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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Shroud of the Avatar

HanoverF

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MCA Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Codex USB, 2014 Divinity: Original Sin 2
The review's not that bad.
:troll:
 

ClockworkMonkey

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I don't see any mention of the Role Playing aspects of the game, other than "Don't go into town."

How are you going to get any RP done if you don't go into any of the towns? They've got events going on all the time.
 
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I mean, at least Star Citizen fans, by and large, are regular people. They are just geeks with a lot of disposable income.

The Larpers who are really into this community, however... are people who try to compensate for their failures in life by building another life.

This is why they shut down any criticism of the game. If the game is exposed for what it is, their whole illusion that they live in this wondrous new world where they are respected citizens fall apart.
 

Aildrik

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Great review! I have to confess I backed this game early on :( I played for a few months worth of updates but lost interest. The look and feel of the game didn't appeal to me even understanding it was in alpha at the time. I feel like I need to give it another shot since I already paid for the game anyhow.

That said, I wonder a lot about the art/engine choice for this game. Clearly the world of game design has changed. With the exception of purposely retro games, players expect to see something that takes advantage of the capabilities we have with newer computers, and that means a lot of folks working just on art alone not to speak of quest design, UI, etc.

What if Gariott had gone with a more retro feel for the game and gone with an engine more like Ultima8? In a universe where you have WoW, Elder Scrolls and their many clones I can't help but feel that going with a retro format true to older Ultima games would have been better received and certainly appreciated by longtime fans of the series. I do not know how much time the team saved going with an existing engine vs. coming up with something more original like a modified U8, or if such a thing would even be feasible with the team they had. I just think that the end result (poor performance on most PCs) coupled with the game just not standing out from a technical or graphical standpoint is doing nothing to help it and frankly I think such a decision (retro ultima engine) would have done a lot more to make the game stand out, creatively.
It certainly would not have been a magic bullet to address a lot of the concerns brought up in the review (lack of content, unfinished or broken content) but really if you were not fighting with graphical and technical problems the way this project seems like it was, all that effort could have gone into content.
 

Mustawd

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Read the review last night, and revisited it again this morning. Great read. A few notes taxalot :

1. The flow of the review was good, but the way it was worded confused me on whether or not most of the time was spent in SP or MP. You mention the mechanics of SP, but then just continue the review, which basically leaves me to assume you’re in SP. Not until the end did I realize you were indeed playing this in MP.

2.Just picking nits here, but a bit more discussion of the in-game community would have been nice. Or at least drive home the fact that this game is truly empty and lacks a large enough population to truly feel like an MMO.

3. I get that you think having snowmen and pumpkins and all other nonsense looks weird. But I do find it a bit unfair to mention how ridiculous it looks without at least mentioning that this was a common occurence in UO, so seeing this in SOTA is not that strange. Of course, the aesthetic of UO lended itself to this a lot more than SOTA’s wish-we-were-AAA-grafix-skyrimlike look.

snowman-making-room-1.jpg
 

Mustawd

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I don't see any mention of the Role Playing aspects of the game, other than "Don't go into town."

How are you going to get any RP done if you don't go into any of the towns? They've got events going on all the time.

Well, he mentions that the towns are almost always empty. He also mentions there are indeed events, like dance parties.

However, if you remember from UO, the game had an extremely healthy population in its heyday. Even at the deadest hours you could find a couple dozen people chilling at the main city’s bank. Unless I’m reading it wrong, SOTA’s population is low enough that events seem to gbe the only way to meet more than a handful of people at a time.

But yes, more discussion about the community and population in-game would have been nice.
 

taxalot

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As for role-playing it does depend on what you actually mean. If that is what you ask, no, people are usually not LARPING around and when you actually meet anf talk to them, the people are not that different than in any other MMO.

I never attended the dance parties though. Those have to be weird as fuck. I think grimace can tell you more.

I think I talked enough about the community. That was also a tough choice to make. I did not want to point fingers and mock people. I felt it was a problem that could not be ignored considering the nature and prospects of the game. I wrote about the main issues they were causing and I think said what should be said. The community in itself could be the topic of an entire article in itself. It's not all doom and gloom even if they are detrimental to the game.
 

Saxon1974

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No surprise, it's what I expected from the kickstarter which I didn't back as I could tell it was not going to go well. Thanks for the review and sorry you had to suffer playing the game:;
 
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ClockworkMonkey

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Fishing derbies, concerts, crafting events, RP adventures, RP PvP towns, in person markets, faires, theater, birthday parties. There's a lot more going on that just dance parties.

Yeah, you can walk into a bunch of towns and find them completely empty, but there are a lot that are fully fleshed out and have people in the most of the day. The empty ones are an opportunity for someone else to come along and build out their dream.
 

Mustawd

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I did not want to point fingers and mock people.

I moreso meant a bit more insight to its population. How often did you meet people? You mentioned instanced zones, but some MMOs have instanced zones that a party can foght together in. Is there truly no party mechanics? How do guilds work? Is there an active community in guilds as there was in UO? How many people participate in PvP? Is there a morality system like there was in UO (Blue, gray and red for example)? And when I say “how many” I mean more generally as is in is it a popular aspect of the game.

The article is a great read like I mentioned. I just felt there were some areas that didn’t get covered. And in all fairness it’s difficult to discuss these thinga if you didn’t participate in them.
 

ClockworkMonkey

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I did not want to point fingers and mock people.

I moreso meant a bit more insight to its population. How often did you meet people? You mentioned instanced zones, but some MMOs have instanced zones that a party can foght together in. Is there truly no party mechanics? How do guilds work? Is there an active community in guilds as there was in UO? How many people participate in PvP? Is there a morality system like there was in UO (Blue, gray and red for example)? And when I say “how many” I mean more generally as is in is it a popular aspect of the game.

The article is a great read like I mentioned. I just felt there were some areas that didn’t get covered. And in all fairness it’s difficult to discuss these thinga if you didn’t participate in them.

The instancing actually goes a long way toward making the game feel empty if you aren't in with a guild or something.

You can switch between Solo, Party, and Open multiplayer at (almost) any time, a few single player story instances excepted (they can't go multiplayer). So I can be mining in the same zone you are, for hours, and the only indication that we are both there is if one of us is killed, a skeleton shows up in the other persons instance.

This works really well in all aspects EXCEPT it can make one feel lonely.

In the main towns there are usually a half dozen people in Multi at any given moment, but that's not enough to make it feel like it's a hub of activity. Switch over to a POT with an active guild in it and you might find 20 people practicing PvP or getting ready to go out on an adventure, or decorating a garden.

Guild are pretty simple right now, giving you your own chat channel and the ability to designate properties as Guild Properties. Guild wars are supposed to be something real in the coming months, but not so far. The main thing is that yes, they exist, and they are also what gets you "into" the game. It's really easy to play the entire "game proper" by yourself, but you'll have a totally different experience than someone that gets into the community and starts to participate in what I think is the "actual game".

PvP was only flagged open world PvP (or designated towns or zones where everyone is automatically flagged) until this morning. This morning the first PvP gametype was tested. Basic deathmatch, but it put in place the systems that will lead to Castle Sieges sometime in the coming months.

There are weekly PvP tournaments hosted by the EVL Guild. One on one fights, brackets, double elimination, spectators, it's another event that you may never know happens unless you make the effort to become part of the community.

There is a Virtue system. Lots of choices throughout the game, from whether you loot dead civilians to tough moral choices, determine how you stand on Truth, Love, and Courage. Each of those is also a main questline.

Something that should also be mentioned is that completing the main storyline, as of yesterday, gets you a Player Owned Town taxed property deed. That will open up the settlement of towns significantly, as you no longer have to acquire the 250,000 gold to buy a deed yourself.

A summary of my opinion is this, the game is fantastic if you get into the creative aspect of it. If you're just in it for the combat and story, not so fantastic. But if you find yourself wanting to be in a world where you can be a creative force then Shroud might be the best thing that's ever happened to you. If you want a normal tried and true MMO, it's probably not.
 

:Flash:

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Taxalot suffered for Lord British sins

also, is Garriott actually still involved with the development of this, or was he ever, as in actively as a developer and not just a face?

He rarely shows himself in the streams, his character is mentioned but doesn't actually inhabit the game world, he seldoms posts in the forums. But his word (which is the only thing we have) is that he is very involved indeed. It could very well be. He at least made the major decisions, Portalarium is his venture.
I did not back the game because even from the Kickstarter videos I had the impression that Garriot was delegating development of this game to a crew of just-out-of-college kids who were trying to build something with Unity.
Garriot has admitted himself that his management style was basically "let people do their thing and don't interfere" (in exact contrast to super-micro-managing Chris Roberts). This worked great with the very talented team at Origin. But the talented kids of today probably don't even know who he is and can work for far better pay elsewhere, so he probably got a team of wannabe game developer millenials.
 

taxalot

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I did not want to point fingers and mock people.

I moreso meant a bit more insight to its population. How often did you meet people? You mentioned instanced zones, but some MMOs have instanced zones that a party can foght together in. Is there truly no party mechanics? How do guilds work? Is there an active community in guilds as there was in UO? How many people participate in PvP? Is there a morality system like there was in UO (Blue, gray and red for example)? And when I say “how many” I mean more generally as is in is it a popular aspect of the game.

Those are all legitimate questions. Especially when covering a MMO. I guess I did not address them because 1. SOTA is really barebone as MMO mechanics are concerned (its main inspiration being UP), and 2. I really never bothered about it.

But here's how it goes from what I gather :

-You can friend any people you cross path with. As I mentioned earlier, this is important, because people abuse the "Teleport to Friend" spell mechanic as a way to fast travel
-PVP is off by default. It can be switched on in towns by telling the Oracle you're okay for it. I did try it. Five minutes later in a town, I was gang raped by two guys. They took some of my items and "ransomed" these to me (if I wanted the stuff they took, I would have to pay a quite extensive fee to them, that's what you get from attacking other players). I immediately switched back PVP off because what the fuck. Some zones however are mandatory PVP; this includes a lot of story related zones. However, those zones are not actually arenas and I really have no idea why they decided the ruins would be PVP ; I haven't seen anyone gather here for battles.
-One town has a PVP arena. I admit I did not try it.
-Encountering other players is pretty exceptional outside of towns. I think in 100 hours I only joined and helped in a battle that was occuring near me only once (there's a screenshot of that in the review).
-There is no morality system in the sense you speak of. The game keeps track of your "virtues" in a very superficial way for the main quest (ie : don't bother or worry about it)
-There is a pretty basic "looking for group" mechanic should you need help for a dungeon or something ; however, since the game is pretty low in population, your odds may vary.
 

Strange Fellow

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Not sure how many people here knows the reputation of RPG codex, but basically they are not very "kind" with any modern rpg, I have seen people talking s*** about some of the best rpgs in last ten years (Elder Scrolls, Divinity Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, etc).
It's amazing how people get used to the idea of forum hiveminds. You'd see people talking shit about those games on every other forum too, if they were allowed to do so.
 

taxalot

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Yeah. I won't go there. I'm a learning animal.

Why would I even bother to lie about some game mechanics considering how many other problems the game has ?
It's also ironic how they claim I'm deliberately stupid about the XP and then some guy in the same topic acts confused about some of the explanations about that system. But whatever : no, I never ever saw a "you reached a pool limit" message. I'm aware of the pool limit (because I read about it online), but I never saw it. Maybe it happened, but the fact I didn't notice it notified would mean there's also an UI problem.
-I'm confused about the XP because : NONE OF IT IS EXPLAINED IN GAME. I could spend my time reading the forums and get it ; I could also have been playing for four years like those guys have done for most of them. I did not. I'm a guy who picks a game and expects to understand from ingame explanations as all games without manuals currently do. But here's the thing : there are no explanations. I first thought only quest gave XP because the only XP messages I ever had on screen were after completing a quest. Apparently, killing monsters give XP too. That's great ; where am I notified of the XP obtained ? Maybe I did miss it. Where is it ? Why is it not displayed by default ?
The only thing I have read about XP and skills is when you visit trainers : they say you need XP to improve your skills. That's it. That's all they say. They don't say "how much XP" or "how XP is used" and I don't think there is an ingame explanation about the XP pool.

The point is : it might be obvious if you are very into this game and read a lot of outside sources, but there is something very very wrong about the way this mechanic is explained in the game. It's not explained, in fact.

And again ? It's not that big of an issue. It's merely an additional element showing a game not ready for release and in which nothing has been to accommodate new players. Those players are going to get mad at a lot of other things before they ponder about the XP. If I could bother to play so long without giving a care about it and improve my skill so much, then neither should you.

I guess it could be an issue if you grind a skill without killing anything or questing, but that just emphasizes another fault of the game ; yes, there are people fighting dummies or shooting at target practices ranges for extensive periods to raise a skill. (see the YMCA video I posted in the MMO subforum). I suppose that's fun to some people.


And yeah, let's not talk about the reputation of RPGCodex ; or maybe we'll have to talk some more about how the SOTA fans look to the outside world.

edit : Also, FFS about server congestion, on that forum.

Agreed, that was probably on his end.

Server congestion error messages are on my end ? Are you high ?
Connection lost to server can mean either party is at "fault". Server congestion means the load cannot be sustained by the hardware. If it's a "connection lost" passing as "server congestion" then that's one another shitty thing about SOTA.

Please, stop trying to defend SOTA by emphasizing how many problems it has. That's not helping.
 
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Mustawd

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Not sure how many people here knows the reputation of RPG codex, but basically they are not very "kind" with any modern rpg, I have seen people talking s*** about some of the best rpgs in last ten years (Elder Scrolls, Divinity Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, etc).
It's amazing how people get used to the idea of forum hiveminds. You'd see people talking shit about those games on every other forum too, if they were allowed to do so.

Also, this is a weird sentiment regardless. Is everyone supposed to like a game because it’s popular or gets good reviews?

It should be said that the codex indeed is full of edgelords, but a lot of active posters have a very strong oldschool leaning. Is it that much of a surprise people do not enjoy Elder Scrolls Games? I didn’t like Morrowind. Does that make me an asshole?

What a weird point of view.
 

taxalot

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Codex 2013 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015
Not sure how many people here knows the reputation of RPG codex, but basically they are not very "kind" with any modern rpg, I have seen people talking s*** about some of the best rpgs in last ten years (Elder Scrolls, Divinity Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, etc).
It's amazing how people get used to the idea of forum hiveminds. You'd see people talking shit about those games on every other forum too, if they were allowed to do so.

Also, this is a weird sentiment regardless. Is everyone supposed to like a game because it’s popular or gets good reviews?

It should be said that the codex indeed is full of edgelords, but a lot of active posters have a very strong oldschool leaning. Is it that much of a surprise people do not enjoy Elder Scrolls Games? I didn’t like Morrowind. Does that make me an asshole?

What a weird point of view.

Also, I care more about the analysis of the game's faults and strengths than the opinion of the reviewer liking it or hating it. I said this many times already, but I loved Pillars of Eternity while agreeing with every fault Darth Roxor's pointed in his review.
 

Saxon1974

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Not sure how many people here knows the reputation of RPG codex, but basically they are not very "kind" with any modern rpg, I have seen people talking s*** about some of the best rpgs in last ten years (Elder Scrolls, Divinity Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, etc).
It's amazing how people get used to the idea of forum hiveminds. You'd see people talking shit about those games on every other forum too, if they were allowed to do so.

Also, this is a weird sentiment regardless. Is everyone supposed to like a game because it’s popular or gets good reviews?

It should be said that the codex indeed is full of edgelords, but a lot of active posters have a very strong oldschool leaning. Is it that much of a surprise people do not enjoy Elder Scrolls Games? I didn’t like Morrowind. Does that make me an asshole?

What a weird point of view.

This is the Crux on why I still read the Codex; one of the only unfiltered forums. As long as your not a sensitive flower it's still a good place.
 

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