancient, play the Ultimas.

Regarding the newer Bethesda games, yes, they have factions. Morrowind had 15 joinable factions in the base game alone, plus some others you just made a few quests for (in newer games, these would have been joinable). You couldn't join all 15 at the same time, as there were restrictions, something Bethesda decided to toss in later games. These restrictions were relatively mild, and you could circumvent at least one of them, but Bethesda still tried to have at least some roleplaying in there. In later games, factions didn't matter to the outside. This is the kind of dumbing down I'm most unhappy about, as it stresses how artificial the world is.

I'm not sure about your use of the word "epic". Actually, Morrowind's plot is very epic, in the actual sense of the word. It's like an elaborate Greek drama, with gods and demigods playing a part, and you are not quite sure who the real villain is. Dagoth Ur as the betrayed one is quite an interesting antagonist. Maybe you don't like that you are the tool of a petty revenge and responsible for the destruction of Morrowind. You know, "epic" doesn't need kalpas. This "epic" is subtle, not like Oblivion's bold and stupid. It also makes fun of the concept of "hero".
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December 9th, 2012, 12:56
Morrowind "ancient"? I'm not sure what to think of that. It's a pretty modern 3D game, and Bethesda still uses a permutation of that engine (fortunately somewhat better optimized).
Ancient in a technological point of view. The word is exagerated, I know it's not that old, but a long of things changed since 2002. The background is still good looking, but the characters move in a clunky kind of way. And the voice acting is almost non existent. But, compared with all the D&D inspired games Morrowind was a step forward, of course. I have nothing against it, it just doesn't appeal to me, because I'm not a fantasy fan. Ergo, the "medieval" look of Oblivion and the nordic inspiration of Skyrim appeals more to me than the strange looking part of the world focused on Morrowind.

If you want at least a little bit older, play Arena and/or Daggerfall. Especially the latter has a big fan following, and both games are still easy to install on modern machines. Plus, they are free. If you want ancient, play the Ultimas.
Yes, I know. I played Ultima, but not on a PC, on a ZX Spectrum. I am getting ancient too. I didn't play Arena nor Daggerfall because by that time I was too much into P&P role playing, and, when playing video games, I tended to avoid all things RPG, not to get fed up. Maybe that's why I know that when I look at those games from the late 90s until 2005 I see them from what they are, without any nostalgic feeling about the first time I played them… They were ground breaking in the past, but they are now outdated. I agree that some positive things from the old school games are not "fashionable" nowadays, and some bad things were added to achieve a wider audience. But, still, I'm sure that most of the love for old school games is derived from nostalgia, and this retro fashion thing (not only in video games, in everything, the 80). Minecraft would not have been a big hit 5 years ago, I'm certain of that.


Regarding the newer Bethesda games, yes, they have factions. Morrowind had 15 joinable factions in the base game alone, plus some others you just made a few quests for (in newer games, these would have been joinable). You couldn't join all 15 at the same time, as there were restrictions, something Bethesda decided to toss in later games. These restrictions were relatively mild, and you could circumvent at least one of them, but Bethesda still tried to have at least some roleplaying in there. In later games, factions didn't matter to the outside. This is the kind of dumbing down I'm most unhappy about, as it stresses how artificial the world is.
I agree that the possibility of joining various faction in the Elders Scrolls games (but not in Fallout 3 or New Vegas - In FONV you can't be with the Legion and NCR, for example, you can't even align with the Yes Man too many time untill all others turn against you. On FO3 if you start shooting too many innocents you will be persecuted, and the Brotherhood of Steel won't take it kindly if you decide to start killing their people either). So, I agree that the part of being able to do all the faction quests was "dumbing". It's the only dumbing we'll agree about.

I'm not sure about your use of the word "epic". Actually, Morrowind's plot is very epic, in the actual sense of the word. It's like an elaborate Greek drama, with gods and demigods playing a part, and you are not quite sure who the real villain is. Dagoth Ur as the betrayed one is quite an interesting antagonist. Maybe you don't like that you are the tool of a petty revenge and responsible for the destruction of Morrowind. You know, "epic" doesn't need kalpas. This "epic" is subtle, not like Oblivion's bold and stupid. It also makes fun of the concept of "hero".
What I find stupid about Oblivion are the side quests. The main quest I find it interesting. With a bit of horror inspiration in there - the plane of Oblivion seems a lot like a vision of Hell. But, sure, the side quests are kind of silly.
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December 9th, 2012, 13:52
I'm not sure about your use of the word "epic". Actually, Morrowind's plot is very epic, in the actual sense of the word. It's like an elaborate Greek drama, with gods and demigods playing a part, and you are not quite sure who the real villain is. Dagoth Ur as the betrayed one is quite an interesting antagonist. Maybe you don't like that you are the tool of a petty revenge and responsible for the destruction of Morrowind. You know, "epic" doesn't need kalpas. This "epic" is subtle, not like Oblivion's bold and stupid. It also makes fun of the concept of "hero".
I used epic in the not-so-subtle way, like in Oblivion. Anyway, there's kind of a contradiction here, as you already dismissed the narrative quality of some other games because they look like soap operas. Greek epics are basically that, soap operas with gods, demigods and humans betraying, backstabbing and having sex with each other. Ancient Greeks created the concept, but it's the one still used in the context of soap operas (more so in the Brazilian version of those, the "telenovelas", which, many times, are really modern versions of Greek dramas - all served up in a kitsch way, of course). Besides that, many interesting TV shows adopted the soap opera concept in a good way. Let's just mention Twin Peaks, The Sopranos, Carnivāle and the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica (one of the inspirations behind the Mass Effect trilogy). The concept of soap opera isn't necessarily bad, it's the way they are usually made when targeting bored housewives and coach potatoes.
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December 9th, 2012, 18:44
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
Ancient in a technological point of view.
This makes now even less sense. Why would the game be beloved because it's technologically "ancient"? In general, early 3D is the most despised period in video gaming from a technological point of view. OK, Morrowind got already rid of much of the worst aspects of stuff like in M&M VI-VIII, but anyway.
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
But, still, I'm sure that most of the love for old school games is derived from nostalgia, and this retro fashion thing (not only in video games, in everything, the 80). Minecraft would not have been a big hit 5 years ago, I'm certain of that.
And I'm certain you are wrong. Some of these older games still hold up today. You can see that the developers put much more effort into actual gameplay than it's done in many modern games. (I guess we have a theme here: many modern games look nice but lack in the gameplay department). I have no problem playing the BG's today (ok, with BG1, I like a mod, but BG II is fine as is). It was also only last year that I played Arcanum for the first time. I never played it because it looked so drab, but some people urged me to try it because it's a good game, and they were right. I had an absolute blast. So no nostalgia glasses here.
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
I agree that the possibility of joining various faction in the Elders Scrolls games (but not in Fallout 3 or New Vegas - In FONV you can't be with the Legion and NCR, for example, you can't even align with the Yes Man too many time untill all others turn against you. On FO3 if you start shooting too many innocents you will be persecuted, and the Brotherhood of Steel won't take it kindly if you decide to start killing their people either). So, I agree that the part of being able to do all the faction quests was "dumbing". It's the only dumbing we'll agree about.
It's noticeable that FONV wasn't done by Bethesda. Suddenly, there's more game in the game. And regarding the dumbing down, don't your forget all the mechanical cuts? Morrowind lost climbing, Oblivion lost levitation, just to name the biggies. It's weird that many of our glorious modern 3D games tend to forget about the 3rd dimension (OK, the Bethesda games are not the worst examples here).
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
What I find stupid about Oblivion are the side quests. The main quest I find it interesting. With a bit of horror inspiration in there - the plane of Oblivion seems a lot like a vision of Hell. But, sure, the side quests are kind of silly.
Okay, the Mage and Fighter guild quests were completely forgettable. The Thief stuff was moderately interesting, though. I'm not sure about the Dark Brotherhood quest line: I can't decide whether it was good or groanworthy. Silly, I guess. Anyway, we differ regarding the main quest. I found that one an absolute abortion. Simplistic, uninteresting, mostly nonsensical. Worse than the story itself is its game implication. Hey, Hell is invading, but we collect paintings and ride alone for our 5 o'clock tea to the other end of the country once a week. Sure, people in Morrowind also ignored the main quest, but there it made sense: if doom has been hanging over your head for centuries, it's easy to turn to everyday problems.
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
I used epic in the not-so-subtle way, like in Oblivion. Anyway, there's kind of a contradiction here, as you already dismissed the narrative quality of some other games because they look like soap operas. Greek epics are basically that, soap operas with gods, demigods and humans betraying, backstabbing and having sex with each other. Ancient Greeks created the concept, but it's the one still used in the context of soap operas (more so in the Brazilian version of those, the "telenovelas", which, many times, are really modern versions of Greek dramas - all served up in a kitsch way, of course). Besides that, many interesting TV shows adopted the soap opera concept in a good way. Let's just mention Twin Peaks, The Sopranos, Carnivāle and the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica (one of the inspirations behind the Mass Effect trilogy). The concept of soap opera isn't necessarily bad, it's the way they are usually made when targeting bored housewives and coach potatoes.
Well, I guess my phrasing was somewhat off here. What I meant is that most games have stories that resemble bad soap operas, with lots of nonsensical setups. In Morrowind, there was lots to discover, it was interesting, and it made sense.
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December 9th, 2012, 20:43
This makes now even less sense. Why would the game be beloved because it's technologically "ancient"? In general, early 3D is the most despised period in video gaming from a technological point of view. OK, Morrowind got already rid of much of the worst aspects of stuff like in M&M VI-VIII, but anyway.
Maybe I didn't explain myself correctly. I did not say that being old and with technical issues due to their age are the reasons why people love old school games. I meant that people usually tend to remember mostly the good things and forget the bad ones because, after all, they are old games, and some things could not be done by that time.

And I'm certain you are wrong. Some of these older games still hold up today. You can see that the developers put much more effort into actual gameplay than it's done in many modern games. (I guess we have a theme here: many modern games look nice but lack in the gameplay department). I have no problem playing the BG's today (ok, with BG1, I like a mod, but BG II is fine as is). It was also only last year that I played Arcanum for the first time. I never played it because it looked so drab, but some people urged me to try it because it's a good game, and they were right. I had an absolute blast. So no nostalgia glasses here.
Well, we will have to agree to disagree on the holding up part. They don't hold up for me anyway. I believe that developers worked harder, or with more passion on those old games. But… After many years as a P&P role player, where the immersion came mostly from our imagination, the quality of the setting, the quality of the game masters own story, and how it was "demolished" by the players actions and reconstructed on the spot, the quality of everybody's acting, when I'm faced with a computer version I need a lot of stuff, and imagination is not the most important. I need a good story, good dialogues, consequences and variety, but for the immersion to be as good as the one P&P offers I need also quality graphics, quality voice acting, quality soundtrack and a modern user interface. I suppose that the quality of the story is the most subjective of these things. The technical aspects are much more objective, and I think most people will agree with me if I say that games are technically much better now, and the budget allowed for more "real" actors to voice act for games. Voice acting goes a long way for me.

Well, I guess my phrasing was somewhat off here. What I meant is that most games have stories that resemble bad soap operas, with lots of nonsensical setups. In Morrowind, there was lots to discover, it was interesting, and it made sense.
I guess it depends of the game. Maybe you notice more bad stories because there are also more games being made? Well in the role playing genre maybe not much more being made, but nowadays there's also many things being wrongly labeled as RPGs… When there's more products in the market it always tends to be more bad ones. Doesn't mean that there are no good ones any more. I suppose the same happens with movies and television series.
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December 9th, 2012, 22:04
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
Do I sound angry? Nah, just a bit frustrated about all this.




I sure hope there's room for both. But just take a look at the news in RPG Watch. Excluding Cyberpunk 2077 (which will probably come out near 2077) and the new Skyrim DLC, it's all about indie old school RPG, either in kickstarster, beta phase or about to be realeased form. And this is not to say that the problem is with the site, they are just announcing what's out there. If it were not for open world games like Far Cry 3 and things like Dishonoured, which although it is clealry not an RPG, it offers many choices, the last thing I had played would have been Mass Effect 3, a long time ago. So… Yeah, there's room for everything, but I suppose there's a pattern of RPG retro fashion here.



I was just joking about the quantity of old school RPGs coming out these days. Some of them might really be made by some kid in his parent's home and be a success. Not that that investing a lot of money in a game makes it good, of course, but it is obvious that producing retro games, with retro graphics, retro mechanics, no voice acting and using the role playing internet network instead of big publicity campaigns reduces so much the cost of games that soon the market can very well be flooded with old school new RPGs.
I can understand your frustration. Nobody wants to see less of the kind of games they like. I actually shared your frustration but in the opposite direction. Slow tactical games were becoming less and less and fast action Rpg's were replacing them.

Kick starter has started to bring back the old school games I liked in the past and i've started to enjoy the faster action ones as well so its a win win for me. I still don't think you have to worry too much though kick starters aren't generating enough money yet for bigger devs to jump on old school games IMO.

Other than obsidian most of the kickstater devs are relatively small or unknown and I think obsidian wanted to make a game like this all along but couldn't find a publisher to back it.

I think we will still have our AAA RPG's and such also with crossover Rpg's like dishonored and fry cry 3 (which is excellent by the way) there shouldn't be a shortage.
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December 9th, 2012, 22:51
I can understand your frustration. Nobody wants to see less of the kind of games they like. I actually shared your frustration but in the opposite direction. Slow tactical games were becoming less and less and fast action Rpg's were replacing them.

Kick starter has started to bring back the old school games I liked in the past and i've started to enjoy the faster action ones as well so its a win win for me. I still don't think you have to worry too much though kick starters aren't generating enough money yet for bigger devs to jump on old school games IMO.

Other than obsidian most of the kickstater devs are relatively small or unknown and I think obsidian wanted to make a game like this all along but couldn't find a publisher to back it.

I think we will still have our AAA RPG's and such also with crossover Rpg's like dishonored and fry cry 3 (which is excellent by the way) there shouldn't be a shortage.
I wasn't expecting the kind of success achieved by Dishonored (absolutely deserved) and Far Cry 3 was a very pleasant surprise. In fact, after those two I'm expecting more from AAA adventure/ stealth/ action games than from role playing games. If more like those two keep coming I wouldn't even mind the lack of my kind of role playing games…
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December 9th, 2012, 22:56
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
I wasn't expecting the kind of success achieved by Dishonored (absolutely deserved) and Far Cry 3 was a very pleasant surprise. In fact, after those two I'm expecting more from AAA adventure/ stealth/ action games than from role playing games. If more like those two keep coming I wouldn't even mind the lack of my kind of role playing games…
I agree there. Dishonored is very good and Farcry 3 is outstanding imo. Here's hoping the success of those 2 bring us more games like them.

And on the bright side in 10 years the games you like now will be old school and remade on Kickstarter.
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December 10th, 2012, 00:59
And on the bright side in 10 years the games you like now will be old school and remade on Kickstarter.
Never thought of that one. The fun I'll have at the retirement home!
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