Provide or Hide Character Details

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AuthorTopic: Provide or Hide Character Details
Member # 12474
Profile #0
[I posted this poll to the Avernum Trilogy forum, then realized it really belonged here].

I am playing A1 (and really enjoying it).

I just fired up A4 for the first time (only the character generation section) to take a look at

The graphics are definitely improved.

However, in another respect I think the program took a major move in the wrong direction (potentially eliminating one of the big attractions of Avernum for me).

In A1, the character generation and leveling interfaces specify the effects of attributes on
skills ( e.g., a skill is specified as having a base value of (STR+DEX)/3 ).

In A4, this information is not provided.

For me, making use of this information during character creation and leveling is part of the fun.

As for the "special traits", I'd prefer more specifics there also.

I don't take any special traits because I have no details on which to make a decision.

A trait improves accuracy with a bow? OK, BY HOW MUCH?

Give me an equation, an algebraic expression, a ratio, something.

From my perspective, there is no basis at all for deciding whether to take a particular trait

Well, I suppose one could assume that the game designers have done a good job with game balance in

creating the character traits - and choose traits based on liking the idea or feel of a trait name.

However, for me part of the fun is in deciding whether a tradeoff (e.g., experience
adjustment vs other effects) is worthwhile.

In some cases, there seems little basis for doing so without trait details.

For traits for which the only effect is to add specific abilities to a character, one can check
the abilities menu for the character and make a decision from that (if one is willing to assume
that the added abilities are the only effects of the trait).

I realize that this is a personal preference issue.

People probably have one of three positions on the matter:

1) Please show me the "under the hood" details ( formula or whatever ). I want to know. I enjoy
understanding them, and/or they are helpful in building my character.

2) Please hide the details. I specifically want them to remain unknown. It's part of the mystery
that appeals to me.

3) I don't care about the details. Provide them for those who like them, but I doubt I'll pay
attention to them.

Poll Information
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You may not view the results of this poll without voting.

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Posts: 15 | Registered: Tuesday, December 11 2007 08:00
Member # 6934
Profile #1
I do seem to remember, though, that this information is provided in the manual. But I am not entirely certain.

Always be true to yourself - unless you suck
Posts: 183 | Registered: Sunday, March 19 2006 08:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #2
There are very few CRPGs out there that (accurately) explain the impact of every potential character trait/skill/attribute anywhere, let alone in the game.

In fact, I'm not sure I can think of any.

Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
"Slartucker is going to have a cow when he hears about this," Synergy said.
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
Member # 12474
Profile #3

Firstly, I think that most games provide far too little information. Avernum (certainly A1) does better than most.

The fact that most games provide little information doesn't make that a good thing to do.

Secondly, I am not asking for real extensive information. However, to use the Deadeye trait as an example again, it would be nice to know how much this improves the skill.

Telling the player lets the player decide whether the trait is "worth it".

For me, that's part of the fun.

A phrase such as "provides a 10% additive bonus"*** would be great (and sufficient).


***If P is the probability of hitting a target without the Deadeye trait, then the chance with the Deadeye trait might be

(P + .1) 10% additive bonus

(P * 1.1) 10% multiplicative bonus
Posts: 15 | Registered: Tuesday, December 11 2007 08:00
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #4
On one hand, I see your point: the original Nethergate made a lot of the numbers behind its mechanics explicit, and I think it was a better game for it. On the other hand, that level of complexity can confuse people and turn them off (it sure did for me the first time I tried Nethergate, back when I was 13 or so). Also, core mechanics don't usually change that much between different SW games and the wonks on these forums usually have most things figured out within a couple of months of the game's release, so if you follow the forums for newly-released games and avoid spoilery topics, you can usually piece most of the mechanics together for yourself.

The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Member # 2759
Profile Homepage #5
4) If the information is provided, I'll gladly use it to improve my character, but if it's not provided I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

Espresso - as close as you're going to get to an intravenous caffeine shot.

Geneforge 4 stuff. Also, everything I know about Avernum | Avernum 2 | Avernum 3 | Avernum 4
Posts: 1104 | Registered: Monday, March 10 2003 08:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #6
Thuryl's right, you can certainly search for it here, or in a FAQ -- the same place you'd look for any other game. For example, Deadeye gives you a +1 bonus to Sharpshooter and another +1 bonus at level 6, 12, 18, etc. Sharpshooter is like having +1 in Bows and in Throwing Weapons, it just gives +1 damage die and +5% to hit.

Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
"Slartucker is going to have a cow when he hears about this," Synergy said.
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
Member # 12474
Profile #7
1) In the case of the Deadeye trait, it's quite possible to learn the exact effects (assuming there are no additional ones beyond those you stated) by creating a character with the trait and observing stats as the character progresses. And this info will make its way to the FAQ's.

However, it's POSSIBLE that there might be traits for which the effect cannot be determined by such a process. One would have to look at the code [Either that, or do a rediculous amount of data collection and then infer the effects via statistical analysis (e.g., how often does a character hit, with and without trait X - hardly worthwhile.)]

2) I personally don't see how providing details (which can be ignored) would be a turn off (if they are given after the less specific, more flavorful, description). That is, the player can ignore the rest of the skill description beyond
a certain point (we're probably talking an extra sentence in most cases).

3) Even for those traits, skills, etc for which the exact effects are documented in FAQs, why should I have to go searching through the FAQ's? It is when I play the game for the first time (and am creating my characters)that I especially want to know these details. I don't want to search through FAQ's the first time I play, when the info can be provided easily by the developer. It may well be that the information is available in FAQ's, but that's somewhat beside the point.

It's a matter of personal inclination. When I create a character, I like to understand the implications of where I "put my points". I then like to set the difficulty setting to a high or the highest level (and hope the game provides the right level of combat challenge).

That is, give me challenging battles, and let my decisions during character creation, character development (and obviously during battle) have substantial impact on combat outcome.

For me, that's part of the fun.

I really like the fact that in Avernum, I can't easily "walk through" every battle and every encounter with traps.

I really, really like the fact that resting cannot be performed inside of dungeons. Games in which one can rest to full strength after each battle really lack a challenge and aspect that provides a lot of enjoyment to me.

In a sense, the issues are similar.

In one case, there is a limited resource (skill points) that one can try to use (or manage) to optimal effect during character building.

In the other case, good management of resources (such as mana points) is beneficial.

[I'd love to see situations in which one is really forced to manage resources. Say, one enters a dungeon, a cave-in occurs, and the party must make it to the other exit on "one load" of mana/health. Players who find that they simply
can't make it through could temporarily lower the difficulty setting - or perhaps some use of the character editor would permit success.]

When I played Avernum 1 for the first time, and began creating my characters, I really liked seeing these details. I probably would have continued playing and purchasing the game even without that, but I'm not certain of it.

There have been times with other RPG games that when playing the game for the very first time I have delayed the character creation process to do a web search to learn more about character and game mechanics (trying to avoid spoilers all the while). But, it's nice to have the info available.

And again, Avernum does a better job of this than most RPG games (some of which are a joke in this respect).
Posts: 15 | Registered: Tuesday, December 11 2007 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #8
I agree that it's nice to have the numbers available, particularly because there's very little indication that some traits are useless. But we've figured out a few things on these boards: Jeff usually (but not always) goes for simpler math so that if most details seem to be visible they probably are, and it is, in fact, feasible to do repeated tests to work out the mechanics.

—Alorael, who could even see having two modes. One, for casual gamers, hides all the number crunching and gives qualitative information about what stats do. The other gives you all the formulas and lets you min-miax to your heart's content.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #9
I do like have specifics available in a manual somewhere. That way, if you're bogged down by the numbers, you don't have to look at them in-game, but if you want to know details, you can find them easily. BoA did this, to some extent.

Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 4153
Profile Homepage #10
I will admit, something about A4 and A5 that has greatly annoyed me is that the secondary skills no longer get pumped by the primary ones (STR/DEX/INT/END). Having to put that much effort into raising Melee Weapons is annoying.

TM: "I want BoA to grow. Evolve where the food ladder has rungs to be reached."

Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Member # 8030
Profile Homepage #11
The only aspect of character stat technicalities that I wish to know are the requirements to achieved certain secondary skills in Blades of Avernum.

A Bile Crux
Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00
Member # 6193
Profile Homepage #12
Wish no longer.

Edit: Another good thread

[ Saturday, December 15, 2007 16:41: Message edited by: Lazarus. ]


Frostbite: Get It While It's...... Hot?
Posts: 900 | Registered: Monday, August 8 2005 07:00
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A Bile Crux
Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00