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March 25th, 2020, 09:28
The Gelatinous Cube is a great example of modern mythology. For most players it will be something unique and unexpected and a great addition to games like this. Weirdly enough though, quite a number of games used them around this time, so players of that era were no more surprised by them than they were by orcs.

Slimes are another great example of unique monsters from that era that were everywhere back then but aren't generally seen. Also referred to as oozes and other similar names.
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March 25th, 2020, 10:26
I've played almost every modern D&D crpg, not including MMOs, and I can't think of any games that had a Gelatinous Cube other than ToEE and NWN.
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March 25th, 2020, 10:33
DDO has at least one. Also, there are oozes of several kinds, even one kind that is called "Black Pudding".
In DDO those oozes can destroy weapons and equipment. And so-called "ooze bane" weapons are sought after. For examp▀le one called "Muck's Doom". https://ddowiki.com/page/Item:Muck%27s_Doom
And, oozes can split if beaten with a sword or dagger !
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March 25th, 2020, 10:52
I remember playing D&D Dragonshard and I think it had a gelatinous cube in it. It's an RTS, though.
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March 25th, 2020, 10:54
I think JDR is mostly right but underestimates the ubiquity of NWN around that time as NWN included all the persistent worlds, mods and even the MMO Neverwinter.

Although other games had had them before and after, it is after all an official D&D monster manual creature, and other games will have mimicked it, it is undeniable that NWN made it a household name. Vogel's Avernum games are rife with Oozes as well, though I don't think he used specifically the Cube monster.

The new Disney movie Onward that came out this year even has a Gelatinous Cube and you can now buy Gelatinous Cube toys:



Which exemplifies how the marketing pros at Disney recognise this monster as archetypal for that era with regards to their appeal to the 'parents with young children' nostalgia market - 2000 = 13 year old, 2020 = 33 year old with 6/7 year old kids. [and age variants therein]

Beholders are in the same bucket, though they really were more ubiquitous in terms of number of games and are also in the Onward movie (both with the permission of Wizards of the Coast).
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March 26th, 2020, 15:17
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I've played almost every modern D&D crpg, not including MMOs, and I can't think of any games that had a Gelatinous Cube other than ToEE and NWN.
In addition, there seems to be an occurence in Ultima 1.
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March 26th, 2020, 19:00
Everything was a cube in Ultima 1
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March 30th, 2020, 12:04
Weekend No.4 turned out to be just the 12 hours again. And in terms of progression, not much was achieved. That final 3rd dungeon map was quite gruelling, though not too difficult, it just required quite a few trips back to my house in Nulb to rest, level up, sort inventory, being directed to a new mini-map back in the overland world, and generally faff around.

Upon completing this last main dungeon I found myself at a bit of a loss as to where to go next. Looking back, I had failed to explore all of my staircase options. I had explored so many staircases and moving around these dungeons once cleared was so boring and slow that I just couldn't bare the thought of re-examining every single staircase I'd opened up. I had two progression options open to me, according to my memory, and so I just followed those.

One was talking to an NPC which my memory from 10 years ago told me was probably the end boss, so I ignored her for the minute and went into the only remaining, to my mind, staircase - which put me up against another end-boss-like battle.

After a few tries of failing in this long-drawn-out battle marathon with nowhere to rest and recuperate, I thought I'd go back to Nulb and re-assign my spell slots. Before doing this, however, I though, fuck it, lets see what that NPC does while I'm here. And, yup, it did indeed turn out to be the end-boss.



So at just 50 hours, many hours of which were not efficiently used and were used in a pedantically slow completionist way, I had, once again, stumbled upon the end of the game sort-of right in the middle of the game. Only this time I beat Zuggtmoy quite convincingly. I saw the end-slides and the game returned me to the main menu.

Game over? Nope. I could swear I had memory of many dungeons I had not as yet visited while those I had visited I had no memory of. So I googled Gamebanshee's walkthough page and saw that marathon battle I had just run from is just the 4th Dungeon to which there are a further four dungeon maps below that & I had just forgotten about a staircase in Dungeon 3.

Anyway, I reloaded the game and still went through the marathon battle just because that's how I was doing it pre-look-up. I did much better with my newly memorised spells and very quickly I just had the High Priest left to kill. He went and did that thing where at 75% health gone he stops the fight and generates a cut-scene, whereby he proceeds to summon Iuz, a deity who is also kinda-a-boss character. Iuz then kills my tank fighter in one hit & I have to go back to the drawing board.

While thinking about this I also remembered the Skull option. An NPC in Hommlet will destroy the Skull if you bring her ingredients, this will supposedly fuck-up Zuggtmoy and destroy the temple. So I did this mini-quest and then went to kill Zuggtmoy again. All it did was halve her health. I won the game again and got slightly better ending-slides.

Going back to the High Priest, I did a lot better at the third attempt. Only this time I'm thinking I've cocked something up because I somehow managed to kill the High Priest before he could summon Iuz. Which is a shame as I'd liked to have figured out how to kill Iuz. However, that battle is such a marathon that by this point I really couldn't be bothered to try again.



The remaining part of Dungeon Four was just more of the same as Dungeons 1-3, in that it was rooms full of: Greater Temple Bugbears, Ogres, Hill Giants, Ettins, Temple Guards, with very little else of interest. It is at this point that I truly understand the complaint that the game has too many Bugbears. It's not just the Bugbears, its all of these types of monsters, the type of monsters we've now been fighting for dungeon after dungeon after dungeon.

In terms of itemisation, I finally started getting some Full Plate in dungeon 3 and that Bastard Sword from my previous post has turned up again without me having to kill the NPC & it's a serious game-changer. It's the only way I managed to kill Zuggtmoy & is the only way I can even think about tanking all these massive monsters without spending literal hours picking them all of with minor arrow shots while they're webbed. Assuming all of them even get webbed. Or draining all of my mages AoEs each and every battle, etc etc etc.

While my fighter is now well itemised, all the other classes are quite weak still. All still wielding the same quality of items they had before I even entered the temple. My archer, while he has a +19 to-hit with a bow, is still stuck using regular arrows and a paltry +1 Bow. It still takes him a good 10 turns to pick off one single webbed Giant, let alone everything else on the battlefield. There has been zero magical crossbow drops up to this point, leaving my rogue mostly useless in battle, even with decent dagger backstabbing skills, I just can't afford to leave him standing next to an ogre or whatever for even just one turn.

Probably the most amusing thing I've found so far, the one thing that has so far made me laugh out loud was when I was fighting Zuggtmoy. The cheese I abused was that the game has a very strong 'just attack the mage' AI algorithm, so I simply encased my mage in Otiluke's Resiliant Sphere. All the monsters attacked my mage non-stop leaving everyone else free to manage the battlefield. I laughed out loud when, on my mages turn, I looked at their character screen and saw that she currently had -159 strength as a result of all the poison attacks against her!! LOL. If only the game allowed one to continue after defeating Zuggtmoy, I'd love to have seen how many rest days were required to 'rest until healed'.

To conclude this session, I have beaten the game twice but am continuing on because I still haven't seen the best of the game's content, the last four dungeons, the actual Elemental part that is, essentially, the whole point of the game

I find it an incredibly odd decision to have the final boss 'in the middle' of the dungeon like this. As evidenced by both this run and my previous, it's almost impossible not to end the game early and no doubt this will be the reason so many people refer to this game as a 'disappointingly short game'. Heck, I don't even do speed runs, but this game is almost screaming for them. If 'winning' is your only goal then approximately 95% [if not more] of the game's content is superfluous
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April 1st, 2020, 14:57
As one of the Co8 community mod's more prolific contributors, I would challenge you to replay ToEE using the Co8 8.1.0 NC, and Temple+ mods installed after your current run through, so you may better appreciate the huge undertaking that the unpaid fans of this "diamond in the rough" of a game went through simply for the love of the game.

Playing the GOG version as you are, is the same as playing the original game with the first 2 official patches and the looting bug fix only. Every other original bug that came as shipped is still present. As a result, you are merely reciting all the same complaints about ToEE from 17 years ago, there are no new revelations here, and you don't seem to be really enjoying the process of this play through from the way you are describing it.

The only one of your complaints NOT addressed within these mods is the original music score, which remains unchanged. Every one of your other complaints however have been addressed by these two mods and greatly improve the gameplay of ToEE. Indeed Temple+ is still under development now, as more of the original engine code is hooked out and rewritten to fix all of the hard coded engine bugs we were unable to address prior to the project's conception.

I would be interested to read your write up using the Co8 and Temple+ mods and exploring all the new content and bug fixes they bring, not only will you be able to choose the PC/NPC composition of your party from 3 PC's and 5 NPC's to 8 PC's and no NPC's, but you will also be sent to the Shop map that allows you to buy your own starting equipment after character generation, there is a new combat based mission for 1st level characters intended as a way to avoid the fed ex quests that comprised your first 12 hours of frustrating game play, to the Signposts at the Inn of the Welcome Wench and Nulb's starting location which help navigate these areas much faster, You can also Summon your familiars onto the map and use them in combat and they can scale in power as your Wizard levels up, the added encounters and difficulty at the Moathouse, and the prospect of recruiting Larreth the Beautiful to your party if you want to.

Should you choose to raise the level cap to 20th level you can also enjoy the many many hours of additional content added to the game for your enjoyment after the main quest at the Temple of Elemental evil has been completed, take in the views of the City of Verbobonc to the north which serves as the hub for post ToEE content, and adds many quests, monsters, spells, class abilities, craftable magical items and hours of enjoyment. And all this is before mentioning all the goodness that Temple+ adds.

Temple+ corrects more bugfixes and AI improvements than I can mention, plus a number of Prestige Classes and new playable races have been added in this mod.

Enjoy.

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April 1st, 2020, 23:58
Hi @Allyx , welcome aboard the RPGWatch board. Thanks for the excellent and well written reply to part 4 of my detailed look into ToEE. I'll try and respond to as many points you make as I can, though please be aware that my work schedule has doubled as a result of Coronavirus and I'm writing this while somewhat fatigued and probably should have replied more fully tomorrow.

Firstly, I can assure you that it's well known around here that I don't tend to play games that I am not enjoying and I'm the first person to be uninstalling should any game not meet with my tastes. So I'm hoping you have actually read my pieces here as I have said that I'm still enjoying the ride, even though it's against all forms of logic and common-sense.

As per usual with any topic on a game like ToEE, the thread is awash with people just posting what they always post in ToEE threads, either their 'summary' of what they thought about it when they played it 17 years ago or, usually more prominently, avid fans who don't really read what's been written but just get one whiff of negativity and start aggressively promoting the various game modifications that are available.

While your post reads very much like the latter, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for the moment as you are a new member and you haven't just machinegunned out personal insults about my family, pets, teddy bears and taste in clothing.

I can assure you I will be playing a 'properly modded' version of the game 'next', which you would know I you had read my journey, so I'm glad you're here actually as you'll be a great person to direct me to exactly the right specific mods when the time arises. I don't know when that time will be as I still have this version to finish off and then it will be whenever. But it will happen in the relatively near future. So I hope you can stick around for a few months or so.

The GoG version, from what you say, sounds like it's already in a better shape than the version I played back in 2011, which was a disc of the original release I bought off ebay. It must drive you nuts that there must be tens of thousands of people who have bought this game off of GoG and only ever played the GoG version. It must drive you mad every time you come across some poor innocent person slagging the game off because they had the audacity to play the version of the game which was commercially available to them

To which I've no doubt the phrase "all of your complaints are addressed by…" is something you type at every single person regardless of their actual complaints, because, well, that's already happened twice in this thread and on neither occasion has either poster actually followed up this claim when challenged, with specific examples rather than generalisations, so you being the third to simply repeat the exact same line suggests political/religious/marketing dogma rather than conversational understanding.

However, I don't deny that you likely have an extreme love for this game. My personal confusion comes from the mindset of "how or why did anyone fall in love with this game in the first place?". As you say, all of my 'complaints' are things that people were saying about the game 17 years ago. This suggests that these aren't really 'personal taste' issues, that these issues are pretty universally relatable and recognised issues.

But for you and you're posse of modding experts you somehow managed to fall in love with this game. Now THAT's something that is unusual and not very relatable. I mean, it's fantastic that a bunch of people have decided to dedicate so much energy to this game over so many years, but for the life of me I cannot understand why. You refer to it as a diamond in the rough when it's nothing of the kind, it's just another badly produced computer game in a sea of other badly produced computer games.

The developers made a whole raft of bad decisions when they were making the game, it didn't work out, a 'mess' was released. Happens all the time. I don't, for example, see a raft of people dedicating their lives to making Lionheart good, even though it is likely just as deserving. It's not a total disaster, it still provides enough D&D combat to make it enjoyably playable, but there's not really anything to 'love' here. That some people found that love is beyond my comprehension, but you are undeniable evidence that it happened, so here we are.

And where are we? I'm not even sure any more. If your mods fix sooooo much, and even add lots of content while removing lots of content and generally alter the released version of the game to such a total and complete degree, then aren't you, effectively, promoting a completely different game. A game by the same name, just with completely different content. Like the old joke goes, if you've replaced both the axe head and the axe handle is it even the same axe any more?

It's a bit like the Enhanced Edition of the Icewind Dale game. The IWD game I liked was the Vanilla game without even it's first expansion, but after it's first release patch. So the version before Heart of Winter changed the game completely and before the Enhanced Editions then changed the game completely a second time. I have no interest in playing the EE version of IWD because, to me, it's essentially a Different Game.

So how come you lot haven't released your mods as a commercial EE version of the game? Rights issues are a bitch I know, but I'm sure something could be figured out. Where there's a will there's a way and all that. Because, to me, it doesn't sound like you're 'fixing' the game, it sounds to me like you're using the released vanilla game as a template to make your own game. And if that's an over exaggeration of the reality then it's certainly not an over exaggeration of the desire. Sort of like how NWN is just a template for modding, only people never bothered trying to make the NWN OC 'better' because they could just make their own game in the first place.

I mean, is it a 'bug' that the itemisation for Slings and Bullets is shit? Or was that just a natural oversight of unfocused developers? By adding better itemisation are you not then fucking with whatever balance was created to account for the unfocused development? If you then alter the balance and AI script to better account for your new itemisation aren't you then fundamentally altering pretty much the entire game, because the entire game is, effectively, nothing more than what you fight.

I do want to play the 'freshly fresh new' ToEE game that you guys have been working on for 17 years and I will be doing that at some point, but what does that have to do with ToEE as a game and its individual legacy and the story of its legacy? Particularly as the 'commercially available' game is still the 'crap' version. You think store review pages should only include people who are familiar with 'how to mod the crap out of games'?

When I do finally play the Newer Than New ToEE, which still isn't complete yet according to yourself, I'm sure I'll like it. And although, to you, it probably sounds like I'm digging at you, I'm really not. I have nothing but admiration for your dedicated efforts to 'save' a game from itself. I just have no idea why you can't understand why ToEE was never the game to warrant this attention, as it's flaws aren't really the bugs, the flaws are inherent from every unfocused design decision. AKA: you 'improve' the game by 'turning it into a completely different game' type of situation.

But, yeah, thanks for the kinda-free new game, I'll look forward to giving it a shot in the relatively near future.

But in terms of this thread at this moment in time, I'd prefer a discussion about these inherent flaws and why you never saw them as flaws so gaping that you could so easily ignore them and even fall so much in love.
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April 2nd, 2020, 09:18
I will admit I read only the first page and last page of this thread before commenting, and am sorry if I incorrectly jumped to the wrong conclusions without all the facts. I am glad you are enjoying the game in it's original state, but the posts I did read do not make your appreciation clear by any means.

What ToEE represents to me and other avid fans of the game is not the game's story or content specifically, but the implementation of the pen and paper D&D 3.5 edition game mechanics in a computer game. The module they chose to showcase it was a classic adventure from the early days of 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons, but it could have been any other module adapted to use the 3.5e rules for all I care.

I came to ToEE because it was new at a time when my real world gaming group couldn't meet up for games any more as we were moving away and couldn't meet up regularly for games. Compared to every other D&D title on the market (Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment, the Gold Box games, Pool of Radiance, even Neverwinter Nights) Temple of Elemental Evil captured the feel of tabletop gaming better than all the others in my opinion. I don't see the fascination with the Real Time with Pause combat style, the attention to pen and paper game mechanics was always sacrificed to make all PC's and NPC's in the game run concurrently and in perfect time with the ticks of a real world clock. I can't deny those games are still incredibly popular 20 years later, but it always seemed to me to be a poor way to implement a game system that in it's original PnP format focuses more on tactical combat on a turn based fashion.

At Co8 we pride ourselves on our ethos of implementing the game as close as possible to the Rules As Written (RAW), and we frequently refer to the online 3.5SRD to clarify the exact wording and implementation of those rules in the mods we make.

We use the rule set Troika intended the game to use, to correct the mistakes they made during the game's creation process. You seem to want to lay a lot of the blame squarely on the developers for their errors without considering the tremendous amount of pressure Atari put on them to release the game in an expedient manner. Many of the bugs we corrected stem from the fact that ToEE was originally written for 3.0 D&D, and almost complete when 3.5 edition was released. Atari game the company mere months to convert the whole thing to 3.5 edition (while similar, it's still different enough to require considerable work to achieve) and while Troika did a good job, they inevitably missed some important changes between the systems. They would have do e more if they could, but Atari lost patience with them and released ToEE before it was ready for public consumption because ToEE was only ever intended to be a quick buck on Atari's newly acquired D&D licence.

I wish Troika had been given a green light to work on ToEE to make it a fully polished product on release, the sad truth is, that's not how the games industry works. Games still in development don't earn money, the costs just increase. If you were to look at Troika's other titles, Arcanum and Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, they too have active and dedicated modding communities that have seen the quality and the attention to detail in the intentions of the game's developers and have chosen to spend their own precious time and efforts polishing these games to be as good as they should have been at release. It's a shame that small developers often suffer the consequences of corporate greed, but that's how it is.
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April 2nd, 2020, 20:57
I'm afraid I don't hold much sympathy for your portrayal of Atari here. One could even argue you're flat out lying However, this might be from false information you've been provided rather than malice.

Here's a very telling quote from Tom Decker, the Producer of the game for Troika:

we certainly enjoyed the freedoms given to us by Atari and appreciated the independence they allowed us, but ultimately, this strained the relationship in arranging for milestone payments, adding new features, sticking to the milestones and staying on schedule. As the internal producer, I think I realized that some things were slipping or not really complete at times and didn't really come to terms with when and how these things would eventually get done.
Which quite clearly puts the 'blame ball' in his own court and he's happy to carry that burden.

Also, the project was allowed plenty of time for completion and was even given an extra two months of development time. It was at the end of the extended period that the game was also given another extra month. At which point it was finally released.

An 18 month schedule was plenty enough time for a computer game in that era and in fact very generous. The team wasn't small either as Decker notes:

When I came on board, there were nine people on the ToEE team. Eventually, our team rose to 14 full-time members, with additional assistance from some interns and part-time contractors. In addition, our opening cinematic was done through contract by Tigar Hare Studios, our music and sound effects by Ron Fish (contracted through Scott Snyder at Atari), and our voice over direction by Therese MacLaughlin through contract with Martin Denning.
But I find the most telling aspect of his long list of admissions the fact that the 'big names' on the project, him and Tim Cain, were more interested in the dialogue and quests than the combat:

For design, there wasn't a lot of time put into the schedule for placing monsters and balancing the game. By the time we were ready to really put all the levels together, Tim and I were busy cleaning up quests, dialogue and other tasks.
And the only 'decent' thing about the game, the combat, was almost entirely done by someone who rarely ever gets any credit:

Fortunately, one of the artists, Craig Matchett, who was about three months ahead of schedule at all times, was completely freed up to place the monsters, tweak their abilities, and make the encounters challenging and memorable. So, when you play one of those really tough and challenging battles and live to tell the tale, thank Craig for putting it all together so well.
And the decision to switch from D&D 3.0 to 3.5 so late in the development process was not a 'demand' from Atari, it was an agreed decision after consultation:

About one full year into the schedule, we amended the deal to add two additional months to update the rules to 3.5 Edition D&D
He doesn't say anyone demanded anything, if anything it looks like he was broaching the idea to Atari. Though I must admit, who was asking who here is very vague, but I find it odd that a company like Atari would give a shit what D&D ruleset was used.

And things like Hommlet were nothing to do with Atari:

For art, the map of Hommlet turned out to be a much bigger project than originally planned. I shared an office with two of the artists, Peter Delgado and Lucas Feld. Peter, who was given the Hommlet map, was scheduled for only one month on it, but ultimately needed three months to put the huge, beautiful map together. In hindsight, we may not have needed such a large map
And I could site a huge amount of stuff like this from the horse's mouth that all point to the problem not being Atari, but, yes, wouldn't it be great if Video Game Financers just let developers make stuff for however long it takes, I mean, are any computer games ever truly… finished? LOL

But, yes, I agree that the 'unique' selling point of ToEE is it's 3.5ed turn-based combat. I guess I can see this, though I'm not sure that's something that, alone, would make me wet my panties to any great degree. After all, single-player computer games are only supposed to be abstractions of P&P anyway, and just as films abstract books, one never really expects a game to be 'exactly like P&P'.

I think you over-imagine the original intention of the developers and are imagining they have the same dedication that you have, when the reality is more that they too are 'greedy money hungry people who are just doing something for a paycheck':

As the internal producer, I think I realized that some things were slipping or not really complete at times and didn't really come to terms with when and how these things would eventually get done. Then again, I also wanted to make sure we continued to get our paychecks.
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April 3rd, 2020, 08:52
To my knowledge, we never had any dealings with Tom Decker, from what I have heard (second hand) however is that Tim Cain and Steve Moret gave a very different account of the situation they faced during their time at Troika.

Regarding the GOG-EE version of ToEE, there was some discussion between GOG and the Co8 about releasing an EE version of ToEE with the Co8 patch included, but since we neither had the rights to the licence for the game, and had no way of knowing how to get them (who to contact, or even who now has them - Atari or Troika) we regrettably didn't get very far.
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April 6th, 2020, 11:13
This final session was just the 6 hours as I managed to go through the four elemental dungeons at quite a consistent pace. This also enabled my team to go from level 10 to level 12, so 10 isn't the cap, 12 is. It's not a cap even then, it's just that there's not many opportunities for XP gain left. Maybe I could get to 13+ by killing all the millions of NPCs, I dunno. 12 was more than adequate really.

In fact, doing the elemental dungeons doesn't even change the game that much anyway as all one is doing down there is collecting a couple more magical items (to which good luck if your character had actually gained any proficiency in these categories of weapon by this point) but mainly to collect the four gems for the aforementioned skull.



The final boss fight with a fully gemmed skull is different in that your party wont need to do anything except kill any wandering fungus that tries to attack your mage, the fight will instead be you watching the monsters you can now summon with the skull slowly kill the end boss. Which is entertaining in a popcorn kind of way as Zuggtmoy gets hoisted by her own petard, but it's not very active from a gameplay perspective.

The Earth dungeon is the one I remember most from my run through nearly 10 years ago. I remember not being able to damage the pop-up gnome-like rock creatures & despairing at trying to defeat the Glabrezu. Back then I had no idea I shouldn't be in that location at level 5 or 6 and that I shouldn't be in that area without any of the 'you win' awesome-button weapons.

Ironically, the itemisation reminds me of Ultima 7, AKA mostly crap and then the game gives you a kill-everything weapon, because that's hilariously meta & etc. However, Ultima 7 isn't about the combat, combat is a joke in Ultima 7, whereas combat in ToEE is supposed to be the meat of the game. I'm absolutely stunned that there are zero magical crossbows or magical slings or any magical versions of a whole raft of common weapons.

I suspect the ideal party to tackle ToEE is just a three man group: A Fighter, a Mage, a Cleric. Everything else has been pretty much superfluous. And pretty much every fight, from packs of easy goblins to the demons on the final floor, can be solved by the same gameplay method, webbing/entangle with a fighter with a ring of free movement then taking out monsters one at a time (or with a bow, but don't waste points on bows) with a cleric close by to heal any bad rolls. It's no coincidence that the most common magical item one finds is an Entangle Rope.

It's funny how the awesome-button Bastard Sword arrives just when the game starts throwing stuff at you that is immune to pretty much any normal weapon & completely changes the game into a different kind of steamroll. It's almost like the developers knew. Just like the game doesn't offer any real chest issues for rogues until the point in the game where a mage could have the Knock spell anyway.

So while the final four dungeons finally provided a sense of the elemental to a game titled as it is, and provided some very interesting and varied encounters therein, essentially it was all too little too late. A sort of epilogue or DLC entitled "so you asked for some elemental content".

To conclude, the game feels like it has 3 very distinct phases, or acts if you like. The first phase is the NPC stage, which is too much by a country mile and likely bores the crap out of most of the target audience and also does precious little to prepare the payer for the combat focus of the latter game. The second act, while quite varied with its monsters only leaves an aftertaste of excessive combat, mostly with Bugbears and Ogres, a combat grind of unepicly grandiose proportions. The third part is the epilogue where you actually do the Temple of Elemental Evil, which will still be mostly impossible even if you did everything you could in the previous 2 phases if you didn't manage to find any of the awesome-button weapons/items during that time.



For a game with such a strong reputation for intricate tactical combat, it's amazing how there's actually very little of that in the game. While the hour-by-hour process of going through the game is entertaining in that classic RPG sense of games from that era, ToEE leaves one with so many disappointments at the end of each stage of play that it completely fails to imprint itself as a positive memory. I'd compare it to grinding for a unique item in an Action RPG, in that the drive to find that item propels one to grind beyond reason but once the item has been found one can't help but ponder whether it was, after all, really worth that amount of lost time and life getting to that point.

Some people will be immune to such a mindset, but I fear the vast majority of people will have the same natural response and that the only people who are going to like this game are the kind of people who have extremely strong perseverance stats when it comes to extremely tedious NPCs trawling and extreme RPG combat grinding. Such people do exist, but even for these people ToEE is not going to be best in show even for most of them.

Which is a shame as this game has so much potential to be an interesting game. After 17 years of fan-mods I'd be delighted to discover that a new version of this game exists whereby the game has indeed 'become good'. Where it will play like a normal exciting and interesting game. While I'm not normally a fan of tinkerers who gradually butcher a game over many years of 'improving' it into a completely different game, with ToEE I'm in exactly the opposite position and am going to be hoping that the improved version is indeed a… completely different game.
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RPGWatch Forums » Games » General RPG » All The Little Things: The Temple Of Elemental Evil
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