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Eschalon: Book III

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Minttunator, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. Unkillable Cat Prestigious Gentleman LEST WE FORGET Patron

    Unkillable Cat
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    I agree with what you say. Even though it is obvious that Malkur is in the right*, the premise just isn't explored in any satisfactory manner. For example, Erubor's motives are vague, at best. He only seems to be there to present the direct polar opposite view to Malkur.

    The space for "each side to think about the consequences the other side is so afraid of", is rather limited, but it's there. It isn't until the end of Book 2 that we get a real idea of what is going on, and it isn't until half-way through Book 3 that we learn why everyone is playing "this Game of Stones". This is a terrific idea to use to fill out the second half of Book 3, as by the half-way point the game quickly falls apart and becomes an almost frantic scramble for that end-game battle. It would help us to learn about the motives of each side, to realize that both sides are striving for the same goal (to save Eschalon) but only differ on the means to that end. This makes Malkur's approach seem even more bizarre - he knows what must be done and what's at stake, yet he raises two armies and sends them rampaging across Eschalon, murdering and butchering people by the thousands in the process. Book 2 paints him as a selfish invidividual who only wants to return home, while Book 3's forced endgame dialogue shows that there's much more to it than that.

    *To explain this point, I'm forced to spoil the games big time, so read at your own risk if you haven't played the games yet.

    Show Spoiler
    It's a case of temporal physics. An upcoming planetary alignment will cause the great rift of Eschalon to erupt, spreading Candecium all across the land, killing every living thing on the planet's surface, with only life living deep underground surviving... namely, the Dwarves. Even they feel the effects of Candecium poisoning and slowly change and mutate and become the Orakur. They emerge on Eschalon 1000 years later with puny frail bodies, yet possessing a technological knowhow that allow them to travel through time. So in order to try to prevent the Candecium Cataclysm, they build a time machine, fueled by four gigantic Candecium crystals, and travel back in time to use their superior technological skills to save the day. Except... something goes wrong. The machine malfunctions, the Orakur don't end up when they're supposed to be. They spend centuries repairing their vessel, hide away the four Candecium crystals and wait until they're ready. During this "waiting period" Malkur realizes the truth... the Orakur can't prevent the Cataclysm, as they are a direct result of it. If the Orakur prevent the Cataclysm, the Orakur don't exist... so they can't prevent the Cataclysm and a temporal paradox is created.

    The time machine "malfunctioning" as it sets off is due to Malkur's attempt to sabotage the Orakur's plans, by his own return to the future. Malkur MUST succeed in returning "home" to preserve the timeline and the series of events that creates the Orakur. The game all but states this out loud in that burst of exposition that is the second meeting between Malkur and the protagonist, yet the game spends all its time painting Malkur as the bad guy. And when the player is finally made to pick a side, the game ignores all of this and decides to not resolve it properly, to leave the end decision ambiguous. It should be more clear on the facts: Siding with the bad guys will get everyone killed, but a glimmer of hope remains for life on Eschalon through the Orakur. But if the player sides with the good guys, everyone will STILL get killed as the Cataclysm can't be prevented. It's a Lose-Lose situation, about as anti-climatic as an ending can get. A third option should have been made available where both factions work together to try to save as many as possible, a "true" ending of sorts that the player would have to work for by exploring Wylderan well enough. But Book 3 had to be rushed, so we're left with the skeleton of a decent ending that lacks content to hold it together.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
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  2. Unkillable Cat Prestigious Gentleman LEST WE FORGET Patron

    Unkillable Cat
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    Gamesauce has a Post-Mortem article about the Eschalon trilogy, interviews Thomas Riegsecker

    Some interesting highlights:

    At least this explains the long development time on Book 3.

    :martini:

    And finally...

    I'm not even bothered about this being the end of the line for Eschalon, but if he's going to leave the Eschalon trilogy in this state, without even revisiting it for that extra layer of spit and polish it deserves, he's not sending a good message to the gaming community about the future of Basilisk Games.

    But in the end, he deserves kudos for getting the trilogy out the door, especially at the start when he kinda trailblazing in the indie scene.
     
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  3. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Unkillable Cat You seem pretty dedicated to this series. Wanna write a review of Book 3 for the Codex?
     
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  4. Unkillable Cat Prestigious Gentleman LEST WE FORGET Patron

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    If it can wait until the weekend, then sure. But it would mostly be a recap of what I've written in this thread, combined with a short overview of the trilogy as a whole.
     
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  5. Gord Arcane

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    So a conclusion of some kind to the future of Eschalon is also out of question, I guess.
    He announced a small expansion, similar to what he did for Book 2, but I doubt that will fix the problems with Book 3's ending and pacing after mid-game.
    Maybe clarify some points about the conflict between Malkur and Erubor/the other Orakur, too. Guess we'll find out, eventually.


    I never considered the graphics one of Eschalons problems - they looked nice enough and had a certain charme. Look at Vogel's games - they look much worse and still seem to sell well enough. If he'd managed to fix the resolution (or rather unlocked it), a major complaint would been gone already.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2014
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  6. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    It can wait as much as it needs to wait. Just as long as it's a review and not literally a bunch of impressions from this thread stacked together
     
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  7. Unkillable Cat Prestigious Gentleman LEST WE FORGET Patron

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    I'll... try. It's been years since I've written a review, and have a project going for this week that takes priority. I'll send you what I have when it's done for a preview, see how that goes.
     
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  8. Unkillable Cat Prestigious Gentleman LEST WE FORGET Patron

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    I think I'm gonna have to pass up on writing that review. Real Life is being a bitch these days, and I don't know when I will have free time to revisit Eschalon, and by then I'll probably have forgotten too many details. :(
     
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  9. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    No biggie.
     
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  10. Whisper Arcane Vatnik

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    Game is possible to finish as mage. Probably even easiest way. Basically need elemental magics + some meditation. Few points in divination for healing.
     
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  11. Unkillable Cat Prestigious Gentleman LEST WE FORGET Patron

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    :necro:

    So I looked over at the Eschalon forums to see if there were any news on further patches to Book 3, the expansion or the editor.

    Turns out none of the above is highly unlikely to ever be released. Book 3 made so little money that the decision was made to abandon the Eschalon series and focus all efforts instead on other projects.

    The editor was the only thing that could have ensured that the Eschalon games would live on as something other than a mediocre and quickly forgettable RPG series.

    Dunno about the rest of you, but I'm just gonna turn my back on this and forget the whole thing. Basilisk Games really droped the ball on this one.
     
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  12. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

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    I didn't play Book 3 after the reviews came in. Enjoyed the first two immensely but apparently Book 3 was a step in the wrong direction.
     
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  13. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    http://basiliskgames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9387

    Some butthurt here: http://basiliskgames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=9388

    The era of the lo-fi indie RPG is over. Up next on the chopping block - Spiderweb Software?
     
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  14. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

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    Probably.
    Indie nowadays has a whole new meaning.
    Indie now means a developer that previously had to suck the sour teat of a publisher going kickstarter to fund projects.
     
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  15. Hobo Elf Arcane

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    To quote myself:

    If Basilisk is unable to commit to his projects and see them through then maybe he shouldn't be asking money for them either. Unfortunately for Basilisk, he is beholden to some professional standards when asking for money in exchange of his services.

    As for Book 3 making less money than he had hoped, well, Basilisk should've just made a good game. It was the weakest entry in the series so no shit people aren't going to jump to pay the full price for it.
     
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  16. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

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    I had high hopes for the series too. It is quite unfortunate.
    Does anyone know why Basilisk Games made those particular design decisions?
     
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  17. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    IMO the craziest thing about these games is how long it took to develop each one. If you want to make a living creating RPGs of this type (low fidelity, retro, same engine for every game) then annual releases are kind of a must.
     
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  18. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

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    That too, considering they weren't THAT in depth to begin with. But I guess with the many improvements in each one, it takes time.
     
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  19. Gord Arcane

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    That's a pity, I liked the games and was hoping for an expansion to fix some of E3's issues.
    I wouldn't necessarily call it the weakest entry in the series, as I at least enjoyed it more than part 1 up until the mediocre late-to-endgame (probably due to more polish/the engine improvements).
    But it's clearly unfinished, even if he denied it on the forums, afaik - it really does show in things like how sudden and unexpected the game ends or how many largely empty areas there are.

    I think the improvements weren't really big enough to warrant the long development time, at least in the case of E3. They are evolutionary, but nothing that should take 3 years to develop. Admittedly it's hard to be sure from the outside, but I guess he's simply not the most efficient developer.
    Had he finished the series by the time E2 came out, he would have made much more money from them, due to substantially less competition.

    Ultimately I guess Eschalon was released just at the right time but the eventual return of The Incline proved to be Basilisk Games decline...
     
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  20. almondblight Arcane

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    Eh, I doubt that. Eschalon was a mediocre game, and the developer seemed unaware of some of the major flaws (like the slow walking speed). I couldn't bring myself to finish it, and hardly remember any quests from it (I think there was one where I was supposed to bring a guy his sword, and one where I was supposed to bring beeswax?) or much of the plot (goblins have invaded). The game looked nice and had some nice ideas, so people wanted to give it a try, but it wasn't enough to get people to come back for more of the same a third time some years later, particularly when a lot of people felt this was worse than the other two.

    I've also noticed that some indies who get a lot of attention without doing much media stuff assume that this will always be the case, and all they have to do is keep updating their blog every so often and the word will get out about their game.
     
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  21. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    His biggest mistake was doing a trilogy. It's a good strategy if you have a huge hit like Mass Effect or an established market (Spiderweb), but not when you have an obscure indie game. How many people skipped Eschalon 3 simply because they didn't play Eschalon 1 or 2?
     
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  22. Gord Arcane

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    Unit-wise it sold more than the other parts it seems, but at a lower price-point and produced less revenue(that was true for part 2 compared to 1, as well). Of course a lot of those sales might have come from bundles, where it's unlikely that many people bought it specifically for Eschalon 3.

    I started with part 2 myself as I had heard some bad things about the walking speed in 1 (which turned out to be vastly exaggerated, btw.). At least in the case of part 2 it was possible without any big problems, as the setup for the story (the old amnesiac main-character thing) allowed for it just fine.

    But I guess I'm an exception there, as many people will be more likely deterred from joining mid-way through a trilogy.
     
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  23. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Isn't Eschalon's "established market" the same market that Spiderweb has?
     
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  24. hoverdog dog that is hovering, Wastelands Interactive Developer

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    The difference between the two developers is that Spiderweb had a couple of very good games, and even the newest releases are at least playable.

    Eschalons, on the other hand, are simply terrible, terrible garbage.
     
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  25. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    The way I see it, Vogel has a loyal following (like Bioware but on a smaller scale). Offering a game that looks similar (but has very different gameplay mechanics) won't get you in. Vogel does open world (Avernum) and factions (Geneforge) extremely well. That's why his audience keeps buying his games over and over again. Basilisk went into a different direction, which proven to be, um, less successful.
     
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