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Default Avadon - Review @ Gear Diary

March 18th, 2011, 11:25
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I meant the part about the mainstream indie, which you later explained. Still, I'll address this.

Hell, no - I'm not neutral. I've been a Spiderweb beta-tester since the early Geneforges and rank some of his games among the best I've played.
I can appreciate that, but you should also be able to appreciate how it can create scepticism when considering your position as to the game and the end result of this "mainstreaming" process.

The "protective" part is frustration that a "hardcore" CRPG community often won't even try these games with various silly excuses. I then watch various people make pronunciations without even having tried them.
I'll try the demo, that I can promise you

Ah, but I've played it and you haven't. Who has the better perspective? You even say "become", which implies some knowledge of the previous games, which you also don't have. Correct?
I have only the knowledge based on what other people have been saying, and what I've read about the games.

I'm not taking opinions of other people and using them as my own, I'm looking at the features and how they're streamlined according to those who HAVE played it. I go quite out of my way to separate features from opinions about them.

Exactly like I looked at how Dragon Age 2 was marketed, and how they've been changing it. To me, that's usually quite enough to evaluate what kind of direction they've been taking.

As for what those features mean, it's true that I would have to play the game to be certain - and I'm perfectly willing to accept that I could be wrong.

Some people are capable of ignoring their own experience, and I understand that. It's a good way to stay open-minded. I try to be that way, but after witnessing countless examples of (unfortunately) being absolutely right - and yet staying optimistic beforehand - it gets to you. It gets to me, at least.

Dragon Age 2 turned out even worse than I thought. Should I have said to myself - well, it's probably not at all what it seems - and the game is possibly much better than what every sign points to? Maybe, but I guess I can't be that naive.

See the "without losing depth"?
That would be the opinion part. Mike is very obviously happy about the game - because he doesn't mind the streamlining. I tend to HATE that kind of thing.

Countless people spoke about Oblivion's streamlining as good things, and that the game didn't lose depth and was still a very fulfilling CRPG.

See what I'm saying?

I'm not looking at opinions - I'm looking at features.

I can't disagree but it isn't quite that simple. Avernum has never had a Leadership skill (that was Geneforge only) and I see this as the replacement for Avernum. In other words, it's exactly as it always was. On the other hand, I'd say there are more choices in general than Avernum (do you agree Mike?), which makes it an improvement.
Sounds good, and I'll have to wait and see.

I posted that in another thread in a different context.

Regen is correct but betrays that the poster may not have played previous Spiderweb games. In Avernum, the First Aid skill replenished health at the end of a battle. Any seasoned player took an appropriate amount - I would often leave battle with more health than I started (small combats could be as good as a healing potion). New players wouldn't know this…which is a bit silly. Why not automate it, rather than just have your knowledgeable players exploit it?
See, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

I happen to REALLY enjoy having skills that are powerful, and that I have to discover on my own. I LIKE being rewarded for investing into the game mechanics.

They don't have to cater to me at all, and I'll figure that out. I bet the previous games were playable even without that skill, and likely just much harder.

That's what diversity is all about.

I'm surprised you can't see that.

Don't point out he could use a different system altogether - I don't disagree - but the discussion is mainstreaming. Avernum let you auto-heal after a battle - and so does Avadon.
Now you're streamlining the arguments. That's how the truth gets distorted.

In Avernum, you apparently needed investment into a first-aid skill, in Avadon you don't. That's the very definition of streamlining, isn't it? It's all about what that means to you.

Can you honestly not see the notable difference?

No stats unlocking dialogue - didn't exist in Avernum, anyway (oops, maybe this guy doesn't know what he is talking about).
Ok, strange. Maybe he means something else?

Quest markers - a handful, mostly in the tutorial. My current map has…oh, look - none!
But they are there nonetheless. If they mean nothing, then why have them at all?

Less classes - true, but Avernum was a skill system! The "classes" only governed some starting stuff.
Only governed some starting stuff? So they meant nothing?

Less difficult - also true - but I found "Normal" in AV6 to be reasonably hard, so it should be toned down. I know everyone will overreact (dumbed down! Oh no!) without having played any of them but "normal" should be just that - not "hard" for an experienced player.
Now we're overreacting because we don't like that it's easier?

There are "hard" and "torment" levels for those that want it and the descriptions are plain to see.
Personally, I don't want to have to choose hard to get a decent challenge. But I'd have to play the game to make sure.

Problem with hard and torment, is that the designer has to be really smart for the challenge to become meaningful. Upping damage/hitpoints ala Bethesda - is not how you go about it.

I prefer games that are challenging, but not a combat marathon. To me, challenge is about options and clever decisions - not just being extra careful during combat.

A game has to make me think hard about what I should do, not just enforce caution due to excessive damage.

I'm not clear on Avadon in this way, but unfortunately - the VAST majority of difficulty implementations are bad.

Most people here like The Witcher, right? No character creation, simplified skill medals, action combat, no diplomatic skills that unlock dialogue…and yet, it's a pretty good game. Sometimes a few lines of negative description don't encompass a game.
The Witcher is not a sequel - so it's hard to say what it could have been.

I don't like the game personally, but I respect what they did with it - in terms of the story and characters. Seems they were aiming for something and achieved it.

It's not what I would call a streamlined game - because there was nothing before they could streamline.

The sequel sounds much better in pretty much every way.
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March 18th, 2011, 11:45
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Most people here like The Witcher, right? No character creation, simplified skill medals, action combat, no diplomatic skills that unlock dialogue…and yet, it's a pretty good game. Sometimes a few lines of negative description don't encompass a game.
I like when people complain about certain games simplifying character creation or becoming more action-focused and then praise The Witcher 2 as how it should be done when that game has NO character creation and FULLY action-based combat.

Amuses me.

I like all kinds of different RPGs, from isometric turn-based to first-person action-focused. Bring on the games!
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March 18th, 2011, 11:52
Avadon isn't a sequel. I'm off to play it.

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March 18th, 2011, 11:55
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Avadon isn't a sequel. I'm off to play it.
Have fun
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March 18th, 2011, 12:40
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
The "protective" part is frustration that a "hardcore" CRPG community often won't even try these games with various silly excuses. I then watch various people make pronunciations without even having tried them.
That is very frustrating to me - folks complain about the state of RPGs and then trash EVERY SINGLE ONE that comes out … and then some will later on hold those SAME FRICKIN' GAMES up as some great paragon of virtues lost (Bloodlines, Witcher, etc). As the saying goes, we have met the enemy … and it is us.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I'd say there are more choices in general than Avernum (do you agree Mike?), which makes it an improvement.
This is why reviews are hard to write I tried to impress upon Avadon as a mechanical hybrid of Geneforge and Avernum in a new world. I think - as you imply - that it borrows the best of both worlds, but also allows people who feel abandoned by Bioware and Bethsoft etc but haven't dug into the indie scene to get engaged more easily. But once they are in it is a great experience with TONS of options and choices.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Less difficult - also true - but I found "Normal" in AV6 to be reasonably hard, so it should be toned down. I know everyone will overreact (dumbed down! Oh no!) without having played any of them but "normal" should be just that - not "hard" for an experienced player.
1) Vogel *never* said you shouldn't die on Normal, at least not to beta folks or anything I read. You certainly shouldn't die in a 'trash mob battle', but there are some specific points in Avadon where if you don't die at least once you are on the wrong difficulty.

2) As I tried to impress, what I applaud here is his BALANCE. The game isn't trivial, and you have some options for party formations and main characters, and yet it all flows naturally - even as I spent months trying to break it. You can certainly FUBAR your characters, but with the slightest effort you can work through the whole game in a satisfying fashion.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Most people here like The Witcher, right? No character creation, simplified skill medals, action combat, no diplomatic skills that unlock dialogue…and yet, it's a pretty good game. Sometimes a few lines of negative description don't encompass a game.
The 'feature list' critique is always tough - I tried to detail that while some things might look like what happened to stuff like DA2 on paper, in reality it is entirely different. Avadon is simply a much better game than DA2 … or Oblivion for that matter. Which brings us to …


Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Dragon Age 2 turned out even worse than I thought. Should I have said to myself - well, it's probably not at all what it seems - and the game is possibly much better than what every sign points to? Maybe, but I guess I can't be that naive.
<snip>
That would be the opinion part. Mike is very obviously happy about the game - because he doesn't mind the streamlining. I tend to HATE that kind of thing.

Countless people spoke about Oblivion's streamlining as good things, and that the game didn't lose depth and was still a very fulfilling CRPG.
I pointed to my Dragon Age 2 'day one impressions' in the review, but if you missed them they are here. I wasn't kind - it is hard to believe that so many smart and talented people worked on that and have people playing some of the complete garbage and thinking 'this is great stuff'. Stuff like the recent C-A-D comic is everywhere, like shooting fish in a barrel.

I don't know serious hardcore RPG fans who would say that Oblivion is a hardcore RPG without compromise. Personally back in 2006 I said that Avernum 4 was a *much better* RPG, and illustrated the battle between mainstreaming and hardcore. Oblivion was a very good open world action adventure … not much of a RPG.

Avadon is different. It is STILL a hardcore RPG made for folks like us.

— Mike
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March 18th, 2011, 12:49
That is very frustrating to me - folks complain about the state of RPGs and then trash EVERY SINGLE ONE that comes out … and then some will later on hold those SAME FRICKIN' GAMES up as some great paragon of virtues lost (Bloodlines, Witcher, etc). As the saying goes, we have met the enemy … and it is us.
You can call me many things, but I honestly believe I'm pretty consistent.

I don't go around changing my opinion just because it's comfortable when I need to bash something.

I really do have my preferences, and they very rarely change.

I know there are countless people out there who just want to bash everything because they're jaded, or the opposite crowd who automatically love everything because they're so optimistic. Except I doubt it's really that simple.

Maybe you and Dhruin consider yourself "in the right" about this game, and the industry as a whole - but you should be prepared to meet scepticism about that.

I can't deny that I'm very jaded, and I'm very open about that - but I try hard to be fair about these things.

As for Avadon, I'll have to wait and see.

I have no idea about the actual wholesome experience, and I haven't spoken about the quality of the actual game.

I'm strictly looking at what they've changed from past games, and until I have some reason to doubt the truth of feature changes or removal/additions - I can't just pretend that streamlining isn't streamlining.

Everything I've heard about this game, so far, tells me it's a more accessible and streamlined game than what they've done before.

As for the end-result, we'll see.

If Avadon is a suitably deep, complex, and challenging game - I'll be right here praising it.

But I see no plausible scenario where even those who've played it, can deny that something has been streamlined and simplified.

That's basically all I'm saying.
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March 18th, 2011, 14:43
DArtagnan … I understand your position and consistency, which is why I said 'folks', as it was a more generic complaint …

— Mike
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March 18th, 2011, 16:16
Something that I didn't see covered in the review that I'd like to know. What skills and spells are totally new? Jeff has always seemed to reuse nearly everything, even when making a new game, so I'm really curious as to what is totally new and not a rehash of something in an earlier game. Looking at non-cutscene graphics, the items, icons, maps, etc. all look VERY similar to Avernum and Geneforge. I'd have a hard time telling that I wasn't playing Avernum VII, just from screenshots. I saw daze and firebolt and confuse, these are all old. Where is something that screams brand new to a Vogel game?

I'm an ex-fan of Spiderweb. I used to sing Jeff's praises until he started cranking out a game a year that felt EXACTLY like the previous game, just with a vaguely changed story.

I'm mildly hopeful for Avadon but pretty sure that Avadon could have very easily been called Avernum VII, the undiscovered continent. I almost wouldn't be surprised to see Erika, maybe turned around as male and called Akire or something similar. Maybe instead of X, it'll be Z. Maybe instead of Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders, we'll get Ginormous Inflatable Floating Turd Samples. Please tell me I'm completely wrong and that there is more new than old in the "new" series.

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March 18th, 2011, 16:19
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
DArtagnan … I understand your position and consistency, which is why I said 'folks', as it was a more generic complaint …
I just wanted to point out that we're not all mindless haters, and that you might be surprised to find that many have genuine and - to them - good reasons for not really being excited about these games
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March 18th, 2011, 23:28
crpgnut, you should move on - this isn't for you. And I mean that without any sarcasm or subtext. Nearly every tileset is completely new - but you'll see the stuff that has been re-used. You also don't care about story, which is a major part of Jeff's work - you know that.

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March 19th, 2011, 02:19
Yes, but I generally can enjoy the first new story in one of his series. I really enjoyed Geneforge, even though the graphics were mostly straight from Avernum. There was enough new for it to be fun. I'm really hoping for the same from Avadon. I've seen several things that are rehashed yet again, but I've also seen some kinda new looking stuff too. I'll probably at least download the demo. I bought Avernum 6 and played it for a little while, but the new stuff got kinda bogged down by the same ol' story. I'll be so glad that Erika, Soldberg, X, etc. have been put out to pasture, that I might be able to enjoy it.

I'm quite aware that this isn't the next Oblivion It doesn't have to be. It does have to offer something gameplay-wise that stands out and shouts I'm different. It could be a new spell system, maybe crafting (which I love), alchemy, etc. That's what I'm kinda looking for. Mike didn't go into much detail about where Avadon differs from its predecessors, but I'm hoping he will here. I have enjoyed Jeff's games before.

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March 19th, 2011, 02:27
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Yes, but I generally can enjoy the first new story in one of his series.
The problem is that you seem to have transitioned from 'former fan' to 'hater'. You will play looking for things to crap upon, and while Dhruin and I would be playing enjoying what is new, all you will be seeing is stuff that you see as re-use. If you are analyzing each and every character against your own criteria of whether it is 'hate worthy', then there is no fun to be had.

I didn't go through a litany of everything similar and different, because for most folks knowing the amount of comparison stuff I put in my review is fine. Personally Avadon felt (and feels as I have it on one computer as I write this on my Mac) like a new world to me. I personally found it refreshing and loads of fun.

As for being Oblivion … thank goodness it isn't THAT significantly dumbed down, broken and non-RPG!

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March 19th, 2011, 03:45
If there is one thing that is a major detraction for spiderweb games it is the reuse of tiles/story/quests, at least for me.

If the new game is like his others that would mar the game in my mind at least.

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March 19th, 2011, 06:26
I don't think story and quests are re-used at all, other than recurring major characters in the one world. Seems reasonable to me.

Anyway, crpgnut, here's the best answer I can give without writing all day.

First - yes, it feels like a Spiderweb game, in the sense that Avernum and Geneforge are different but similar.

All new tile sets. Much nicer, cleaner, better textures but the same underlying basic technology.

Much nicer character portraits.

Many individual icons have been re-used (food, braziers, pots, bric brac)

One character, joinable companions that occasionally chat - like a BioWare game in that sense. Quite a big difference, really.

Entirely new mechanics. As with the previous ones, they are relatively simple but have surprising depth. It uses a skill "tree" or web with three branches. Each skill can to eight levels and you get three "specialisations" over the game, which give bonuses to one of the branches. At first it looks a bit simple but there's more to it, because you can take each skill deeper (you unlock extra skills with more skill levels) or you could use the points to go further up the tree with less depth in individual skills. It does start a bit slow - my mage took a while to build up more than a couple of spells.

New classes. Quite like the shadowalker (ninja-ish) and shaman.

Many of the skills are different, though of course, you get some similarities. Some examples…

Challenge (sort of like a Taunt)
Blade Sweep
Triumphant roar
Blade whirlwind
Shadowstep (pretty cool - you daze the enemies with a smoke bomb and leap to a new location)
Searing pot
Flash Powder
Call the Winds
Shadow charm …
And a bunch of standard weapon stuff, of course.

The shadowalker is a cool ninja/assassin but the mage is a bit underwhelming in terms of the number of spells.

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March 19th, 2011, 06:36
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I don't think story and quests are re-used at all, other than recurring major characters in the one world. Seems reasonable to me.

Anyway, crpgnut, here's the best answer I can give without writing all day.

First - yes, it feels like a Spiderweb game, in the sense that Avernum and Geneforge are different but similar.

All new tile sets. Much nicer, cleaner, better textures but the same underlying basic technology.

Much nicer character portraits.

Many individual icons have been re-used (food, braziers, pots, bric brac)

One character, joinable companions that occasionally chat - like a BioWare game in that sense. Quite a big difference, really.

Entirely new mechanics. As with the previous ones, they are relatively simple but have surprising depth. It uses a skill "tree" or web with three branches. Each skill can to eight levels and you get three "specialisations" over the game, which give bonuses to one of the branches. At first it looks a bit simple but there's more to it, because you can take each skill deeper (you unlock extra skills with more skill levels) or you could use the points to go further up the tree with less depth in individual skills. It does start a bit slow - my mage took a while to build up more than a couple of spells.

New classes. Quite like the shadowalker (ninja-ish) and shaman.

Many of the skills are different, though of course, you get some similarities. Some examples…

Challenge (sort of like a Taunt)
Blade Sweep
Triumphant roar
Blade whirlwind
Shadowstep (pretty cool - you daze the enemies with a smoke bomb and leap to a new location)
Searing pot
Flash Powder
Call the Winds
Shadow charm …
And a bunch of standard weapon stuff, of course.

The shadowalker is a cool ninja/assassin but the mage is a bit underwhelming in terms of the number of spells.
Well that does sound interesting, tell him to hurry with the PC port Speaking of which, isn't it relatively easy nowadays to compile for two different machines?

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March 19th, 2011, 07:50
The port was working over a week ago, so it doesn't take long but he checks it carefully. Jeff takes his time beta testing to make sure there are no crashes, graphical issues, performance problems, balancing, critical path definitely works etc.

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March 19th, 2011, 14:53
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
The port was working over a week ago, so it doesn't take long but he checks it carefully. Jeff takes his time beta testing to make sure there are no crashes, graphical issues, performance problems, balancing, critical path definitely works etc.
Agreed - by the end of the Mac beta there seemed to be very few issues, but a few remained. And any platform change requires tweaks and testing and brings to light issues not seen before.

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March 19th, 2011, 17:45
Did I read "well"? A diagonal reading made me suspect another debate about RPG streamlining and now it's about Avadon streamlining? Lol, if you are that unhappy of anything, do it yourself, particularly for an indie game I couldn't say better.
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March 19th, 2011, 18:27
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Did I read "well"? A diagonal reading made me suspect another debate about RPG streamlining and now it's about Avadon streamlining? Lol, if you are that unhappy of anything, do it yourself, particularly for an indie game I couldn't say better.
Um….what? I wasn't saying that at all…

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March 19th, 2011, 22:43
Not you some posts, well I suppose those days I'm seeing "streamlined" in every posts.

I played a little bit of the demo until I lost in a fight (was trying hard level). It's a little strange that now adventuring is real time, combat switch to turn based. But well I suppose this won't change much. The overall presentation and interface remind a lot Avernum 6, not that I'm surprised. It seems there's perhaps true classes now with sub classes you choose two time. I prefer that than pure skill based like before. But I didn't get the chance yet to see much so felt more to be in some Avernum from the first fights and exploration.

The big change for me is now it's based on one character plus up to 4 companions you bring when you leave to explore. From the few I played the companion I bring in exploration had few talks before and during exploration, plus participate to some dialogs during the exploration. It's not an avalanche of companion living but it's still significant and enough to start give more depth to personality of this companion.

I doubt I would have skip this game even without this companions feature, but it's so rare that now I can't skip it at all. I also notice there's codex now, lol, so all whinners complaining DA2 isn't enough hardcore for them have Avadon for a substitute, companions, codex, tactical fights, everything here.
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