a4 is the best game yet

Pages

AuthorTopic: a4 is the best game yet
Guardian
Member # 6670
Profile Homepage #25
By Alorael:
quote:
Of course not. The customer is always right.
At the fast-food joint I worked at during high school, we used "Just Be Nice". Meaning that you were to be very kind to the customers when you informed them that they were, in fact, full of horse manure.

--------------------
(Rant about people who confuse storyline with game mechanics. A2 could have been made on the Geneforge engine. Other things might have suffered, but the storyline wouldn't have.)
Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Board Administrator
Member # 1
Profile Homepage #26
"The customer is always right."

I profoundly disagree with this statement, which is why I always say, "You can't win an argument with a customer," instead.

Sometimes the customer thinks the game should be free (or a trivial amount). Sometimes, as you said, different customers will have redically different points of view. And sometimes the customer is a paranoid schizophrenic who thinks that my game is spying on him. (Yes. It happened.)

Sometimes people don't understand how personally I take their critiques. No matter how many people like Avernum 4, the number of people who didn't like the new direction makes me genuinely unhappy. But what can you do? Looking back, there are some small things I would have changed, but, in Avernum 4, I feel I wrote the game I had to.

Of course, I'd be a lot more angsty about Avernum 4 if I wasn't selling a lot of it. :-)

- Jeff Vogel

--------------------
Official Board Admin
spidweb@spiderwebsoftware.com
Posts: 960 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Shaper
Member # 247
Profile Homepage #27
I wouldn't weigh the opinion of the board members that heavily. As with most games the people who actively participate in the community is small compared to the total number of people who play or have played a game.

--------------------
The Knight Between Posts.
Posts: 2395 | Registered: Friday, November 2 2001 08:00
Lack of Vision
Member # 2717
Profile #28
quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:

"The customer is always right."

I profoundly disagree with this statement, which is why I always say, "You can't win an argument with a customer," instead.

<..snip...>

Sometimes people don't understand how personally I take their critiques. No matter how many people like Avernum 4, the number of people who didn't like the new direction makes me genuinely unhappy. But what can you do? Looking back, there are some small things I would have changed, but, in Avernum 4, I feel I wrote the game I had to.

Of course, I'd be a lot more angsty about Avernum 4 if I wasn't selling a lot of it. :-)

- Jeff Vogel

Well Jeff, what can I say? I'm a customer who is probably wrong at least 9/10ths of the time. I'm also a customer who has purchased E1-E3, BoE, A1-A4, BoA, G1-3 and Galactic Core, so by most normal definitions, I'm a good customer. I've given you my business, reported bugs and even convinced at least two people I know to purchase your games. So fine, you don't have a sanguine attitude toward those of us unhappy with aspects of A4. We're not criticizing the game because we want you to feel bad. We're criticizing the game because it does not live up to your potential.

You're never going to beat the big development houses on graphics or by creating an action RPG. So why try? Why not stick to those things you do best?

Your talents flourish when you do a game that has a strong, epic story line, usually with some nice moral ambiguity thrown in, and non-linear gameplay. A4, as I've mentioned before on these forums, reminds me of Icewind Dale. The Infinity Engine was best used to tell an epic story (Like Baldur's Gate) with fun combat and action, and not combat after combat after combat along a conveyer belt of increasingly big enemies.

Many around here describe your best games as Exile/Avernum 2 (epic quest - check. Non-linear gameplay - check) or a small rebellion or Nethergate. I personally think Geneforge 1 and 2 are your best works.

I hope Geneforge 4 and Avernum 5 live up to expectations in terms of engaging stories you created. But I'm less optimistic now than I was before A4. And I’m a LOT less optimistic when you come on these boards and tell us that legions of people love your new action RPG and compare those of us who don’t like it to crazy luddites who hate all change and will never be happy anyway.

Z

--------------------
Pan Lever: Seventeen apple roving mirror moiety. Of turned quorum jaggedly the. Blue?
Posts: 186 | Registered: Thursday, February 27 2003 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #29
Hey, I think A4 is a vast improvement as an action RPG, and I really have no objection to improvements over the previous combats, which were not nearly as much fun as A4's. I just think a brilliant and different story would be nice too.

—Alorael, who also wouldn't say no to beautiful (but still low requirement) graphics, a moving score, or free money with every game purchased.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 5410
Profile #30
quote: alo
quote:
Well, yes, I thought the fact that I was being facetious in my expectation that he would be sorry that people liked his game was pretty much implied, but thank you for ruining the joke by explaining it.

Oh, I really loved this one. My sarcasm is always misplaced on this board, so I thought I'd try ruining someone elses.... AND it slipped through!!!!

--------------------
"Dikiyoba ... is demon ... drives people mad and ... do all sorts of strange things."

"You Spiderwebbians are mad, mad, mad as March hares."
Posts: 687 | Registered: Wednesday, January 19 2005 08:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #31
quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:

And sometimes the customer is a paranoid schizophrenic who thinks that my game is spying on him. (Yes. It happened.)
Out of curiosity, what game did s/he think was doing the spying? And was it anything particular about the game ("Adze-Haakai is really a spycam!")?

--------------------
Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
Lack of Vision
Member # 2717
Profile #32
quote:
Originally written by 1 v. One:

quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:

And sometimes the customer is a paranoid schizophrenic who thinks that my game is spying on him. (Yes. It happened.)
Out of curiosity, what game did s/he think was doing the spying? And was it anything particular about the game ("Adze-Haakai is really a spycam!")?

Wow! I missed the significance of that statement!

It should be obvious that it could only be Galactic Core. His implants may have been malfunctioning. Do not worry; needle/ferrets and Ben have been dispatched to deal with this... situation.

Z

--------------------
Pan Lever: Seventeen apple roving mirror moiety. Of turned quorum jaggedly the. Blue?
Posts: 186 | Registered: Thursday, February 27 2003 08:00
Board Administrator
Member # 1
Profile Homepage #33
"And I’m a LOT less optimistic when you come on these boards and tell us that legions of people love your new action RPG and compare those of us who don’t like it to crazy luddites who hate all change and will never be happy anyway."

I think this may be overstating the case a wee bit.

In my mind, Avernum and Avernum 4 are a pair. To me, these two games feel very similar. In my mind, Avernum is a pretty plotless affair. You may see it differently.

And, in my mind, Avernum 2 and Avernum 5 will be a pair too. Avernum 5 will use the same engine and much of the same graphics as Avernum 4, but it will be a very different game. No question.

- Jeff Vogel

--------------------
Official Board Admin
spidweb@spiderwebsoftware.com
Posts: 960 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #34
A1 was cool for me because it was a new world, and the exploration was fun because I was always finding out more about the place. It didn't need a lot of involved plot, because the setting was so new. (I guess Exile players must've been pretty frustrated, though.)

A4 is different: it not only lacks an involved plot, but it also has no new setting. I think that's why I felt the way I did about it — and don't get me wrong: I had fun playing it, just not as much as with any other Spiderweb game — and I suspect that other long-time players felt the same way.

I hope that you at least understand where this portion of your fan base is coming from, even if you don't exactly feel apologetic for making a game that sells well.

--------------------
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
BANNED
Member # 6432
Profile #35
When i saw that A4 had geneforge graphics i was very dissapointed.
SOLUTION: Play Geneforge.
I got used to the graphics of geneforge and i liked the game. A4 was alright but there was nothing new to explore. There should have been a new cave discovered
If there is dragons in A5 don't make them look like Drakons.

--------------------
I hate you all
Posts: 165 | Registered: Friday, October 28 2005 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 412
Profile #36
I like almost all Spiderweb's RPGs, though for different reasons. Nethergate would slightly edge out the others if I had to vote for a "best".. I love the setting, the dual storylines, the system, the Phil Foglio pictures, etc etc. Actually, a slight digression: Jeff's mentioned doing an update of Nethergate that Carbonises it, increases the resolution, adds bits etc. I think that's a good idea, and will almost certainly buy it, but I just hope the system doesn't get overhauled for the worse. Though it was extremely minimalist compared to Exile III, I liked the explicability of various things - for example formulas like "hp = level * endurance" were right there on the character sheet. I don't think it worked quite so well in Avernum 1, but that's yet another digression.

As for the actual topic question: no :P Avernum 4's good, better than some of the Avernums, but it's no Geneforge/Nethergate/Exile III. It's simply too action-oriented to be the best.. although the action is rather good. Actual new 'tricks' and elements to fights were a nice surprise.

[ Friday, April 28, 2006 07:30: Message edited by: Banana ]
Posts: 33 | Registered: Monday, December 17 2001 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #37
I played E1 a lot and still enjoyed A1. I think the key is that E1/A1 treats the world as a new world, so everything is explained and there's a sense of discovery for the characters even if there isn't one for the player. A4 barely even mentions some of Avernum's strangeness.

—Alorael, who wonders if this correlation means A6 will have to expose another part of the surface. Maybe Doston!
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 6979
Profile #38
A couple things. First, I often hear people extolling "non-linear storylines" as a good thing. I disagree. Most people agree that A2 and Neth were his best works; these are also his most linear plotlines and the fewest possible endings. A very good story needs plot twists and surprises; these are hard to do if it is non-linear.
Second, I wanted to add my 2cents to A4. I like the new death system. However, as it went along, I died less and less. This is because of the % damage reduction which is additive. At first, armor is almost worthless (unlike earlier games, where it would block a number of points, and have value from the beginning.) Once my tank was >98% resistance to everything PLUS high parry PLUS high dodge PLUS riposte, he was completely unkillable. Unfortunately, he was otherwise somewhat useless, since melee was both weak and dangerous. I also loved the new unlimited arrows and used them all the time (though it makes nephils too good!)
Some semi-technical questions:
Jeff-why did you go from the exile system where 50% reduction + 50% reduction = 75% reduction to the more recent system of being 100% reduction? (This applies to traits as well). I think the old system works better.
I also find the level barrier (having XP depend on relative levels) to be frustrating. I much prefer getting the same experience for the same monster, and just having each level require more experience (or what would be the same, having the amount of experience you get be reduced based on your level alone, and not as compared to the monster's level.) When I went through really fast and killed a bunch of high-level monsters, then came back to kill the weaklings, I ended up with a lot less experience than if I had killed them in the "right" order. It also makes people not want to take negative traits. Same monster, same experience.
Finally, I was sad to see you have been discouraged about experimenting. I hope you will consider a new franchise, even if it is another "sword and sorcery" type of thing. Discovery of new things is much of the enjoyment, so I look forward to trying any new works you do!
Anyway, they're your games, do what you want. I've always bought and enjoyed them, and probably will continue to, but figured I'd give my 2.3 cents.
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #39
A2 and Nethergate both begin by giving you a limited area to roam until you complete task, then a larger or different area until you complete another task, and then a huge area in which to do whatever you want. Nethergate gives you a set order for major quests, but that's it.

A2 has as many endings as A1 and more than A3 or A4. Nethergate has one ending with two sides. Geneforges have a lot of endings.

—Alorael, who would hate to put words in Jeff's mouth about innovation. Sometimes it just has to be done, though.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Lack of Vision
Member # 2717
Profile #40
quote:
Originally written by AncalagonTheBlack:

A couple things. First, I often hear people extolling "non-linear storylines" as a good thing. I disagree. Most people agree that A2 and Neth were his best works; these are also his most linear plotlines and the fewest possible endings. A very good story needs plot twists and surprises; these are hard to do if it is non-linear.

Not to quibble too much, but non-linear, as I understand it, means the player is left to decide for herself how to go about achieving the goals of the game. You seem to define it as essentially having no story or overall goal.

The RPGs I like best tend to be non-linear (my definition). Take Baldur's Gate. Yes, there is a big bad guy you need to kill to win the game, but the player spends the bulk the game running around doing more or less what she damn well pleases. A2 is like that after you bring down the barriers. Yes, you have three goals to accomplish, but most of the rest of the game is completely optional. The Geneforge games are also very non-linear.

Linear, as I define it, refers to games that force the player to complete one area or task after another in sequence. Icewind Dale is like that - you exterminate one dungeon after another, with no real option as to what to do next. These games CAN be good, but they really suck if the story isn't engaging or the characters are boring or the dungeon crawling is a chore. Icewind Dale (and, I would argue, A4) suffers from these three defects.

I do agree with you that a good story is hard to tell while giving the player lots of freedom. The best RPGs actually seem to combine both elements. Like the first part of Baldur’s Gate 2, which sets the stage and is able to do so because it is so linear, but then gives the player lots of time to run around exploring on her own before forcing them back into a more linear mode as the climax approaches.

Z

[ Friday, April 28, 2006 09:27: Message edited by: Zorro ]

--------------------
Pan Lever: Seventeen apple roving mirror moiety. Of turned quorum jaggedly the. Blue?
Posts: 186 | Registered: Thursday, February 27 2003 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #41
A4 was my first substantial exposure to Avernum, and exploring it was cool. To a neophyte like me, the plot was intriguing. It built up slowly, with rumors and spooky crystal contacts and bizarre shades, different strands to unravel, and an ultimate villain who was some crystalline alien thing. And there were a lot of thoughtful touches along the way.

As far as I can tell, the complaints from a couple of old timers amount to fanatical orneriness on their parts, and can't really be given any weight. The more widely voiced complaint, though, is that a lot of the good stuff in A4 is repeated from earlier games. From this point of view, A4 could be both the best Spiderweb game yet, and a disappointment to long-term customers, because its increment of improvement might be positive but smaller than expected. Kind of like a company's stock falling on news of a rise in profits.

But it's not like Jeff's prices have been doubling every year in a bubble of irrational enthusiasm. The only reason people expect big breakthroughs is that in the past he has had a couple. He's the victim of his own success: do something cool and original, and people won't spend half as long praising it as they will complaining when you don't astonish them even more the next time.

I don't think this is fair, and I don't think it's realistic. It's like expecting a batter to have a grand slam with every swing. Those opportunities just don't come up every time. In between them you see a solid base hit and you think, The man's on form, he's still got it, let's keep watching.

--------------------
We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Warrior
Member # 6632
Profile #42
quote:
Originally written by AncalagonTheBlack:

Some semi-technical questions:
Jeff-why did you go from the exile system where 50% reduction + 50% reduction = 75% reduction to the more recent system of being 100% reduction? (This applies to traits as well). I think the old system works better.

Armor changed, but resistances seem identical to avernum 3. The stat screen reports 50+50=100%, but in the game it's actually 75%.
Posts: 50 | Registered: Monday, January 2 2006 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #43
quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:


...
Sometimes people don't understand how personally I take their critiques. No matter how many people like Avernum 4, the number of people who didn't like the new direction makes me genuinely unhappy. But what can you do? Looking back, there are some small things I would have changed, but, in Avernum 4, I feel I wrote the game I had to.
...

The drawback of having made great games in the past is the customers hold you to a higher standard. And the drawback of having loyal fans is that they have strong opinions on the game. :)

quote:
Originally written by VCH:

I wouldn't weigh the opinion of the board members that heavily. As with most games the people who actively participate in the community is small compared to the total number of people who play or have played a game.
However, the people who participate in the community are the ones most likely to generate word-of-mouth publicity for the game. I've bought two most recent games because of good things I've heard about them first on other forums and then on their own forums. So alianating loyal customers isn't a very good policy.

quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

...
As far as I can tell, the complaints from a couple of old timers amount to fanatical orneriness on their parts, and can't really be given any weight.
...

Calling people "fanatical old-timers" isn't a good idea unless you want to be called a "drooling fanboy". :P

And considering that, according to Ash's poll, G3 and A4 had the least number of people who registered and liked them, more than just "a couple of old-timers" have issues with these games and ignoring their complaints might not be good for Spidweb's bottom line.

PS As for my opinion of A4, I'll post that in one of the half-dozen related threads, instead of side-tracking this one.

[ Friday, April 28, 2006 12:50: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

--------------------
Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #44
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

I don't think this is fair, and I don't think it's realistic. It's like expecting a batter to have a grand slam with every swing. Those opportunities just don't come up every time.
I think a big part of it is that we BoE players are spoiled by Alcritas, who did exactly that. He made a dozen scenarios (a couple of which are comparable in size and scope to Jeff's games), of which all but one or two are masterpieces, with new technical innovations and plot developments in each one -- his last scenario may not look as different as Avernum 4 did from Exile 1, but it plays just as differently. And he did it all without charging players a cent for his work.

If Al can do all that while working within a single game engine, why can't Jeff do that with the benefit of being able to program a new engine for every game?

So yeah, maybe we're faulting Jeff for not being a creative genius, but only because we've seen genius and we know what it looks like.

[ Friday, April 28, 2006 14:19: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

--------------------
The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 374
Profile #45
Baldur's Gate I - II is crap compared to Planescape Torment. Epic storylines are engaging but not moving. Alot of people are comparing A4 to prior offerings with rose tinted glass, making them unable to judge objectively.

Technically A4 is the best offering yet, most detailed art yet (though not as vibrant as those of Exile series) with fuller animations,seamless world, a more streamlined fighting engine, removal of retarded annoyances as weight limits, secret doors, arrow hoarding, food, sleep, death and highly contrived puzzles. Storywise though, it is pretty straightforward albeit a fair bit engaging.

My only qualms are the removal of potion brewing - i liked the sense of accomplishment from looking at my very own potion i brewed, reduced variation and hence strategy in spells: simply damage and heal :S, no capture soul, scry monster, stealth, etc., walk distance limit and finally having to enter fight mode to kill a rat when at level 20.

[ Tuesday, May 02, 2006 13:42: Message edited by: Red_Sage ]
Posts: 32 | Registered: Tuesday, December 11 2001 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 374
Profile #46
quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

If Al can do all that while working within a single game engine, why can't Jeff do that with the benefit of being able to program a new engine for every game?
[/QB]
Jeff does the manpower work equivalent of atleast 7 (story, gamedesign *2, programming*3, some art), Al perhaps the work of 3 maybe 4.
Posts: 32 | Registered: Tuesday, December 11 2001 08:00
Councilor
Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #47
Originally by Red_Sage:

quote:
...removal of retarded annoyances as weight limits...
The weight limit is still present, just different. I actually found it more annoying than the Avernum Trilogy's weight limit and, for some reason, more annoying than Geneforge's weight limit, even though the weight limits in A4 and Geneforge work the same way.

Dikiyoba misses the feeling of satisfaction in the Avernum Trilogy that comes from having all four characters who have a weight limit of 200 pounds walk out of a dungeon with 199 pounds. It's possible in A4 but it's not quite the same.

Edit: Fixed quote

[ Tuesday, May 02, 2006 13:56: Message edited by: Dikiyoba ]
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Board Administrator
Member # 1
Profile Homepage #48
"Baldur's Gate I - II is crap compared to Planescape Torment."

While I am a huge fan of Planescape: Torment, I feel that Baldur's Gate II is one of the all-time great RPGs. I felt just as caught up in the story, but there was more game there. Torment was beautifully written, but I spent a lot of time going, "Oh, will you shut up? I want to hit something!"

As for the weight limit, that is a major part of game balance in the Geneforge system. It's how I keep the more fragile, magic-based character builds from wrapping themselves in 5 inches of steel plate.

- Jeff Vogel

--------------------
Official Board Admin
spidweb@spiderwebsoftware.com
Posts: 960 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #49
quote:
Originally written by Red_Sage:

Alot of people are comparing A4 to prior offerings with rose tinted glass, making them unable to judge objectively.
Well, it's good to know that your personal preferences are objective.

You list a lot of "improvements" that I don't like. "What makes a good game" is about as subjective as it gets.

EDIT: As far as BG goes, this may be heretical, but I could never get into it. I think I'm really not fond of how D&D handles magic, and I never played for long enough to get good with BG's rules.

[ Tuesday, May 02, 2006 14:36: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

--------------------
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

Pages