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Default CDPR Defends Difficulty

July 17th, 2011, 18:56
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
The most obvious thing to do would be to allow the player to COMBINE the core effects, and let them affect each other in interesting and unique ways.
Perhaps you have some kind of more advanced combining in mind, but you can combine the effects into one spell and even though a direct interplay may be missing, you can come up with a lot of useful synergies this way and have a spell which is sometimes more than the sum of its parts.
Combine jump 100 with slowfall with 15 secs or so duration to have a fun custom spell for travelling long distances.
Combine weakness to x for 1 sec with x damage on target.
Combine drain willpower 100 for 1 sec with paralysis to paralyze just about everything.
Combine weakness to magicka 100% for 1 sec with drain health 100 to instakill pretty much everything with 200 hp or less.

Also, some spells have more uses than it may initially seem - for example you can use command spells to lure strong opponents underwater and let them drown or to lure vendors out of their shops and loot these afterwards, etc.
Iirc, you can also cast levitate 0 pts on cliffracers to make them crash into
ground . Etc.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I just don't think they're interested in game mechanics that might upset balance
Maybe I misunderstand what you mean, but Morrowind´s spell system allows you to upset balance in spades.
Like, for example, casting drain skill on yourself before taking a training lesson .
Or the custom drain health spell I mentioned above.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Also, credit where it's due: They're FANTASTIC at the "big picture" - in terms of letting you do what you want and roam free.
Which is one of the reasons I rather like Morrowind´s spell system - it goes well hand in hand with exploration.

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Last edited by DeepO; July 17th, 2011 at 19:09.
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July 17th, 2011, 21:01
Originally Posted by DeepO View Post
Perhaps you have some kind of more advanced combining in mind, but you can combine the effects into one spell and even though a direct interplay may be missing, you can come up with a lot of useful synergies this way and have a spell which is sometimes more than the sum of its parts.
Combine jump 100 with slowfall with 15 secs or so duration to have a fun custom spell for travelling long distances.
Combine weakness to x for 1 sec with x damage on target.
Combine drain willpower 100 for 1 sec with paralysis to paralyze just about everything.
Combine weakness to magicka 100% for 1 sec with drain health 100 to instakill pretty much everything with 200 hp or less.
That's just putting spells in sequence. That's not really what I mean. The point is, basically, that the game doesn't give you any reason WHATSOEVER to experiment with spells. The AI is so incredibly straightforward and simple - and the character/NPC mechanics don't need you to do anything "smart" to overcome it. So, basic damage/paralysis spells are more than sufficient.

So while more advanced combinations are possible - they're also completely pointless.

At least, that's been my experience.

Also, some spells have more uses than it may initially seem - for example you can use command spells to lure strong opponents underwater and let them drown or to lure vendors out of their shops and loot these afterwards, etc.
Iirc, you can also cast levitate 0 pts on cliffracers to make them crash into
ground . Etc.
Yeah, I know the drown/weight thing as well. But again, the game doesn't give you any reason to experiment - as Bethesda just provide the tools. They don't actually design the system to inspire players to be careful or think about what they're doing with spells or character builds. They don't seem to even bother with that.

Maybe it's not so much the system I have a problem with - but the lack of reasons to experiment with it.

Even so, it's still a boring result either way, as the effects are so plain and similar. Frost spells look like fire spells only with slightly different colors and so on. To me, it's like a tiny handful of particle effects that just scale.

Hard to explain, really, but it just didn't excite me like a strong magic system would.

About the best magic system I'm aware of is Neverwinter Nights or Baldur's Gate 2. They have a TON of spells that look and behave very differently. They also place you in tactical situations where you can really use them for good effect.

Essentially, they give you a very wide array of well-designed and interesting powers - and they provide the playground to justify the existence of spells beyond the basic ones.

Maybe I misunderstand what you mean, but Morrowind´s spell system allows you to upset balance in spades.
Like, for example, casting drain skill on yourself before taking a training lesson .
Or the custom drain health spell I mentioned above.
Yeah, I wouldn't call any TES even remotely balanced. But I write that down to incompetence more than a wish for imbalance. When I listen to interviews and look how their systems evolve - I see developers streamlining and simplifying mechanics wheerever they can, so as to not give themselves too much work finetuning mechanics and intricate systems.

I guess what I really mean is that they want to give you a playground where you're not hampered by consequence of your choices - and they don't really want you to invest in your build. Well, maybe they'd like it - but they're much more concerned with giving everyone a fair chance to succeed no matter what they do. Just like their character system will accomodate any approach.

I'm not saying that's "wrong" - I'm just saying I don't like that kind of consequence-free environment. I guess the best comparison is playing "cops and robbers" as a child. That was fun because there were no consequences and rules would bend or not get in the way.

I prefer the opposite today, where I'm challenged and I'm asked to make choices which will weigh a LOT throughout the game. That's how games make sense to me. I don't enjoy sandboxes without purpose or without challenge.

Which is one of the reasons I rather like Morrowind´s spell system - it goes well hand in hand with exploration.
I know many people like it - and that's great.

Personally, I think the entire game is pretty bland - and it makes your choices completely null and void - because you can defeat every single enemy in the game through very simple approaches. The TES skill system is so painfully stale and straightforward - that you have zero reason to experiment or think about building your character or your spells.

I know, you can do it "for fun" - just to see how things happen with different approaches - but I personally need more than that. I need to be challenged, before I'm inspired to experiment.
Last edited by DArtagnan; July 17th, 2011 at 21:21.
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July 17th, 2011, 21:41
With all that said, I'm kinda tempted to go back and play a mage in Morrowind - just to see if I missed out on something.

You make a strong case, DeepO - and it's just possible I've been too harsh with the spellmaking system.

I should give it one more fair shake - seeing as how many people are raving about the game being the best TES by far. Maybe my mistake was always to play a physical combat dude…..
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July 18th, 2011, 08:10
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I should give it one more fair shake - seeing as how many people are raving about the game being the best TES by far. Maybe my mistake was always to play a physical combat dude…..
I don't think Morrowind is the best TES "by far", but I think it's probably the most well rounded game of the series overall. I still contend that Daggerfall could/should have been the best, had it been properly finished.
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July 18th, 2011, 09:48
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I don't think Morrowind is the best TES "by far", but I think it's probably the most well rounded game of the series overall. I still contend that Daggerfall could/should have been the best, had it been properly finished.
Daggerfall was certainly the most ambitious - but I think the "properly finished" part would be utopian, at least in terms of what I would demand of it. Half the features were only just barely implemented in the most simplistic way imaginable. Like the "ship" feature.

I think Morrowind/Oblivion did the right thing when they scaled down the scope and added detail. Now they just need to find the right balance - and more importantly, they need to make a satisfying set of mechanics and hire a decent couple of writers.

But Daggerfall holds a special place in my heart. I think it has more to do with my age and investment in the genre when it was released than how good it actually was.

I'm too jaded these days to get that excited
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July 18th, 2011, 15:53
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
With all that said, I'm kinda tempted to go back and play a mage in Morrowind - just to see if I missed out on something.

You make a strong case, DeepO - and it's just possible I've been too harsh with the spellmaking system.
Well, my case was more concerning the spell system itself (as in, imo solid variety, amount of non-combat spells, potential to experiment with), but when some of the other game´s characteristics are taken into account it isn´t indeed so hot, so it´s not like I necessarily disagree with some of your points.

AI doesn´t take good advantage of spells and sometimes can´t counter properly so there are all kinds of asymmetries (exploitable levitation, for example) and some enemies´ counter spell measures are more of a simple "brute force" variety (100% reflection) instead of good arsenal of counter spells.
Also, even more importantly, character development system pretty much encourages players to develop hybrids and when you have a hybrid it´s usually easier to just employ the good ole skull smashing approach.
Basically, if you want the game to encourage you to experiment and take good advantage of its magic system, you need to create a mage heavy character and really stick with it, which however in the context of the game means you´re not really taking a good advantage of its character development system .

I do think Morrowind´s spell system is really well contexted with its exploration aspect (and sometimes even allows for some interesting level designs, thanks to levitation for example) though.

Some of these "contexting" issues can be mitigated with mods, personally I like Wakim's Game Improvements - Modular which leaves the fundamentals of the system intact, but brings better balance of effects, improves enemy spellcasters a bit or makes attribute/skill requirements for joining and especially for advancement in the guilds harsher (minor C&C here!).

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July 18th, 2011, 18:06
If only there was an easy way to get all the best visual/gameplay mods installed
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July 19th, 2011, 22:33
Yeah, though quite recently made Graphic & Sounds Overhaul is a very well put together package imo (judging by its modlist, I haven´t tried it) and it seems like it´s rather fast to install as well.

Few recs for a relatively fast setup (put into spoilers to not clutter the poor Witcher 2 subforum even more ):
Spoiler

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Last edited by DeepO; July 19th, 2011 at 23:06.
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July 19th, 2011, 22:47
Dart - You've missed a large part of the fun I had with Morrowind if you don't experiment with the spellmaking and the casting system. Chaining spells is another aspect that makes the gameplay more interesting. Magic weakness compounded with a damage type weakness and then a damage spell. It can be tricky to pull that triplet off, and not get killed in the process. Also, by far, for me, the most fun is the illusion school. Command spells can be used to set up a hilarious "situation" between enemies. This is sometimes even more fun to do in Oblivion (because of the enemy AI).
Last edited by Thrasher; July 20th, 2011 at 02:06.
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July 19th, 2011, 23:08
Originally Posted by DeepO View Post
Yeah, though quite recently made Graphic & Sounds Overhaul is a very well put together package imo (judging by its modlist, I haven´t tried it) and it seems like it´s rather fast to install as well.
Looks nice, but imo it makes the same mistake as so many other visual mods for Morrowind - it adds too much green. Morrowind is not a lush island in regards to foliage.


*Edit* After seeing some footage on Youtube, I must admit that mod is pretty damn impressive. The water in particular looks amazing. A little less foliage and it would have been perfect imo.
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July 19th, 2011, 23:59
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Looks nice, but imo it makes the same mistake as so many other visual mods for Morrowind - it adds too much green. Morrowind is not a lush island in regards to foliage.
I agree to an extent, but the green is only extensively added to Ascadian Isles, Bitter Coast and to a lesser degree to Grazelands (less trees and more brown) and West Gash (more brown, yellow and red) which are regions where I find it quite fitting. Also, judging by the screenshots, the compilation has some customization options where it should be possible to mitigate some of this.

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July 20th, 2011, 00:48
BTW, why isn't there an Elder Scrolls forum(s) here? I imagine we will need one when Skyrim makes its appearance.
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July 20th, 2011, 09:50
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Dart - You've missed a large part of the fun I had with Morrowind if you don't experiment with the spellmaking and the casting system. Chaining spells is another aspect that makes the gameplay more interesting. Magic weakness compounded with a damage type weakness and then a damage spell. It can be tricky to pull that triplet off, and not get killed in the process. Also, by far, for me, the most fun is the illusion school. Command spells can be used to set up a hilarious "situation" between enemies. This is sometimes even more fun to do in Oblivion (because of the enemy AI).
Yeah, I can see that.

But my point was that there's no in-game REASON to do it. I'm not a sandbox fan if the sandbox doesn't challenge me. I don't want a set of toys to play around with, unless I NEED those toys.

If the combat/AI challenges me - THEN I'm inspired to find clever or interesting solutions.

As an adult, I've never been much of a "toy-guy" and I'm obscenely goal-oriented when I play games. If there's no tangible logical point - then I just won't bother.

For that same reason, I've never enjoyed games like The Sims, Spore, Ceasar, SimCity, and so on. I just don't see the point - and I was fulfilled by playing the very first SimCity. I don't really need more of that kind of thing.

I've played fun "experimental" games years past - and I just lost the taste for it pretty quickly.

There's something awfully hollow about creating my own fun within a game. I'm not sure I can explain it better.
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July 20th, 2011, 09:57
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
But my point was that there's no in-game REASON to do it. I'm not a sandbox fan if the sandbox doesn't challenge me. I don't want a set of toys to play around with, unless I NEED those toys.

*snip*

There's something awfully hollow about creating my own fun within a game. I'm not sure I can explain it better.

I understand what you're saying, but how was Oblivion any different in that regard?

On a side note: You should really give Portal 2 a try.
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July 20th, 2011, 10:02
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I understand what you're saying, but how was Oblivion any different in that regard?

On a side note: You should really give Portal 2 a try.
Oblivion wasn't different in that regard

I'm talking about the magic system and how the experimental aspect didn't do much for me. I've barely touched the magic system in Oblivion - apart from a few illusion spells to compliment my rogue builds. I doubt it's better at all in terms of experimentation. In fact, I have the feeling it's worse - as it's overall a much more streamlined game.

I've seen enough of Portal 2 to know it's not for me. Quite frankly, I'm 100% puzzled (no pun intented) as to what the appeal is. I mean, ok it's "fun-ish" but that's IT.
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July 20th, 2011, 10:18
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I've seen enough of Portal 2 to know it's not for me. Quite frankly, I'm 100% puzzled (no pun intented) as to what the appeal is. I mean, ok it's "fun-ish" but that's IT.
Your mention of needing a use for toys in a sandbox made me think of it. Portal 2 is sort of like a bunch of mini-sandboxes where you need to figure out how and why to use your toys. I was just as skeptical until I got further into it.

Of course the overall concept is still simplistic, regardless of how cerebral the individual areas become, and I can understand why some people wouldn't bother with it.
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July 20th, 2011, 10:34
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Your mention of needing a use for toys in a sandbox made me think of it. Portal 2 is sort of like a bunch of mini-sandboxes where you need to figure out how and why to use your toys. I was just as skeptical until I got further into it.

Of course the overall concept is still simplistic, regardless of how cerebral the individual areas become, and I can understand why some people wouldn't bother with it.
I actually don't enjoy pure puzzle games at all

I like puzzles in games as a distraction and a mental challenge - but I get bored REALLY quickly with puzzle-driven games if there's no point BEYOND solving puzzles.

Portal 2 doesn't seem to have anything else for someone like myself. I find the humor slightly amusing, if incredibly predictable. I mean the "style" of humor is somewhat unique - but I "got it" during the first game. I don't think the style alone can excuse the lack of content.

The first Portal was novel - and I enjoyed the 4 hours or so it took me to get through it. But I was fully "done with it" afterwards.

I tried ~3 hours of Portal 2 - and I just can't enjoy it. There's literally NOTHING there for me. I suppose it might improve the further you go - but there's just no way I'm going to spend hours on such a small game to get to the good part.
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July 20th, 2011, 18:29
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
But my point was that there's no in-game REASON to do it. I'm not a sandbox fan if the sandbox doesn't challenge me. I don't want a set of toys to play around with, unless I NEED those toys.

If the combat/AI challenges me - THEN I'm inspired to find clever or interesting solutions.
Well that's not true. In Morrowind you need to kill enemies to progress the quests. Both of the "experiments" above help you achieve that goal, AND in new and more interesting ways than just wacking them with a big stick. I find it more fun to build characters with different sets of abilities that can solve challenges differently. If you'd just prefer to stick with a more straightforward approach, then I can understand that.
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July 20th, 2011, 18:56
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Yeah, I can see that.

But my point was that there's no in-game REASON to do it.
There is, if you play a mage.

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July 20th, 2011, 19:42
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Well that's not true. In Morrowind you need to kill enemies to progress the quests. Both of the "experiments" above help you achieve that goal, AND in new and more interesting ways than just wacking them with a big stick. I find it more fun to build characters with different sets of abilities that can solve challenges differently. If you'd just prefer to stick with a more straightforward approach, then I can understand that.
There's no need to experiment when I can just use the straight-forward approach

So, for me to experiment, the experiments must be NECESSARY or - at least - VERY helpful to overcome challenges.

Now, I haven't played Morrowind in ages - but I clearly remember most enemies being completely straightforward to kill. Basically, you just fire the same spell indefinitely - no need for fancy stuff. If they were immune or whatever, switch spell.

That's about it.
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