Old & Aging Game Discussion

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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Hercanic » Wed May 02, 2012 2:08 pm

Lavarinth wrote:Isk.. Why do you kill yourself playing these games?! Go some good games :3

Because if you starve yourself, stale bread becomes delicious. Isk must prepare himself for Diablo 3's release.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Alevice » Wed May 02, 2012 2:38 pm

I have been playing Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Man, they dont make games like those anymore.

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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby IskatuMesk » Wed May 02, 2012 2:43 pm

Hercanic wrote:
Lavarinth wrote:Isk.. Why do you kill yourself playing these games?! Go some good games :3

Because if you starve yourself, stale bread becomes delicious. Isk must prepare himself for Diablo 3's release.


Well, to be fair I had no idea Conan was that bad until I really got into it. The only reason I stuck to it was because of the LP. I quit on the sorceress with no intention of finishing it previous to my LP charade.

That said, I'm looking forward to finally seeing how Demon's Souls and Dark Souls turn out. I hear they are really good from many sources now, but some people say they'll make me snap. There's also DMC - I've had a lot of western ARPG experience now, so seeing how different DMC is from GoW and all of its many clones will be kind of neat.

Golden Axe may make me go crazy, too. I mean, Viking is also by Sega, and I'm sure this game has nothing in common with the old classics I'm starting to hear about.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Falchion » Wed May 02, 2012 2:51 pm

Hercanic wrote:
Lavarinth wrote:Isk.. Why do you kill yourself playing these games?! Go some good games :3

Because if you starve yourself, stale bread becomes delicious. Isk must prepare himself for Diablo 3's release.


Pfft. You'd wish. Mesk stated quite clear he wouldn't LP Diablo 3. Only a miracle would make him change his mind.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Taeradun » Fri May 04, 2012 7:55 am

Alevice wrote:I have been playing Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Man, they dont make games like those anymore.
hell yes that game owns
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Theia_Loki » Sat May 05, 2012 6:34 am

Taeradun wrote:
Alevice wrote:I have been playing Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Man, they dont make games like those anymore.
hell yes that game owns

Already beaten it twice, as nosferatu and gangrel. Still working on beating it again and trying that new game plus bug that lets you spend infinite xp with the same clan and name. And supposedly jack doesn't call you out on it.
Really wish they'd been able to make a successor to that game. It would be very grand.


Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, Oddworld: Abe's Odysee/Exodus, Tomba!, Jak and Daxter (which I've finally had the chance of getting a hold of and playing).
What happened to the days back in the 90s and very early 21st century?

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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Legion » Sat May 05, 2012 10:03 am

Theia_Loki wrote:What happened to the days back in the 90s and very early 21st century?


They're long gone. Many present day gamers were born around then.

The games that always bring back memories of my life in the 90s are Diablo, Sanitarium, Age of Empires, Jazz Jackrabbit and I'm not afraid to admit, Shadow Warrior, playing online with a friend who used to live in my street. How times have changed. A number of PCs later, my old discs are gone, I only play games on iPhone and PS3 anymore and I haven't seen my friend since the early 2000s.

I sometimes, for many reasons, wish I could go back in time. Here's to '95-'99!

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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby mark_009_vn » Sun May 06, 2012 5:41 am

Theia_Loki wrote:What happened to the days back in the 90s and very early 21st century?


It was purged out of existence when game developers discovered casual gaming.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Falchion » Sun May 06, 2012 6:01 am

mark_009_vn wrote:
Theia_Loki wrote:What happened to the days back in the 90s and very early 21st century?


It was purged out of existence when game developers discovered casual gaming.


CORRECTION: It was purged out of existence when game developers found out how much money they could gross with big-ass games.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:13 am

Today I'm going to talk a bit about an RTS called Armies of Exigo. My LP is not yet finished, but this will contain spoilers for both the game and the LP if you're a viewer.

Without further delay,

Armies of Exigo

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I entered Armies of Exigo with zero prior experience, only the brief summary of Wikipedia to guide me. Wikipedia claimed that AoE was an RTS "like Starcraft", a claim I'd immediately find out to be utter bullshit.

Armies of Exigo is produced by a Hungarian developer, Black Hole Entertainment, whose recent fiasco regarding Heroes of Might and Magic 6 remains fresh in my mind. For a quick summary, Ubisoft basically gutted the developer halfway through the game's production and left them out to dry while they milked the unfinished game for what it was worth. Typical Ubisoft. For some reason, EA was the publisher for Armies of Exigo. Wow. Out one asshole and straight to another? Whoever was responsible for putting this developer in the hands of western publishers is retarded.

In HoMM6 we saw a lot of potential destroyed by the West. But I knew nothing of this game. Would Armies of Exigo follow the same road as its son? My LP came in to this challenge swinging. Armies of Exigo was developed in 2004 and was thus competing with the likes of Warcraft 3.

Armies of Exigo crashes at the same point in the introduction cinematic with an access violation 100% of every test. I cannot record the cinematic because I cannot watch it. It simply crashes. At times it crashes trying to skip the cinematics as well. From what I can see of the cinematic it was easily Blizzard-level quality graphically.

I chose to play the campaigns on Hard, seeking to see some European flare in an otherwise uninteresting genre. No RTS I've played since Brood War has offered any kind of innovation or twist to the RTS market. They've all fucked it up one way or another. Dawn of War was hard countery and boring with all other Relic RTT's following suit, Wc3 was a failed experiment that was immediately dominated by Dota, and those bold enough to try to make more experimental titles under suffocating publishers like THQ with supreme commander all faced certain failure.

The year is 2012 now, with Starcraft 2 proving to be about as cookie cutter western as you can get. The campaign especially is a failure from every imaginable perspective. Gameplay in particular failed to advance any further from Brood War, instead retreating backwards, trying to make the game more appealing to preteens that feel good about beating games on "hard" difficulties without any effort.

In most games, most especially RTS' and most recently of note Supreme Commander 2, all difficulty sliders do is ramp stats or upgrades. In Starcraft 2, units are generated through triggers at a faster rate or with extras. Enemies get more upgrades than you, things like that. In Supcom 2, enemies seem to either get stat ramps or massive upgrade bonuses over you. Never has a difficulty in an RTS yet actually made the game harder, just more weighted.

Without previous difficulty experience in Armies of Exigo I didn't know what to expect.

Immediately upon starting the game I was struck by several very notable elements.

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Don't you wish Starcraft 2's cliffs looked anywhere near as good as those? Blizzard couldn't even UV their textures properly. And no one cares because it's Blizzard.

First of all, Armies of Exigo is 3d. I thought it was bold for a company to make a 3d game in 2004, especially an RTS - 3d is something companies in 2012 still don't really understand. They flail around incoherently without any idea how to program, relying heavily on third party engines and assets without any clue how they work. As displayed by Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, it's perfectly possible to make a game 8 years behind in technology still insanely performance demanding. Thus, in 2004, when developers couldn't try to bullrush their way through inefficiency with hardware, making a 3d game was bold indeed. Warcraft 3 was a disgusting blend of mislead art direction in a flimsy pretense with little effort placed in quality. I expected Armies of Exigo to be sprite-based, but I felt a distinct fear of re-enacting Warcraft 3's many graphical failures when starting it.

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The style of Heroes 6 seems reflected, even 6 years prior.

AoE though has a few advantages over wc3. Notably, they put effort in terrain textures - something we wouldn't see even in Dawn of War or Starcraft 2. Without any of the graphics features that at the time were only starting to become standard, later to be abandoned in a confusing display of incompetence by Diablo 3, Armies of Exigo was going to be fighting an uphill battle against titles with bump mapping and dynamic lighting. Its texture work, at least for terrain, was up to that challenge, and even today looks better than aforementioned recent titles.

Armies of Exigo's models look much superior than wc3's, despite some backfacing and clipping issues. The important detail is that their proportions are more accurate, and thus the game is much easier to read. The confusing, blocky mess that is Warcraft 3 was rendered difficult to follow because of the silly, untested modeling ethics. Exigo is easy to follow. However, the animations for Exigo certainly weren't up to par. Feet commonly slide on the ground, attacks lack motion, Exigo seemed only on par with wc3 in this regard. Both games have bad animations. The texture quality for the models seems out of place when compared to the terrain, the reverse problem of Starcraft 2 and the Dawn of War series. Units are needlessly blurry in Exigo. It was unusual indeed. On the other hand, the portraits were quite nice.

Where Exigo really fell behind, however, is particles. The particles in Exigo are nothing compared to Warcraft 3. They are reminiscent of four years past, when 3d was first entering its real swing for these kinds of games.

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Exigo's lighting doesn't seem quite as solid as Unreal 3, but it has shadows that, at the time, were unthinkable for Western developers to attempt in homeland RTS'. It seems to me that Exigo's development was accelerated by EA, and it lost a lot of potential splendor elsewhere in the game.

Despite its increased overall quality, Exigo performs leagues better than Warcraft 3, which doesn't come at all as a surprise. Overall, I'd say Exigo's graphics are about average. They are what I expected out of Warcraft 3 when it came out in 2002, but some elements remain strong even to this day, in 2012. That is a frightening prospect: to realize that games are actually losing quality in graphics because of bad design and bad programming ethics.

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Yes, that bridge can be destroyed/repaired.

However, Exigo is not short of graphical bugs. Unusual tearing, vertex lighting issues (not unlike wc3's), and very peculiar water placement all lead to some areas feeling extremely incomplete. The game also only supports a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 which, by 2004, was rapidly being replaced. I believe wc3 supported at least 1600x1200.

The next thing that was immediately apparent was the audio work. While wc3's graphics fell in a heartbeat to our comparison, the audio was left with a hilarious stand-off - Blizzard's terrible editing compared to EA's terrible everything.

I assume that Exigo is dubbed, because it was produced by a Hungarian developer. I can only assume that EA did the localization, because it's fucking horrible. The voice acting and overall audio work is so bad I cannot put it into words. Only two characters I've seen so far aren't completely out of tune and unemotional, being Alric and the elf chick, the latter of which you only get a few lines from. Black Hole must have been working on a barebones budget, because the sound effects are all over the place and wholly inconsistent.

The audio volumes are extremely inconsistent. That and the speech for events is tied to SFX and not actual speech. The speech ranged in volume from moderate to very low, seemingly at a whim. Balancing the audio for the LP was incredibly challenging. Some of the unit and event speech were very obviously mashed together from separate takes, with the most common one being the No Gem warning that you will hear often. It's like Starcraft 2 all over again! The diction and prose are pretty much all off. Almost no speech sounds believable diction-wise and, when it does, everything else is still comical or stupidly forced/over the top. I get the feeling not a single line was read from a paid actor except for Alric, and when Alric's actor read the lines, he probably thought it was a rehearsal for a school play and not a game. It's about as bad as Diablo 3.

What the fuck is hard about voice acting? Seriously? I was doing better voices when I was 11 years old then what multi-billion dollar companies can shit out today. I'm not even any good. It's not a hard thing to do. Why? Why is everyone so incompetent?

The music is like a cheaper Jeremy Soule without the talent. It's not very interesting. During the human campaign you only get sparse bouts of music, and during cinematics it's often loud enough to overpower the dialogue even when the dialogue volume is louder. During the Zerg campaign you don't hear any music at all. Ever. It just doesn't exist. I haven't gotten to the final campaign yet, but I assume it won't be much better.

Overall, Exigo's audio work is certainly less than what the graphics set it up to be. The lack of proper audio robs Exigo of immersion and leaves it feeling cheap and woefully incomplete. The speech often leaves you laughing instead of actually interested in anything. Typical out of what I expect from a game with the EA logo on it.

Gameplay

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Exigo is very, very different from starcraft. It's even more different from Starcraft than Warcraft 3 is.

There's 3 races sure, with one having a zerg-like creep mechanic, but there's 3 resources, underground like in a TBS, over 8 armor types, smart casting, the ability to click on and control group buildings that haven't even been started yet, intelligent worker AI, per-unit veterancy, and more.

Exigo's gameplay diverges from Starcraft immediately, setting you up something that seems a blend of Spellforce, Warcraft 3, and Supreme Commander. The per-unit veterancy is a sideline feature where it belongs, and the armor types are only relevant in specific circumstances, again, where they belong. Exigo's gameplay plays like an RTS should, with similar values to Starcraft, but very, very different mechanics.

As mentioned, Exigo features advanced elements that Starcraft 2 proposes to be new and exciting additions. Smart casting, MBS, and a variety of UI and unit nicknacks surprised me as I progressed into the campaign. One thing it lacks, or at least I haven't discovered yet, is the ability to tab between units in a selection group like warcraft 3. Tab is instead assigned to switching overworld/underworld, but more on that in a bit. Without the wc3 selection tab, controlling becomes a lot more micro intensive.

The stat distribution on units is also unlike Starcraft, with heavy emphasis on health like wc3. However, battles don't take nearly as long as wc3, retaining some degree of sanity even as the game progresses into higher damage and health values. Unit pathing is reasonably intelligent, better than wc3, with some of the sc2 features we subtly noticed like priorities and "push" behavior. It is not perfect, but quite reasonable.

Without nearly so deep an understanding of Exigo as I have of, say, Starcraft 2, I can still only yet make conjecture about its flow in a multiplayer environment. EA shut down the game less than 2 years after it was released, so I doubt I'll find much on it. But I'll take a look when I'm done the campaign. I'm super curious how this game's high-level scene would have looked like. There's a lot of super powerful spellcasters in Exigo, with AoE stuns, ressurection, and psi stormuuu only a part of the arsenal. Warcraft 3 failed hard on the balance front, and Exigo seems to have some potential balancing issues, but nothing super massively out of place yet.

Now, the Underground.

In the campaign I've only seen one mission make use of the Underground for enemy attacks, and it's mostly just an alternate way through the map all the way until the Fallen (zerg) campaign. After this starts, since you mostly start in the underground, things take a different twist.

Exigo has a few spells that can be casted from Above to Below or Below to Above ground, but many of them seem lackluster for the rare circumstances you get the opportunity to use them. While the Underground offers a nice mapsize increase and some extra value in individual missions, in most circumstances it seems like lost potential.

When I started this review I talked a bit about difficulty. It's time to continue this.

Exigo's difficulty immediately slapped me across the face with a penis. The game throws a lot of units at you very quickly. By the third and fourth mission I was facing situations much more challenging than the toughest missions in WoL. The AI doesn't really micro, but the mission design seems unusually well tuned save some bugs and oversights. In some circumstances the AI surprised me with yet unseen actions in an RTS, like avoiding my defending air units and sticking attacks in weak places. I had to actually think and act on my defense as opposed to idling units in the path of enemy attackers. The air and drop-based missions in particular exhibited gameplay ethics from the AI that I had yet to encounter in an RTS.

The AI has limitations, however. In one underground intensive mission the AI arbitrarily spawns mine shafts to reach you as opposed to using the proper mechanic and unit involved. This becomes irritating and frustrating to deal with, since the map is rather difficult and you must devote a lot of units to scouring the entire underground for these random objects before they can spawn their units. In a handful of rare circumstances the AI was not fighting back when I was attacking it, but this problem is still one mostly exhibited only by Warcraft 3, whose AI is a trainwreck of penises in a burning ditch.

But the fact I am seeing missions of this scope at all is welcome breath of fresh air from the casual mediocrity of Blizzard and Relic. Unfortunately, Black Hole makes a few of the same mistakes, like shoehorning RPG missions when the game wasn't intended for it.

I hate RPG missions in an RTS campaign unless the system was intended for it, like wc3, but in wc3 the missions were long, uninteresting, and largely consisted of a-moving from point A to point B. Exigo is like this, but without a hero leveling system. The missions can also be incredibly punishing and unexpectedly throw you massively difficult encounters - unless you've manually saved you could easily lose a half-hour of gameplay.

In one RPG mission it came down to me mana burning a boss for literally half an hour since all of my units had died and I had no way to fight him. His AI didn't react when I mana burned him from a distance, so I had to wait for the shit damage and slow regen to end the map - a map I'd already lost one prior because I wasn't perfect with my unit control in a prior confrontation.

Exigo has an item system, placing items at a panel below the hero icons at the top left. This makes sense and has broad applications in the standard missions, but seems oddly out of place in the RPG missions. I'd rather they just have not shoehorned RPG missions into the game at all, instead leaning on its strengths. I despised the installation maps in Brood War and all like-minded campaigns oriented around that kind of gameplay.

The difficulty in Exigo varies between missions. But, particularly in the human campaign, some missions are very difficult unless approached very strongly, and with good macro. For the first time in all I've played games, the campaign actually challenged my macro and multi-base management. However, some of that splendor seems diminished later on, either because I improved and the game didn't scale, or because the game's AI didn't seem to become tougher as it progressed. I suppose when I finish the final campaign I'll have more leverage and understanding of the game's overall image. For now, I'm hopeful it ends as strongly as it started, but I'm worrying.

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The Fallen is the closest to Starcraft you can get. They have creep and insectoid units. That's where the similarities end. They have a global veterancy pool tied to a structure, two independent tech trees, and weird supply mechanics. They also have a tower defense campaign mission that can really rend your anus at the end if you aren't careful.

Overall, Exigo has surprised me. I suspect EA is responsible for sucking out the life and rendering it a backburned concept at best. The game is an alpha, but a feature-filled alpha that advanced far beyond what RTS games had thus far attempted. Behind the sheen of hideously bad audio and mixed graphics, Exigo had vast potential and untapped depth. But because Black Hole had associated themselves with demons of the west they sealed their fate to be abused and forgotten.

Exigo is the only RTS I've played since Brood War that actually feels like an RTS and not some kind of a gimmick. Even Conquest: Frontier Wars lacked the kind of thought that existed behind this game. However, potential is merely potential until it's realized, and at the end of the day, Exigo suffered enormously from lack of production quality and marketing. EA snuffed any prosperity the game might have had, sending Black Hole into a vicious circle of pain until they ended up in bed with Ubisoft, a union that has costed the company its entire existence, if the drama is true.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby IskatuMesk » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:08 am

So, I've started Demon's Souls.

The first thing that really caught me about Demon's Souls is how they decided to diverge from the control scheme of virtually every other ARPG ever made on the ps3 I've thus played. Viking, Conan, GoW and others. So, adjusting my muscle memory took around 50-60 deaths on the very first bridge.

Demon's Souls on first impressions seems very incomplete. Clubs make stabbing noises, monster AI is extremely buggy and archaic, often killing itself or being unable to "see" things inbetween it and the player, like walls or other mobs. The game uses Havok, which is in itself a risky venture, but the bugs are numerous and all hilarious, so it helps ease the incredibly painful entry.

Demon's Souls spares no punches in buttfucking you as soon as you leave the tutorial. There is absolutely no animation cancelling in this game, rendering blocking extremely difficult and combat a trying and patience-demanding experience. The differences between typical ARPG's and this are readily apparent as they have severely nerfed or outright removed the defensive options available in other games. Demon's Souls punishes defensive play, with Parry being extremely hard to pull off (especially with my input latency) to the point I just gave up on it, and blocking being mostly delegated to eating ranged attacks on approach. Speaking of ranged attacks, Crossbow men seem to do very random damage, sometimes next to none, sometimes half of your health.

I rolled a Barbarian which, as I would quickly discover, starts off with no armor. Professor Snape's impressive biceps and gorgeous ass would do little to save him in this game, as the generic entry-level monsters actually do more damage than the first major boss you fight. There are enemies with fire-enchanted swords who are easily capable of doing 3/4 my maximum health in their combo, and you often fight up to 5 of them at a time - so long as they don't blow themselves up, which they also often do.

The AI is ready and willing to walk off of cliffs or otherwise kill itself for you, however, but this offers little breaks as random minibosses and "gotcha!" spawnpoints can come at you completely out of nowhere and kill you instantly. The game has no checkpoint system at all, resulting in a lengthy and enraging re-clear of the zone every single time you die, and you will be dying often as you try to adapt to the punishing hit recovery mechanics. Thankfully, your souls (currency) you saved up can be recovered if you reach your body. Not so luckily, you lose those if you die again. You will die often, thus you have little sense of progression as you constantly lose all of your money.

The blacksmith back home doesn't sell armor, and the first armor you find is female-only. Since Professor Snape is a man of stature and refuses to put on makeup, he can't use it. But I can't sell the armor either, apparently, rendering it wholly and utterly useless, along with the random broken weapons I find. Thankfully, I found a Bastard Sword off a corpse and before long I was getting the swing of the game's mechanics and could finally clear the first 1/4 of the zone. After another few despicable deaths I was getting confident in the otherwise unresponsiveness of combat.

This changed of course when I found the first miniboss. A grim-looking lanceman with red eyes and dark armor, whose diminutive poke could one-shot my entire three hundred something health. His health pool so enormous that a direct hit from my weapon that 1-2 shot other enemies didn't even move his health bar. After an embarassing joust I opted to run past him, steal the item he was protecting, and then ignore him.

The first major boss, however, was deceptively easy. A Wideboss that spawned dozens of slow, black mobs, the fight involved circling a room and abusing LOS to avoid their ranged attacks. After cleaning the room of shielded black dudes I easily mashed the boss and his remaining defenses. Finally free of disgustingly overpowered fire guys, hallways of exploding barrels and random "gotcha!" ball traps, I thought I could take on this game.

But the bridge thereafter would render my beliefs incorrect. The bridge is split into three parts - all of which are continually being breathed on by a dragon. With the demon I killed before restoring my full health I could take a single breath attack. But the towers lining this bridge have crossbowmen with truly outrageous damage potential, axemen who could hit for 1/2 your health pool, and pikemen who put me in a truly alien experience.

Demon's Souls features a combat collision system I've yet to see in a game. Hitting a wall essentially resets your combo. Thus, tight corridors favor spears and daggers. But the spear I found could not be wielded by Professor Snape for some reason, which it dealing disgustingly low damage. I figure I need to pump some attribute - an impossible venture considering I'd already spent most of my money.

I burned through two dozen healing items I'd stocked up through my successful ventures in the first area just trying to survive the treks across the bridge and clearing them out. I had amassed around 1300 souls again, still not enough for an attribute level, but I prayed I found a vendor who would sell me some fucking armor. By chance I ducked into an underground area beneath the bridge at the end, only to encounter dogs. A lot of dogs. The dogs ripped through my shield and health pool as if it didn't exist, leaving Professor Snape in a hilariously badly animated death sequence before I even knew they were dogs at all.

What followed was an hour of embarassing deaths to dragons, dogs, archers, and a stack of blue knight guys ready to split me wide at the end of the bridge should I somehow get to it. As luck would have it, a vendor that sells armor does in fact exist - at the end of the bridge and under it. If I had reached him with my original soul count I could have very well bought a single piece of armor, enough to surely make a big difference. But I didn't have those souls anymore, and by the time I reached him again I had a paltry 440 or something, not even a quarter of what I needed. Another couple dozen deaths later and I called it a day.

To me, Demon's Souls feels incomplete and largely untested. Havok regularly kills the FPS, sounds are unfinished, animations average at best (dragons move a very rigid path when they fly around, sharply changing speed) and the AI is a mess. But the level design feels realistic and impressive, especially considering the linear design of most games. The castle these bridges are a component of is vast and largely explorable, with lots of hidden garbage to be found. You aren't given much story until you kill the first boss, and the story is a very typical "greedy humans want power and wake up old big bad". At least they left out the prophecy part, putting the game ahead of any given Blizzard title, and the voice acting seems decent enough. The setting is rather unique amongst comparative games, but the opportunity to become immersed is often destroyed by the strange nature in which the game's difficulty is presented.

I have barely begun the game and have much to explore, so I keep my position neutral. I expected to die a lot, especially with the controls being as different as they are, but this bridge is seriously boying my balls. I suspect I'll have to grind the initial mobs - the ones that won't 1shot me - and somehow make the journey to that vendor to buy some armor before I can continue the game. I was hoping grinding would not be necessary in this day and age, but at this point I can confidently say I have no hope of actually making progress until I acquire armor.

/edit

I got 3 pieces of plate armor and I am still getting ripped apart. Oh boy.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:32 pm

Concerning Demon's Souls, I played it on the PS3 but didn't finish it at all. Started as a knight thus with decent armor with a shield.

Personally, the defense is reasonable. With a shield, I can block full damage early on. Although I need high enough stamina so that my block doesn't knock me back and be vulnerable to get hit by foes.

You can get some Dragon Shield fairly early on and it's essentially the best shield of the game. Decent blocking plus decent fire resist and another resist. Only pain might be to get a 2nd somehow so you can upgrade one of them to max magic resistance and another to max blocked damage. Then use the one that you need most.

In Mesk's case, I wouldn't be surprised that he just managed to pick a bad class/setup for a start. So far, I heard setups such my knight or mages tend to do fine. Perhaps clerics too.

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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:58 am

Well, part of my conclusion thus far is that the starting club is terrible. I found a Scimitar that is a lot faster and has some partial animation cancelling capability. But I need some energy to continue casting/playing from where I am.

/update

Well, I've reached a few conclusions through many more hours of play.

The first conclusion is that Demon's Souls is a very untested game. There is a ton of bugs. Not the "lol tee hee" kind of bugs but I mean severe bugs, like enormous FPS drops everywhere, massively broken AI, and overall mangled shit. There are zones in this game where it is EXPECTED that at least half the enemies kill themselves by falling off of ledges. Enemies facing away, shooting into walls, etc is all commonplace.

This seems odd, because I discovered this was actually a Japanese game. The very low quality animations, often hilariously bad at that, seem a far cry from typical japanese game work.

Demon's Souls is "hard", but not hard for the right reasons. The AI is unsophisticated and at times amongst the worst I've seen in a game. The reason it's "hard" is because of stat ramping. Think Inferno in Diablo 3. I'm not sure by which mechanism the combat numbers are based off in this game, but it really seems like armor is next to pointless. Between naked and fully armored in heavy armor, Professor Snape's damage intake dropped by maybe 10% on mobs around his level. Meanwhile, mobs in the previous zone barely scratched him - except for that miniboss, who was still perfectly capable of doing MORE damage than the second boss does. The second boss whose AOE hits at a huge radius around its graphic and can ascend Z levels. Right. I could deal with this, because I could heal through it. But when the boss fucking fell on top of me, pinned me inside of him (and became immune to damage no less), and then killed me when he got up, I got mad.

Many disgusting deaths later I finally remembered that killing the first boss opened up some other zones. Well, that's great. I can avoid this fucking bridge and all the anguish in it, right? Wrong. These zones are higher level and range from deceptively agonizing to total suicide. There's Cthulu Superheroes in a prison kind of thing who, after two effortless kills, seemed harmless. Then one permastunned me forever and ate my testicles with his liver. I tried again, and the first one I killed decided to actually fight back, shot me with a tiny laser, and ripped me in half.

Tired of these foes, I returned to the bridge, only to come across an odd discovery. Two new phantom knights joined the existing two - insanely damaging - blue guys who already guarded the corridor to the boss. They 1shotted me promptly. I recalled something in the manual about world tendencies and dying. Yes, being bad at the game gets you punished even harder. So, not only do I need to farm up something like 8k souls worth of consumables to have a reasonable chance of fighting the boss (hours of work), I also need to somehow bypass or kill four durable and instakill-capable knights. All of the efforts I've made in acquiring armor, upgrading my weapons, and also raising my attributes for durability have had zero effect in making even basic trash predictable to fight. I regularly got jumped by dogs under the bridge and died in half a second, the same damage I saw totally arse naked.

The greatest problem with demon's souls overall is you can't make tangible progress. There's no real way to say you're improving. Improving or acquiring new gear means literally nothing at this point in the game. Raising stats and character level seemed like it might give me an edge against lower level foes, but it doesn't seem to matter - or the stat boosts are so insignificant I won't see a difference. Dying over and over might seem like a good indicator of a genuine challenge, but I don't feel challenged. I feel like I'm being forced into grinding low level shit just to flip a coin and hope I can end up somewhere meaningful. Being a better player won't help me avoid animation locking and getting 1shotted by four guys who do 5x my damage blocking my only means of pushing ahead in the game.

I have two potential strategems I can employ. One is to somehow acquire 5k souls again and learn the Protection spell from the sweaty Belgian back home and pray it makes a difference. The other is to force myself through one of the other zones through endless disgusting deaths and hope I can find, and then kill, another boss and find some decent fucking gear - preferably armor. My damage is fine, but I cannot take even a single hit from anything above the generic soldier with 400 hp.
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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby Falchion » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:01 pm

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RISING KINGDOMS:

When you ask "What's your fantasy game?", most would answer Warcraft. 94%¨, at least. Obviously there's gonna be those other Warhammer fanboys defending everything Games Workshop hammers down their throats, but that's the statistics.

If you ask me "What's your closest copycat to Warcraft?", I'd answer Kingdom Under Fire: A War of Heroes. The first Pentagram game that launched the mania to the east and got asian attention was nothing more but a blatant mix-up of both Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. Apart from the graphics, which were decent at their least, KUF was awful in several aspects, from voice acting and mission design to balance itself and game core functions. If people asked me a copycat of Blizzard's medieval theme, that was my answer.

WAS, until Rising Kingdoms, game apparently 3D but 2D in it's aspect, came to mind.

Rising Kingdoms, at a first glance, by it's menu and a literal lack of intro and cinematics of any sort, feels more like an arcade game, like NetStorm, than an actual product. Strangely, however, this game plays out like Warcraft III with a shred of Heroes of Might and Magic and Command and Conquer in it.

If you wish a resume of things, in case you don't want to keep on reading, the main strengths of the game are graphics, a decent soundtrack and a finely tuned spell system for a game this basical while the weak points are several and major: Poor gameplay, mostly dependant on Hard Counters and many times you'll face armor and weapon systems without these Hard Counters, awful and undeveloped voice acting, mostly lacking in-game than in briefings, and a resource system that's both limiting and tries to combine StarCraft and Red Alert 3, but ultimately fails.

Rising Kingdoms, in itself, is a game of the finest graphics for an indie developer, named Haegemonic. It's also one having different features you wished there was in Starcraft but no one complained because it's Blizzard, yours truly: Backside ramps, side bridges, higher ground and trees making passages impassable. The effort is visible in multiple variations of all sorts.

Equally rewarding is the unit animations and design, which are fluid and rewarding. The animations of the units feel more like you're playing Diablo instead of WarCraft or even Starcraft, and that for me feels as a positive change.

There are problems, however.

Rising Kingdoms immediately diverges itself from your usual RTS by it's different UI, where build and upgrade buttons are above, but unfortunately messed up as programmers can miraculously do so, typical of interns. The same thing applies for it's onboard Editor, which is nothing like StarEdit or WorldEdit and you can't see the buttons because of imbecile coloring.

The audio volumes are a mess as well, as the music plays out loud, the spell and weapons sounds are poorly made and could've used some more love and the voice system is practically fucked up: It works the same as Total Annihilation: Kingdoms. You have to click a shitload of times just to hear some lame voice acting (My elected worst being the Wind Rider for Humans. Oh, gawd...). Either the voice doesn't work, or it's lame, or both, WTF???

Overall, audio is inferior to such a graphical beauty the game is. The feel of the visual, the evident lazyness of audio work and the lack in the gamplay feel more Rising Kingdoms was unleash at it's alpha stage because of money-pressure issues. That brings us to topic number two of the matter.

Gameplay.

Rising Kingdoms is way different from WarCraft and tries to come as close to HoMM as possible, with twists and bounds and screwups.

Rising Kingdoms has 3 races, a limited selection group of 12-max units and somewhat the same armor and weapon system from Warcraft III, but also has 5 sub-races (No Orcs, unfortunately), and several features separating from the slang of Blizzard's game: Intelligent and autonomous worker AI, the ability to shift-click buildings and tab press unit types and an inventory system you can sell for money. Unfortunately, there is no veterancy for Champions and the abilities and attempting to expand your supply cap require an awful type of resource that I'll cover later.

The races are the humies (OBVIOUS!), the nature lovers and the hell squids. The subraces are the dragons, protoss ghosts, pointy ears, ape riders and rocky Trolls.

However, the hard-counter is terrible in this game, for blatant reasons: There are weapons and armors that tell you, shamelessly, which will do only half-damage or double damage. Simple as that. The worst case scenario I've seen so far is the vs Trolls. If you don't have any archers of any kind or healers, forget it, you'll win them with heavy losses. This is jarring and makes it fall in the slang of games Warcraft III and Starcraft 2 stand in, because of their utter, senseless dependence on hard counters. The only thing which can make differences is the spells, but they don't do that much damage to enemies, but can fuck up your army if you don't watch it. Stay away from your hero's lightning spell, it hurts you.

For now, I want to deal concerning the base building and unit manipulation. As far as I'm concerned, things like kiting with archers and doing douchebag stuff is still quite possible, even screwing with the game's AI. One example is this hilarious tower defense mission (Which doesn't even COUNT as a TD, more of a cockblock mission), where I've built some towers near a Troll's lair and started kiting the trolls and getting them close to the tower's range. However, the AI screwed up, not deciding whether to face the towers or head back to base and it simply roamed about while my hero kept poking it. The AI is badly designed, rather more on EA level than Blizzard level, but the situation with which I played with the AI were more than hilarious and satisfying IMO. The mission designs are also problematic, where triggered events shine more than actual AI works.

What kills the game, unfortunately, is the resource and base building requirements. So much for base building as for getting new spells for your hero, there is this goddamn hamper called Honor Points. You get a max of seven, and, once you've built your house that needs seven of these fucking coins, you can't expand your supply cap to reach 200+, WTF??? Equally fucked is the resource system, which has a maximum of workers. Yeah, you got a limit to how many workers you can put in each gold mine, and the transaction is the same as in RA3. Not a traffic jam saturation you can make in Starcraft, no. RA3 system. This alone is enough to make the game slow-paced and boring. Whoever was in charge of this resource and supply system deserves a flogging with salt afterwards. Honest.

In the end, Rising Kingdoms is a copycat of Warcraft. But a copycat which is more treated like an alpha arcade and a awful planning-executed worse design, once you get to come past the plastic of such beautiful terrain design, perhaps one of the best I've seen since... ever. Also, as I duly noted, no cutscenes. Tragic, but true.

Screenshots:

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Ignore the dragons, which I've found to be awful, and behold some actual competence behind the terrain work.
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The Trolls are one of the hardest to conquer, but they'll put the game on your hands once you get to have them. They have exclusive stun abilities, bonus vs. buildings and their smaller can become cannonballs which will butt you if you're not careful.
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The Shades are the closest to Protoss ninjas as you can get. They have invisibility and hard hitting units and statues which they use as houses. The similarities end there.
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The Darkling faction, apart from the Shades, are the closest to Starcraft you'll ever get. They have Overlords and regeneration and their most basic unit is ranged. But they also have a timed income system, the best spells and the most challenging missions, and more complete than those of Humans or Foresters.
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I present to you Lady Reya, AKA the Horsie Hooker. She is one of the most agonizing experiences I've faced so far in the game. She wins the contest of the worst voice acting and the worse mission design, which is the human tower defense mission. She's also got one good ability, to rob dead bodies of their gold.
How I became a troll in a single post (And you can too!!! :D ): link

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Re: Old & Aging Game Discussion

Postby IskatuMesk » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:57 am

I've made reasonable progress in Demon's Souls finally, downing two bosses in a matter of minutes from each other and pushing rather heavily in a previously written-off zone.

If I was a reviewer who rated games numerically (which I try to avoid), so far I'd rate my experience about a 5 out of 10. Demon's Souls is an extremely unfinished game but has some strong points. The audio all around is massively lacking, though the voice acting is quite decent so far. The animation is reminiscent of an indie game, there is a colossal amount of bugs and sometimes game-breaking performance issues, havok breaks 9 times out of 10 anything happens, and there are glaring AI bugs/exploits/half-assedry which are extremely easy to reproduce and exploit. Ergo, the game is untested and had no QA.

The game has literally no direction at all for crafting or progression. There is next to no interaction, dialogue, or story past the two intro cinematics which are barebones. No effort was made to bring the "role-playing" part of RPG into the game.

What Demon's Souls does have is a reasonably good art direction and environment design. In a manner this compensates for the lack of interaction or dialogue past the one-liners a handful of NPC's give you, but the game lacks any bonds holding its regions or characters together past these implied elements. This may be for the best, as the game's overarching story is a single giant cliche.

The big point about Demon's Souls is, of course, its supposedly "old school" difficulty. Demon's Souls is indeed a difficult game, and for me it was difficult for many reasons.

- Input latency.
- Standard control muscle memory (DS is very non-standard in controls)
- No in-game direction of any kind for crafting, progression, etc.
- Vague and annoying interface icons that leave you constantly referencing the manual or guessing for purposes
- Crippled drops outside of the first zone
- Scaling damage, so certain enemies will always hit you for X percentage of damage regardless of armor or level
- No animation cancelling, punishing animation locking (hit recovery, even moving)
- hard-counter esque damage types (though this hasn't been a major issue... yet)
- I choose Barbarian and had probably the hardest start of any class in the game since I had no armor, a super shitty weapon, and a very high clevel.

When I first thought of Demon's Souls I thought of a tactical combat with a very threatening environment, where enemies were intelligent and exploited medieval combat. What I got was a clunky introduction with virtually no information on any of the game's underlying mechanics, and a fuckton of douchery in stat scaling. Think Diablo 3 inferno. Yes, it's that kind of lazy difficulty. So far only two zones have real environmental threats past the very obvious bits.

In DS there is the potential for tactical combat. This is the underlying combat model. You can't play this game like God of War, it's much slower, much more abusive, and infinitely more punishing. Mobs will either be very easy or instant death if they connect, there's no inbetween. Basic monsters are essentially filler and, once you are at the appropriate gear level, serve as little more than vain efforts to get drops (usually materials) that don't actually drop no matter how much you pump "luck", whose numbers offered in the level-up screen are completely unrelated to actual drop table calcs that probably rely on a treasureclass table. Don't expect healing herbs to drop off of any basic monsters after Boletarian Palace, the most you'll get is Lotus', which remove some ailments. Some of the "deadly" monsters drop maybe 1-2 healing, or still none, assuming you can kill them without needing to heal (gets easier as time goes on, but when breaking in... well, apparently ranged and casters are easy mode).

This butchery of drops is the single most dangerous element in the entire game I've thus far encountered. It encourages grinding, the weakest link of any otherwise half-decent RPG. With a ton of practice and a lot of needless deaths I finally tuned myself comfortably to the combat model, equipped light armor and fast weapons, and found my sweet spot. It has taken literally 25 gametime hours to confidently say I know how to play now. But the drops, despite my efforts to pump luck, don't exist and basically mean to progress in the game I have to grind.

I can grind one of two things;

1- I can die relentlessly to the first 3 packs of mobs in the Shadowman zone, picking up my blood stain when I die, and harvest souls of about 300 per mob and buy the herbs.
2- I can run the first zone over and over to pick up herbs and spend the souls to buy the rest at 400-800 a pop (with mobs dropping around 15-30 a piece).

Grinding is bad game design at its finest. Because the mobs in the alternate zones plainly do not drop healing, or drop healing at such an insanely reduced rate you're lucky to see 1 in 100, you have to grind. Demon's Souls is not a game about skill, it's a game about consumables and paying attention afterwards. All bosses and all progression directly correlates to how many consumables you have. The best example I have so far is the False Idol, a caster boss that will stun you for about 80% of the fight. Even though she has very little health, she spawns clones and relentlessly shoots bolts at you. Oh, and she revives when she dies. So, I think you have to kill this other npc and then fight her again. Except I died that time because lol no healing.

As far as I can tell, the stuns on the False Idol are entirely unavoidable. The room will have these rune things that flash on the ground momentarily when they spawn I suppose then become invisible. One presumes stepping on these means you get stunned. Well, you get stunned just about anywhere. I guess they may just last forever until every inch of the room is coated in the things. The boss doesn't chase you or do anything else but "teleport" and reset her adds when you do some damage, and just point and shoot bolts at you regardless if she can hit you or not. Braindead easy. Just the arbitrary stuns make it retarded.

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Boletaria cried out for a hero. What they got was a professor. Professor Snape. Secret agent and patriot. He is trained in the sacred arts of Goa`Tse and can tuck himself inside his own anus when shit inevitably hits the fan.

Dying a lot in a game is something you should always expect. Never should you be able to beat a game on easy without dying at least a few dozen times. The question is, will you learn something from those deaths, or were they entirely arbitrary? In most circumstances of this game I have died because I was doing something utterly retarded. Retarded includes thinking I could run away from attacks, thinking I could fight enemies without gear, having bad control or suffering from latenxy, or being needlessly aggressive. In all of those circumstances save those involving phantom NPC's and bosses, healing items get you out scott free.

Balancing healing items in a game like this is a tough call. If you have high drop rates, the Luck attribute (assuming it actually boosts drop rates - I've yet to see it actually make an impact) could become stupidly overpowered. Healing is incredibly strong in this game. Especially on a first playthrough, I felt like I just wasn't making any progress in the game. After the first zone you plainly stop seeing healing drop. Stats raise as you invest, but they have virtually no impact outside of meeting gear requirements. It's fine to have a challenge, but with 20 hours on my belt and only the first boss down, dying over and over to the same fucking guys I had been dying 20 hours ago, despite upgrading and improving my gear massively, it really felt like the stat and gear systems were tacked on, nerfed to hell, and then abandoned half-finished.

Despite many of the difficulties I encountered with the combat and drops I felt like they did strike some balance between the evils. I rarely die in combat now, unless it's to something really unexpected happening. After a very long time of trial and error and overcoming my learning disabilities I finally entered a sweet spot where I feel like I can clear a lot of a level without relying on dumping money on healing. If I burn my healing, though, it's back to the grind before I can attempt progress again. This is the weakness of this game and it's one that shines very poorly on the tactical and RPG elements, and downplays the overall design.

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A lot of my victories against opponents that were certain death, particularly phantoms, came as a result of exploiting their hideously bad AI. This game has some of the worst AI I have ever seen. It's blizzard-level bad. They don't see Z axis, they get stuck on geometry very often, and they are prone to throwing themselves off of ledges for the fuck of it. If the AI was at all capable of navigating terrain there's no way I'd be as far as I am. Instead of fixing the broken AI they made mob damage utterly insane and made your damage absorption practically non-existent from armor. Shields get a lot of getting used to due to the hit recovery and stamina, but once you get used to it, it's a big deal if you want to play a tanky style game. It's either that or strip down and roll forever. But as far as armor is concerned, heavy armor seems to be plainly not worth it unless you really want the meager resists you get. That and you can't upgrade armor, only your shield.

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I still don't know what the "stat bonuses" actually do. At all. Nor have I seem them at a not-terrible rating. I also don't know what Guard Break reduction does, nor damage reduction % (I assume it's on a block). Oh, and your plague/poison only seem to do 1dps to targets while they do a lot more to you. Enjoy.

Demon's Souls level designers are the star of the show in this game. I really like the layout of the areas, their overall feel, and the look of the game. If you manage to make it to a boss on a large level you usually end up opening doors and stuff along the way that make your next attempts a little less retarded to achieve. Exploring actually feels like exploring in this game, and many times I've missed things because I wasn't paying attention. Secrets and items aren't always very obvious, nor are the ways to get to them. I like that, because it actually has made me think for the first time in a decade of gaming, and now I've really started to try to pay attention. The game is encouraging me to be more alert and aware of what's going on, and that's an accomplishment next to no western title has achieved in a very long time.

While Dark Souls was recommended, and not Demon's Souls, I felt like playing the ancestor first to get an idea of how Dark Souls improved. I predicted a 100 hour gametime for this LP, which I doubt I will reach now, unless I encounter another major barrier. While this game has been a more pleasant experience than Conan in many ways, in others it echoes lazy design and sheerly untested publishing often seen in titles like Conan. This was a Japanese title, so this comes off as a really big surprise to me. I have not seen an asian game with animations this bad in a very long time, other than gimmick f2p games. But the companies behind Demon's Souls are not exactly new or young brands. What went wrong? Will Dark Souls fill these holes?

Only time will tell.
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