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Old March 4, 2012, 18:14   #1
Therem Harth
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Blades of Angband

Just an idle idea...

I like Blades of Exile (the Spiderweb game). It lets you create scenarios with your own (sometimes very involved) stories, your own monsters/NPCs/items, dialog... Even frame-animated movies and custom spells, with a bit of kludgery. The game engine allows a party of up to six characters to play through any number of different scenarios, all of which share (for the most part) a common magic system.

However...
- Gameplay styles are limited
- Code for scenarios is done through a point-and-click "special node" system that is almost impossible to debug
- Graphics are pretty, but they make more work for scenario developers

I also like Angband (which you guys and gals know all about). But...

- Angband has no real storyline
- There are no NPCs, no dialog, nothing other than dungeon crawl
- You can't take a character from one variant to another
- You can only play as one almighty character, not several specialized ones

Wouldn't it be cool if someone combined these?

That would be my ideal game engine. Let's call it "Blades of Angband." It would have:
- A consistent magic system shared by all scenarios
- A party of 1-4 PCs, with combat and non-combat modes
- A framework for adding additional spells outside the normal magic system, which would not persist from one scenario to another
- Provisions for custom items, terrain, monsters and NPCS...
- ASCII graphics, displayed by methods that would not freeze up multi-GHz computers
- A dialog system a la the Exile games
- A scripting system in lieu of "special nodes"

Sounds awesome, doesn't it? *sigh* If only I had the coding skills required.

OTOH it's probably a good thing this doesn't exist. If it did I might never get any work (or sleep) done.
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Old March 23, 2012, 02:40   #2
joelsanda
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I've often thought about a combination of something like Blades of Exile and Angband. I've played most Spiderweb Software games, but really enjoyed the Exile and Avernum games.

I'm ambivalent about graphics and would really enjoy an Angband variant that approached something like Exile or Avernum. Sil has been fun and is a step in that direction.
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Old March 23, 2012, 02:41   #3
debo
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Exile I and (many years later) Avernum 6 dominated my life for several months
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Old March 23, 2012, 02:56   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
Exile I and (many years later) Avernum 6 dominated my life for several months
Play the new Avernum: Escape from the Pit? Loads of fun :-)
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Old March 24, 2012, 02:39   #5
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http://www.runesword.com/rs2.html Perhaps the incredibly, bizarrely out of the limelight Runesword II project would avail itself? Updates have been continuing for a great while on the community forum there via the devs and just community folks.

I've been waiting nearly as long for their Dungeon Delvers project to arrive which contains similar potentials...
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Old August 28, 2012, 02:54   #6
Mikko Lehtinen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debo View Post
Exile I and (many years later) Avernum 6 dominated my life for several months
Avernum: Escape from the Pit is yet another remake of the original Exile I.

The fan-made Avernum Remix makes the game better. It's somewhat fun with the Torment difficulty level; we found the remix made the game easier, at least with our non-optimal character builds. I'm waiting for the version 1.2 of the remix which fixes some bugs.

We tried the game with a friend, with two characters for us both. We agreed to have only a limited number of savegame restorations.

Our problem with the game is that you can always just return to the nearest town for free healing, even if only one character survives. This would be fun if the passage of time had some effect on the game world but it doesn't seem to matter at all. Often it's the best strategy to return to town on the first sign of trouble. The occasional out-of-the-blue total party kill -- which is not very fun -- is the only real risk. Despite the quite interesting tactical combat system you can not really play this as a "roleplaying strategy game". Shame, I had my hopes up.

Are the any commercial CRPGs that would work for my weird tastes? Any good CRPGs where loading saved games is not necessary? I would love to find a tactical CRPG where you can enjoy a good, long story, even though you eventually lose because you didn't play well enough.
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Old August 28, 2012, 03:26   #7
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Funny, I've been thinking about balance issues in the Exile games...

I agree with your sentiment about character resurrection, especially as it makes no sense in-universe. Not sure about no return to earlier savegames though. Roguelike gameplay has its place, but I'm not sure Exile/Avernum is it.

I get what you're saying; however, I think there is a key aspect that any huge RPG with party permadeath needs to have... variety and depth of gameplay. You need to be able to play the game over again without necessarily following the same steps.

IOW, maybe
- Let the player choose to start in any of perhaps a dozen widely separated towns
- Hook them in with different starting plot lines
- Have all the separate plots eventually converge on the huge epic endgame

This could be further enriched by making plot elements depend on the characters' classes, skills, races, etc. And of course having a ton and a half of side quests. But the point is, creating a big sweeping RPG with permadeath that's actually fun to play is nontrivial.

(DG almost did it with ToME 2, though!)
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Old August 28, 2012, 06:59   #8
Mikko Lehtinen
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I don't want permadeath or endless replayability for Avernum.

Avernum-like storytelling needs to be somewhat linear. It would be much more work for the designer to make the story work like you write. Your ideas are all good though. I just suspect that the designer Jeff Vogel wouldn't want to change his good, classic RPG recipe too much, and at least wouldn't be paid enough by fans for doing the hard work.

From my point of view, resurrection mechanic is good -- it means that I only rarely need to restore saved games. In most other games like Avernum, making party member resurrection cost lots of gold just means that players have to restore their earlier save.

I'd just want it to be balanced by passage of time having some effect. Just like in Exile 4: as time passes, more and more towns get destroyed by monsters.

Unfortunately most players hated to have to hurry. I'm in the minority here.

At no point did the game become unwinnable. The player just lost some good items and some side quests because he couldn't visit the destroyed towns anymore. There were really good roleplaying reasons to hurry, though! In my opinion it was really good design.

You could have normal resurrection cost a day, and a total party resurrection four days. Resurrection after total party kill is nothing new in CRPGs. In Ultima 5, the spirit of Lord Britih resurrected the party, and you continued play near Castle Britannia.

Easy Resurrection combined with Time Matters is all that Avernum really needs to be perfect for a player like me. I want consequences. Sloppy play should lead to a lesser win.

OTOH, most other players would hate this and many would stop buying games from Spiderweb. Jeff Vogel does make sound business decisions.

Last edited by Mikko Lehtinen; August 28, 2012 at 09:07.
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Old August 28, 2012, 15:49   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen View Post
OTOH, most other players would hate this and many would stop buying games from Spiderweb. Jeff Vogel does make sound business decisions.
And I think you have anecdotal evidence of this from Fallout 1. In original editions of the game, there was a time limit, although I don't remember what the consequences of going over the limit were. In subsequent patches, they basically removed the time limit entirely (I believe by making it long enough that it would never matter to anyone, even min/maxers).

My favorite part of Avernum is the exploration. It's almost like Metroid in that regard -- sometimes I get to an area where I can't figure out what to do next. So I spleunk somewhere else, and aha! Now I'm strong enough / have the doohickey I need to go back to that other dungeon. I personally would be annoyed by a time limit.

It would make a decent option though -- and I could have sworn there was a Spiderweb game where there was such an in-game time limit (aside from Exile 4), but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.
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Old August 28, 2012, 16:37   #10
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I don't think there was an Exile 4, but Exile 3 did have that "time limit" that worked as Mikko described. Different parts of the world were beset by various monster plagues; as time went on, increasingly large amounts of non-plot-vital stuff would be destroyed. The major cities, and the NPCs you needed to be able to win, would always still exist, but lots of side detail could be lost.

As another example of how time limits and the general public interact poorly, consider Star Control 2 (now freely available as The Ur-Quan Masters). In this game, you have three years to wander the galaxy, meet alien races, establish alliances, and perform the mainline plot quest. And there's a sidequest you can perform that extends that time limit by a year. And when your time limit runs out, the villains you're trying to defeat start ostentatiously wiping out the other alien races, starting with the ones who are guarding plot-critical items (thus, you can win the game fairly trivially by waiting for the villains to kill the guys who are in your way, then ducking in and stealing the items in question from the now-unguarded planets).

By any reasonable standard the time limit is generous. And yet, every once in awhile there'll be a complaint from a player who was actively avoiding interacting with any alien races while they wandered the galaxy and mined for resources (really rather tedious stuff), because they wanted to be as prepared as possible for the plot and assumed that they had all the time in the world.

Bottom line, while I think time limits are still reasonable things to have in games, you have to make it clear to the player that there is a limit, and they need to be kept aware of where they stand with respect to that limit. Just a little indicator in the corner that says e.g. "July 3rd, 2426 -- 2 years, 4 months remain". That should be enough prodding to keep the player from actively wasting time.
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