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I don't know if this is the right place to put this, but I'll just leave this here. If it's placed wrong and you (the reader) find this post to make a fair point, feel free to repost in the right spot. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Many good things about this game. Especially, the combat interface works well.

There are three design-flaws I found throughout the alpha that I feel stand in danger of impacting the game in a particulary bad way. I disclose them without much in the ways of padding, so if you feel that negative review equals trolling you have the option to stop reading now.

Two non-compatible themes.
On one side the Divine setting is dark, mystical and serious. On the other side, you have this Monty Python humour displaying inappropriate absurdity. In the alpha this is most clearly manifested in the talking sea-shell. The Python-effect derives not from the fact that it speaks, but rather the personality it displays and the manner of the player characters' response. It appears roughly as if in the middle of Legonas', Aragorn and Gimlis tracking of the Uruk-Hai the spanish inquisition would jump out from behind the rocks to perform an unexpected singing act for our heroes. It is inappropriate (although, try telling the sea-shell that..). While some would find that entertaining, reviews would perhaps not average at the present metacritic score. Since I assume you yourselves rather like your own humour from your developers perspective, and also want to stay loyal to the fans who disagree with me, I have a suggestion to make: Please flag all your attempts at humoristic content, and make a toggle-button to simply disable/enable all of it. While I don't mind meeting talking sea-shells in general, I would rather not have met this particular one.

Dialogue void of personality.
The dialogue in the alpha is really inept. Every line displays less personality than the dialogue of Diablo. Where Diablo was entirely combat-centric, D:OS display ambitions to be something more. Still, the only personality I encountered in the alpha was the speaking sea-shell, and that one seemed like it had inadvertently escaped from discworld. If the alpha proves representative for the dialogue in the release, you're gonna' have quite a few reviews giving average or low scores referring to a decent tactical game with dialogue that makes you wanna' carve your own brain out with a small fork. Dialogue must be written in a way so as to show the characters' attitudes, values and jargon, if you are to cater to role-players. The player characters should be the main priority here, but no NPC should be given a line to say without having a sense of personality to put behind it. Otherwise, it would be much better to cut away all dialogue and spend the resources elsewhere, as the current dialogue just make the game worse. In this spirit, and because I assume you yourselves and loyal fans feel the dialogue look both smart and meaningful, please make a toggle-button to disable/enable absolutely all dialogue in the game. Where removed, clicking NPCs should simply auto-complete all dialogue through a pre-set route, updating the quest-log and progressing the game. Ideal? No. Better? Yes, worlds apart.

Loot-galore?
The armour and damage numbers, and equipment names and properties makes me suspect you plan a diablo-like loot-galore. I think this is a design choice that lends itself poorly to a tactical game. Diablo progress very fast which makes you impatient for new stuff and prevents you from thinking about how inappropriate it is that the epic belly-button lint you just picked up gives you 4000 extra horse-powers for chopping with hand-axes. Turn-based games set a very different stage, and so you should consider a fallout-like design for equipment. Also, you should scrap the heaps of trash-items (what is the point of populating the game with useless junk anyway?).

Anyway, good luck with the further development. I'll give it a shot once it's completed. The tactical combat-elements of the game seem to be coming along nicely. smile


Kindest Regards and Best Intentions,
Emil

Last edited by Emil Amundsen; 18/02/14 11:52 PM.
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1) I don't agree with this complaint. As in all video games, there is tonal inconsistency in the Divinity games, but I cannot think of a way to 'fix' this without making things much worse. These jokes and light-hearted moments against the backdrop of an overarching threat have always been present in Larian games, and that's a good thing. Everyone remembers the existentialist skeleton in Divine Divinity's starting dungeon. It's funny when your character proclaims the Duke of Ferol to be the worst poet in the world, or when Billeh Ghar can't find a word that rhymes with 'orange'. And when I don't find something funny (e.g. the mayor being hard of hearing which means you have to repeat everything*), it's not annoying enough to take me out of the game.

2) I can kind of see where you're coming from with this one. To be specific, it's not that NPCs don't have personalities, it's that they all have the same personality: that of a perpetually smirking aristocrat. The writing is obviously extremely competent from a technical point of view, and the dialogue contains words and expressions that even some native English speakers might not be familiar with. However, the purpose of game dialogue is not to show off the writer's prowess, but rather to create compelling, relatable characters that fit in the game world and are internally consistent. I feel like this goal is not achieved when even random plebeians are spouting pompous lines that sound like they're straight from a Shakespearean play. I want to be able talk to actual human beings at least some of the time. Tongue-in-cheek caricatures are absolutely fine, but I don't think it's necessary for 98% of the NPCs to fall under this category.

Your 'solution' is silly, though. The better solution would be for some of the dialogue to simply be rewritten or toned down so that it is more in-character, which is absolutely feasible. The writer has a very impressive command of the English language, he just needs to learn to control his verbosity when appropriate.

3) I am not a game designer so I don't know what the best loot system would be. However, the ubiquitousness of 'junk' is a deliberate design decision on the part of the developers to make the world feel more alive and to encourage interactivity, similar to the old Ultima games. I fail to see the problem with that.

* actually, now that I think about it, this is a really lame trait to give to a character and it serves no purpose that I can think of. There must be a better way to convey that the mayor is supposed to be an absent-minded, narcissistic character.

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I hate the loot system so far and hated the random loot systems in the other games. I know in DD when I was playing through I got a legendary/epic drop off of a random orc in the orc camp. I took a few steps and a mini boss comes out of the tent. The fight was tough and I thought I was going to be rewarded for it. I was not I got better rewards from a mob standing mere feet away. I actually turned the game off and didn't play for a few weeks because of it. A mob I one shot gives something great a tough fight gave a couple heal potions and some gold.


A random Diablo loot system does not make sense in this type of rpg. The design around the Diablo loot system to to keep chasing the next best thing. However, in this game we have limited number of encounters, no respawns and no chance to chase the next greatest thing. I would much rather see hand placed loot systems because of this or at least on important fights, like the light house horror. Players shouldn't feel compelled in an area such as the treasure vault under the burial mounds to save and reload to get an item they want in the chest. This is a fairly detailed world that is being crafted and random loot in these places breaks the immersion and risk/reward for exploration.

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May I add a few ?
** Skill system is boring SO FAR. I may have never touched a lock pick in my entire life, and blam, invest 10 points in it in a row, and become very "proficient". The geometrical requirement of skill points saves it to some extend...
** BUYING skills in shops ? That is ridiculous. Even with some imagination that the guy maybe giving me some lessons, it is a mood breaker for me.
** Loot system is indeed ridiculous too. I stopped playing the alpha (until next big patch), when I found silver in some barrels. Come on... On the other side, I still want to recover wood, or even some iron, when I destroy a crate...
It is weird, because Larian goes to some very realistic détails (to the point of having empty or full goblets, and so on), but can't have a logical or quite realistic loot system...
I wouldn't be ashamed to have an undead infested mine near Cyseal, and be able to recover Ore from it once I clear it from the undeads. Would make sense to me to recover silver ore, not randomly find it in crates...
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3) I am not a game designer so I don't know what the best loot system would be. However, the ubiquitousness of 'junk' is a deliberate design decision on the part of the developers to make the world feel more alive and to encourage interactivity, similar to the old Ultima games. I fail to see the problem with that.

It makes the world feel more inconsistent, IMHO. And being interactive with crates is so boring. On the other hand, they made the fish stacks right IMHO. Every loot should be like them. Finding some fish on fish poles or stacks makes sense IMHO.
IMO, the problem is it is not THAT realistic, while it could easily be more realistic.

** crafting is Meh. It has the roots to be very good IMO (randomness of results, profusion , but not so much, of ingrédients, variety of crafting recipes), but it still lacks feedback, maybe some success levels (You know, I want to char some fish I am cooking, could be fun RPG stuff), and some use of workshops IMHO. It feels like 25% power, while it could be 100%.
** What are source hunters ? Basic wandering rag tag noobs ? Because the first piece of armor I loot or sword I buy is so much better than source hunter gear... Not saying that the first pack of undeads outside cyseal kicks my ass hard time if I go "alone" fight them in the beginning. I may have missed something, but I have rather have them clearly be basic source hunter recruits, things would be clearer IMHO.

I am really aware that this is an alpha, and that Larian makes huge improvments every patch. Just sharing why I play 10mn of the game every new alpha, and then wait for the next big patch (or editor, ahem...). So far, DoS is a frustrating inquiry RPG for me.

Last edited by Cromcrom; 19/02/14 06:49 AM.

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I've seen a lot of odd requests for toggles in option menus, but a "humourous dialogue" toggle is certainly the most ridiculous (and impossible to implement) one yet.

Maybe the game at the moment does stray a bit too much into comedy or farce, but it

The important NPC's that I've seen do all have a distinct personality, and most of them don't use clever wordplay, they talk normally.

That's one of the most well-thought out arguments against random loot that I've heard, arkand.


Originally Posted by Cromcrom
May I add a few ?
** Skill system is boring SO FAR. I may have never touched a lock pick in my entire life, and blam, invest 10 points in it in a row, and become very "proficient". The geometrical requirement of skill points saves it to some extend...


Are you asking for an Elder Scrolls "use to improve" system? (Just a question, not an attack.)

Quote
** BUYING skills in shops ? That is ridiculous. Even with some imagination that the guy maybe giving me some lessons, it is a mood breaker for me.


Do you mean you want a point-buy system, or NPC's to train you? NPC's might be more realistic, certainly, but also more inconvenient.


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** What are source hunters ? Basic wandering rag tag noobs ? Because the first piece of armor I loot or sword I buy is so much better than source hunter gear... Not saying that the first pack of undeads outside cyseal kicks my ass hard time if I go "alone" fight them in the beginning. I may have missed something, but I have rather have them clearly be basic source hunter recruits, things would be clearer IMHO.


... Videogame!

Starting out as low-level guys with crap gear and powers is how all games do it, really.

I think that the Source Hunters are indeed pretty fresh graduates from the academy, and they've been sent here because it seemed like a relatively easy assignment (there's even a big army in the city for backup), and it wasn't even clear if Source Magic was used.

There might be an optional "Source Hunter Academy" tutorial level added at the start that could make it clearer. (And I'm still waiting for the "Source Hunter's Manual" to be added to out starting inventory. smile


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I am really aware that this is an alpha, and that Larian makes huge improvments every patch. Just sharing why I play 10mn of the game every new alpha, and then wait for the next big patch (or editor, ahem...). So far, DoS is a frustrating inquiry RPG for me.


I don't recall where I heard this, but there are basically two guys working full-time on getting the editor ready for release. It is powerful, but complex, and I think they want to make it a bit more user-friendly.

I hope you have something that can read Excel spreadsheets, because that's how some of the stats are stored.

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Some more flaw at character creation. Classless character creation ? Steam advertising is utterly false. This is definitely a class system, at character creation at least. Rogue, wizard, knight...
I should be able to build my character as I "want" in a classless system. Can't choose skills so far.

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Are you asking for an Elder Scrolls "use to improve" system? (Just a question, not an attack.)

I don't know, I played Skyrim a long time ago. "Use to improve" could be part of the answer in giving some consistancy to the skills system.
Look at the character creation:
Attributes
Abilities
Skills
Talents
and even traits afterwards...
Thats too much stuff around.
Moreover, in character creation, I have no indication, is some cases, of what does what.

I created many character improvments systems over my numerous mods , the skill system I want to create in my mod is ready, but going over them through useless/pointless walls of text is not the point here.


Quote
Do you mean you want a point-buy system, or NPC's to train you? NPC's might be more realistic, certainly, but also more inconvenient.

Could be. The issue is realism/"fun".

Oh, and I really wish a legendary talent will feel like a legendary talent, not a level 5/5 talent. (That is, a lot of dedication to gain it (maybe cost 10 talent points or whatever), but then, some badass effect)

Quote
I hope you have something that can read Excel spreadsheets, because that's how some of the stats are stored.

Lol, bring them sheets.

Last edited by Cromcrom; 19/02/14 05:45 PM.

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Originally Posted by Cromcrom
Some more flaw at character creation. Classless character creation ? Steam advertising is utterly false. This is definitely a class system, at character creation at least. Rogue, wizard, knight...
I should be able to build my character as I "want" in a classless system. Can't choose skills so far.


You can change all the attributes, Abilities and Talents you start with. Yes, I would like to be able to select my starting skills as well, but it is Alpha.


Quote

I don't know, I played Skyrim a long time ago. "Use to improve" could be part of the answer in giving some consistancy to the skills system.


Hmmm... Since the game world is a certain size and doesn't respawn like the Elder Scrolls games there would be problems with some of the abilities, though, like Lockpicking, Leadership, other social skills. Some skills would shoot up like a rocket, but for others you could run out of ways to advance certain skills.


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1. I really have to disagree here, I like all the humor that is in this game.

2. I think the dialog is ok. I skip through most dialogs as well, the only thing that bothers me is that there's no sound with it. But I guess most important dialogs will have sound later on. The only games where I thought the dialog was really great are the Gabriel Knight games, but dialogs really have to be perfect in those puzzle games. I wouldn't want to say DOS is a boring game because of the dialogs. It's more the combat and the questing which for me defines this is a really solid game.

3. You got a point there, I think the best thing now is to collect as much junk as you can and then sell everything and buy epic gear at Esmeralda's shop. I bought 2 Flammenschwert (dunno why German) 87-141 dmg and 40 armor metal armor, those were much better then the one's I found in all the alpha quests. I discussed in another topic, you can already get pretty epic gear from 30 minutes in game, being lvl 2. I don't know if that's the problem of getting good gear or being able to already wear it in early levels, because the strength requirements are pretty low if you put many points in str from start. It's kinda weird that Esmeralda (and I guess all shops) will get better items as well as you progress in levels. You shouldn't get like really good items from shops imo. They should just be good enough to start off in that part of level. If you're really lucky you will find better items though. I noticed however that big bosses DO drop better gear, the big spider in black cove dropped 2 legendary items for me, so that complaint isn't really valid. Overall I'm not really bothered by it, but I don't like it as well. I also like everything the old way (fixed loot, fixed shop items), where in the first town you can just buy beginner gear only and get maybe something special from doing quests. It's a bit weird to reload a bossfight, because you weren't satisfied with the loot. But yeah, in most cases Esmeralda does have better stuff anyways.

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In earlier versions, fixed shop items were a problem for me because my Rogue's dagger broke, and the only things in stores were inferior versions, and those started to wear out. No daggers were dropping from enemies, so I was going to be out of weapons soon.

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In most rpg's the shopkeepers can also repair your weapons for a small fee, being able to repair weapons when you're not around a shop could still be nice.

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Starting out as low-level guys with crap gear and powers is how all games do it, really.

D:OS is getting compared to Ultima 7 now and then (the trailer included), and that game - and most of the rest of the single player series - handled gear quite differently than is typical of today's games. A sword was a sword, full stop. You didn't start with a level 1 sword and then upgrade to a level 2 sword with better stats, etc, etc. Though there was a little bit of gear improvement (a magic sword or a fire sword or whatnot was slightly stronger better than a nonmagical one), character power increased mostly through character stats.

This also meant that if you did find something like a fire sword or juggernaut hammer early on - quite possible, especially if you knew where to look - it was actually a meaningful acquisition, as opposed to "okay, but I'll be replacing it in a couple of levels..."

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Improving your ability through your stats increasing still counts as "low level ... powers".

You missed my point. My point was that games don't usually start out with you outclassing the enemies completely (unless it's a taste of power before abruptly de-powering you).


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I don't have a problem with the idea of starting at a lower power level generally, nor the idea that the characters are relatively new to the trade (although the fact that someone undergoes a meteoric rise in skill/power in such a short time frame is also a bit odd - something that was again a bit different in U7 where stats generally started ~18 and didn't go higher than 30), but it isn't necessary to have a Diabloesque gear system in order to have character advancement or even to have a sense of improvement re: gear.

OTOH, in the case of D:OS, the characters not only don't start out more powerful than the enemies, but they don't even start out on par with other people who should be similarly skilled. Those legionnaire grunts you meet at the beginning of the game are already far stronger (and far better equipped) than the source hunters, which seems a bit odd given the way that the story presents them and the NPCs talk about them (there's even a comment about them having been given the best available stuff in their orders).

For that matter, it's not unheard of for the PCs to start out much more powerful than the opposition, but that usually means that some other factor is at play, such as stealther-style games where fighting sets your mission back even if you win easily. Not so applicable to D:OS, since it doesn't seem set up to allow avoidance in every situation.

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King's Bounty series also had a humorous tone, and has been successful. KB: Legends has 79% metacritic so I don't think humorous RPG = bad metacritic scores.

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Yes these legionaires are pretty strong, you can still defeat them though with help of the explosive barrel for some neat extra exp. I actually would like if they change the story by just a little bit, so that you are just some peasants trying to make a name for themselves and then get recognized as source hunters by level 3 or so. Maybe just by talking to Aureus or Ahru. It's just weird that the 1st couple of legionaires are like, 'wtf you're not source hunters we will need to escort you and then the legionnaire defending the gate is like, 'ok so you're source hunters, you may pass the gate'. I really like the old style slow progression, where in the beginning you can defeat nothing but a small crab or something. Like the 1st fight against 2 legionnaire's at the bridge for me is supposed to be very difficult towards near impossible, but it's instead a piece of cake. Well, they are drunk, but still, those are armed soldiers, you wouldn't want to try this in the old Gothic series. It also feels more rewarding progressing to the game I mean, from a dude with a dull sword, ending up with a dude that can slaughter the whole town if he pleases. Btw I would really like if there were some like lvl 15-20 dudes in Cyseal, where you had to get back to once you're almost done with the game to get some extra treasures.

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Btw I would really like if there were some like lvl 15-20 dudes in Cyseal, where you had to get back to once you're almost done with the game

Please remember that Cyseal is only a small part of the game. They proposed it for alpha to fix system and gameplay bugs.
I think fine tuning of difficulty/balance will come with Beta, when the whole game is finished.
However, I agree, The story/power of characters feels a little weird.

Last edited by Cromcrom; 21/02/14 05:50 AM.

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I have to admit that I agree with some of the criticisms above. Being at the Alpha stage I didn't expect it to be slick and polished but, after reading the Kickstarter pitch which talked of wanting to add some special extra icing to an already good cake, I didn't expect it to be quite as cliched and unoriginal as it seems at the moment. Seems more like the same rather stale old bun we've seen before, rather than a delicious new recipe.


Every stereotype and cliche from past rpgs seems to make an appearance, from the orcs, zombies, skeletons, etc through to vain aristocrats, wicked wizards, stuffy military types, dull tavern patrons, price gouging market traders, and - well, you tick them off they're all there. And then there's the endless bloody junk loot. "Oh goody, that giant spider just dropped a piece of armour. Or somebody has left another chest or crate in the street with 3 gold coins, a cheap shirt and an apple in it" or whatever devices are used to keep the steady flow of rubbish coming. I've just about had enough of games that treat you like a four year old with an attention span of ten nano-seconds and think you must have some pathetic little treat every few metres, regardless of whether it make the story look ridiculous or not (For the record, my attention span is at least eleven nano-seconds and I can walk past several whole houses without needing some stupid barrel to peer into to check for random rusty daggers.)

I enjoyed Divine Divinity a lot , and thought that the Dragon Knight saga was really excellent. For my money, it struck a good balance between traditional rpg elements and adding some fresh and original touches. But this one feels uncomfortably like Beyond Divinity, which had the smell of a pot-boiler cranked out to a budget to keep some cash coming in while they worked on a new engine for their other project. Unfortunately, stuff that was fine in games ten years ago risks feeling dated and flogged to death now.

This one certainly does look pretty but the content just seemed cliched and, well, uninspired. Just one example: You arrive in town on a quest to find somebody - the commander, the wizard or whoever it was and can you ask all the NPCs the most obvious question "Hey, where does X hang out?". No. Instead, you can ask them all the same generic lines of stuff and get the same boring answers, over and over. Then you can search every pixel in town until you locate your quarry. Surely it can be done better than that?

And the battles didn't really fire up either. Half the time it felt like the same lumbering pack of enemies were shuffling toward us but with different faces painted on them.

I guess it's my own fault for being too willing to believe all the pre-game promises, and there will obviously be lots more improvements made before the final release. But the keen anticipation I felt a few months ago has certainly evaporated. Maybe I've just maxed out on this style of game and others will love every click of it?

And who knows? In a few months the final game might look all sparkly fresh and enticing! For Larian's sake let's hope so. Good luck Larian and keep working hard.

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I agree 100% with all the previous comments regarding the loot system. I dislike randomized loot in any game. I'd rather loot be relatively rare but useful. Scrounging up random bits of junk so I can possibly sell them and buy something useful isn't fun, it's a chore. Now, if they made it so the class of my character / companion are taken into account with regards to what loot I get, that would OK, but pure randomness doesn't add replay value, it just makes inventory management a pain. I hope Larian can change this. It's my main concern at this point.

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personally, I like randomness.... Sorry

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I'm a little confused on some points. I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm genuinely uncertain about some things.

If you get rid of randomized loot, what does that mean exactly? Does that mean that every chest, crate and barrel has the exact same stuff every time? Bosses always drop the same items every time?

Or do you just want more preplaced items and unique items?

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