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 on: February 24, 2010, 09:24:44 am 
Started by Duuvian - Last post by Duuvian
Here is the post I made. It got pretty large.

 on: February 19, 2010, 08:41:41 pm 
Started by Duuvian - Last post by Duuvian
Cool, I didn't know that about Tarn. I actually searched the Dwarf Fortress forums for Natuk and Pirates of the Western Sea, and the only topic was posted by you Skeletony, on Dec. 10th 2007. I'll go ahead and make a new topic in their other games section in the next few days.

 on: February 18, 2010, 12:44:46 am 
Started by Duuvian - Last post by SkeleTony
Tarn Adams(the guy who created Dwarf Fortress/Salves to Armok) was posting at Tom's forums WAYYY back in the day(like 1998-2000). Back then his first game, Slaves to Armok(I) was a scruffy, isometric yet ascii roguelike with ambitious goals and he was already a fan of Tom's games from Nahlakh.
So I suspect many of the Dwarf Fortress fans already know of and are fans of Tom's games as well but if you want to advertise Natuk some more over there(I would be shocked if there are not already several threads about Tom's games somewhere in the forums' history) I seriously doubt Tom would object. Wink

I used to play a lot of the first Slaves to Armok(the 3D roguelike it eventually became) but I myself am unable to get into the second one(Dwarf Fortress) because of the real-time nature and cumbersome interface(and ascii graphics...though there are tile sets available) but it is a mind-blowing achievement for gaming I must admit and it is neat so see how far Tarn has come with it in the last 10 or 12 years.

 on: February 17, 2010, 05:37:59 pm 
Started by Duuvian - Last post by Duuvian
Hey Tom. I'm a big fan of Dwarf Fortress, another independant game developed by a guy named Toady One. It's pretty sweet, you should check it out. Anyways, I was hoping for your permission to start a new topic in their "other games" section about Natuk and PoWs. I was also wondering if you had any Natuk discs for sale. I already have a copy but if you still have some for sale I could mention that on the forum I mentioned.

 on: February 09, 2010, 12:30:09 pm 
Started by Mr. Fed - Last post by SkeleTony
I remember there being at least one and I believe at least two such towns that are accessible once you get through those mountains but I also remember heading southwards from the mountain exit and running into a town that was kind of surrounded by creatures way beyond my level and I had no way to get around them if I left the town. Eventually I had to start all over again.

So be careful.

 on: February 07, 2010, 10:10:56 am 
Started by Mr. Fed - Last post by Mr. Fed
Having a blast now that I have Nahlakh working with DoxBox.

Quick spoilerish question:  As when I played it a decade ago or more, I made it through the mountains and found the castle.  But I don't remember if there are other towns accessible by land nearby on either side of the mountains.  Are there?  Or are they all accessible only by boat?

 on: February 06, 2010, 04:17:52 pm 
Started by SkeleTony - Last post by Duuvian
Sweet, I'm about to play POWS again and I'll be using your custom icons again.

 on: February 06, 2010, 04:12:51 pm 
Started by Duuvian - Last post by Duuvian
I turned the female mage whose name starts with a K into an assasin/mage/party skills hybrid, and once she got a pair of invisible boots she could hold her own as a backstabber despite having low weapon skills.

 on: February 01, 2010, 12:27:42 pm 
Started by Mr. Fed - Last post by Mr. Fed
[cross-posted from OO]

As I've discussed on many forums many times before, I love classic crpgs, and especially classic turn-based, tactical, top-down crpgs. Many of my favorites are indies. Tom's games are the best examples, Helherron is an excellent homage.  The Spiderweb games lack the tactical depth, but have many other pleasing elements.  There are even commercial games:  the ancient game Wizard's Crown (released a shocking 25 years ago -- a quarter-century, good Lord), to a lesser extent Shard of Spring and Demon's Winter, and a number of others.

I got to thinking about this last night. Two things were on my mind. First, what would the perfect classic tactical crpg (hereinafter CTG) have? Second, how could one make it happen?

What would the perfect CTG have?

Here are some elements I'd want to see in the prefect CTG. For now, let's assume that we're talking about a fantasy setting:

1. Multiple character classes with diverse abilities: I don't like games where you've got nothing but fighter or wizard.   I love ones where there are a bunch of classes that leave you thinking "Damn, I have to decide between having an archer and a bard. Maybe I will play through again with a different mix and see how that goes."  Helherron and Nahlkah are good examples. There should be a tradeoff for choosing one type of character over another.

2. Building your own party: none of this pre-generated or start-with-one-and-meet-people stuff. Half the fun of one of these games -- to me -- is spending hours of geekdom building the perfect party.

3. Tactical depth: by this I mean free movement around a battlefield, combat actions that create tactical opportunities (charging, backstabbing, facing, knockback, stunning, bleeding, called shots, etc.), spells or items that create tactical impact (ice, mud, fire, walls, etc.), and hopefully skills that are primarily tactical. You should be able to impact the outcome of a tough fight by the tactics you use.  Tom's games and Helherron are excellent examples.

4. Deep magic system: Once again, I like Helherron as an example. There are many spells, and you can spend more mana to make them more powerful, and they do a wide variety of things, including tactical battlefield improvements, out-of-battle things, etc. I also very much like Helherron's method of learning spells: you have to find spellbooks. This adds replayability and variety (what spell will show up in the store?), mystery (wow -- a spell I never encountered before!) and a new pleasing type of loot. I might add a few features to Helherron's spell system: spells that can only be used by a particular class (Bard spells, for instance), spells that can be learned in better or more powerful versions a la Avernum (that might have the same graphics or effect, but give more bang for the buck), etc.  I also like Tom's system of syllables; my only critique of it is that I'd prefer if you couldn't "unlock" them unless you found a book first.

5. Deep skill system: I want a lot of ability to customize a character. They key here is to have multiple potentially USEFUL skills, so that one actually feels some angst, and has to exercise strategy, when spending skill points. Helherron is not the best example -- it's got skills, but most are pretty much an obvious choice on level-up. What else is your Golem Barbarian going to do other than spend his skill points on his primary weapon? I don't have a strong preference between being able to spend points at any time (as in Natuk or POWS) or only at level-up (as in Helherron), but I want more variety, and I want the choice to HURT, again improving replayability. Once again, tactical depth opens up a lot of skill options -- note, for example, the stealth skill in Helherron that allows one to move without drawing attacks of opportunity. Skill points might buy you more levels of a minor skill, but fewer of a major skill, or you might have separate points for major and minor skills. Note: I would be interested in exploring a improve-by-doing skill system. By its very nature, that would require you to make difficult choices too -- if you fight with a sword and a bow, you aren't going to advance as quickly as the guy who fights only with the sword. Nahlakh is a good example.

6. Unlocked skills/feats: This is a variation on skills, above. I like having to find trainers to unlock various cool skills or abilities, or to rise in those skills or abilities. The Avernum series does a nice job with this -- you have to find the right people, and progress to a certain level in basic skills, to get advanced skills. Similarly, both Arcanum and Might and Magic 6+ had the concept of levels of mastery unlocking additional benefits in using the skill, and required you to find the various masters, with increasing level of difficulty as the mastery level went up. I also like the D&D 3e concept of feats, and think they could be used very well in a CTG with tactical depth. Examples: a magic feat that reduces the mana cost of fire spells by 25%, or increases the chance of success by 25%. A feat that increases the accuracy of called shots. Etc. etc. etc. Once again, you could have to find feat trainers to learn them.

7. Huge, busy world: The world has to have lots of cities and towns and villages -- including many that you just can't reach until later in the game. I LOVED finding the invisible town in Ultima III, and love the feeling of fighting my way through a tough area to reach a new city that might have better items for sale, new trainers, etc. I like the concept of places that don't appear on the map until you get a quest, hidden caves that you have to search for, etc.

8. Huge variety of items: I really don't like games where there are only a handful of generic magic items. "Magic sword," indeed. I like the system in Tom's games and Helherron, where there are a vast array of basic items, a vast array of potential item modifiers, and therefore a vast array of cool items. Helherron is just about perfect on this. It creates huge replayability and excitement. This is fun because (1) loot has variety, (2) there can be a wide variety of stores, etc.

9. Crafting: I like games with crafting, even if it is only crafting potions and scrolls. But I prefer ones with depth. Arcanum has simply awesome crafting -- I love finding schematics and scouring stores and trash cans to find the right ingredients to make that new item. Especially if you have a vast array of items, you could make a very credible small-scale crafting system in a CTG -- even if the crafting is not all done directly by the character. Say you can only create a potion after you find an herbalist to teach you the recipe, and find the right ingredients. You can have your sword enchanted, but can add the flaming attribute to it only if you bring the enchanter a salamander scale. You can make a scroll of your most powerful spell, but you'll need ink made from dragon blood to scribe it at more than the lowest power level.

10. Quests: I'm totally fine with "go kill this bad guy" quests. I think if the huge open-to-explore world and tactical depth are there, you don't need highly complex multi-trigger quests.

11. Dialogue: I suppose I'd like dialogue a little more complicated than Helherron or Nahlakh, but for this type of game I don't think it needs to be too complex. The Ultima IV style ask-a-one-word-question style is very old-school and has the potential to add some plot depth, but it can also be tiresome if you are the type of gamer who goes around asking your long list of words to every NPC. Also, it doesn't add replayability.

12. Graphics: really not that important to me. Really REALLY old games (say early 80s) are probably at the point where the graphics are a barrier to enjoyment. But I think that old-school top-down tile graphics are fine. I don't need isometric stuff or 3-D or anything. A little graphic VARIETY is nice -- different tiles for different settings, etc.

Now, how would one make the perfect CTG happen?

It would be a huge undertaking to code a CTG from scratch. But I got to thinking -- what if you could license the engine of a decent indie crpg, and then have folks tweak graphics, options, and gameplay?  You could have non-coders contribute by designing the world/dungeons/NPCs/items/balance/etc. You could have a few talented people do some of the art (which, given the genre, would be relatively low-impact -- it would be mostly modifying existing art from the engine to add more items, creatures, tiles, etc.) Then it would be a matter of capable coders modifying the licensed engine.  I have zero computer programming skill, so I have no clear concept of how hard it would be to take an existing engine and do this -- what do the experienced programmers among you think?

Another idea that struck me, literally in a dream -- a CTG, but in a post-apocalypse setting. Same depth of tactics, but psionics and mutations instead of magic, found technology instead of magic items, skill levels required to fix or use tech items, adventures through ruined cities, etc. Hmmm.....


 on: February 01, 2010, 11:00:28 am 
Started by Mr. Fed - Last post by Mr. Fed
Greetings all.  Long time player of Tom's games, lover of classic turn-based tactical crpgs.

Aside from Tom's games, one of my all-time faves is Helherron.  Seems as if its web page has finally gone dead.  Any intel on whether it has popped up somewhere else?

I had a dream the other night that someone remade Helherron into a post-apocalypse game.  I was sad to wake up.

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