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Default Avadon - Responding to Critics

May 6th, 2011, 00:33
Jeff Vogel has posted a new blog entrty, partially titled Responding to Critics. As is ften the case, Jeff's stye and approach won't please everyone but here's a snip:
"Anyway, party members not dying but being just unconscious and resurrected after combat ends. DECLINE"
When you're designing an RPG, there are lots of toggles you have to flip. Will people recover from their wounds over time or do they have to go back to town? Will the party jump between towns/dungeons or will the whole outdoors be explorable? Will items be automatically identified? Do you have to keep track of ammo for your bows? Each answer to these questions has its good as bad points. There are no right or wrong answers. You just pick what works best for the design.
There are people who will, for religious issues, say they will never ever buy your game if you make one of these choices or the other. Ignore them and do what is best for what you're trying to do.
Oh, and there are some people who will respond to things about your work by posting an angry smily or some other image meme. Ignore these people. If they had anything valuable to say, they would use words, like people, instead of jpgs.
"I do loathe the worldmap. A single large continent shaped like a rough circle does not an interesting map make. Dunno why it bothers me the way it does but it does. "
Oh. Come. On.
More information.

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May 6th, 2011, 00:33
RPG Codex is an interesting place. It is inhabited by people who like role-playing games, but love hating them.
I couldn't agree more. Every once in while I find myself really wanting to be more involved with RpgCodex, but the hate there is actually worse than what you see on TES forums. I didn't even think that was possible.

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May 6th, 2011, 00:40
I knew this was a problem post. Let's focus on Jeff rather than the Codex, please.

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May 6th, 2011, 00:46
Mmm let see, a blog that focus on codex posts and it's irrelevant to comment about codex. Lol, thanks for you it's not RPG Codex here you'd get lynched.

Because that's the only point of this blog entry, on start Jeff is wrong to read anything at codex forum. And it's more than wrong to even jump into this forum and attempt answer. Lol, that forum is entirely wrong, because on start it has a wrong mood and it's not new.
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May 6th, 2011, 00:52
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I knew this was a problem post. Let's focus on Jeff rather than the Codex, please.
The whole blog entry was about what people are saying at RpgCodex, so I didn't think it was off topic to post what I posted, but ok.

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May 6th, 2011, 00:57
He really did nail the Codex in a single sentence.

Anyway, on topic… interesting stuff. I have often wondered exactly how developers (or any creator really) takes the kind of rabidly negative feedback seen on forums. Good to know Jeff keeps himself outside of it for the most part.

I thought the early going was boring in Avadon but I plan to give it a longer go after The Witcher 2 is done. I owe it to him to play for a while and see if it gets more interesting, which judging by his comments on the demo here is a real possibility.
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May 6th, 2011, 01:03
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
The whole blog entry was about what people are saying at RpgCodex, so I didn't think it was off topic to post what I posted, but ok.
It's not off-topic but we've been here before and I'm tired of it. I think the blog entry is interesting in terms of responding to some criticism, hence I posted it, but I'd rather discuss that aspect than have another tiresome forum war as we descend into a "Codex sucks" thread and then they come over to defend it and on and on.

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May 6th, 2011, 01:08
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
Anyway, on topic… interesting stuff. I have often wondered exactly how developers (or any creator really) takes the kind of rabidly negative feedback seen on forums. Good to know Jeff keeps himself outside of it for the most part.
He has a lot of experience with it. I can speak from personal experience that most developers I know, especially on their first or second project, are going to be either

a) defensive
b) dismissive
c) angry

Or, sometimes, d) embarrassed, when they know perfectly well what the poster is complaining about and saw the problem themselves when writing it.

If you ever felt irritated when someone came and fired absurd insults at your favorite game, think about what it would be like if you had *written* it.

Edit: I didn't mean to say he has experience because he writes scorn-worthy games, I just meant he's been writing games for a long time.
Last edited by moonmonster; May 6th, 2011 at 01:08. Reason: clarity
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May 6th, 2011, 01:36
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
It's not off-topic but we've been here before and I'm tired of it. I think the blog entry is interesting in terms of responding to some criticism, hence I posted it, but I'd rather discuss that aspect than have another tiresome forum war as we descend into a "Codex sucks" thread and then they come over to defend it and on and on.
Lol that sounds like a tired mod. I think Jeff isn't right about the tutorial thing. But the point that catch my attention because it's something i feel in the contemporary mood.

There are people who will, for religious issues, say they will never ever buy your game if you make one of these choices or the other.
No need search in another forum to find such stuff, with some care you'll quote ton at the watch. Well I know some users coming here relatively often have been educated at codex, but i doubt it's the point.

Since some time I feel the general ambient mood is about whining, like a sign of time, something is happening, something is evolving.

But I wonder if it couldn't be just a species self defense. Kids and teens has better things to do than video games, but now they are submerged by them, each kid have 3 consoles, 2 computers, and 7 handled, and game release harass their life and development. So the species is developing a self defense against that aggression.

So when someone come bore them with one more game released, they can't ignore it because it's an important social element. But a reflex is triggered and low down their intelligence level, and then they spite some whining point to find any argument to not play one more game. So any point is good, no jump? I'll never buy/play it, unconscious but no death, I'll never buy/play it. Don't search for any reasoning here, it's just species self defense reflex. In a way it's interesting and emotional to observe that, there's emotion to look some species struggle for their survival.
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May 6th, 2011, 02:10
I still haven't finished the demo. So far I like it. But it has some weird quirks, and I found myself running around the hub castle way too much. I thought I had "recruited" certain people but I hadn't. And you can take certain people certain places, but others you can't.

I'm frankly too busy to play this right now. But I welcome some simplification in RPGs. I pick them up and put them down, often with days passing in between. I can't remember every little thing about a game all the time.

I'd say he's moved in the right direction.
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May 6th, 2011, 02:16
Just got back from Vegas and I have several days to kill before TW2. It looks like a great time to download Jeff's demo and see if it looks interesting. I'm not his ideal audience, because I think most of his sequels contain too much overlap in story and characters, art, spells, etc; but a new offering should hopefully repress some of that. Gonna go download it and see.

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May 6th, 2011, 02:39
You just pick what works best for the design.
Or you design what works best for your picks. That's another one of those toggles, though that one is a bit less binary.
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May 6th, 2011, 04:06
I like this guy, he meets the criticism head on. I can't comment on the demo yet, still have that on my plate. I give the developer props for going to read a forum about his game with those kind of people and seeing what they have to say, even if he knew beforehand it was going to be a lot of kiddie rage and drama queens. I think its a wise decision to not focus on the source of the negativity though, [that particular forum] is not worth talking about really at any time.

Any person who makes an indie game that actually enters the marketplace and is playable and halfway decent has my respect, it must be a labor of love to do it in the first place.
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May 6th, 2011, 05:28
I don't like to hear that he is simplifying his games…His games have traditionally been targeted at the more hardcore players that can't find those types of games in AAA titles, so I just don't understand why he would move toward more mainstream streamlining with an indy budget….but then again its his game he can do what he want's and I dont have to buy it.

And a quick comment on the RPGcodex, say what you want about it, and I agree there is alot of criticism and negativity but I find it one of the few places to get real reviews anymore because you sure don't get it from mainstream sites and mags….

I did play the demo a little and found of kind of bland and I though it seemed too easy and didn't like the health regeneration…Haven't decided yet if I am going to buy it though.
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May 6th, 2011, 05:55
The blandness of the demo has been raised here as well, not only at the codex. Maybe he should consider that criticism a little more carefully. Also, I think the Codex has been generally supportive of his games. I am not sure he is doing himself a favor with this post.
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May 6th, 2011, 06:45
Originally Posted by Saxon1974 View Post
…one of the few places to get real reviews anymore because you sure don't get it from mainstream sites and mags…
You think they offer "real" reviews? Interesting.

so I just don't understand why he would move toward more mainstream streamlining with an indy budget
I find the streamlining claims heavy-handed and often mis-directed. I found it pretty challenging at higher difficulty levels, which seems fair to me (Brother None seems to disagree - perhaps I've become a wimp in my older age). Yes, some busy-work has been reduced. No, I don't think that makes it mainstream.

Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Also, I think the Codex has been generally supportive of his games.
I think that's debateable but I certainly agree the demo could be better and I hope he considers that. I know I raised it at the end of the beta phase, and while I'm certainly not one of the inner-core Mac testers, I hope the feedback gets through.

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Last edited by Dhruin; May 6th, 2011 at 06:51. Reason: Edit. Left something out
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May 6th, 2011, 06:58
So having walking animations or a world map that wasn't drawn in five minutes or a demo/game that wasn't more of the same as his last ten games would violate his vision? I agree you should stick to your principles otherwise why not work regular 9 to 5 job, but this seems a lot like excuse making.
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May 6th, 2011, 07:07
You're the map comment guy, are you? Honestly, move on - Spiderweb games just may not be your thing.

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May 6th, 2011, 07:56
My thoughts from rpgcodex (ignore all "most people here" etc directed to others):

I like it so far. It's different to Geneforge and Avernum and after 5 of the former and 6 of the latter I can't blame the guy. I doubt most people here criticising the "dumbing down" and concerning themselves more with his marketing and if he can or can't attract a more mainstream audience or whatever else than the actual game have bought all his previous titles which weren't so. Anyway, my first impression from the demo:

I'm getting the hang of it, I levelled up once and saw how the core stuff works. The game is quickly drawing me in and I can already see the sinister potential the story holds under the introductory fluff I have to go through. It might not look it, but it's been a joy to play after I got over the initial annoyances and disappointment with certain details. I like the glimpses of the setting and characters that I've seen and I don't mind not creating my party for the 100th time, they seem to start at level 1 anyway so I can evolve them as I see fit. If they're well integrated in the story is all that will matter to me and I've seen glimpses that hint this is the case as well. It's too early to say much more than that. So far I'm happy with it. If that will change in the future, if it never grows to be what it has the potential to be, remains to be seen. But if I don't like it by the end it will probably have little to do with the "dumbing down" and be all about how the setting, story, choices and challenge will be handled from now on. You know, the important bits. Here are a few screenshots:
http://i.picpar.com/f83427727b3e75d3…6c4ba46981.png
http://i.picpar.com/8aec28a1c085db7d…25e853ec0d.png
http://i.picpar.com/b0f3fd4471ebe28c…e0b0ee0776.png
http://i.picpar.com/6b983a47a8954fc1…2f7d0f4a8c.png
http://i.picpar.com/5bb399a9db3462b8…ed4a284be8.png
http://i.picpar.com/cdc7db17c7515749…0abedca46c.png
http://i.picpar.com/5b2aa76f0a6d27d4…3a0eddb63a.png
http://i.picpar.com/d55e50f7993db04e…ef3537eebb.png
http://i.picpar.com/f35bf0c8eacca799…5bb77d03b1.png
http://i.picpar.com/fb358595899cc30f…50052e5a3b.png
http://i.picpar.com/746694b899b3463a…bffd617f43.png
http://i.picpar.com/0a4a10c87b73d701…3f175fe1cc.png
http://i.picpar.com/119984302b56a65a…89088bd85b.png
http://i.picpar.com/fa65d15496c66c11…3e9116b5ab.png
http://i.picpar.com/1707fc8b462a1333…de7a4f0cac.png
http://i.picpar.com/484d0e1e87422dc5…16292d12ee.png
http://i.picpar.com/2151d13abc9bbaf5…dcdcedc9f6.png
http://i.picpar.com/97f6e109eec5311b…567510c35e.png
Anyway, he'll probably make another series that will be more in line with the mechanics of his previous titles as well (if not continue themselves), for those who don't like this one. So the guy tried some different things after 17 years, running around screaming betrayalton is a little short sighted. Vote with your money or offer constructive criticism (based on your own experience rather than what you read on teh internets), anything else should be beneath any self respecting CRPGer. In the end you either like it, hate it and wait for something that works for you, or like parts of it and suggest how to improve the rest.
Last edited by Al3xand3r; May 6th, 2011 at 20:32.
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May 6th, 2011, 09:10
When you're designing an RPG, there are lots of toggles you have to flip. Will people recover from their wounds over time or do they have to go back to town? Will the party jump between towns/dungeons or will the whole outdoors be explorable? Will items be automatically identified? Do you have to keep track of ammo for your bows? Each answer to these questions has its good as bad points. There are no right or wrong answers. You just pick what works best for the design.
I think the comments on streamlining and simplification come exactly from that kind of
design choices. The target group of TB party RPGs are kind of partial to things that
enhance the gameplay and create added complexity and depth (and also a sense of
danger and an added challenge that for some are necessary to make a game enjoyable).

As an example why make healing automatic after each battle and remove the character
progression choice of buying a relevant healing skill? Also why completely remove any
sense of urgency and danger, by the same means or by auto-resurrecting companions ?
Is it so strange when people complain about the general lack of difficulty then ?

When making those choices you have to tread a fine line between over streamlining
and breaking immersion and not bothering the user with inane trivialities that do not
enhance the gameplay, I understand that. But there is a point after which you have
gone too far (The character system/skill trees of Avadon for example seem more fitting
on an ARPG i.e. and while I can enjoy different kinds of games for their merits I want
more on that from a TB party based, while I don't expect it from a game like G1 or
TW ).

Note that I am referring mostly to things that were already part of Vogel's game desing
and worked fine. I see no reason why these should be cut instead of adding more depth (guess one of the reasons why I like Avernum 6 more than Avadon).

I make the default difficulty easy enough that 90% of players can get through it. If this doesn't give you a challenge, play on a harder difficulty level. That is why it is there
Even as I have observed the trend of making Normal too easy of late, I absolutely agree there. No problem in making the default level (the one that most users gravitate to) more accessible. As long as there is a properly balanced setting that will satisfy less casual players (Hard works fine for me in Avadon btw).

All in all I find Avadon a good and enjoyable game and I do agree it gets significantly
more engaging after the Demo area (and that was indeed interesting enough to get my
money). In that light I find all the criticism a bit excessive.

I do like Avernum 6 quite a bit more though and would have liked to see Mr Vogel take
a different direction with his new series but in the end that is just my personal taste
speaking here and I am sure many will disagree with me…

P.S Sorry for the long winded post.
Last edited by JonNik; May 6th, 2011 at 09:25.
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