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Default Old RPGs… which ones?

February 4th, 2013, 11:10
Maylander, I've been asking for "really" old games. I've played all those on your list, except M&M and was looking for older ones.

That said, can anybody please explain the differences between old and new Pool of Radiance? I doubt that I could ever play the old one, its screenshots made me feel like it isn't likely, so I wonder if the new version is a faithful remake or not. (And I even saw remakes of Pool of Radiance for NWN and NWN2 engines, hmm)
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February 4th, 2013, 12:03
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
Maylander, I've been asking for "really" old games. I've played all those on your list, except M&M and was looking for older ones.

That said, can anybody please explain the differences between old and new Pool of Radiance? I doubt that I could ever play the old one, its screenshots made me feel like it isn't likely, so I wonder if the new version is a faithful remake or not. (And I even saw remakes of Pool of Radiance for NWN and NWN2 engines, hmm)
You just said BG and NWN were the only Forgotten Realms games you've played? Icewind Dale is most definitely a Forgotten Realms game.

As far as I know, the old Pool of Radiance has nothing to do with Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. The new one is just inspired by the old one and uses the same setting.
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February 4th, 2013, 12:12
"Better" is more about what stage of evolution they were at in terms of time of release, than actually being better than modern games.

The key to understanding why so many of us consider old games better is that they actually evolved gameplay and design significantly.

Many of the best RPGs of today are clearly "better" - but they still use archaic designs - and many can't even match the designs of old. But they're better because they look fantastic and because of the combined visceral experience - which is very powerful.

Also, a lot of advances have been made in terms of UI and controls, and obviously the technical progression has been quite vast.

So - comparing the combined experience of a good modern RPG and a good old RPG is not a fair process, unless you take into account the time of release.
Last edited by DArtagnan; February 4th, 2013 at 12:24.
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February 4th, 2013, 13:51
Don't listen to the doubters - older games can be played by anyone willing to just invest a little bit of effort and imagination into the experience. There's absolutely no requirement to have played them previously in any context.

There's also games which have as yet been unsurpassed in particular aspects of their design. You've already mentioned Ultima IV and Ultima VII which are excellent choices to trial out in my opinion. Whilst IV had the unique philosophical bent, aiming for a more introspective adventure, VII had this wonderfully detailed vision of a virtual world. Both are brilliant games and worth your time. Each may have their own individually cumbersome quirks that the player used to modern games may find irksome, but nothing which cannot be overcome with patience and more, even enjoyed.

For other games to consider, I'd also mention Ultima Underworld I+II, Bard's Tale III, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Might and Magic I-IV, Alternative Reality: The Dungeon, to name a few. Obviously there's much more depending on just how far you wish to go back.

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February 4th, 2013, 14:29
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
Just to portray what would capture my attention for sure, I love games with complex battle mechanics (not click-click-click), plots, and realistic characters. Once I attempted Eye of the Beholder and gave up on it, as it had no plot or characters, so maybe something more fitting to these categories would be better.
A game which offers all of this is Betrayal at Krondor. Unfortunately it's first generation 3D though. See the other thread nearby. These games were state of the art back then, but didn't age well graphics wise. Krondor is an amazing game, but so ugly that many consider it unplayable.
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February 4th, 2013, 14:35
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
In my opinion it would be far more natural to start with Might & Magic than Wizardry, but whatever floats your boat really. MM6-8 are generally considered the best of the lot, with MM7 probably the most highly rated.
I found 3-5 to be the best parts of the series, and M&M 1, 2 & 6 to be boring.


Originally Posted by Elel View Post
That said, can anybody please explain the differences between old and new Pool of Radiance? I doubt that I could ever play the old one, its screenshots made me feel like it isn't likely, so I wonder if the new version is a faithful remake or not.
The more recent one is a sequel of sort, though its gameplay is closer to the (far superior) Temple of Elemental Evil than the original Pool of Radiance.
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February 4th, 2013, 14:38
The thing about the RPG genre is that it contains many different key components, which are sometimes mutually exclusive (for example RT vs. TB). The best games always focused on a few key points, implemented them masterfully, and completely neglected others on the way. For that reason every great RPG (many have been mentioned in this thread) has both supporters of its strengths and critics of its inevitable weaknesses.

The bottom line is:
You won't like everything recommended here. Make your choices, but don't hesitate to move on after a couple of hours if it simply doesn't click for you. Playing all the classics is practically impossible. The Ultima series since part 4 alone would take you 500+ hours, not counting replays and restarts.
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February 4th, 2013, 15:57
Arx Fatalis had a very different casting system and was story driven. You might look at that.

Bart and Corwin should just admit that when it gets down to it, I will have the final say.
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February 4th, 2013, 17:07
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
That said, can anybody please explain the differences between old and new Pool of Radiance? I doubt that I could ever play the old one, its screenshots made me feel like it isn't likely, so I wonder if the new version is a faithful remake or not. (And I even saw remakes of Pool of Radiance for NWN and NWN2 engines, hmm)
The new Pool of Radiance, while graphically superior to the old and updated to 3e rules, received so-so reviews and was very buggy. It's not a remake.

If you want to play a remake of the old, I'd suggest trying the well-received NWN2 module Pool of Radiance Remastered.
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February 4th, 2013, 17:09
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
Everyone has posted some good info so far, and I'm a PC gaming noob but I would recommend Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven. Very enjoyable game and very much playable today.

You get to create a party and the combat can be played in either turn-based or real-time at the press of a button. Lots of skills and stats to ponder, lots of quests, guilds, loot, etc. Very cool game.
I agree with this. I would then play MM VII.
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February 4th, 2013, 18:47
Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
Whilst IV had the unique philosophical bent, aiming for a more introspective adventure, VII had this wonderfully detailed vision of a virtual world.
I already chose Ultima 7, but after reading Ultima 4 review… wow! Now trying to figure it out. I even already know what button to press to save the game, the most necessary knowledge is obtained

Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
You just said BG and NWN were the only Forgotten Realms games you've played? Icewind Dale is most definitely a Forgotten Realms game.
Sorry, memory is not my forte. It's very nice to replay games, though, you forget everything and get surprised again

Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
If you want to play a remake of the old, I'd suggest trying the well-received NWN2 module Pool of Radiance Remastered.
Still struggling to launch the original, it has me feeling dumb about the code word that you must somehow derive from those runic circles. If that fails, I'll be sure to download this remake.
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February 4th, 2013, 22:13
Originally Posted by Elel View Post
I already chose Ultima 7, but after reading Ultima 4 review… wow! Now trying to figure it out. I even already know what button to press to save the game, the most necessary knowledge is obtained
You might already have this - but in case not - Ultima 4 and all the manuals, map, spellbook and goodies that go with it is totally free on GOG. Everything you need for reference material should be available there. One thing about these old games is you definitely need to read the manuals and such, as they didn't have a lot of in-game help back then.
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February 7th, 2013, 11:09
I have an additional question about difficulty. Generally people say older games were harder and required more thinking. I'm all for that, but I can't quite imagine what that means and would be happy to hear a clarification.

Generally what I think tactics is comes down to three approaches.

One is "stealth": you use a rogue to scout out all areas and then you can actually plan the battle. Or use invisibility to sneak up on someone. Or even past someone, if they're too tough. Or lay traps.

Another approach is "disability", and it's mostly focused around mages. Spells like freeze, paralysis, charm, sleep, nightmare. An example would be DAO with a freeze spell + two spells that could shatter frozen creatures into pieces, fighters could shatter them if they landed a crit, and there were arrows that could shatter them, too. Force Field was handy to lock out the strongest opponent from the battle, as well as knocking opponents down.

The third one is "positioning": sometimes you can't win a battle if you just barge in and start bashing, and you have to place party members in different places. Possibly hiding some of them or making them hard to reach. Ideally combined with stealth to allow unhindered positioning before the battle.

If the game is still hard without requiring these approaches, then chances are it's a game that expects you to chug potions non-stop and win in a completely non-tactical Potion Way. (Or maybe it wants you to abuse AI with kiting)

So all that said, what about old games? Is there something different in their combat? Because to be honest, I can't imagine anything.
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February 7th, 2013, 11:27
Generally, when combat is hard in an old RPG, it boils down to overwhelming numbers/damage, limited healing, or the good old save-or-die spells. So you might fight wave after wave of baddies that paralyze you, poison you, insta-death you, etc.

If you want to get a good idea of what it's like in a particular game, or even in general, take a look at the CRPG addict's blog. He usually does a post focusing on combat for each game.
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February 7th, 2013, 11:41
Nowadays it's no longer fashionable to let the player character die, because it's oh so frustrating. That's why we have auto-healing and unconscious instead of dead characters in party RPGs.
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February 7th, 2013, 12:21
I agree with Gorath.

It used to be that combat was a genuine threat - and you had to use all the tools at your disposal.

The absolute standard today is that while you have many, many tools in your arsenal - you don't actually need more than one, and you don't need to use it with much caution.

That's the "average" difficulty balance.

But that's coming from an enthusiast gamer like myself. For a casual gamer just looking for kicks for an hour, after coming home from work - it's another story.
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February 7th, 2013, 13:30
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
Nowadays it's no longer fashionable to let the player character die, because it's oh so frustrating. That's why we have auto-healing and unconscious instead of dead characters in party RPGs.
I do wish to see a return to the slightly more dangerous combat, but the "save or die" type of spells were just frustrating. There was really nothing you could do about it, one failed roll of the die and you died, so I'm glad that we don't see these anymore.
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February 7th, 2013, 14:04
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
I do wish to see a return to the slightly more dangerous combat, but the "save or die" type of spells were just frustrating. There was really nothing you could do about it, one failed roll of the die and you died, so I'm glad that we don't see these anymore.
Too many old games had an almost Gygaxian desire to kill, and there have been quite a few discussions on how many old game designers used to brag that no one finished their games. I still can't believe anyone thought that was a good thing.

As for anyone who thinks it's got to be Super Meat Boy levels of sadomasicism for everyone or a game's too easy, you play on Instadeath while wearing no armor and using only one hand if you want, I've got other things to do and just want to enjoy myself when I play games.
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February 7th, 2013, 20:18
In the oldest CRPGs (Wizardry 1-5, Bard's Tale games and Might&Magic 1-2) too much was left to chance and luck. No matter how good a player you were, in the early stages of the game you risked encountering something you just couldn't beat. For the Bard's Tale games this was not the end of the game, though, since you could recruit new characters from the Adventurer's Guild to resurrect your old party. I belive the early Wizardries had a similar system.
Bard's Tale became rather easy after you had cleared the first dungeon, but then it was back to the same problem with too much left to chance and luck on the last few levels. If you faced a large enough number of certain enemies you were toast before you could do anything, so grinding (hi, 4x99 Berserkers!) was useful.

But even this kind of design had its charm, since when you did survive the early levels and proceeded to win the game, victory felt that much sweeter.
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February 7th, 2013, 21:09
Well rogue and its ilk were designed for you to die, fail, replay many times before winning based very much on luck. It's certainly a design style. Not my favorite.
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