Thursday, September 30, 2010

BG2 isn't the definitive RPG

I'm sorry to have to burst this bubble for some people, but it's completely necessary. As I've stated before, I was/am a big fan of Baldur's Gate 2, but I think it's time to put to rest the concept that BG2 is the ideal RPG. This seems to be a disturbingly common train of thought for RPG fans, and it appears it has been for a while. I recently chanced upon a link to an old preview video of Dragon Age: Origins...

Seriously, how many times did they have to say "Baldur's Gate" in that video? I vaguely remembering that they seemed to be harping on about it a lot when I first watched it (which was quite some time ago), but it really hit home for me watching it recently.  Do RPG fans really still need to cling to a game released ten years ago as the be-all and end-all of what RPGs should be? I surely hope not. Yes, it does some things really well, but it's not the epitome of class in all areas. The game was great for its time, as was the entire series, but isn't it time people stopped letting one game define our entire concept of what RPGs should be like?

I'm going to focus primarily on BG2 in these posts, as it is generally regarded as the definitive chapter of the Baldur's Gate saga. There are points where I will touch on the series as a whole, but for the sake of brevity, I'll try to direct my focus. Now curiously, this is partially going to be a list of some of the things that BG2 does right, but I'm also going to address why those things don't really hold much sway, or shouldn't be copied for future RPGs. It's also a pretty long post as there is a lot to cover.

Baldur's Gate was D&D (specifically 2nd Edition aka AD&D, and to some RPG players, AD&D is roleplaying. For me, that's a very narrow mindset. As someone who is mostly an outsider to D&D, the backlash against 3rd edition and 4th edition upon their release appeared significant. Many players seemed to be greatly attached to the mechanics of AD&D, and did not want to give them up for anything. Now, this may be anecdotal, but other mechanics are frequently viewed with skepticism, and players immediately want the combat mechanics to be broken apart for them so they can know their insides.

A well-perused tome for many pen and paper RPG players

Forgotten Realms
The Forgotten Realms, or Faerun, is probably the most popular D&D setting. I don't have any statistics, but I'd hazard a guess that the number of campaigns, books and computer games set in Faerun is far more than any other setting by a significant amount. There are a massive number of established and popular characters within the setting, and the player gets to meet several of those figures within BG2. There's some definite fan service in their appearance, as there's no real reason for your character (even as a Bhaalspawn) to cross paths with so many famous people except simply to cater for fan desires to interact with them.

Ideal level curve
BG2 puts the player across the ideal level curve for a grand adventure in D&D terms. Warriors don't start off as a fledgling weakling who can die to a single blow, and mages aren't ever stuck only being able to cast two spells a day. Even better, by the end of the game you're a powerful (but not unstoppable) character capable of overcoming some of the more potent dangers that exist within a classic fantasy world. Now, this is a well-picked scope for the game, but the reason it works is because of my next point...

The game starts off with you fighting goblins, but this soon gives way to fighting more dangerous beasts. Golems, trolls, vampires, liches, demons, beholders and even dragons are put in your path before the game finishes, and you triumph over all of them. Now, the fights aren't necessarily easy, but they fit the aforemention level curve and showcase the improvement of your character. People love killing amazing enemies, and dragons are up there with the best things to put in a player's way. Players love killing a variety of different things, as it gives a sense of achievement, even if it's somewhat artificial. 

If you simply pitted the player against increasingly more difficult versions of the same looking enemies with more and more abilities, it doesn't feel as special to them. Players get an artificial sense of achievement through art style and diversity of enemies; the enemies could behave almost identically but look different and players will treat the enemy with a new level of respect. Yes, unfortunately we are that gullible, because players like to kill things that look cooler and more deadly. Don't believe me? Then why do people keep levelling up their characters to reach maximum level in WoW? Why is it exciting to go to a new in Azeroth and kill new enemies that have exactly the same simplistic AI as the ones you've been killing up until now?

Yay! It's dragon-killing time!

Drow seem to be like crack for many D&D fans. Heck, fantasy fans in general. Dark elves, or fallen elves or their equivalent are extremely common in many settings, for some reason that I simply don't get. Letting the player visit the Underdark, one massive underground dungeon home to Drow and countless other classic enemies, will automatically score points with fans. It's cool, but it's fan service.

Even Bethesda loves "Dark Elves"

Now, many of these are reasonable for a game to include, but the problem is that they're not entirely transferable to other RPGs in general, especially ones set in a new intellectual property. The effect of the ideal level curve is transferable, because that can be implemented by different level mechanics outside of D&D. Implementing a good level curve is great for RPGs that involve levelling, because making the player feel more powerful as they progress without ever making them feel too weak or powerful is generally a good thing.

A large bestiary is the other widely applicable characteristic, more monsters will typically translate to "more fun" for the players. Of course, it is more work to create creatures than back in the 2D isometric days of BG2, as gamers now expect detailed and complete 3d models complete with "realistic" animations befitting their size, anatomy and actions. It's harder, but players will get a kick out of fighting different enemies as they go through the game.

So, let's consider some of the other elements of the game, like its character and gameplay...

The Protagonist
The player is "special", adhering to the classic "chosen one" trope that has plagued fantasy stories for years. Admittedly it is a little better presented in BG2's case than many others, but it's still there and very clear. Turning a cliche into an acceptable cliche is an achievement, certainly, but not one that games should try to replicate. Besides, does it feel more empowering for a player to be a chosen one who realises their destiny, or to be an ordinary person who rises to greatness of their own skill and talent?

BG2 pretty much established in-game RPG romance with its three female leads: Jaheira, Viconia and Aerie. This basically set the standard for RPGs since that time, and players now expect to be able to have a romance with one or more NPCs in their games. Regardless, BG2 gave RPG players their first virtual romance experience, and many seem to still cling to this fondly. It's almost a little bit disturbing that some seem to treat it like a real-life romance, falling into the same trap of comparing each new romantic interest with their first. On that note, Baldur's Gate pretty much re-established the RPG genre when it was released, so there's probably no small amount of "this was my first real RPG" nostalgia associated with the game as well.

Jaheira and Jaheira 2.0

I'm a big fan of choice in games, and in RPGs in particular, but in BG2 most of what we get is "choice-lite" or "character-defining choice". There are few decisions that actually effect the lore of the gameworld itself, despite the game being extremely high-powered towards the end - most of the effects the player has on the game world are pre-determined. Modern RPGs really outshine BG2 in this regard, actually giving consequences as a result of the player's choices.

BG2's combat really doesn't have all that much depth, especially when it comes to the warrior classes, who basically just get pointed in the direction of an enemy and swing away without the player's input. As mages level up, they have the ability to gain a moderate repetoire of spells, but unless you're playing a sorceror, you have to pre-plan every encounter or select a very diverse range of spells because you have to memorise them ahead of time. You can't simply start a combat and pick the appropriate spell for the encounter, meaning that it's possible for your mage to either end the fight in a matter of seconds or have virtually no impact. Admittedly this is an inherent weakness of AD&D, but it's far less enjoyable than DAO's system where you can choose any spell out of those you know to adapt to the situation, and every class has abilities that you can choose to use at specific moments - you're rarely forced to be passive like you might have to be in a BG2 fight.

BG2 Dragon sucker punch

Now, in all of this, I'm not taking anything away from BG2. It's still a well-crafted game and should be played by everyone who considers themselves a fan of RPGs.  However, it's important to understand that some of the things that made it great were fan-service, and cannot or should not be repeated across other RPGs. There are elements of its design than have been surpassed by modern titles, and it's essential to realise the strengths and weakness of both old and new games in order to make games better.


  1. "Yes, unfortunately we are that gullible, because players like to kill things that look cooler and more deadly. Don't believe me? Then why do people keep levelling up their characters to reach maximum level in WoW? Why is it exciting to go to a new in Azeroth and kill new enemies that have exactly the same simplistic AI as the ones you've been killing up until now?"

    The impact of art design for mobs is fairly important, but I don't think that's anyone's prime reason for levelling to cap in WoW, or any other MMO. Social reasons (it's where your friends are), character progression (people love getting good gear, even just for its own sake, which is at cap) and challenge (raids <3) are all much more significant. Sure the mobs in the levelling zone aren't very sophisticated, but that's only a fraction of your character's life.

    Odd example for an otherwise valid point ;)

  2. Anyone who thinks BG2 is the definitive rpg hasn't played Torment. /ducks

    Not in any particular order:

    Virtually every rpg is trapped in the "only give meaningful choice right at the endboss" problem simply because coding the paths of significant choice is work intensive. Only more recently do devs have large enough teams that the work of giving meaningful choice can be seriously done.

    On combat, 2nd ed warriors have two roles, and those roles are meat shield or dps via dual wielding. I personally view Vancian casting as a rp strength. Otherwise wizards don't fill a role, they are a multitool that fills all roles simultaneously, making other classes redundant.

    A strength of BG2 was there were enough companions you could make a party that entirely avoided any type of role you wanted, your entire party could be wizards, or divine casters, or female, or short races (dwarf, halfling, gnome).

    Drow: drow as game players know them were invented by DnD. They've been a classic enemy for the BG2 level range since 1981 with G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King. Drow being evil and living underground are their two defining traits. Bethesda's drow, the dunmer, are specifically not evil and live on the surface like anyone else. Dunmer are a bad example. Finally, I don't think there would be complaints of fan service without the author RA Salvatore and his character Drizzt.

    Falling into tropes.
    Baldur's Gate 2 has a very long page.
    It's almost as long as the list for Dragon Age
    Every RPG is going to have a long list of tropes. Even Torment

  3. The point about choice that you bring up is something I feel especially strongly about and I remember I was pretty pissed when I first played the BGs back in the day and how much people praised them. Not because I feel they're bad, but because they actually felt rather constricted even back in those days, and there were RPGs before that had the player much more in the driving seat.

    It's been too long since I played BG1 now but I think a real strength of BG2 was how well it managed to sell the idea of being in a large city (and then its environs around it). This is an area where I feel the switch to 3d gaming has actually hurt RPGs because no game I know of so far has managed to create the abstraction as well as Athkatla or Sigil. For all its faults though, I felt the Witcher came pretty close in this area.

    But exploring the vast and exotic city is really exciting stuff to me. But once that's over with in the first chapters, the game takes a serious dive for me.

    Also, I think the was some extremely nicely designed encounters in the game, challenging stuff. And like you say, the enemies you fight feel very varied.
    Dragon Age had great potential here I thought because I feel the combat system in itself is way better, and while I think there are some great encounters in DA as well, it also felt extremely repetetive after a while to a degree which I felt BG2 didn't.

    But yeah, I like BG2 quite a lot (I'd personally say it's Bioware's second best game with DA taking the top spot), but I feel it is an extremely overrated game. Especially its roleplaying aspects.

  4. You can rail against it and say it isnt this and that or not this and that, but saying BG2s techniques should not be repeated is ridiculous. Its my favourite game period. Whatever they did should be closely mimicked until they get it right again.

    I had NOTHING to do with D&D as a person when I played BG1 and then BG2.
    And they are my favourite games. I'm not even sure why you point out that BG had lots of monsters as if its bad because they operate with the same stat systems... should they instead produce 4 models? Since when is having more monster models bad? Really missed the mark on this point, whatever it was.

    No game I have played in the years since has come close to the enjoyablity of BG2, so ya, I'm going to cling to that title. You would think in 10 years some progress would be made, rather than people tell me i should forget how fun something was 10 years ago and lower my standards for here on.

  5. Jye: I'm a reformed WoW-aholic, so I tend to get a little glib when using it as an example. Yes, there are other driving factors for leveling up in WoW, but without the change in scenery of your environment and enemies, there's no way that players would persevere. I agree I probably could have picked a stronger example... hrm, Diablo? :-)

    Jamal: Ahh, Torment. It was less popular and has less rabid fans insisting every game should be its clone.
    Yes, not having choice has been a technical limitation in the past. But does that mean that we should completely ignore that advancement in the depth of modern RPGs so that old titles can "have a fair go"? I don't think so.

    Vancian casting... I'm not really sure it provides roleplaying. How does have to pre-prepare your tactics for combat constitute roleplaying? Regardless, it's not *fun* and possible my mage with have nothing to do in a fight. That's not fun for the player.

    In fantasy settings, it doesn't matter whether "dark elves" live underground or are evil - if they're there, players seem to love them regardless. No, Dunmer != Drow, but I was just using them to illustrate that this "dark elf" concept is used a lot.

    DAO has a lot of tropes, no argument. (Though TV tropes has so darned many tropes you could find a plethora in ANYTHING) But it doesn't have the "you are the chosen one" trope which is just so horribly overused. Make me special because of my achievements, not who my character is.

    Starwars: I definitely agree on the city issue. Athkatla felt like a real city. Denerim on the other hand, not so much. Now if I could only put my finger on exactly why...

    Anonymous: Yet you haven't listed one reason WHY it's a good game. I'm not saying it's a bad game, in fact I'm saying quite the opposite. The variety of monsters, for example, is something it does right that other games SHOULD copy. You appear to have missed my point entirely there, because I explicitly stated that monster diversity is a good thing!

    However, there are many ways in which BG2 is inferior to modern titles. I hate to be so blunt, but to simply state "[BG2 is] my favourite game period" without recognising its weaknesses (of which there are many) just comes across as one-eyed nostalgia. Yes, there are some things it does which newer games should try to emulate, but there are a lot of things that should be kept in the past.

  6. Correction: "and it's possible my mage will have nothing to do in a fight"

    Also regarding choice, there weren't actually any limitations stopping designers from implementing choice to a greater degree. BG2 has global variables and a scripting language to change events based on those variables. It simply would have required the same amount of content to have been spread across different paths within the narrative. There is nothing to stop the implementation of choice except balancing the amount of content that varies between playthroughs against that which the player will always experience.

  7. "Vancian casting... I'm not really sure it provides roleplaying. How does have to pre-prepare your tactics for combat constitute roleplaying? Regardless, it's not *fun* and possible my mage with have nothing to do in a fight. That's not fun for the player."

    In non-vancian systems, you tend to get either of two things: unlimited spamming of spells or you get the ability of the spellcaster to do any role via spell. Unlimited spell spamming is normally "limited" by mana, but there are always so many mana potions lying around as to make the mana system pointless, players effectively have infinite mana. The ability to do any role makes other classes redundant.

    "How does have to pre-prepare your tactics for combat constitute roleplaying?" Vancian casting is exactly about deciding what role you want to play in your group, and you have to face up that your role may not be all that useful. But then your wizard, searching for something to do because the enemy is immune to fire and they memorized a bunch of fire spells, may try something else that unexpectedly turns out to be very useful. Even the process of searching, discovering the wizard really happens to be useless for this encounter, and yelling "CRUD!" can be fun for the player.

    It's only a problem if the wizard is never useful, not if the wizard is not useful once in a while. Same thing for fighters. The occasional enemy that's immune or highly resistance to their weapon is ok (the wizard will back them up with spells). But make all or most enemies immune to their weapons and the player with a fighter will not have fun.

    A game should present some challenge to the player. A game that does not isn't going to be fun for long. I'm reminded of a fighting game review that consisted of the reviewer beating a game by sitting on the controller (and thus pressing the buttons to attack/defend etc).

  8. Real cities:

    Athkatla feels like a city because it's big, it's grimy, there's places you can go that are "just there" (no game reason for being there) and there's 500 things going on that have nothing to do with you, at least until you step into them. Also, the ambient sound of people makes it seem like there's more npc's in the area than of course there are.

    I'm going by these pictures and video as I haven't played DAO, these are the same pictures as the official DAO site, but larger.

    All four pics and the video:
    Everything is washed out in color. I get it DAO, you're "adult", so that means everything has to be brown and gray and washed out. Real life has color. Even in the bad parts of town, which these pics appear to be.

    What am I seeing?
    Picture 1: See the tent? The tent is 10-15 meters in the air! That doesn't happen in real life, unless it's a giant circus tent. Being so high it provides negligible protection from the sun/rain. But this tent's not that large. It has room for maybe 4 merchants. None of which look like they have anything that would be of interest to a player, yet this market is apparently central to the area. The triangular banners below the tent level are also dull green and gray. That's another thing that doesn't happen IRL. Those banners should be brightly colored to attract attention. The tent itself is washed out, though perhaps it's because it's 15 meters in the air so it can't be maintained.

    The merchants apparently sell goods of interest to commoners, but there are maybe 6 people in the market. The market should be 1) larger with more merchants, 2) have a lot more people milling about. It's essentially a farmers market, but looks nothing like one.

    Picture 2 (the tent is in the background)
    In picture 1 and 2 we can see that the buildings are all run down, just look at the roofs. The ground, however, is as clean as if the street was just swept. Also, there's no litter anywhere. I've lived in some pretty sketchy places in several countries around the world, the ground isn't clean and the streets have litter. The ground also appears to be perfectly flat, the paving has neither increased the ground height under it, nor did they pave over existing paths worn into the dirt.

    Also, there's no paths where people would walk. People walking from the spot to the right of the dragon age dragon logo off out of the picture to the left of the tent would have left a path through the dirt, or that path should be paved leaving a dirt triangle between the building and the tent.

    There are buildings, but no signs of life. Every building there is at least 4 stories tall judging by the size of the characters. There are very few people on the street, way out of proportion with what one would expect even given the limitations games always have in terms of npcs they can put on a map to fill in a city.

    Further on the no signs of life. There are no details on or around the buildings that tell you someone lives there. Things like flower baskets outside a door or hung from a window. There's people there, and there's buildings there, but those people don't live in those buildings.

    The buildings are way too far apart. It's good for ai pathing I know, but irl slums (that's what this appears to be), building density is high. Those buildings are some 20-30 meters apart across the main street. Didn't happen in Europe during the time of swords and armor when everyone had to walk everywhere.

  9. Picture 3:
    This is, by far, the most successful picture for portraying a real city. The buildings are crowded together. There is evidence people actually live there (the drying laundry at top right, the ladder on the building on the left, the light and plants on an apparent trellis in the right foreground, the apparent construction next to that). The foreground actually looks dirty and there appears to be some random grass growing. It still lacks people, and a tree that giant should have roots that affect the local terrain around the base.

    Picture 4, the church (I guess).
    Now this building seems important ingame. It's architecturally distinct from other things. It's well maintained (look at the roof in comparison with the roof of the building next to it). And Denerim is supposed to be the "jewel in the crown of the King" according to an npc in the video. Yet the wall in front that marks it's space is falling apart and there's meter+ high grass growing next to it!

    The pink windows appear to be lit from the inside, but they don't shine on anything (it's most obvious on the left in the shadows).

    Again, this picture is short people. See the tent at the bottom right. This church is in a city, that would normally be a merchant tent and not moldy and full of holes. Good business to be had from either the priests or the people visiting the church.

  10. I don't like vancian casting because of the limitations it places on my character. I know that's somewhat personal preference, but I really think it detracts from gameplay. I couldn't play a mage in BG2, though I did play through as a sorceror. I was happier having a limited repertoire of spells I could use any time I wanted than having to know in advance what I needed. Dragon Age doesn't use vancian casting but still provides a challenge to the player with its combat.

    Being able to provide fun yet with an appropriate difficulty that is the responsibility of the gameplay/system designers - personally I think it's probably easier to reach the "fun" aspect without vancian casting. Actually, this possibly leads into another lengthier discussion on combat design that I might reserve for another post...

    As for the comments on Denerim, you do raise some valid points, but at the same time you don't really get an entirely accurate representation of the market area (pictures 1,2,4) from those static shots. That said, you definitely raise some really valid design issues with its creation, and I can't fault many of the points. I'd say your spatial estimations are a little off, but that's normal when looking at screenshots. Denerim in particular does lack verisimilitude in terms of the placement of objects and the texturing/structure of the ground matching the overall "theme" of particular areas. But I would not fault the art style of the props in general, as that definitely feels consistent.

  11. "Dragon Age doesn't use vancian casting but still provides a challenge to the player with its combat."

    Veering off topic here, but Dragon Age has significant issues with its challenge. For the most part, it's horribly trivialised, partly by the overwhelming strength of mages, and partly by broken consumables. I'm really hoping to see that improved in DA2, since a better balanced system would allow Bioware to ramp up the challenge for optimising players while keeping it in reach of a sensible starting point.

    That's not really related to Vancian magic which has balance issues of its own. I'm a pretty big fan of the 4E power model myself :)

  12. The funny thing is, I've seen just as many people complain about how difficult the combat is in Dragon Age as I have complain about how easy it is. I remember reading a review/analysis of game design where a person was saying that they'd had to resort to turning Dragon Age down to easy simply because they found combat too hard and couldn't enjoy the game otherwise.

    I tried to play briefly with the game on hard, but when I got to some of the more challenging encounters, I didn't stand a chance. Maybe that's because I was running a party of my S&S warrior, Alistair, Leliana and Wynne, rather than a damage mage.

    I recently played Golems of Amgarrak and tried the Harvester on Hard. The runic golem (whose cleansing aura appeared to be doing nothing) died fairly early on, but I was able to keep my other two henchmen alive for a while. They both went down either just before or just after I killed the Harvester in its first form. Needless to say, I couldn't kill it on Hard.

    Or maybe the people who say Nightmare is too easy would just tell me to "learn to play". I don't always pick the perfect stat and skill choices - and as such I've put points into things that people say are useless. This means the game is more challenging in combat - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. If a game only caters to highly optimised builds, then that's just as bad (if not worse) than a game that allows people to win too easily.

  13. Its not one eyed nostalgia, its my favourite game. Again, not going to put aside this and pretend I like another game because its newer because you say it has less weakness.

    If you have to quantify everything as to which is better and reason x is why, maybe you have missed the point of playing games entirely.

  14. @AH on DAO difficulty: I'm told that the people who play on Nightmare and find the game too easy are using every exploit to their advantage (that's why there are exploit-removing mods.)

    Me? I can play the game on Hard and get by as long as I have 20-30 health potions. Exploit? Maybe. I still can't get some of the harder fights down on the first try, though.

    I could go on all day about Vancian vs. DAO vs. DND3E vs DND4E, but I'll save it for now. I don't want to spam...

  15. "If you have to quantify everything as to which is better and reason x is why, maybe you have missed the point of playing games entirely. "

    You don't understand my intent. The point is to work out WHY particular games are good and what makes them better than others. If you can't do that and identify the strengths in design, then how do you know how to recreate the aspects that players loved?

    I'm not telling you that BG2 can't be your favourite game, I'm totally happy for you that it is - it's a great game. My issue is that some people (and I'm not saying this is you) declare it's their favourite game cannot identify what it is that makes it "the best", but still demand that new games should be just like it. How can we make new games that are better than BG2 if we don't know what made it so good?

    In discussions with some of these people, I've discovered the reason that they like it so much is because of the plot and their character's story. This is an entirely subjective judgment, and one that overlooks all the things that differentiate games from other storytelling media. I don't want a new RPG to have the same plot as one I've already played.

  16. "The funny thing is, I've seen just as many people complain about how difficult the combat is in Dragon Age as I have complain about how easy it is."

    The key differential between these people is not play skill or tactical ability per se, but knowledge of a handful of extremely powerful tricks (potion spam, Mana Clash, mage CC in particular). The impact of these tricks overwhelms the difficulty levels, so Nightmare can be too easy for one player while Normal is too hard for another based on whether they've stumbled across or heard of them.

    In a better balanced game you could have more legitimate challenge while still allowing people to exercise choice by picking what they liked for character build. Their choices wouldn't be optimal, but at least they'd be in the same league.

  17. "However, it's important to understand that some of the things that made it great were fan-service, and cannot or should not be repeated across other RPGs"

    I should add that despite arguing on tangents (talking on the internet yay), I find your central thesis is extremely sound.

  18. Discussion (I'd say we're not arguing because we're constructively exploring disagreements) on tangents is still interesting - it has prompted some thoughts that will result in another post in the future.

    I know this might sound odd, but I actually like it when people disagree with me, provided it's done in a reasoned manner. At the very least, it makes me analyse my own arguments and see whether they actually hold up to other people's perspectives. The discussion about the roleplaying aspects of vancian casting was actually really interesting. As a result, I can now better appreciate how it can feel like it provides better roleplaying. That gives me a new perspective and increased understanding of game design issues. That's a good thing.

  19. As far as DA:O being too easy, I'm one of the few that did find it pretty easy only, because BioWare made it so easy to do. A dual-wielding axe rogue apparently demolishes everything except Gaxkang. My allies got in the way more than they helped in most cases, since most of them spend their time dead than alive (Leliana...). I replayed it as a Sword and Shield warrior and it wasn't quite as easy at least through the Deep Roads levels. So from my two playthroughs, my take on it is that the game is just unbalanced in the favor of dual-wielding players. I can't really speak for mages much. Their only good spell I found was the freezing one, which all undead are practically immune to.

    I don't really feel like rehashing the BG2 argument again, as it brings nothing new to the table. It was a good game for its time, and remains as the most immersive DnD game thus far (that I've played. I'll never play an MMO. I'd rather not deal with immature two year olds jumping everywhere and acting like idiots, lol)

  20. anduraga: Interesting. I've not done the dual-wield route, I might experiment and see. I guess that's somewhat of a balance issue among the classes, rather than the combat system as a whole.

    BG2 was a good game for its time, but I get frustrated that some people seem to demand that every game BioWare makes be a carbon copy of it. It had a really great story despite being based on the chosen-one cliche, but a story is not the *only* thing that matters for an RPG.

    Out of interest, I'd love to see people describe a character from BG2 - let's say Jaheira or Viconia, because they probably have about the most dialogue once their full romances are included. Then have people describe a character from Origins (let's say, Alistair, Morrigan or Leliana). I'd guess that the descriptions of the characters from Origins would have less variation because their characters are more clearly defined by the game - i.e. the characterisation is better.

    MMOs... I played WoW for about four months. It's not actually *that* bad. Not everyone is immature, though you do run into that problem from time to time.

  21. By this post and your arguments in comments and other posts i think that we might have two really different definions of roleplaying games.
    For me the most important part of a roleplaying game are the role you play and the interaction with the people around you might they be companions or just "trivial" npcs.
    I have a problem with the fact that RPG on the computer are mostly about the combat and the "resource management" or character advancement. Yes, from a D&D point of view there is an emphasis on combat but D&D is a bad example in that case. There is far more to a rpg as killing things.
    Yeah, i like me some killing sometimes but not all the time and with every character design. DAO is an action crpg with some aspects that abhorred me about diablo: namly killing is the only way to resolve problems.

    That said, i only played bg1 and started torment some years ago but haven't finished neither of them nor have i played bg2. Every game where i have the CHOICE to kill something or avoid killing it gets a big plus in my book.
    DAO is a nice game but i only played it for the origins because afterwards you are a warden and your background is not really important any more. I also didn't finish it because of a bug i had that destroyed my character at the landsmeet and i didn't want to waste all those hours to reexperience a world that could have been interesting without the war and its 100 citizens hudling and wanting your help because you are their savior and a hero.

  22. I think you may have misinterpreted my intentions or got the wrong impression from the lengthy discussion about combat. Combat is an important part of an rpg, but I agree that the decisions you make and their effects, aka the choice & consequence I talk about frequently, are something I consider to be core for the genre.

    I've criticised DAO for the deep roads and other sections that are equally mindless and repetitive combat. But there are still some great choices to be made. That's something that BG2 doesn't do as well, yet players still heap accolades upon it.