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Default Same old, Same old but it's okay-Avernum5

February 22nd, 2008, 02:56
I used to love Jeff Vogel's games but I really got tired of playing the same game over and over. I just downloaded the A5 demo and I'm actually having a good time. How did this happen? I finally decided to stop playing his games at the rate he releases them. Jeff's games are very limited, but well written inside of those limitations. I like the world of Avernum and Geneforge, but I can only visit them about once every three years it seems. If I play them more often than that, the fact that Jeff has stayed so limited irritates the hell out of me. This guy could be so much better, from a player's standpoint. I just hope that one day he hires or sires a graphic artist to join his little gaming family

At least he sorta added height to his games, or at least the illusion of height. I still haven't decided if the game has enough new elements for me to register. I'll finish the freebie part and then decide.

'nut
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February 23rd, 2008, 05:01
Good luck, crpgnut. I have tried and tried to play Vogel's games but I can't get past the ugliness, the cramped, closed in feeling and the sense of having gone back to windows 3.1. I enjoy the dialog and story just fine, but I have yet to force myself through a whole demo. I'm playing a FREE game right now that looks better than Avernum. (Battle for Wesnoth)

To me , if Eschalon can look and play like at least 2005, why do we have to journey back in time to the limitations of 1999? I guess I'm just a graphics ho.

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March 3rd, 2008, 08:16
Eschalon has spoilt us. I like the Avernum series, but now I literaly find myself saying 'clunk' 'clunk' whenever I click on something.

Graphic wise, they are not that bad. They just need a little polish and smoothness added.
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March 3rd, 2008, 09:57
OK, here I come again with my Spiderweb fanboi badge. See? Jeff gave it to me himself.

I'm nearly finished with AV5 and - as usual - I really enjoyed it.

Before I continue, I want to emphasise that I really enjoyed Eschalon, will follow and buy Book II and I think you're all certifiably insane if you don't get both Eschalon and AV5.

But…

Eschalon doesn't have a fraction of the content, choices, dialogue, NPCs, balance or combat depth of AV5. I really appreciate the nice look and atmosphere of Eschalon but I think you're all mad if you can't see the extra stuff AV5 (or any other recent Spiderweb game) is offering in exchange.

I also don't get the interface complaints. It ain't that pretty - sure - and it isn't perfect but what does it really do wrong? Please don't pick minor quibbles like every game has - something that really makes a difference.

All that said, crpgnut is right - only a crazy person plays all of them. Take a break and come back from time to time; even Jeff says that.

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March 3rd, 2008, 11:42
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Eschalon doesn't have a fraction of the content, choices, dialogue, NPCs, balance or combat depth of AV5.
Which is why Brother None asked *why* I selected Eschalon over Avernum as my 'Indie GOTY' … oh well, I love both and gave the newcomer the nod … but I have *both* on both Mac & PC

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March 3rd, 2008, 13:15
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I also don't get the interface complaints. It ain't that pretty - sure - and it isn't perfect but what does it really do wrong? Please don't pick minor quibbles like every game has - something that really makes a difference.
I think that's part of Spiderweb's games problem. It is functional and it works. But there is that minor quibble of clunkyness. I'm not after flashy graphics (I'm fine with the ASCII in rougelikes), so it's hard to say exactly what I'm after.

I do agree, there is a lot of stuff in them. And it's been such a long time since I've played a full version (Either Exile 3 or Avernum 1 I think, now hidden in currently inaccessable storage regardless), I should do myself a favour and get one of the newest releases.

A little more feedback/responsivness when I click on something, and further indication on when something is happening to my in game characters.

I was probably missing it, but I did have a problem with negative effects in play. After walking away victirious from a battle, I would walk a screen away into a cleared area only to hear Urgh-Arrrgh!-Clang! and find one of them dead. I'm guessing it was one of those little itsy-bitsy icons.

It felt like there was a lot of wasted empty space on the screen. Much of this could of been better used, or removed to make the main/field-area larger.
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March 3rd, 2008, 15:26
Interesting stuff, really.

I became sick of contemporary RPG's (Oblivion, Witcher, etc) due to the insane amount of tweaking required to play the suckers on my machine… so I wanted to play some dedicated old-school RPG…
A5 seemed to fit the bill nicely, and, as a bonus, it is full of luxury stuff I expect in an RPG:
- it's got (limited) automap,
- it's got (limited) quest journal,
- it's got (limited) gfx and sound,
- it's got (limited) non-linearity…

Methinks, Avernum's (or Geneforge's) biggest problem is the following: it *tries* to behave like a "complete" product - but instead it is full of limited stuff.

No matter how I *like* Jeff's games, and *admire* his effort to give us, RPG fanatics, good entertainment, I installed Ultima 5 and Exile I.
No fooling around, old and cranky beyond belief, pen-and-paper notetaking nightmare - yet, still I had a blast of RPG goddness.

Why? Easy. These games are the ugly girl with heart as big as a skyscraper, who cooks well, and once you get in bed with her… she will squeeze the last drop of "precious bodily fruit" of yours… and it would be *you* who's gonna be begging for more!
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March 3rd, 2008, 15:51
Originally Posted by duerer View Post
- it's got (limited) automap,
- it's got (limited) quest journal,
- it's got (limited) gfx and sound,
- it's got (limited) non-linearity…
Hm. I haven't seen any of recent spiderweb games, but back in Avernum 1-3 days, it had damn fine automap, and its journal and non-linearity were far better than anything from the early 90s RPGs.

The main problem with Vogel games is, indeed, that it's the same game over and over. Having used 3 engines (and with mostly shared graphic assets to boot) throughout almost 20 titles is WAY too much. Beats even the goldboxes' recyclability. Besides, many of goldbox games were quite short, whereas every Avernum game is huge. Seeing same bloody monsters over same bloody landscape surrounded by same bloody interface gets tiresome.

The least he could do is redesign interface for every game. It certainly needs less time and resources than redrawing all tiles and character sprites for every title, and still makes said titles look more fresh everytime.
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March 3rd, 2008, 16:12
Originally Posted by mondblut View Post
Hm. I haven't seen any of recent spiderweb games, but back in Avernum 1-3 days, it had damn fine automap, and its journal and non-linearity were far better than anything from the early 90s RPGs.
While the automap is usable, it is nowhere near as good as, say in Divine Divinity or Morrowind. No access-anywhere City Map (only for the one you are in), no user annotations, etc.
Being a jaded RPGer, I'm nitpicking here obviously: if the automap is included, I demand all the bells and whistles. If there is no automap, no sweat, I will map myself.
Similarly, if there is some trace of graphical splendor (as in Avernum5's particle effects), again, I demand high-res graphical orgy. Should the game use characters only, I'm okay with it.
So, my point is, no middle-of-the-road solutions please. I am old enough to accept a good game with terrible visuals and spartan interface (i.e. Ultima 5, Legend of the Blacksilver, etc.)

Originally Posted by mondblut View Post
The least he could do is redesign interface for every game. It certainly needs less time and resources than redrawing all tiles and character sprites for every title, and still makes said titles look more fresh everytime.
Hmmm, since I still like Jeff's games, I would suggest you to try out Nethergate Resurrection. The interface is the same old we all love to hate, but the setting is at least very different to Avernum or Geneforge.
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March 4th, 2008, 16:11
Originally Posted by duerer View Post
While the automap is usable, it is nowhere near as good as, say in Divine Divinity or Morrowind. No access-anywhere City Map (only for the one you are in), no user annotations, etc.
Well, annotations would be helpful of course, particularly when you have to backtrack for some level 3 divine fire giveaway located in first dungeon half a game later. So would be some global map, which is seriously missing. I got used to run Avernums along with Excel to make notes though

Hmmm, since I still like Jeff's games, I would suggest you to try out Nethergate Resurrection. The interface is the same old we all love to hate, but the setting is at least very different to Avernum or Geneforge.
I played the original Nethergate when it was just out. My experience: "Whoa, a brand new pseudohistorical world of earthly myths and legends… Whoa, romans… Whoa, celts… Whoa, two different storylines… <…> So why the hell it looks like Exile 4, plays like Exile 4 and feels like Exile 4?!". Having then Exiles remade into Avernums using Nethergate engine and mechanics didn't help either, quite the opposite. Somehow, playing Dark Queen of Krynn or Matrix Cubed I never felt I am playing a reskinned mod to Curse of Azure Bonds. But I always do with Spiderweb games.

(and what's up with remaking older games every time a new engine is implemented? Nethergate: Resurrection makes it 4, 5 if we consider Blades of Avernum a remake of Blades of Exile…Should we expect another remakes of Exiles/Avernums1-3 now on Geneforge engine?)
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March 4th, 2008, 16:36
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
OK, here I come again with my Spiderweb fanboi badge. See? Jeff gave it to me himself.
I too am a card carrying Spiderweb fanboi…

I actually just started Geneforge 1… never played any of the Geneforge games. I'm really enjoying it.

I do, however, agree that you have to take time off between spiderweb games. It's been over 6 months since I finished Avernum 4 (I think), and I needed that time to play other games in order to be ready for another sw game. This time though, I'm very temped to play Avernum 5 as soon as I finish Geneforge 1… we'll have to see.

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March 5th, 2008, 03:48
I don't get the map comments. I mean, they're not perfect but there is a global map and the mini-map is marked with the key landmarks/NPCs. Morrowind's is used as a comparison and I agree it has a pretty good map - but it also has one of the worst journals I've ever seen (pre expansion), so it isn't that great for a major AAA title.

On remakes - I'm glad he did. I picked up Jeff's work with Geneforge and remaking Nethergate allowed me to enjoy it. For those that have already played the older version, Jeff himself would understand moving past them.

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