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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Eschalon: Book II - Q & A Thread

Default Eschalon: Book II - Q & A Thread

June 16th, 2008, 18:17
Basilisk Games has started a Q & A thread over on their forums for players' questions on their rpg in development, Eschalon:Book II. The plan is to select one question per week and feature the answer here. Here's an excerpt from the first exchange:
Question #1:
[VPeric] We all saw the thirst and hunger bars on the screenshots, could you elaborate on them? Features like these are usually tedious*, so how will you be implementing them?

Great question, actually. Well, as far back as I could remember, my "dream RPG" always had a food/water requirement (FWR). This definately comes from Ultima 2, the first RPG I ever played. I remember fondly how cool I thought it was to need to buy food before heading out into the wilderness. That really deepened the experience for me. Later on, games like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder further showed me that a FWR could enhance the whole gameplay experience. How many people played Dungeon Master where as you played and your character began to starve or dehydrate, finding an apple or a water fountain was more exciting than finding a super new weapon!

So, for that reason alone, Eschalon was always supposed to have FWR as part of the gameplay. Some of you remember the poll that originally led us to remove it from Book I, but months after the decision was made, the poll actually swung back the other way! So, with Book II I really want to put it back in there not only for my preference but also because of the poll results.

As for how to keep FWR from being tedious, we'll just have to play with it a bit and see where to set the default "consumption rate". Not too fast, not too slow…

Above all, I completely agree with everyone's concerns: if I (or the beta testers) feel that it is an annoying feature, we'll gladly take it out before the game is released. It makes no sense to add a feature unless it enhances the role-playing experience, not take away from it.
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June 16th, 2008, 18:17
Oh, for… Look, this is stupid, okay? Capital "S" Stupid. Hunger timers add nothing to the game- some realism, yes, but realism is dramatically overrated. Whenever the meter starts getting low, the player has to either die or stop having fun so he can get fed. It also leaves open the possibility that the player will be able to save the game in a state that is functionally unwinnable and have to start over from the beginning. The only way to keep it from disrupting the gameplay is to make it irrelevant to the game- which means that you've just spent a lot of effort coding a meaningless bullet point. Not only that, but it's a bullet point that your target audience will look at and say "EWWWWW, Hunger meter! I'm NOT buying this…"

Seriously, people, didn't we learn our lesson in the 80's? I challenge anyone on this board to point out one significant way in which a hunger timer would improve the game.
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June 16th, 2008, 18:50
While not taking on your challenge, i would say: "Wow, finally a game which requires you to drink and eat again."
I loved that in dungeonmaster and many other old games, so there you have it.
There should definately be multiple ways to obtain eat-/drinkable items, for example eatable parts from monsters or mushrooms/nature stuff. I love this micromanagement.
(I never got it, why suddenly the games mags declared micromanagement unfunny. Its the same with turn based combat or even "base building" in modern RTS games, which suddenly seem to be totally ruining the fun we had with it the last 10 years.)
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June 16th, 2008, 19:43
I love the idea of the hunger and thirst meter. I like having to plan a dungeon crawl, or a foray into the desert or whatever. It's all about strategy, which I think should involve more than just how to defeat the next monster. (To be fair though, I have not played Eschalon at all yet). Of course, if there are going to be hunger and thirst, the ability to satisfy them needs to be accessible (though not always easy), IE hunting, getting water from ponds, etc.

You say that didn't we learn our lessons from the 80's? What lessons, some of the best games every made PERIOD include food as concern (Ultima's 4-7 come to mind).

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June 16th, 2008, 20:12
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I love the idea of the hunger and thirst meter. I like having to plan a dungeon crawl, or a foray into the desert or whatever. It's all about strategy, which I think should involve more than just how to defeat the next monster. (To be fair though, I have not played Eschalon at all yet). Of course, if there are going to be hunger and thirst, the ability to satisfy them needs to be accessible (though not always easy), IE hunting, getting water from ponds, etc.

You say that didn't we learn our lessons from the 80's? What lessons, some of the best games every made PERIOD include food as concern (Ultima's 4-7 come to mind).
Well said. I have always liked the idea of the hunger and thirst meters.

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June 16th, 2008, 22:26
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I love the idea of the hunger and thirst meter. I like having to plan a dungeon crawl, or a foray into the desert or whatever. It's all about strategy, which I think should involve more than just how to defeat the next monster. (To be fair though, I have not played Eschalon at all yet). Of course, if there are going to be hunger and thirst, the ability to satisfy them needs to be accessible (though not always easy), IE hunting, getting water from ponds, etc.

You say that didn't we learn our lessons from the 80's? What lessons, some of the best games every made PERIOD include food as concern (Ultima's 4-7 come to mind).
Let me ask you this, do you like it just as much when you do all that planning and forethought and strategising, and micromanaging, and packing, and organizing… and then starve to death on the last level of the dungeon anyway because you just packed one loaf too few back at that start? Keep in mind that, since you made that mistake at the beginning of the dungeon, there's a good chance you now have to redo two hours of the game that you've solved before. Still think it's a good idea?

It's a bit like the Dahaka races in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. It's incredibly fun and unique if you manage to win on the first or second try, but if you have to try a fourth time you start wanting to murder the designer with a rusty stiletto.

Ultima 4 was a great game, and did include the hunger mechanic, but said mechanic was one of the things that brought the game down. In fact, the dungeons were intolerable because the damn Gremlins kept stealing all your food and left you starving slowly to death. They were so numerous that you had no chance of bringing enough food to make it past the third floor, and running was out of the question because it killed your Valor. Everyone I know who beat Ultima 4 just looked up the dungeon maps and used the passage in Lord British's castle and to zip right to the stones via the altar rooms.
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June 16th, 2008, 22:40
Originally Posted by Lord_Craxton View Post
Ultima 4 was a great game, and did include the hunger mechanic, but said mechanic was one of the things that brought the game down. In fact, the dungeons were intolerable because the damn Gremlins kept stealing all your food and left you starving slowly to death. They were so numerous that you had no chance of bringing enough food to make it past the third floor, and running was out of the question because it killed your Valor. Everyone I know who beat Ultima 4 just looked up the dungeon maps and used the passage in Lord British's castle and to zip right to the stones via the altar rooms.
Hi, I'm Atrachasis. Nice to meet you. *shake hands*

Now you may retract that last statement. My party picked most of the gremlins off with ranged weapons before they even got close, and some of the worst rooms could be circumvented.

In all honesty, I do prefer the way food was implemented in the later Ultimas: IIRC, you didn't lose hit points if you ran out of food, but you couldn't regenerate them if you slept on an empty stomach. I'm not crazy about hunger/thirst meters as such. However, including it in some way or other is a good thing, IMHO, because it adds a new and distinct strategic element: attrition. It's a different type of problem than beating monsters or figuring out puzzles, but for me, if done right, it is a welcome addition to the blend of challenges that a good RPG presents.
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June 16th, 2008, 23:36
Originally Posted by Lord_Craxton View Post
Let me ask you this, do you like it just as much when you do all that planning and forethought and strategising, and micromanaging, and packing, and organizing… and then starve to death on the last level of the dungeon anyway because you just packed one loaf too few back at that start? Keep in mind that, since you made that mistake at the beginning of the dungeon, there's a good chance you now have to redo two hours of the game that you've solved before. Still think it's a good idea?

It's a bit like the Dahaka races in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. It's incredibly fun and unique if you manage to win on the first or second try, but if you have to try a fourth time you start wanting to murder the designer with a rusty stiletto.

Ultima 4 was a great game, and did include the hunger mechanic, but said mechanic was one of the things that brought the game down. In fact, the dungeons were intolerable because the damn Gremlins kept stealing all your food and left you starving slowly to death. They were so numerous that you had no chance of bringing enough food to make it past the third floor, and running was out of the question because it killed your Valor. Everyone I know who beat Ultima 4 just looked up the dungeon maps and used the passage in Lord British's castle and to zip right to the stones via the altar rooms.
You hit precisely on the point I made about it being accessible to manage the hunger. In Ultima, if I got to the 7th level of a dungeon and were out of food, I had a choice to make: See if I could finish the dungeon while starving or use the create food spell to feed my party at the expense of having less magic to use against whatever else lay in wait. I LOVED that. THAT is real choice in games.

As to your last point, I've beaten Ultima 4 several times and never used the cheat you mention.

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Last edited by blatantninja; June 17th, 2008 at 15:20.
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June 17th, 2008, 01:23
Personally, I hate hunger meters. For me, they add nothing but frustration. The worst part of U7 was all the 'I'm Starving' messages I was constantly getting in the early stages of the game. Make it an option if you like, for the masochistic, but realism per se is not absolutely necessary. If you include food, then perhaps we need toilets to complete the cycle!!!! I hope not.

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June 17th, 2008, 01:30
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Personally, I hate hunger meters. For me, they add nothing but frustration. The worst part of U7 was all the 'I'm Starving' messages I was constantly getting in the early stages of the game. Make it an option if you like, for the masochistic, but realism per se is not absolutely necessary. If you include food, then perhaps we need toilets to complete the cycle!!!! I hope not.
Uo7 was simply too extreme with food - you had too many party members which needed to be fed manually too often using a mousedriven interface to open up backpacks and doubleclick small bits of food.

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June 17th, 2008, 01:48
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Personally, I hate hunger meters. For me, they add nothing but frustration. The worst part of U7 was all the 'I'm Starving' messages I was constantly getting in the early stages of the game. Make it an option if you like, for the masochistic, but realism per se is not absolutely necessary. If you include food, then perhaps we need toilets to complete the cycle!!!! I hope not.
I love the way Corwin always perfectly hits the spot!!

I second the motion to whoever hates hunger and water meters.
They blow.
I hated all games that included that system.

Come on. I played D&D for over two decades and never bothered my players to bring the exact amount of food for a quest or for whatever.

I mean. Come on!!

Or else, like mister Corwin said so well :

"Give me a back house!!"

PS : Even though I enjoyed Arx Fatalis, I hated the : I'm hungry! crap. Oops.
Pun! heheh.
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June 17th, 2008, 05:14
It's nice to be appreciated!!

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June 17th, 2008, 10:10
Well according to the realism principle (which is actually only mandatory for simulation games and sports games, NOT RPGS), maybe they should include the requirement for haircuts, clothes cleaning, bathing, washing, and relieving the player character in the washroom…. or does the (digestable ?) food & water we have to consume in the game just magically disappear ?

If you open the door to demanding mundane realism in RPGs, then the door is no longer shut.
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June 17th, 2008, 11:18
You know hyperboles can also go into the opposite direction:
So while we are at it, why not drop the roleplaying stats (realism??), the different weapons (you´ll only need one, come on!), day and night cycle (who would want that?) all together with the food/thirst meter.
Oh wait, dumbing down games is not so funny now, right?
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June 17th, 2008, 11:27
Originally Posted by vidder View Post
You know hyperboles can also go into the opposite direction:
So while we are at it, why not drop the roleplaying stats (realism??), the different weapons (you´ll only need one, come on!), day and night cycle (who would want that?) all together with the food/thirst meter.
Oh wait, dumbing down games is not so funny now, right?
It's not about "dumbing down" games or not - it's about keeping the fun parts and getting rid of the not-so-fun parts. Different people have different opinions on where this split goes. Personally I don't like having to pack food/drink in RPGs very much but I like day and night cycles for example - even (or especially) if it means shops and NPCs are not available at all times.

I enjoyed Eschalon bool I very much, and the first thing I noticed on the new screen shots was the food and drink meter - and to be honest, for me they represent a step backwards for the series.
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June 17th, 2008, 11:33
Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post
I enjoyed Eschalon bool I very much, and the first thing I noticed on the new screen shots was the food and drink meter - and to be honest, for me they represent a step backwards for the series.
That may be so, but according to the poll on the eschalon forums more people want them, so for them its a step in the right direction. I would even say that backward IS the right direction, because eschalon is all about old-school-rpgs.
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June 17th, 2008, 14:36
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Uo7 was simply too extreme with food - you had too many party members which needed to be fed manually too often using a mousedriven interface to open up backpacks and doubleclick small bits of food.
I agree. I remember the same thing in U6, it took me a while to figure out that I needed to double click the food to make them eat! I like having to supply the food, but spoon feeding is a bit over the top! IIRC, that was something they fixed in Exult for U7.

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June 17th, 2008, 14:37
Originally Posted by RPfan95 View Post
That's not a valid response.
Seriously dude, you need to tone back your opinions. If you disagree fine, but there's no need to be an ass and tell someone their opinion isn't valid.

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June 17th, 2008, 14:38
Liking of thirst and hunger meters is obviously a matter of taste. No point to argue abt it.

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June 17th, 2008, 14:40
Originally Posted by vidder View Post
You know hyperboles can also go into the opposite direction:
So while we are at it, why not drop the roleplaying stats (realism??), the different weapons (you´ll only need one, come on!), day and night cycle (who would want that?) all together with the food/thirst meter.
Oh wait, dumbing down games is not so funny now, right?

RPG = GAME. The game must be FUN. The menial, repetitive, mundane tasks (such as cooking a meal, or doing laundry) of our current 2008 existence on this planet called Earth are overwhelming rejected in RPGs. And generally, RPGs are set in Fantasy realms which overwhelmingly REJECT the verified scientific reality of our contemporary (2008) existence. The current laws of science (of which, food & eating requirements refer to anatomy, medicine and biology in our scientific-based 2008 existence) are generally tossed out the window and replaced by abilities and activities which DEFY and REJECT our contemporary scientific laws.

Like I said, if one is going to institute eating and drinking requirements in RPGs, then cooking, serving and consuming meals is along with subsequent bathroom requirements is ALSO within the bounds of the same realistic standard which ultimately demands the inclusion of menial, repetitive, mundane contemporary tasks, "because they are realistic".


I wasn't referring to sky, night, dawn, weapons and character stats, as those are certainly things which ADD to the fun of the unrealistic and overwhelmingly FANTASY-Based RPGs. Btw, character stats are not found in our contemporary 2008 AD earth existence, so they are an unrealistic game-based invention/system, included solely for the purpose of enhancing Roleplaying fantasy via intricate character design (designing your own character, or setting an explicit numerical ranking for a given characteristic is INHERENTLY ENTIRELY UNREALISTIC).

But of course, we all know Corwin's stats are…

Str : 12
Dex : 14
End : 16
Int : 16
Wis : 17
Cha : 18


….right ? And he choose them of his own volition at birth, right ?

Some of you may actually enjoy dinner obligations in everyday life. But making them mandatory in a Sci-Fi or Fantasy RPG is simply mundane, menial, tedious, inappropriate silliness and stupidity.

In a RPG, having to gather the oatmeal for breakfast and the chicken drumstick for dinner, in order to get ample calories, is the ultimate manifestation of "dumbing-down", to the point of ridiculousness.
Last edited by RPfan95; June 17th, 2008 at 14:48.
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