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March 22nd, 2007, 17:11
Jeff Vogel has provided a March update on Avernum 5 on the Spiderweb forums:
I've put in some hours on Avernum 5. Some more news.

i. Elevations are completely in the game. They look nice.

ii. There is now a system of battle disciplines. People with high combat skills will be able to use special abilities. Some of them are cool enough that some mages will be tempted to train in pole weapons.

iii. I have vastly expanded the keyboard shortcuts. You will now be able to target attacks and spells using only the keyboard. (This includes fireballs.)

iv. The plot is very elaborate and cool. I tried for a similar level of intricacy as Geneforge 4: Rebellion.

v. I have also borrowed the much less annoying action point system from Geneforge 4. And a ton of the nice graphical effects too.

vi. The most irritating thing left to be done engine-wise is boats. There will be a lot of water travel.

vii. The Anama are back. Solberg has a decently sized role. Rentar-Ihrno is still dead.
More information.

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March 22nd, 2007, 17:11
They really need to completely overhaul the graphics system. While graphics are obviously not a requirement for a good game I don't see any reason why they couldn't at least make the move to a level of graphics of at least an Ultima 7 quality level.

I dislike how they make it so the "hidden" items are ones that are just concealed by the games isometric perspective, it would be nice if you hold down a button to reveal the outline of usable objects (like BG2 ToB) or if they just didn't put objects in places where they would obscured by a hedge or wall. After all, they would be right in front of your player character from their perspective.

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March 22nd, 2007, 18:19
How about adding walking animations?
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March 22nd, 2007, 18:57
I have to agree about the graphics. In fact there are quite a few freeware gaming engines and apis. Probably the best example is Ogre3D, which is what is being used for Heretic Kingdoms.

http://www.ogre3d.org/index.php?set_…view_album.php

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March 22nd, 2007, 19:10
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
I have to agree about the graphics. In fact there are quite a few freeware gaming engines and apis. Probably the best example is Ogre3D, which is what is being used for Heretic Kingdoms.

http://www.ogre3d.org/index.php?set_…view_album.php
Cool link! I am looking forward to that one!

The engine looks great, heck I'd be happy with the graphics of the *first* Heretic Kingdoms!

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March 22nd, 2007, 19:36
Game development is a ton of work. 2d to 3d is a big transition too. If its anything like the last game Heretic Kingdoms 2 uses prerendered backgrounds. But even with a good engine the art assets take a toll. I'm sure all of these engines take mdl/3ds files but someone has to design and animate everything in 3d Studio Max or Rhino3D or whatever. And then there are the backgrounds and interactive objects. Then of course the game rules.

All these indie efforts are a staggering effort really.

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March 22nd, 2007, 23:21
Hmmm…I think Geneforge 4 can compete comfortably with Ultima 7. It also has walking animations.

3D graphics with a cheap/free engine are all well and good but I just don't think it's feasible to create the art fast/cheap enough for his operation. How many completed 3D RPGs have made it out from a 2-man operation — or even a larger but truly indie one? Vogel actually delivers over and over with a real RPG each time.

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March 23rd, 2007, 00:41
I think Basilisk will set the bar for small shop RPG graphics. They are clearly a step above this but still far behind commercial offerings.

What we really need is for an indie shop to get their hands on the ToEE engine and rip out the D&D rules for a general purpose party based, turn based rpg engine. Now that would be something.

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March 23rd, 2007, 17:27
I think Eschalon Book I has decent graphics but have you looked at the system requirements on the front page? For those I would want at least NWN or DS comparable graphics, and neither of those have the bestest of looks or that high system requirements! While Vogel's games would probably run on a microwave oven if I can hook a monitor to it.

Besides the Avernum/Geneforge engine manages to keep size and sys reqs low while being produced faster by a one man team, have broader audience (the low sys reqs, low size for the download). I find Spiderweb's way better.

BTW, G4 is ideed a large improvement graphic wise over the previous games, as Dhruin already mentioned.
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March 23rd, 2007, 21:15
For me, the graphics that Jeff uses for the Avernum and Geneforge series' are tried-and-true. You know what you're going to get. Plus the games are so well made (story and game mechanics) that they are a pleasure to play (IMHO).

I'm excited about seeing Eschalon, but who knows what the game will play like, or perform like.

I'm halfway through Avernum 4 right now and I'm loving it. Some diehard Spiderweb gamers complain that it doesn't have as good of a story as earlier games, but I think it's great.

I've never played the Geneforge games, so after I finish Avernum 4 I'm moving on to that series.

Vogel's got a flair for writing interesting stories inside of engaging games… do they look like Oblivion… no… do they need to in order to be fun… NOT IF YOU'RE AN RPG LOVER.

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March 24th, 2007, 03:17
I'm not looking for Oblivion graphics. I think some of the basic effects like light sources in a 2D game are extremely valuable for atmosphere. Look at the lighting effects in the dungeons for Eschalon - its pretty darn nice. Once you have lighting, it brings in all sorts of possibilities for texture palettes to create real moods in the dungeons. I don't know if Jeff uses the open source Allegro API for his 2d game or if its a proprietary thing. If he does - there is a pixel lighting demo available on the Allegro web page.

I think plenty here have said it. He simply needs to invest in an upgrade. We are not talking DX10 here or anything, just some basic lighting techniques, particle effects and animations and whatnot. Still software rendered not 3D.

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March 24th, 2007, 04:59
It's proprietary. It would be nice to have a graphics upgrade (as with any title using older technology) but I don't see how you can argue its necessary.

By Vogel's accounts (and he has always struck me as someone who tells it straight) Avernum 4 is one of his best sellers ever. If so, by what basis does he need to? If the graphics you want would make his development model unprofitable, why would he pursue it? He has said multiple times he uses the best graphics he can afford.

I'm a big supporter of the indie market and really look forward to Eschalon. If Thomas reads this, I hope he doesn't mind me saying that while Eschalon's graphics look very nice, he is yet to ship anything in the time Spiderweb has shipped 2? 3? games with proven results, so the comparison is pointless. What if Eschalon's graphics are superior but its mechanics are poorly designed or the game unplayable? I'm sure that won't happen - but Basilisk is obviously pursuing some sort of "when we get it done" model, as opposed to a guy who must ship two titles every year (or whatever it is) to pay the bills. Perhaps Jeff has underestimated the additional sales he might get if he went and got a bank loan but as someone who has operated a business with limited capital, I understand the conservative choice. You don't have to like it but absolutely noone else has proven they can profitably support a stand-alone indie western RPG development studio over an extended period. When a Basilisk or an Iron Tower go full-time and last years with multiple released successful titles, then I'll agree Vogel probably got it wrong.

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March 24th, 2007, 22:08
I finished Avernum 1 and 2, just recently started the third part. The games are very good, the somewhat austere graphics successfully create a feeling of being in a hostile world far underground. The games have a special consistent visual style and shine in other departments; I recommend everyone to try the big demos!
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March 24th, 2007, 22:21
I hear what you are saying. On the other hand he said himself he's adding elevations so clearly he is working on and concerned about graphics advancements. I would suggest investigating a lighting model. I don't think he'll necessarily need a loan to do some prototyping but I confess I know little about 2d graphics beyond sprite animations. He might get some ideas from the Allegro lighting demo I mentioned - its a 2d engine and its not alot of code.

Regarding Eschalon - they have stated that Book 1 was just the first installment and party based play was planned for part 2 and beyond. They do have a deployment model.

But anyway its all just my opinion! I did play Jeff's last Geneforge demo, and those were my thoughts.

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March 24th, 2007, 22:43
I'm not sure what's with the elevations - they were in Avernum 1 and 2, and seem to be in 3. Did they disappear in 4 or what? I'm playing the series right from the start and haven't managed to finish the first trilogy yet :-)

And as for Eschalon - I'm interested too… I'll definitely try the demo at least.
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March 24th, 2007, 23:54
Yes, the elevations disappeared in 4 because he switched to an "improved" version of the Geneforge engine for both games. On the other hand, while we lost elevation AV4 was a completely continuous gameworld.

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March 25th, 2007, 00:11
Hm. I'm not sure if that was a good choice (I like walking in the "world map" mode). I guess I'll have to d/l A4 demo and see it myself.
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March 25th, 2007, 00:48
My belief is that Basilisk are doing most of their engine work in one go, and there will be shorter delay between Book I and II and onwards.

Overall I've stated numerous times that the game sounds fantastic, and I'm totally hooked onto it. What really bugs me about, and it surfaced recently is that for a game that as far as the few! (too few actually) screens from it don't show off and engine that offers something spectacular (visually at least) for the announced system requirements.

I don't remember exactly if it is greatly showcased in the Geneforge 4 demo, but there are some very nice graphical addition to the engine. Including various lightning effects. There is now a great looking light aura around the main character in dungeons, including usable lamps ala Avernum 1-3 which enhance it.
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March 25th, 2007, 09:02
Originally Posted by Arma View Post
Besides the Avernum/Geneforge engine manages to keep size and sys reqs low while being produced faster by a one man team, have broader audience (the low sys reqs, low size for the download). I find Spiderweb's way better.
It's not a one man team. 3 people are involved in the development.

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March 25th, 2007, 14:25
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
It's not a one man team. 3 people are involved in the development.
There are three names - Jeff, his wife and an assistant. But in terms of who programs and writes and comes up it all - all Jeff

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