Avernum 5, May Update

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AuthorTopic: Avernum 5, May Update
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The world design is still progressing at the expected pace. I'm still happy with what is coming out, even though it is a lot of work.

Whatever you feel about the Avernum 4 engine, it is very demanding to design for. Even more so, now that heights are in the mix and I know that if I put in too many filler encounters people will jump on me for hypocrisy (because of what I've been writing on RPG Vault).

Pretty much every section that doesn't have a town has a hostile area of some sort, generally with some sort of boss-type creature. The bosses near the beginning are fairly straightforward (mages, priests, things that spawn adds), but they'll get fairly baroque later in the game.

I have also reworked how I prioritize my time. Actual dungeons with significance get more time than the did before. The first major storyline dungeon has far more scripted events, special stuff, and so on than practically any dungeon in Avernum 4. Having had plenty of practice working with the engine helps a lot.

Oh, and for people who missed the interviews, in Avernum 5 you will be Empire soldiers, who have had the misfortune to be sent to the underworld. This is not actually the first official Avernum adventure where you work for the Empire. (That honor goes to the Blades of Exile/Avernum scenario A Small Rebellion, which is coincidentally one of my favorite scenarios I've designed.)

So, for the first time in a long time, Avernum is an alien land, full of crazy people that hate you. Writing from this perspective has been a lot of fun.

The game is structured in nine parts. Each section has a bunch of optional adventures and quests. Some sections can just be passed through freely. Others require you to do something first. This will disappoint people who wanted to be able to instantly freely roam a huge range. However, I'm not going to design games like that anymore. They are too difficult to balance properly. Sometime, if people are interested, I'll write why. Or maybe you can puzzle it out for yourself. :-)

I plan to release the official page and first screenshots in a few weeks. I still hope to have the Mac version out for XMas, though that'll take a few months of serious design grinding. Wish me luck.

- Jeff Vogel

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The Establishment
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Sounds very exciting. Look forward to this next adventure.

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Law Bringer
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Good luck Jeff.

I hope there will be some sections where we get to explore and not too linear a plot. I know that it's harder to balance, but there was a very simple limit on exploration called death. Go beyond what you are capable of and you get to reload. It makes it interesting if you can play better than average.

As long as we don't get the return of the Eastern Gallery chitrachs it shouldn't be too bad.

It'll be nice to have something near the beginning that has some detail.
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Shaper
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Maybe I'm just weird, but I kind of like not having too much ultimate freedom to go anywhere at any time in the early game. In playing Nethergate, for instance, I find I rack up many quests on my list, and almost spin in circles trying to figure out where to go next and which to do in what order at times. Thankfully, it has bridges which somewhat limit when you can venture further.

Somewhere inbetween on accessibility to the world seems best to me. If I were to design a BoA scenario, I would want to create a sojourn that is a long trek with no backtracking at all. Being able to just wander around and exlore is fine if you are explorers. If you are on a mission, you shouldn't really be exploring the world in that fashion, except as you go where you need to be going.

-S-

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Shaper
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It sounds wonderful. One thing that's nagging me, though...

quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:

So, for the first time in a long time, Avernum is an alien land, full of crazy people that hate you.
After several generations of peace and coexistence, wouldn't that have abated somewhat by now? Just curious.

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Shaper
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After several generations of living in a green-glowing cave eating mushrooms, you'd be crazy too.

-S-

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"After several generations of living in a green-glowing cave eating mushrooms, you'd be crazy too."

QFT.

Not everyone in Avernum hates the Empire. Heck, some people in the underworld just came from there. However, some groups of people have long memories. In the real world as well as my fantasy one.

One more thing about the way the game is structured. What I really wanted Avernum 4 to be was a journey. I had a lot of Lord of the Rings in my head, and I wanted it to be a long trip through many cool lands. I wasn't as happy with how that came out, because, in my view, the stuff you encountered on the trip wasn't distinctive enough.

Avernum 5 I'm trying again. It's a long journey, and the stuff you run into along the way will be much more unusual.

But this sort of structure doesn't allow the "giant clump of stuff you can freely encounter all at once." Win some, lose some. If the Shire started out right next to Mordor and Frodo only went on a side trip to visit the elves to pick up a bunch of nice rope and lembas, not as much of a book.

- Jeff Vogel

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Canned
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quote:
QFT
What does that stand for?

Also, the world isn't going to be exactly alien. Most people have had previous experience playing the Avernum games, so in the areas we are used to, it is not entirely alien.

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Law Bringer
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QFT = Quoted For Truth. It is an expression of agreement and approval.

—Alorael, who has faith in Jeff's ability to make Avernum new and exciting. Well, not Avernum proper so much, but a little addition goes a long way. Maybe a reprise of Dark Waters!
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
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quote:
Originally written by Spidweb:

What I really wanted Avernum 4 to be was a journey. I had a lot of Lord of the Rings in my head, and I wanted it to be a long trip through many cool lands. I wasn't as happy with how that came out, because, in my view, the stuff you encountered on the trip wasn't distinctive enough.
I think part of the problem here is that, pretty much everywhere, things were much more mundane than previously. Lava fields that once held an enchained, traitorous haakai, and a battle between demons and wizards that had been frozen in time, became in A4 the site of some random fire lizards, buried herbs, and one nearly empty crypt. The Unsettled Lands once held a mighty dragon and two complex multi-level forts full of different kinds of magic. They were replaced with one big fort full of a zillion pylons. And so on.

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Off With Their Heads
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Huh. That's funny. It sounds as though Jeff is trying to do the same thing that I was trying to do in Exodus. Now he'll put me to shame, and as I play A5, I'll have to keep reminding myself that this is his full-time job, and I just was working on evenings and weekends to make that scenario.

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Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Warrior
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Hmm, it seems that while I did not enjoy what ended up being A4, A5 seems to hold more promise in certain areas than what A4 lacked in the dungeon department.

On another note, Kelandon, if it were indeed similar to your Exodus, would that really be such a malady to our experience? I think not, but I am but one among many. Time shall tell.

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...that just makes me wonder again if Jeff ever plays any of our scenarios. Except for the first contest, I mean.

Anyway, I'm excited, and I trust that Jeff will yet again surprise us all.

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quote:
Originally written by JMAN123:

On another note, Kelandon, if it were indeed similar to your Exodus, would that really be such a malady to our experience?
Your meaning is obscure.

What I was saying is that Jeff will make something in the same vein as what I made, but much better, and I will play A5 with a constant sense of shame for having been so severely outdone. I don't know that it will impact anyone else in quite the same way.

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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.

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So that means that A5 will have the same graphics as A4? In that case, :'[ not good.

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Electric Sheep One
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I've only ever played the BoA VoDT demo, so I don't really know what I'm talking about here, but I'd be surprised if Kelandon really had anything to worry about. 'Long trip with lots of cool stuff along the way' is a great game theme, but it's not great for its originality. It's great because there are endlessly many great ways of implementing it, which means there's lots of room for A5 and Exodus to be cool in quite different ways, despite both being odysseys through (and/or beyond) Avernum.

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His description has more in common with what I was trying to do than just that.

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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
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Agent
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Add one more voice to the chorus:

Yay for Avernum 5! It sounds super-cool.

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For the record. This thread was the first I can recall ever hearing of a scenario called Exodus. It isn't even on our web site, as far as I can tell. And, as I never even touch scenario submissions, its absence here has exactly nothing to do with me.

Part of the reason I don't look at scenarios is that I simply have no time. And part of the reason is to insulate myself from insinuations of plagiarism. Most people in my position avoid looking at user suggested ideas for the same reason.

I am sure that nobody here would be so thoughtless as to suggest I was ripping off a scenario designer based on what little information I have released about Avernum 5. But I did want to make all this crystal clear.

- Jeff Vogel

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Huh. That's funny. It sounds as though Jeff is trying to do the same thing that I was trying to do in Exodus. Now he'll put me to shame, and as I play A5, I'll have to keep reminding myself that this is his full-time job, and I just was working on evenings and weekends to make that scenario.
I dont see the similarity between Jeffs description of A5 and your scenario named Exodus, the description on your website only says its a journey of adventurers into the sliths lands.
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quote:
Originally written by Shaken:

So that means that A5 will have the same graphics as A4? In that case, :'[ not good.
I'm really wondering why everybody today tends to judge the quality of a game after it's graphics.
I was playing several episodes of Ultima and Wizardry years ago and those games were simply great. They made fun and were extremely exciting. And they delivered graphics that are still unsurpassed by today's games.
These graphics and all the eye candy were realized by an ultra fast graphics card that can deliver billions of polygons at thousands of frames per second without any stuttering while displaying trillions of colors. This fabulous graphics card is manufactured by "Imaginative Power" and is called "Fantasy". Best of all, it's rather cheap ...
Games like the ones produced by Spiderweb use a graphics style that does not show a scenery but describe it. And if you are lucky enough to own one of those grahics cards I talked about above, it then can render the corresponding details to an unbelieveable degree of realism.
If you don't own one of these - sorry, but then you better play TES:Oblivion, even though you should be aware that it doesn't delivery really good graphics ...

BTW: Here are some screenshots of Wizardry

[ Friday, May 25, 2007 11:56: Message edited by: Deepsteep ]

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With Avernum 4: A New Hope (Formation of the Darkside Loyalists), and Avernum 5: The Empire Strikes Back (the Empire goes after the Darkside Loyalists), does this make Avernum 6: The Return of the Magi where Jeff brings back the powerful mages from the earlier games - Solberg, Rune, X, and a resurrected Erika?

[ Friday, May 25, 2007 14:04: Message edited by: Randomizer ]
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Jeff said that Rentar and Erika are gone. Period.

So the chances of a resurrected Erika is slim to none.

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Shock Trooper
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quote:
Originally written by Infernal Flamming Muffin:

Jeff said that Rentar and Erika are gone. Period.
Did he not also say there would be no Avernum 4, period?

Of course, I'm glad he went back on his sworn word in that case, but I'm just saying: when you're a game designer trying to get people to buy your stuff so you can feed your family, I'm sure nothing is impossible. :P
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"So the chances of a resurrected Erika is slim to none."

I'd put the smart money on "none".

But there are other members of the Redmark clan. With very different careers and personalities, but with a similar ability to find themselves in the middle of chaotic events.

- Jeff Vogel

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