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A Short Review of SCS v27 for BGEE

TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
Truth be told, I’ve been reluctant to touch SCS for years, instead relying on self-imposed restrictions to raise the challenge cap (solo ironman runs, etc.). However, recently I decided to do a SCS non-hardcore solo run with a Blackguard. The logic was as follows: while there is no doubt I’ll be able to handle a solo playthrough, especially with such a powerhouse of a kit, I lack experience specifically with SCS, thus it’s highly likely I’m going to make much more mistakes than usual. Consequently, a hardcore run becomes practically inconvenient (extremely masochistic, in other words).

What can I say? The impressions are ambivalent. My biggest issue with SCS is probably that it’s essentially a mod for experienced players that don’t act like experienced players. Don’t get me wrong: I highly appreciate the amount of thought and work that has gone into rewriting the scripts and making them efficient. There is a huge caveat, though. For example, the sirines are improved, indeed, but I have learnt about that only from studying their script in Near Infinity. Why is that? Because for no plausible reason an expert player will ever fight them without a Greenstone Amulet or other Mind Blank-like effect up his sleeve. Of course, if the author’s intent was to create a mod that works only if the players exhibit amazing stupidity on purpose, all of my feedback is irrelevant. But then the vanilla game is also quite unforgiving when you have no idea what you are doing: refuse Korax, and try to take on those basilisks with no Protection from Petrification = instant death. Why would a sane person do that, is a completely different question. Hope you get my drift.

In short, my point is: expert players seldom play by the book, and always prefer an oblique approach to a straightforward charge. Unfortunately, under such conditions, SCS does not perform well.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the individual components. I will use some videos in the process to illustrate my points.

Smarter general AI, Better calls for help, Smarter mages, Smarter priests:
Well, the difference is there, no doubt. However, it isn’t felt as much as I thought it would be. So they pre-buff, use ranged weaponry when appropriate, switch to melee when appropriate, and aren’t that easy to pull one by one anymore. Sounds like it does a lot, correct? Well, here’s the catch: maybe there is something wrong with me, but I’m not even entirely sure all of these things actually benefit the AI. In fact, I have a very well-founded suspicion that in a huge percentage of cases, au contraire, the new scripts confuse the hell out of the poor creatures (Davaeorn being the foremost example).

Improved spiders, Smarter sirines, Smarter basilisks:
I couldn’t tell the difference. No, I’m not blind, I know basiliks now have more sensible targeting, phase spiders actually phase in and out, etc. Still, if I weren’t so well acquainted with the original game content, I wouldn’t have noticed. If there is an increase in difficulty for these types of enemies, it’s barely noticeable, almost cosmetic.




Dark side-based kobold upgrade:
This is a substantial change, that makes some of the battles in the Nashkel mines somewhat challenging. More kobolds with upgraded stats, plus some of them wield magic.


Improved Drasus party:
Yes, improved it is. Again, the change here pertains to character levels and items, not the scripts, and the effect is felt immediately.


Tougher chapter II end battle:
Well, Mulahey now pre-buffs and has more minions. I don’t think it makes a significant difference, as he still dies in 10 seconds, and his minions still are quite pathetic.


Tougher chapter III end battle:
Now it’s a considerable challenge. And again, mainly because there are more enemies.


Tougher chapter IV end battle:
SCS Davaeorn is a huge disappointment. First of all, he’s actually easier than the original Davaeorn, that was quite a tough nut to crack. Now you can just ignore the battle horrors totally, which is a huge boon. Moreover, the guy is really confused about his script. He keeps entangling himself, likes to engage in melee with his mighty quarterstaff, and rarely ever teleports away.


Improved doppelgangers:
At Duchal Palace a lengthier battle awaits, though not necessarily a more challenging one. That cowardly doppelganger mage just keeps running away and casting abjuration spells. Otherwise, I can’t say there is much of a difference. Oh, and there is a bug here: please note Lia just stands there like a statue, regardless of the circumstances.


Improved final battle:
This one is really buggy. First of all, you shouldn’t be able to fire poison-enhanced Arrows of Detonation at Sarevok without provoking any reaction. As you can see, I just gib both Semaj and Tazok with collateral poison damage this way before Sarevok recalls to go hostile. And it’s not that I use some kind of exploit here. As you can see in the videos, I approach Sarevok as directly as possible! Secondly, very often the second pair of Sarevok’s cohorts (Angelo and Diarmid) just refuse to teleport in – as a consequence, you are stuck at the temple with an unkillable Sarevok. Yay! Thirdly, with Boots of Speed and good timing, one can save game at any point of the final showdown, which probably wasn’t intended by the author of the mod.



Improved miscellaneous encounters:
I can only really comment on Cythandria. SCS Cythandria is a huge leap in difficulty compared to the vanilla one. Her pre-buff script is uncompromising, as are her stone golem servants.


I’d like to add a couple of words to sum it all up. In general, SCS is at its best when the changes it introduces are, so to say, numerical, of either quantitative or qualitative kind. For example, Cythandria has stone golem guards instead of puny ogres, and suddenly ceases to be a pushover, or there are much more kobolds at Nashkel mines, some of them spell-casting. On the other hand, whenever the author relies on the improved AI scripts to make things more challenging, it’s either hardly felt (sirines, basilisks), or turns a battle into a crazy glitchfest (Davaeorn, Sarevok’s party).

Post edited by Jalily on
elminsterJTMStradlin[Deleted User]
«13

Comments

  • athakathak Member Posts: 31
    Biggest issues, if you can call them that, SCS has are:

    1) game engine is pathetic
    2) invisibilty is OP in BG1 - you can finish 99% of game while invisible and avoid any difficulties
    3) EE itself is much easier than BG1 (either Tutu, original or BGT version) due to new kits (read: Blackguard, Dwarven Defender, Monk of Dark Moon) and equipment, together sith some bad developer decisions like Blackguard poison bypassing Stoneskins, amongst other nonsense made for players who want an easy game and never played a real RPG game prior to 2005 and later
    4) it's not devised for solo play
    5) it does not block exploits on purpose - you can still abuse the game however you want

    Without commenting on most videos, I'll say a few things about Davaeorn - he's much easier in BG:EE due to the "hidden block wall" which does not exist in the original game, allowing you to either kill Horrors first without him noticing or ignore them completely. Another developers decision to make the game newbie-friendly, just as placing Stupidifier in Beregost is.
    As for gameplay, you do not really aproach Sarevok "as directly as possible" - he doesn't even trigger the dialogue until they're stacked with "poison-enhanced Arrows of Detonation", which is the real bug itself - it's a wrong way to judge mod's overall dificulty by playing a broken kit and heavilly abusing the engine - SCS doesn't fix any of those. What happens in your game - and what you refer to as "SCS bugs" is in fact the aftermath of your approach to game.

    sunset00WilburCrevsDaakKen
  • zenblackzenblack Member Posts: 100
    A number of these are BG:EE specific and nearly all of them do not work as you suggest in BGT or Tutu, thus it may be bugs specifically with SCS or it may be the changes that are made by EE. The last fight in particular doesn't match either of my experiences in both BGEE and BGTutu in the last year with SCS.

    sunset00
  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    edited November 2013
    athak said:


    3) EE itself is much easier than BG1 (either Tutu, original or BGT version) due to new kits (read: Blackguard, Dwarven Defender, Monk of Dark Moon) and equipment, together sith some bad developer decisions like Blackguard poison bypassing Stoneskins

    @athak

    Ouch... EE is easier than Tutu? Broken kits? Ever heard about a Totemic Druid in Tutu? :) DM Monk is a broken kit? Developer decisions regarding "Blackguard poison"? As if that's a completely new ability devised by OH :) Ah, got it -- you probably think it is.

    In short, I stopped reading here. In the future, I suggest you check the facts before you post. One has to back up such a mentoring tone.

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    edited November 2013
    zenblack said:

    A number of these are BG:EE specific and nearly all of them do not work as you suggest in BGT or Tutu, thus it may be bugs specifically with SCS or it may be the changes that are made by EE. The last fight in particular doesn't match either of my experiences in both BGEE and BGTutu in the last year with SCS.

    @zenblack

    I thought the thread title "A Short Review of SCS v27 for BGEE" sort of speaks for itself. Turns out, it doesn't.

    All right, here you go: they all are BGEE specific, since I review SCS v27 _for BGEE_ here. Not for Tutu, not for BGT, and not for the original BG. _For BGEE_.

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    @DavidW In all honesty, the main purpose of this review was, well, to review the mod, not to drag you into some sort of argument :) As long as you take the obvious glitches (immovable Lia, non-responsive Sarevok) into consideration while working on the next version, I suppose the review did its job.

    sunset00elminsterWilbur
  • athakathak Member Posts: 31
    Tisamon said:

    athak said:


    3) EE itself is much easier than BG1 (either Tutu, original or BGT version) due to new kits (read: Blackguard, Dwarven Defender, Monk of Dark Moon) and equipment, together sith some bad developer decisions like Blackguard poison bypassing Stoneskins

    @athak

    Ouch... EE is easier than Tutu? Broken kits? Ever heard about a Totemic Druid in Tutu? :) DM Monk is a broken kit? Developer decisions regarding "Blackguard poison"? As if that's a completely new ability devised by OH :) Ah, got it -- you probably think it is.

    In short, I stopped reading here. In the future, I suggest you check the facts before you post. One has to back up such a mentoring tone.
    @Tisamon
    Coming from someone using Vampiric Touch on a piece of furniture that is all very flattering!; sure you won't find DM Monk OP. 99% people playing EE won't; and surely TDruid is OP in Tutu....like 90% of other kits never nerfed for BG1, which never had kits.
    .....and it's not that I use some kind of exploit here....just refusing to trigger dialog and am firing explosive posion arrows..... LOL.



  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    Glad to see you took my advice :)

    Didn't realize v27 was out already, I'll have to check that out.

    btw, shouldn't this be in the BGEE section, not BG2EE?

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    Alsn said:


    Edit: Also, wrong subforum. This forum is BG2, not BG. :)

    I agree on this point.

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    nano said:

    Glad to see you took my advice :)

    Well, it was 25% yours :) Four people extolled the virtues of SCS in different threads I commented upon during one evening, so I decided I must try it after all these years to get some first-hand experience, and - who knows? - maybe I could like it. To cut the long story short, like it I surely do not (I think the review is clear enough in this respect, although I do my best to stay objective), but it was a fascinating experience in many respects.

  • KladozKladoz Member Posts: 11
    It sounds like you may be more interested in an Improved Anvil style mod

    Of course that's not EE compatible

  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    I sold you on the detonation arrows as well :p

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    Alsn said:


    As you say, experienced players *can* cheese through almost any fight, because we know how the game engine works. No AI mod will ever change that unless you start messing with the rules in order to "break" all the exploits. Mods that do that(Tactics for BG2 come to mind) things can start to get really messy and is the reason that I never liked that mod.

    To sum up, I don't think SCS is trying to be what you seem to expect it to be. I also don't agree at all that "experienced players" always try to exploit anything they can. In fact, I'd say that's largely an individual choice for each player. If you really want a mod that tries to break the game in the computer's favour, I'd suggest you play one of the other difficulty mods out there(although I don't think many of them are compatible with BG:EE unfortunately).

    I've learnt two things from my SCS run: (1) this mod is obviously not for me; (2) I've always suspected brute force approach (IWD HoF mode is the best example: just increase those monster stats to the ridiculous levels) is much more efficient vs. experienced players than fiddling with scripts -- now I'm sure it is.
    Alsn said:


    First of all, the blackguard kit breaks a lot of the challenge of BG1 as casters don't have proper protections like PfMW and the like so tapping them with poison weapon basically instantly wins any fight against a spellcaster.

    That's one healthy bit of a stretch :) Any thief (except Shadowdancer) instantly wins any fight vs. a spellcaster, by this logic (the traps will fire prior to any magic pre-buffing). A Shadowdancer will win any fight vs. a spellcaster, since Shadowstep breaks combat scripts if you know how to time it. An Inquisitor will win any fight vs. a spellcaster, since a double strength instant Dispel Magic will literally rape those mages. Should I continue?

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    nano said:

    I sold you on the detonation arrows as well :p

    Ah, no. I have a v. 1.0.2007 run on a Youtube (from Dec 2012) where I try to use AoDs extensively with a Blackguard. That's how I remember how many of goddamn things can realistically be found (i. e., prior to chapter V) :)

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    Kladoz said:

    It sounds like you may be more interested in an Improved Anvil style mod

    Of course that's not EE compatible

    I didn't like it, either (way too revolutionary, and needlessly so) :) The best way to go, in my understanding, is to do it HoF style. Just buff those creatures across the board, and let the player handle the rest. Quantity becomes a quality of its own after reaching certain point.

  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    Tisamon said:

    nano said:

    I sold you on the detonation arrows as well :p

    Ah, no. I have a v. 1.0.2007 run on a Youtube (from Dec 2012) where I try to use AoDs extensively with a Blackguard. That's how I remember how many of goddamn things can realistically be found (i. e., prior to chapter V) :)
    Heh, if you say so. I still believe this shows that our discussion about Dorn has been of value and that you're open to suggestions. Even if we may disagree on some points I look forward to comparing more tactics in the future.

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    edited November 2013
    nano said:

    Tisamon said:

    nano said:

    I sold you on the detonation arrows as well :p

    Ah, no. I have a v. 1.0.2007 run on a Youtube (from Dec 2012) where I try to use AoDs extensively with a Blackguard. That's how I remember how many of goddamn things can realistically be found (i. e., prior to chapter V) :)
    Heh, if you say so. I still believe this shows that our discussion about Dorn has been of value and that you're open to suggestions. Even if we may disagree on some points I look forward to comparing more tactics in the future.
    While I am open to suggestions, I still claim it's not a valid tactic in the vanilla BGEE, since you can't obtain enough AoDs until chapter V, and while at chapters V-VII, you have easier/less troublesome ways of getting rid of the enemies. As stated, I've tried it in v. 1.0.2007, and I don't think anything changed in this respect since. In SCS final battle, however, DavidW actually puts you against five (let's assume that the script works right, and five it is) super-powered villains up close. So AoD seemed like a viable choice.

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    athak said:


    @Tisamon
    Coming from someone using Vampiric Touch on a piece of furniture that is all very flattering!; sure you won't find DM Monk OP. 99% people playing EE won't; and surely TDruid is OP in Tutu....like 90% of other kits never nerfed for BG1, which never had kits.
    .....and it's not that I use some kind of exploit here....just refusing to trigger dialog and am firing explosive posion arrows..... LOL.

    @athak

    - Excuse me? That's what Vampiric Touch is used for in BG series. For more than a decade. It also can be used very situationally to initiate combat (good damage, good hp buff, especially if you are lucky and it hits twice). Any suggestions on how to use it outside of draining furniture's hp? Maybe you a masochist, and, as such, actually use it in combat? If so, what's the success rate, and how many of your Vampiric Touches go uninterrupted?

    - So you understand Tutu was basically a bunch of BG2 rules/mechanics artificially imposed upon BG universe that broke the balance totally, correct? Then how can you make an absurd claim EE is easier than Tutu?

    - I did not "refuse to trigger dialogue". Sarevok is the one that does not initiate dialogue, even though I stay within his field of vision. It's not fake-talking, either, I just attack a non-responsive target. To claim it's not an SCS bug, but a problem of my approach is not tremendously clever, you know.

  • mylegbigmylegbig Member Posts: 292
    edited November 2013
    I never realized that it was sheer stupidity that kept me from using using every item, consumable, and exploit to their maximum potential in order to breeze through the game.

    To be fair though, many SCS changes aren't particularly noticeable except when it comes to mages, and they simply aren't a threat until BG2.

  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    Tisamon said:

    nano said:

    Tisamon said:

    nano said:

    I sold you on the detonation arrows as well :p

    Ah, no. I have a v. 1.0.2007 run on a Youtube (from Dec 2012) where I try to use AoDs extensively with a Blackguard. That's how I remember how many of goddamn things can realistically be found (i. e., prior to chapter V) :)
    Heh, if you say so. I still believe this shows that our discussion about Dorn has been of value and that you're open to suggestions. Even if we may disagree on some points I look forward to comparing more tactics in the future.
    While I am open to suggestions, I still claim it's not a valid tactic in the vanilla BGEE, since you can't obtain enough AoDs until chapter V, and while at chapters V-VII, you have easier/less troublesome ways of getting rid of the enemies. As stated, I've tried it in v. 1.0.2007, and I don't think anything changed in this respect since.
    I shall claim it is a valid tactic, then, and we can agree to disagree.
    Tisamon said:


    In SCS final battle, however, DavidW actually puts you against five (let's assume that the script works right, and five it is) super-powered villains up close. So AoD seemed like a viable choice.

    Good enough :)

    Their scripts seem to work correctly in my (older) version, by the way, though it has its own bugs.

  • athakathak Member Posts: 31
    Tisamon said:

    athak said:


    @Tisamon
    Coming from someone using Vampiric Touch on a piece of furniture that is all very flattering!; sure you won't find DM Monk OP. 99% people playing EE won't; and surely TDruid is OP in Tutu....like 90% of other kits never nerfed for BG1, which never had kits.
    .....and it's not that I use some kind of exploit here....just refusing to trigger dialog and am firing explosive posion arrows..... LOL.

    @athak

    - Excuse me? That's what Vampiric Touch is used for in BG series. For more than a decade. It also can be used very situationally to initiate combat (good damage, good hp buff, especially if you are lucky and it hits twice). Any suggestions on how to use it outside of draining furniture's hp? Maybe you a masochist, and, as such, actually use it in combat? If so, what's the success rate, and how many of your Vampiric Touches go uninterrupted?

    - So you understand Tutu was basically a bunch of BG2 rules/mechanics artificially imposed upon BG universe that broke the balance totally, correct? Then how can you make an absurd claim EE is easier than Tutu?

    - I did not "refuse to trigger dialogue". Sarevok is the one that does not initiate dialogue, even though I stay within his field of vision. It's not fake-talking, either, I just attack a non-responsive target. To claim it's not an SCS bug, but a problem of my approach is not tremendously clever, you know.
    ad 1) It's not what VT is used is BG for anybody with enough reason to see that it's an oversight. VT should not even work if your target does not have blood to suck from. The fact that EE developers didn't bother to change that is not my problem. My VT go interrupted, yes. Same as heals, fireballs and most of spell I use.
    ad 2) EE easier than Tutu is absurd for you? I fail to see the absurdity of my statement after playing both games. No extra weapons with stunning properties, no kits with 50 damage res. Right, you think that Totemic is imbalanced with a SCS install and posion could work on a stoneskind mage in original. Go figure.
    ad 3) .....I just attack a non-responsive target....
    is not a scs bug.

    Do not take these things so personally. But what your videos show is very little but abuses.
    Your statements "any thief wins against any mage since traps will work", "shadowdancer breaks scripts if he goes invisible", "inquisitor will rape mages" are all wrong.
    THief will plant two or three traps in EE. You don't choose who they fire upon, and mages rarely travel alone. Unless you rest for more traps, this won't work as you describe.
    Shadowdancer breaks scripts just as anybody with an invisible potion, without making a skill check. Imba, right?
    scs tries to make enemies behave at least believable, but it does not make players behave in the same way.




  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    @athak

    Well, too many factual mistakes in one reply, you really don't know when to stop, eh? :)

    Anyway, let's wrap it up, okay? The discussion of your numerous analytical shortcomings, exciting as it is, has nothing to do with SCS v27 in BGEE. Please desist from cluttering this thread, unless you have anything meaningful to contribute on the subject (namely, SCS v27 in BGEE context).

  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 754
    I can confirm that if Sarevok doesn't initiate conversation, it's a bug.
    I can also confirm that if your preferred playstyle includes using vampiric touch on inanimate objects, SCS probably isn't aimed at you.

  • athakathak Member Posts: 31
    edited November 2013
    Your point is that SCS v27 in BGEE is bugged.
    My point is that while it has other bugs, the bugs you're mentioning here are not scs introduced bugs; those are game limitations; in additon to videos such as Improved Drasus where you pull the poor fellow away from others and say that scs scripts don't have more effect than items/levels, which is nonsense, since scs barely touches stats.
    Play the game in a way that suits you; that's yours and and I have 0 problem with that.
    But the points you are making here are deeply compromised, and in all of those points there isn't a grain of consistency - bad scripts which you don't trigger, Sarevok glitchfest of your own making, Sirens and basilisk sensible targeting without valid targets etc.
    Just for the record - I dont think scs is bug-free or that enemies display Deep Blue scripting; they are dumb morons indeed. Its still a significat improvement over original.

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    @DavidW Oh, David, no worries -- I freely admit it most definitely isn't aimed at me, Vampiric Touch or no Vampiric Touch. I have understood that much after Davaeorn entangled himself, then gallantly rushed to attack a huge heavily armored Blackguard in melee with his trusty quarterstaff. It's his preferred playstyle, probably :)

  • TisamonTisamon Member Posts: 209
    edited November 2013
    @athak
    athak said:

    which is nonsense, since scs barely touches stats.

    Please, at least read the SCS documentation before you post. It surely isn't a stat-centered mod, but it adds and changes a lot of things numerically.
    athak said:


    But the points you are making here are deeply compromised, and in all of those points there isn't a grain of consistency - bad scripts which you don't trigger, Sarevok glitchfest of your own making, Sirens and basilisk sensible targeting without valid targets etc.

    1. I've seen basilisks actually switch targets quite aptly, since I was there with Korax. I haven't said a single word about sirine targeting.

    2. The issue with Sarevok is that I shouldn't be able to get into archery range (with a shortbow!), then attack him for 2 rounds without triggering his dialogue script. Is that really so difficult to understand?

    3. Look, it's really tiresome to go over it again and again and again to no avail, as you seem to ignore all the information I provide anyway. Therefore, a discussion with you cannot be deemed constructive anymore: basically, 90% of your text is just a lot of odium directed at me for no other reason than that I prefer to play the game differently. Plus a persistent critique of those videos, of all things, as if my intention is not to illustrate my points, but to impress you with some flashy tactics! Anyhow, I'm done with you. Your further posts in this thread will be ignored.

  • athakathak Member Posts: 31
    It's not a lot of odium directed at you; it's directed at your review.

  • ShinShin Member Posts: 2,338

    It should be pointed out that SCS doesn't make (nearly) as much difference in BG1 as in BG2, mostly due to the limited arsenal of enemy spellcasters.

    Also regarding this:
    Tisamon said:

    My biggest issue with SCS is probably that it’s essentially a mod for experienced players that don’t act like experienced players.

    Of course, if the author’s intent was to create a mod that works only if the players exhibit amazing stupidity on purpose, all of my feedback is irrelevant.

    I guess you can call it being stupid on purpose, but the thing is that even experienced players can prefer to keep metagaming to a minimum. You can't unlearn what you know about how the game works, but you can avoid excessive preparation. The author's intent afaik was to make a mod that plays fair and as much as possible uses only resources also available to the player. Thus SCS won't be able to stop a player who knows all the ins and outs, but it still makes many battles feel a lot more believable - though as stated, mostly in BG2.

    JuliusBorisov
  • CastorpCastorp Member Posts: 45
    Odd review.
    It reads as if you didn't like the idea of SCS and that you decided you'd cheese your way through it to make a point.
    Nonetheless, playing solo is so much easier than playing a full party that it more or less defeats the purpose of this review.

    The point of SCS is not to block cheese and metagaming. It's to make enemies smarter.
    In this regard, it is a success. If you play by the rules and play fair, it makes the game fun an challenging. To me, that's more than enough.
    If you don't, it's probably not the mod for you.

    I'll concede you one point, though: the Davaeorn fight should be remade.

    kungfuhobbitJuliusBorisov
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