The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Enter the Tavern, take a seat, order a drink, and get ready for chatter!
aldube30
Posts: 15

The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by aldube30 » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:56 am

The Bard's Tale series, the Wizardry series, the Might & Magic series, the computer AD&D series, etc...

There's been many classic RPG series over the years that introduced many different play styles & rules, and I would like to go over the strengths & weaknesses of each RPG series.

The Bard's Tale, was addictive. I never considered the Rogue as a desirable class until BT3. I never understood why Mages needed to switch class all the time, nor why mages often had more HP & stats than even the Warrior. The fighting classes never got the option to switch class until BT3. I always wished some of the fighting classes could have at least a little magic or at least a few more options. The introduction of the Geomancer in BT3 was a nice change. The Bard's Tale series best quality was it's simplicity, but you could design & change your party as you liked.

The Wizardry series got interesting around 6, 7, & 8. The Hybrid classes were more powerful than the base classes, but that changed in Wizardry 8 where all classes were equal. The strength of the series was variety & options, but that was also it's weakness, there was way too many skills to train in. The was also the potential abuse of constant class switching, the earlier Wizardry games caused characters to die of old age, and Wizardry 8 adopted a Neverwinter Nights style of leveling where class levels were added together a-la-carte.

Might & Magic series, varied & evolved. Hybrid classes were alternatives to regular classes, I remember ditching the Knight for a slightly weaker Paladin who could heal. The Archer started out as Knight/Mage and eventually became ranged specialist & even battle-mage. The Druid started out as a cleric/mage and eventually started getting their own unique spells. Might & Magic's strenght was making multi-classes into hybrid classes and then building & customizing those throughout the series.

The old Ad&d computer games were great for options. Multi-classing allowed for customization, but it was sloppy & very slow to level up characters. The series' game levels never seem to be high enough, level grinding had it's limits. What the series did good was the fixed loot that could be found everywhere including on monsters. Might & Magic and Wizadry did a better job of streamlining multi-classing.
;)

User avatar
Visstar
Posts: 314
Location: Loch Caetar

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by Visstar » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:59 pm

I have a lot less experience with CRPGs than you, so take all this with a grain of salt.

I always thought Wizardry (I only played 1 and 2) was revolutionary but weirdly limited. It was lauded for playability and the breadth of its magic spells, but at the same time they had a weird system where you had a maximum of 9 spells you could cast per level. This made combat decisions tough, so you often used a Level 4 spell against a weaker foe to you could save the Level 5 spell for later. Or if you were lost and needed to case Dumapic, but had already used your 9 Level 1 spells, you were in big trouble. Or if you had one Level 7 spell, you had to choose between using Tiltowait to win the battle or hoping you survive so you can use Malor to get out of the dungeon.

For that reason, I loved BT when it came out. As I recall, that was the came that introduced spell points you could use however you chose. It was also the first CRPG where I felt like I was in a real world: the city has streets and buildings, you could go out into the forest, etc. I remember playing something called "Heroes of Might and Magic" (I think) and Pool of Radiance. I loved them. But when I got my iPad, the only thing that seemed to exist were single player games where you had to literally draw on the screen to more the character's sword, or massive online games where you had to be online and interact with others. Neither of these appealed to me since I would be playing offline so often, and wanted to be able to quit and restart whenever I wanted without everything changing when I got back.

Then I found Silversword, and it was like a dream come true. Not only was it exactly what I had been looking for, but was a much richer, fuller experience than any of the others -- though I still fondly recall having to travel upriver, invade an enemy base in a mountain, and destroy some sort of factory that was poisoning the river. Was that Pool of Radiance? Not Sure. But it's why I wish icetear would create an expansion allowing us to find the source of the astralyte and destroy it! :)

Anyway, I miss playing Silversword, and wish there were more of it. I played Dark of Alchemist (DOA) and enjoyed it OK, and am now on the second scenario of Sorcerer, but it's just not all that good. (It's based on, and looks a lot like, Wizardry II.) Maybe I will try one of the expensive ones like Icedale (?) with it looks really complicated and hard to manage with a small screen.
May the Vishanti guide me through this eldritch maze!

chrlpolk
Posts: 59

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by chrlpolk » Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:40 am

My very first RPG of any kind was Dragon Warrior on the NES, which I got free with a subscription to Nintendo Power Magazine. It took my imagination to a different place as I decided to go kill more slimes to buy a Pike before going back into the dungeon that whooped my tail. Combat options, inventory management, HP and MP related choices, fight or run? Days disappeared... (Oddly enough, I owned a Commodore 64 and had plenty of games on it, but no RPG's.) After that, I rented Final Fantasy and was blown away from the concept of a party. Then I played Pool of Radiance, and Dragon Warrior 4, both on NES, and by that time I was fully hooked on the RPG genre. All of these games (and more, Might & Magic, Swords & Serpents, Destiny of an Emperor, etc.) I played repeatedly.

AFTER THAT, I started playing much more PC.

Wizardry series - I actually enjoy the earlier titles more. I enjoyed the inventory management - do I give the Bishop armor or leave slots open for treasures? Running around a wire maze frantically hoping I can recognize a familiar path because I have no more charges for my map spell! To be honest, though, I didn't care for the spell names. I get it, wizard spells are going to be archaic, but I don't have to know that, I just have to know my Wizard does. 6-8 are great games! I played 8 for months, taking my time (and restarting before ending it, using Dodd the Slayer's mod) because, as I had experienced with 6 and 7, I had no interest in replaying it once I finished it. I don't know why that is, it's not that the games weren't great. I think it's because I was caught in the "what happens next?" of it and a replay won't have that mystery. All the same, thinking about the first few Wizardry games makes me want to start a new party!

Bard's Tale - BT2, that was my jam! I loved how, ultimately, your spellcasters are your most powerful party members, and not just because they can drop a nuke. Their stats just blows away the competition. I attempted an all-magic party thinking I could have a ridiculously powerful party but ended up being too tedious since they start so damn squishy. BT3, even with the Geomancer, was too much of the same and I finished it just to feel like I had completed the series, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as 2. I don't think we need to categorize the Slasher as part of this series (although I did play through it and found it quite amusing), and I haven't played 4 yet. Again, the spell names (or rather, codes) were a turn-off for the series for me.

Gold Box Games - By the time I really took a deep dive into these, I had access to the Gold Box Companion (which is too awesome to mention all the details of what it can do). The storytelling was deeply meh compared to the other games I had played by this point, but I was able to appreciate that it was revolutionary for its time and enjoyed the tactical combat. The only ones I cared to replay was Champions of Krynn and Death Knights of Krynn.

Might & Magic - The series that stole my heart. The early titles did this thing where you were in a typical high fantasy setting, and then you found something outer-spacey. And the two slowly came together and you realized this world that you were destined to save is actually altogether insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I had never had a game do that to me! It was storytelling through exploration. Not everything was spelled out, and part of the storytelling was actually the exploration itself! I usually tended to use hybrid characters as the fighters didn't have much utility, and likewise, magic specialists were just too squishy and useless after their magic ran out. The third game in particular grabbed me, and I didn't enjoy the series after #6. I am in a very slow process of trying to complete X although I keep stopping because it just doesn't hold my attention. It's not even necessarily a "bad" game, but there's much better and it just doesn't feel like a M&M game.

Ultima - Another series that I enjoyed very much, but with no replay value. I enjoyed that each title had its own thematic play, whether it was standard RPG hack & slash or the focus was on maintaining virtues. I'd say this series did the best out of any of actual world-building - literally, every time you beat the big boss the landscape of the world would be altered for the next title!

OVERALL - What I like about RPG's is the inventory management, thoughtful combat, and variety of types (classes). The peeves of mine are gimmicks (like bizarre spell names, or tricks, codes, runes to cast spells). Just about all RPG's, for me, have a point towards the end where they just stop being fun. This is a high-level issue. There is something really enjoyable about the lower levels, where advancement really means something and the effects are noticeable. Then you get to the point where its like, oh, another level, a few more HP/SP but those aren't really an issue anymore anyway. This is usually the point in the game where I try to decide if I enjoyed the overall experience enough to bother finishing the story - which admittedly, hasn't always been the case.
Last edited by chrlpolk on Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

chrlpolk
Posts: 59

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by chrlpolk » Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:59 am

Visstar wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:59 pm
though I still fondly recall having to travel upriver, invade an enemy base in a mountain, and destroy some sort of factory that was poisoning the river. Was that Pool of Radiance?
That was Pool of Radiance! It involved a mad chemist and cloning experiments which was polluting the river. Actually, although the storytelling for those games are meh by today's standards, the story ideas themselves would still totally work in new games today!
Visstar wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:59 pm
and am now on the second scenario of Sorcerer, but it's just not all that good. (It's based on, and looks a lot like, Wizardry II.)
They're mostly a nostalgia trip, it's like playing the Wizardry games again except it's not exactly the same! If it's not holding your attention, give Scenario 4 a shot, it includes ranged weapons, more spells, and more quality of life improvements. Although, it's still old school wire-framed Wizardry clone with faulty translations, and YMMV whether nostalgia is enough to slog through it. Out of the entire series of the clone, 4 was the best one (based on Wizardry 5).

aldube30
Posts: 15

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by aldube30 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:19 am

Every game mentioned, had it charm.

I find as a general rule, variety & options add to the RPG's replay value. Too much simplicity makes the game boring after a while, and too much complexity just confuses the player and reduces the fun of the game. The Gold Box games came close to the sweet spot between simple & complex, with the main drawback being limited character level advancement and less streamlined mixing of classes.

The Might & Magic's were a mixed bag with the more complex rules that were added in later on. The class bended hybrids allowed for a more flexible game where you weren't stuck with just the vanilla (knight, robber, cleric, & mage) options. The Hybrid classes weren't superior to the 4 base classes, it just added alternatives.

The Wizardry series had a different take on hybrid classes, where the hybrid classes were considered superior or an upgrade to a base class. I like all classes being equal better, if a class is going to get all the benefits of 2 or 3 classes, then they pay the price like the Ad&d gold box sets did. Still Wizardry was a fun series to play, as Wizards, Samurai, Lords, and Ninjas were the final class upgrade goals to the game. Wizardry 6 & 7 had more class options Ranger, Alchemists, Psionicist, Monk, & Valkarie, this added a lot to the replay value of the game's as different party combos & strategies could be used; these games got bogged down by the heavy skill learning system, something simpler could of been used. Anyways Wizardry 7 for DOS was mainly a mouse driven game, so it runs in DOSBOX on handheld devices with minimal need to ever switch to a keyboard.

The dragon quests were fun too. I remember DQ3 Where you could eventually class change at level 20+ once or twice depending on how much you liked grinding.
;)

chrlpolk
Posts: 59

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by chrlpolk » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:04 am

aldube30 wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:19 am
The Wizardry series had a different take on hybrid classes, where the hybrid classes were considered superior or an upgrade to a base class. I like all classes being equal better, if a class is going to get all the benefits of 2 or 3 classes, then they pay the price like the Ad&d gold box sets did. Still Wizardry was a fun series to play, as Wizards, Samurai, Lords, and Ninjas were the final class upgrade goals to the game.
While I usually aimed for hybrid classes for utility, it's not necessarily the case that they were superior to the base classes. For instance, the Ninja had a crit strike and thieving skills, but a thief still had better thieving skills (better chance to detect and disarm traps). Fighters needed less XP to level up and therefore gained multiple attacks faster than the Knight or Samurai. Yes, the Knight, Samurai and Bishop learned magic, but at endgame, you might want to have a Priest or Mage and have all 9's in your spell availability. A Priest could use better weapons and armor than a Bishop, and a Mage had better saves against magic. If you already have a Bishop for identifying items, you'd be better off with a second caster having gotten all the Priest spells (around 13-14 levels) then switching to Mage - at level 13, that Mage would have better utility than a second Bishop.

aldube30
Posts: 15

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by aldube30 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:08 am

While I usually aimed for hybrid classes for utility, it's not necessarily the case that they were superior to the base classes.

Yep, it all comes down to how much grinding you wanted to do.

In Wizardry 6 & 7, the elite classes were the final class change, so chances are those advanced classes like Ninja probably switch from a Fighter & Thief, and a Bishop was a final switch from other magic classes, the hybrid classes were simply superior to base classes. Wizardry 8 was a different animal, in that changing classes became mostly useless, yes, a pure mage or cleric could outbeat a Bishop, the game got rebalanced so players would want to play the vanilla classes, and of course skills still went up with lots of practice...
;)

chrlpolk
Posts: 59

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by chrlpolk » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:10 am

aldube30 wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:08 am
In Wizardry 6 & 7
My post was specifically for Wizardry 1-5. :lol: Where alot of new players used to think that scoring enough generation points to make a Samurai straight out was somehow beneficial! But a lot of powergamers (and I know your opinion on that!) always included base classes in their endgame parties.

Wizardry 6 & 7 were different, and 8 was just mind-blowing - unfortunately, I've tried to replay it as the party system seems ripe for it, but I just can't seem to get into it, already knowing how everything unfolds. It feels like I'm just going through the motions. I have this problem a lot with newer RPG's, not at all with older ones!

User avatar
Visstar
Posts: 314
Location: Loch Caetar

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by Visstar » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:03 pm

I'm playing Sorcerer, an iOS games based on Wizardry (I'm in scenario 2, the "Knight of Spades") and am experimenting with class changes for the first time. In the past when I played Wizardry, I would create a seventh character to be a Bishop and leave him at home until I had collected a few things that needed to be identified. It stopped being useful after a while, though: once you had sold a few Rings of Death, you simply had no real need for money, and there was no other penalty for having the shop identify your stuff. But I turned a Level 15 priest to a Bishop and brought him to Level 10 and he's still in the party. He's still pretty weak compared to the other characters, though.

Unfortunately. I kind of F'd myself at the beginning by making my warrior "Neutral." Now he can't become a Lord (or "Knight"). I might change him to a Samurai, but they gain spells so slowly that I'll be finished with the game by the time he gets any useful spalls.

I can change my priest to a Lord, which would yield some benefits in combat, but would cost a lot of spells. He would go from 9 Level 6 spells to 4, and from 9 Level 7 spells to 3, and while getting to level 10 or 11 is fairly easy, after that it takes a very long time. And there's nowhere in Wizardry that's that good for grinding, like a giant room, where you'll always find a few giants worth 10,000 XP.

In other words, I see the value of changing classes if you are really determined to grind and grind until they reach Level 20 or whatever, but otherwise, I am not sure at all that it's worth it, at least in the Wizardry world. The penalty is too high, IMO.
May the Vishanti guide me through this eldritch maze!

chrlpolk
Posts: 59

Re: The RPGs of yesteryears, what worked & what didn't.

Post by chrlpolk » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:31 pm

Visstar wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:03 pm
Unfortunately. I kind of F'd myself at the beginning by making my warrior "Neutral." Now he can't become a Lord (or "Knight"). I might change him to a Samurai, but they gain spells so slowly that I'll be finished with the game by the time he gets any useful spalls.
You could just leave him a fighter. The best weapons & armor, multiple attacks, etc. During combat, you'll find your frontline members will mostly be attacking, even if you have spell options. The most useful thing about the samurai for me was the additional map spells!

Can you make space for a back-row member? If so, consider changing the Fighter to a Mage for a caster with good HP.s. From there you can build into a Samurai, and that will give you a Samurai with more immediate access to stronger magic.
Visstar wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:03 pm
I can change my priest to a Lord, which would yield some benefits in combat, but would cost a lot of spells. He would go from 9 Level 6 spells to 4, and from 9 Level 7 spells to 3, and while getting to level 10 or 11 is fairly easy, after that it takes a very long time.
As the Lord levels, though, it adds spell charges. More slowly than the Priest, of course, but you do gain spell charges per level as a Lord. It will take a bit before he starts getting those Level 7 charges raised, though!
Visstar wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:03 pm
And there's nowhere in Wizardry that's that good for grinding, like a giant room, where you'll always find a few giants worth 10,000 XP.
There are typically battles when you open most doors. My "cheat" was to go to the lowest level my party could handle and find one of those doors. Open it, if there was an encounter that I knew would give good XP, I'd fight. Otherwise, run. (If I got caught in a failed escape, I'd do the "exit the app" trick.) Once you win, exit the app! Reopen it. Go through the door, and then back in again, and another encounter! Repeat!
Visstar wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:03 pm
In other words, I see the value of changing classes if you are really determined to grind and grind until they reach Level 20 or whatever, but otherwise, I am not sure at all that it's worth it, at least in the Wizardry world. The penalty is too high, IMO.
Grinding seems to be part of the genre. I used to not mind it but now I find it annoying and detracting from the gameplay. I've played some decent RPG's where you didn't really have to grind much, either they use level-scaling for monsters, or they give experience-scaling (where experience given is raised if your characters were under-levelled for the monster) that forced your levels higher more quickly. The most annoying, I think, was the mid-numbered Might and Magic games (particularly M&M3) where you had to train for level ups and gold became an issue, you acquired 2+ levels of experience trying to grind for the gold you needed to train one level! And of course you had to purchase spells for that level as well, and oh, did your sword break?

Post Reply