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Default Inquisitor - Review @ Gamasutra

September 18th, 2012, 06:47
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
I may get burned as a heretic here myself (joke intended), but I do agree. This is something I have been fighting with a bit myself on the game design front (I have Inquisitor, but didn't start playing it yet… how weird is that?)

The thing is… making an "old-school" style game *right* is HARD. It's a heck of lot easier to slap some modern-era lead-you-by-the-nose contrivances onto the game than to put all the context-dependent clues into the game to help the player find his own way through the game. It's a lot easier to put in a modern, paint-by-numbers, rigid quest system in place than to make the quest system flexible enough to allow for the player to do it his own way. The classics we draw inspiration from often did this by making the quests very *simple* - and whatever flexibility there was came from that simplicity. A lot of the old Ultimas, for example, didn't really care how you came about a particular quest item - whether you talked to all the right people or not - only that you had it in your possession and used it at the appropriate time.

If you do it wrong, it becomes a case of "Guess what the designer was thinking?", the intellectual equivalent of the "hunt the pixel" puzzles that plagued (and still plague) many mediocre graphic adventure games. The player's only interface into the world - the only way to find clues - is what you, the game-creator, give him. You have to provide all the clues, all the dialog, all the suggestions, all the journal texts. Man, it'd be easier just to throw a "Go here!" cursor on the screen, wouldn't it?

The problem really is really finding the appropriate mix of modern design and old-school sensibilities. You can't just appeal to the gods of old school and be done with it. From what little I've read from these old-school designers, they really did agonize over these same kinds of problems back in the day, too. The wall of stats during character creation? It worked okay when you only had six attributes, plus armor class and hit points, and all your players were pen-and-paper D&D'ers. It became more challenging as the art advanced and the audience expanded.

I'm with the majority (I think) of RPGWatch readers who love old-school RPGs, and who are frustrated by some of the directions modern games are going. But it's not like old-school style was any sort of uniform design, or that any of the games back then were perfect. I don't think games should strive to slavishly ape old approaches. Instead, I prefer to use them as jumping-off points… to reexamine those approaches from a modern perspective, keep what's cool about 'em, and build up from there.

Since I've not played Inquisitor, I'm not going to claim they did it wrong. But I will reiterate that the old-school approach is NOT the easy road. That's undoubtedly one of the reasons it was so long in the making.
I'm not even sure going "old school" is necessarily more difficult. Rather the problem is that Inquisitor's developers basically assumed that adhering to a certain set of mechanics and systems was in and of itself a virtue, rather than understanding why those made for fun games in the first place.

As I said, "100 hours of gameplay, 100 km of dungeons, 100,000 lines of dialogue" means nothing if the quality isn't there, and Inquisitor is, realistically, about 90% filler. There's an inherent assumption that quantity trumps quality, which while a virtue for some games (i.e. Daggerfall), it's a very careful ratio to meet and Inquisitor does not get it right at all.

I'm not even convinced Inquisitor's protracted development time speaks to the difficulty they had in creating the game, at least due to its "old school" sensibilities. Rather I'd say it's due to the sheer amount of content on display, most of which is not of especially high quality and is largely unnecessary. All the while, basic things like user interface (keybinds? what are those?), game balance, quest design, etc. fell by the wayside.

I realize that some players are starved for these sorts of titles and I certainly enjoy parts of Inquisitor. But beyond the pre-rendered graphics and rather nice music, you ultimately have a pretty mediocre game. If it had come out 12 years ago, I don't think anyone would have been singing its praises - we'd all be talking about how Baldur's Gate 2 was way better.
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September 18th, 2012, 08:09
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
I guess one of the problems with defining "old school" is that there are almost no old-school games (with more primitive interfaces) that meet your criteria. …"
Wizardry 7 & 8, Realms of Arkania: Star Trail, Albion, Daggerfall, Ultima Underworld 1 & 2, Gothic 2 - Night of the Raven, Dungeon Master 2, Ultima 7 meet most of my criterias very well.

Take a look at the CRPG-Meter-System:

Skyrim

Witcher 1

Gothic 3

Drakensang

Geneforge 4

it is possible to measure crpg-elements.

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September 18th, 2012, 09:39
But is it possible to measure, with such a strict mathematical approach, the extend at which these elements work well together, by supporting each other, to create one solid, consistent quality item?

Because I'm afraid of falling into the trap of saying:
strawberry jam = good
pepperoni = good
therefore
strawberry jam + pepperoni = good x 2

which is I believe, more or less, the issue here.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
(LaMonte Young, 1962)
Last edited by holeraw; September 18th, 2012 at 12:12.
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September 18th, 2012, 10:58
forget the math - explain your feelings.

This blog/review constantly moans about "lack of direction" - how do you *feel* about that?

(a) - if the game holds the gamers hand is that "direction" ?

(b) - If the game leaves gamers to there own devices - is that "lack of direction" ?

(c) - Do contemporary, casual, coffee break gamers want it all done for them?

(d) - Can old-school, experienced gamers manage easily without any direction ?


Inquisitor leans toward the hard side - some casuals will moan and groan.
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September 18th, 2012, 11:19
(e) - Does this particular game benefit as a whole (ie does it provide a 'better' experience) by offering "direction" to the player?

(If the answer is 'no game can possibly benefit from such a feature' then your view is entirely 'mathematical'.)

It says nothing about the quality of the game if you just list its features and judge each one separately and out of context. I haven't played the game but the issue, from what I understand, is that it seems its design consists (to some extend at least) of a series of features that the 'hardcore' crowd tends to be fond of but without giving enough consideration to the fact that the way they work together might hurt the overall experience.



EDIT.
By the way, I realize that people like being allowed to figure out things for themselves, and so do I, but the game "not being good at telling the player what to do" is in no way the same as "being good at letting the players figure things out for themselves". I don't see how not doing one thing well justifies the assumption that it does do the opposite well.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
(LaMonte Young, 1962)
Last edited by holeraw; September 18th, 2012 at 12:41.
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September 18th, 2012, 12:35
In my experience:

The more crpg ingridients are included in a game the better is the chance of a good crpg-game.
It doesn't make the game automatically a good game, but at least the chance is there.

A game that features only a few crpg ingridients is less likely a good crpg-game.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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September 18th, 2012, 13:12
Well, I suppose it's fair to assume that a developer knowing well what the 'right ingredients' are is an indication that he knows what he's doing, which is in turn an indication that his game will be good.

But by abstracting it as much as that is like saying that throwing chocolate, butter, eggs and sugar in a bowl and baking it has a good chance of resulting in a good chocolate soufflé.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
(LaMonte Young, 1962)
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September 18th, 2012, 16:26
So the real question is the game good or not? I played a bit and thought the graphics were quite dated but didn't play enough to get into it that much. Any thoughts? I don't want to hear it's good because it's hard, because that hardly makes a good game.

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September 18th, 2012, 17:17
I'm in the first town and surroundings, playing a Paladin on medium difficulty.

This game is similar to Divine Devinity 1. My character is going very well.

Many background dialogs.

Beginners advise: Take the dog with you!

As long you have enough potions with you, this game neither very hard nor a casual game. But I'm just at the beginning…

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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September 18th, 2012, 17:47
By seeing and reading about this game, it reminds me of Divine Divinity, which is also confirmed by many players. In my particular case, that is NOT a good thing. Even though I enjoyed the humour and questing in DD, I absolutely hated the endless hack 'n slash combat.

Reading Eric's blog, it seems that my fears regarding combat, fillers, and potion spamming are confirmed. I hate it when there is quantity for the sake of quantity.

Eric (sea) said:
"100 hours of gameplay, 100 km of dungeons, 100,000 lines of dialogue" means nothing if the quality isn't there, and Inquisitor is, realistically, about 90% filler.

I like the idea of the "investigation" and "morality" in Inquisitor but if the above statement is true, then I will just skip it. What I find worrisome is the fact that some people criticise Eric's statements regarding the lack of direction yet no one seems to counter his arguments regarding the repetitive filler and combat issues thus indirectly confirming them.

Nevertheless, I am interested in reading the upcoming blog entry about the positive things of Inquisitor.
Last edited by Asdraguuhl; September 18th, 2012 at 17:58.
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September 20th, 2012, 17:59
Okay, Inquisitor is not the most user friendly game around. When you take into account that they started writing it in 1999, some of the choices make more sense. There is a lot of dialogue that you'll need to click through. The game has a good journal, so you don't need to actually read everything, but paying attention helps. If you don't read, just make sure to visit all townspeople with names, several times. Each will know bits and pieces of stuff to help with investigations. Remember even the peons have motivations behind what they tell you.

If you are a priest-you want to focus on keeping mana potions, lots of them. The wisdom skill and high Intelligence will help. Most weapons and armor are useless to priests so sell that stuff. I'd suggest keeping at least one page of inventory just for potion use. 50% mana/25% of the other two, mostly for your companions.

Paladins can use almost all the armor and weapons and won't need mana much at all, go with healing and stamina. Stamina is used very quickly so make sure you have high points in constitution/strength. You can ignore dex as a pally, for the most part.

Thieves have to decide whether they prefer melee or ranged, but dex seems to be the better choice. Ranged will keep you alive longer. I haven't played long enough here to form a deep opinion.

Make sure to visit everywhere. Speed is vital for anyone because it allows you to escape melee and it grants faster crossing of maps. The run speed is horrendously slow in this game but speed helps a little.

Make sure to focus on a few skills rather than trying to master all. Pick a build type and stick to it. If you have 3 points in everything at level 15, you'll get creamed, even on easy. The first main quest will not be solved, in the correct way, until you're level 15-20. There are several smaller quests that will take you to all of the maps surrounding Hillbrandt.

'nut
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September 20th, 2012, 18:10
That's exactly what I'm talking about. The "150 hours of gameplay, 100 km of dungeon levels" etc. is all marketing. It's old-school made to appeal to old-school fans but conveniently leaves out the fact that much of the game is full of repetitive filler, atrociously balanced combat that is hard in all the wrong ways, etc. Don't let "omg its like a game from 1999" blind you to the fact that it's also not nearly up to par with many games from that time period. Or I guess you guys are ready to accept Lionheart as a flawless gem as well?

I hope that this clarifies things a little bit for you.
Your opinion is certainly clearer. Also, I don't think it's wise to lump us all together because we respond similarly to a bit of quoted text.

Unfortunately, everything is out of context on the net - and it's very hard for any individual to exhaustively research everything before he or she responds to it.

The lesson could be that we should all just shut our mouths until we know everything there is to know. The Internet would certainly be a very, very quiet place.

Still, I'm glad you pointed this out - and though I wasn't in any hurry to pick up the game - I just might hold off if what you say is true. I detest filler combat - unless it's exceedingly entertaining and the character development system is strong enough to support the combat as an added incentive.
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September 20th, 2012, 18:57
I really wanted to like this game, but the sheer volume of awful combat proved too much. It is truly terrible stuff. Divine Divinity's combat was a pleasure by comparison.

I persevered to the last floor of the Iron Mines before realizing that there were better things to do with my time…the fact that I put up with it as long as I did made me realize how starved I was for an isometric RPG.
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September 20th, 2012, 20:21
Mage suggestions:

I'm a level 18-20 mage in Inquisitor and so I'll give some tips on what seems to work for me:

1. Mana potions for the win! If you take alchemy, you can make better potions, but remember skill points are limited and you want several levels in your spell school(s) of choice.

2. Intelligence powers the mage, but Wisdom makes him powerful. The Wisdom school is vital if you want to sling spells. It increases the efficiency of all spell schools and lowers the mana cost of spells.

3. Don't be Jack-Focus! Choose a primary attack school and keep it at double the level or higher of support schools. For instance, the inquisitor school has the light spell, which is almost vital in dungeons, but other schools might be more well-rounded. Take inquisitor to level 6, and keep the better school at 12 for more options.

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September 20th, 2012, 20:23
I'm still having fun at the moment, but I can see that this game may get old before it gets fun. Since I still play some very old games, this isn't bothering me much. Are there better games out there? You betcha!

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September 20th, 2012, 20:28
I like Inquisitor, too. Combat could be more tactical, but story, character building, dungeons are very good (I'm level 21 and at the end of the iron mines).


PS:
For tactical turn based combat I recommend:
Telepath RPG - Servants of God - best hardcore combat since Incubation.

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September 20th, 2012, 22:10
Not sure if this is widely known, but you can pause the game by pressing the pause/break key, and you can issue orders while paused.

I really need to get back to playing Inquisitor, but FTL and Black Mesa have been sucking up all my free time.
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September 24th, 2012, 16:52
@HiddenX—-Spoilerish for anyone else….





Okay, I just finished the mines too. I dumped Linda off with her husband, but if I talk to the judge he tells me I can prosecute her. I was waiting for motive in her slaying of the guy in the Inn. Have you learned anymore about that? I also have two pieces of a dagger and eyewitness testimony against the Curial judge, but no option to accuse him. I have taken his test to become a prosecutor instead of just an investigator, but I don't have an option to arrest him. I retrieved the item that he requested as proof of my abilities. I'm also curious if prosecuting Linda ends the quest about the paladin. I also rescued the cleric and did the autopsy.

It seems the next logical step is to send Linda to jail. I've been cleaning up a few smaller dungeons that I had skipped before the mines. I'm level 22 and still having fun. The combat is quite easy on easy, so if I ever play again I'll go up a level of difficulty. I don't really use weapons, though I have melee and ranged at Disciple level. I just use the Miracles school spells. The pet and the paladin are good for soaking damage while I kill the baddies. Then I resurrect them after most battles

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September 24th, 2012, 16:59
My favorite spell so far is Locust Swam in the Miracles school. The spell has amazing range and you don't have to see your target to hit it. If you press alt to show items/monsters any creature highlighted is targetable, even if its around a corner. Great spell. I can one shot orcs, orc workers, and trolls. Orc Warriors almost fall to one shot, but generally take two. Ogres and some of the tougher creatures like Stone Trolls take several shots, so make sure you're faster than they are Keep wisdom high so you have a high percentage of hitting. I try to stay at 75%+. Some spell casters will be lower due to resistance.

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September 24th, 2012, 17:24
@crpgnut—-Spoilerish for anyone else….






It seems the next logical step is to send Linda to jail -> do this - see what happens - meet her again …

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