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Dark Sun: Shattered Lands is fucking great

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by JarlFrank, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Started playing this again. Last time I gave up after going outside Draj because the Saving process was driving me nuts. Regular save was crashing to desktop, and to do a save via options menu took like 10 clicks each time.

    But with the help of one of the threads here, there's a "quick-save" option with F1, so that made the game a lot easier to play. Really, my only other major complaint about the UI is having to cycle the cursor between walk/examine/combat. But that's not THAT bad.

    Other than that, I liked this game before, and nothing's changed. There are a lot of options and opportunities for player agency, even if throwing the player into the arena with time limits is not how I would've personally done it. Here's an example of stuff you can miss completely:

    Show Spoiler

    Last time I played, I escaped the arena and went outisde Draj through the sewers. But this time, because I asked some extra questions from the Tari Elder Council, I got into Dagelor's lair. That was a pretty impressive dungeon for a starting party. Well, mostly because the only resting spot is at the very end. So a lot of tough fights on limited resources, fortunately the gladiator I have is pretty OP. The Dagelor fight itself is a bit glitched out, as after I ran away into his bathroom, to lure the slimes he summons for smaller fights, he basically stopped fighting after that. The thing with his brother was pretty cool though. But that's a whole massive dungeon that's so easy to miss if you don't ask a question in dialogue.
     
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  2. Ol' Willy Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Zionist Agent

    Ol' Willy
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    PorkyThePaladin you can enter this dungeon at any time, though. In my first run I missed it as well and got back there right before the final temple.
     
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  3. Sceptic Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    Sceptic
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    Divinity: Original Sin
    Almost every command has a keyboard shortcut (including save game with F1, RTFM does help). I think the only thing that has no keyboard shortcut is the cycling you mentioned, but it's only between 3 so it's really not a problem.

    There's a lot of stuff you can miss in the game but there's no time limit anywhere that I recall (that came with the sequel). As mentioned Dagolar's can be accessed any time. You can mess up the plot with the ratmen, but that's dependent on leaving the sewers before you solve their problems, not on actual time passing. Nothing that's actually required for the main quest is missable in any way (bugs notwithstanding; do watch out for those, there are a couple that can make the game unwinnable. Make sure you're patched to 1.1, but even that doesn't solve all bugs). Often you can miss stuff because some situations have so many different ways to solve them (escaping the slave pens and the Magera situation are two notable ones but most smaller sidequests also have multiple solutions or approaches).

    Glad you like the game, I love many things about it despite the flaws.
     
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  4. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Man, this game is really a window into a different era... In terms of world interactivity and player agency, it even puts later classics like Fallout to shame. Every corner you turn into, there is some way to do something just by using items or your actions on items or objects, and none of this is directly communicated to the player, it's just a fun sandbox of experimentation.

    Some of this stuff is just...

    Show Spoiler
    Got Llod's Rod for teleporting, the guy hinted the local gem was thrown down the well. So I tried to talk to the wellmaster and interact with the well, nothing. I kept doing it out of desperation, drank from the well 3-4 times, that emptied the well, and now I could go down there, getting not just the gem, but also a cool multi-part quest.
     
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  5. vazha Liturgist

    vazha
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    Currently playing a p&p adventure set in Athas with friends.
    Our party, banished from a village for killing the elders son in a less than honorable trial by combat, retaliated by giving a pack of cannibal hobbits directions to the village (+10 in persuasion does wonders).
    Lovely stuff.
     
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  6. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    While I am still enjoying the interactivity of the world, I have to say, the game is let down by a couple of things, imho:

    1. Combat - It's not easy to fuck up standard DnD combat, which usually works decently well in any game using it, but they did. Mostly via balance issues and one word: gladiators. Gladiator class is so OP in this game, it's not even funny. You have to realize, I am not even cheesing like some, I have only one human gladiator in my party, not a half-giant, not a party of 4 gladiators. This guy goes through everything like a knife through butter. Then, if I Haste him with the mage, he melts everything even faster. This marginalizes other party members. The Preserver is almost useless, other than Hasting and cc, casters in general are shafted by being unable to cast if taking damage, and by relatively low damage/healing output of the spells, compared to ... gladiators. Thieves/rogues are next to useless because are so few needs for lockpicking/stealth/trap-finding/etc.

    2. Story/writing - It actually starts out really strong in this department, you are on this novel, original world of Athas, you start not as some helpless whelp fighting rats in basements, but as a gladiator in the arena, etc, really good shit. But after a while, it quickly becomes too formulaic in the main quest, just visit all these villages and unite them, but also, the detailed quest-lines and side-quests get kinda silly quiet often. Like, for example, I just established a trade union between some telepathic people and ... giant spiders. I mean I know it's fantasy and all, but fantasy doesn't have to be stupid-silly.
     
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  7. Cael Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Cael
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    In Athas, it can be. It was DnD's attempt at a post-apoc setting, and all the crazy races are the magical equivalent of "mutants".
     
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  8. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Jesus, got to the final battle today. What ... the ... fuck...?

    My 4 capped out level 9 guys against a fucking army (30+? 40+?) of level 12 dudes. And it's so different from every other fight in the game. Just a fuck you from the developers... All my efforts throughout the game in getting the villages to join resulted in 2-3 warriors from each village, EACH of whom was promptly one-shot by the elite guards...

    I guess I should play around with different approaches, spells, etc, but man, I hate this kind of shit so much.
     
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  9. Sceptic Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    Sceptic
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    You're not fighting the army, you're fighting the elite corps and the leader (forgot his name). The "champions" from each village (as well as another hanful of NPCs from sidequests depending on how you completed those) are there with you. The bulk of the villages' fighting forces (as well as the shadow army the genie raises if you ask him to help) is fighting the main army off-screen.

    My guess is you got so one-track-minded by how overpowered the gladiator was in the rest of the game that you forgot everyone else exists and how to use them. Preserver and Psionicist in particular really shine in that final battle, as do non-damage Preserver spells in general in big fights that take place over large distances. It's the best and most (only?) challenging fight in the game, but really fun IMO.
     
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  10. Ol' Willy Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Zionist Agent

    Ol' Willy
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    I managed through with four female halflings, don't tell me you can't do it with a balanced party.

    Also, if you think that this fight is bullshit, wait till you see the final encounter in Ravager
     
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  11. Void_Pickle Educated

    Void_Pickle
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    Having just finished the game up myself, I thought the final fight was a bit of a letdown after it had been built up so much. Dust cloud prevented spells, and one fire elemental summon tanked half of the 'army'. Might be better on a harder difficulty though.. think it was just on whatever the default is.
     
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  12. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Here, we go, the autist munchkins coming out of the woodwork... <Oh I beat this battle with both hands tied behind my arse, and cocaine powder in my eyes...>.

    The fact that you have seen the final battle "built up so much" and happen to have "dust cloud", one of the spells specifically suggested in all the advice on the final battle, that's what we call meta information.

    Some of us just play games to ... play games. The fact that most of the game has one difficulty setting, and then throws a final battle that's completely out of whack with that is what's called terrible design.
     
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  13. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    Badly balancing, IMO.
    Most of the game is too easy, and when your Gladiator can roflstomp anything you don't need to learn the finer points.

    For me Dark Sun is one of those games that I enjoyed, yet don't feel like replaying.
     
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  14. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Yeah, and I've used other characters, the Preserver, the Cleric, the Fighter, used spells, but everything I used is useless in this particular battle. For example, generally Hold Person/Hold Monster is a great cc spell, but because it works on 4 enemies tops, it's beyond useless in a battle against 40+. All the advice I've seen is basically cheesing the battle by hiding in the northeastern corner, and using line of sight Wall spells to cut off and damage the enemy. Well, guess what, my Preserver only has the level 1 Wall of Fog, since tuff like Wall of Fire or Dust Cloud are not exactly spells that you might grab on a particular playthrough, without being armed with meta-knowledge.
     
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  15. Void_Pickle Educated

    Void_Pickle
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    I'll gladly embrace such a label, but the only foreknowledge I had in this case was the recommendation (from here) to have firewall and to multi class.

    I do hate multiple-wave battles typically, but I would not consider this one particularly (edit.. Said exactly the opposite of what I intended) badly designed. In general it was kind of a cool ending.

    Then again, if I didn't multi and thus had largely damage spells..
     
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  16. Cael Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Cael
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    I seem to recall that there were many warnings and talk of you facing a massive army during the game as you got the peoples together for the climatic battle. Now, I don't know about you, but when I am faced with a massive army, I'd sure as hell be looking for ways to change the battlefield to my advantage, which means going for spells that will do exactly that.

    There are good reasons why the Control Wizard is called the God Wizard in DnD...
     
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  17. Trithne Augur

    Trithne
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    There are also several large scale fights before the final battle that encourage the same tactics - the Templar at the Oasis, for example
     
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  18. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    No, I got through every other battle without using any Wall spells. The difference is in other battles against many opponents, they are all trash mobs (level 3 or so). So a single fireball will clear many of them, and if some get through to your party before you can kill them, they do minimal damage. In the final battle, you are talking about dudes levels above your party, so a single aoe is not going to do anything (except for the defilers), and they do massive damage, requiring completely different spells, approaches, and tactics to the rest of the game. Which is the epitome of bad design.
     
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  19. Darth Canoli Arcane

    Darth Canoli
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    Name one TB party-based cRPG with an isometric or perspective view released before Dark Sun that does anything better.
    Of course, explain it if you find an example.

    This game has been designed in an era where completing a game wasn't due to the player, instead, he had to deserve it and when he failed, he didn't blame the devs but instead either drop it (he acknowledged he failed), tried again or rather tried again from scratch and built his party differently.

    You sound like a baby owl that has been fed regurgitated mouses his whole life and getting served his first whole mouse, barely alive, not knowing what to do with it.
    What you think is bad design is failure as a player.
    The 21st century garbage you've been fed with your whole life is 100% refined white sugar and you want nothing else to eat.

    You don't deserve to play Dark Sun...
     
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  20. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Just because something was done in a shit way by everyone before doesn't make it good. We spend a lot of time here criticizing modern games for the shit they perpetuate (quite deservingly), but that doesn't mean we should praise the shit old games had. In this thread, I was honest about the really good stuff Dark Sun does, but I am also honest about the crap that it has. The final battle is an example of horrendously stupid design, and just because that's the way stuff was done back then or people having more time to re-roll and play the entire game over armed with meta-knowledge, those are not valid excuses.
     
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  21. Cael Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Cael
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    Someone had never played the original Tomb of Horrors...
     
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  22. Darth Canoli Arcane

    Darth Canoli
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    You miss the point.
    Compare a game to games that came BEFORE not after.

    Also, gamers had different expectations back then.
    They were mostly to get quality content and to have fun, never to be able to complete a game whatever they do.
    Completing a game was an ACHIEVEMENT meant to be deserved.
     
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  23. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    No, you are still missing the point. You can claim that back in 1993, it wasn't such a big deal, but we are discussing game design and mechanics here, and this is a good example of terrible design. It doesn't matter if at the time, it was an accepted practice, most terrible shit is at some point. Stop being such a mindless fanboy.
     
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  24. Darth Canoli Arcane

    Darth Canoli
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    Only if you man-up and admit you have nightmares about the last battle in the Shattered Lands...
     
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