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Is the game really as trial & error as it feels?

2

Comments

  • SimulacreSimulacre Member Posts: 102
    edited October 11

    Examples in BG for your consideration:

    1) A very large percentage of first time players will encounter their first death against a wolf or a bear on the first map outside of Candlekeep. The solution to the problem is to either stick to the main road, avoiding the wild animals, or to kite the animals with ranged weapons. How would you know to do that if you had not during your early experience attempted to melee a wolf or bear with your lousy first level AC and gear, and died from the attempt? I say you couldn't possibly have known that. In fact, previous experience with fantasy games would lead you to believe that you are supposed to be able to melee creatures successfully at first level on the first map outside of the tutorial area.

    2) Another very large percentage of first time players will die on the steps of the FAI to Tarnesh's Mirror Image-Horror-Magic Missile combo. There are several solutions to this problem, including Remove Fear spell for clerics, ranged attacks, using the guards, and having a four member party that includes Montaron and Xzar. How would you know what to do to deal with Tarnesh if you had never before experienced death at his hands? I say you couldn't possibly have anticipated that and survived the encounter on your first play any way other than pure luck. In fact, previous experience with fantasy games would lead you to believe that you are supposed to be able to survive an encounter with a mage assassin in the first place the game tells you to go.

    I call that learning through trial and error.

    Similar encounters abound on every map in the game, all the way through ToB.

    Allow me to strongly disagree.

    1) There's Obe's training in Candlekeep plus the green tutors to help you understand how the game is played. The tutors tackle the theoritical aspects of the game's mechanics while Obe will show you in practice how the game is played. It's very complete and intuitive.

    Also, let's not forget that this is an old-school and labeled RPG. Because of that, you might want to get your hands on the manual and read it BEFORE you play just like you would read the rules in a tabletop role-playing game first. After all, where's the inspiration coming from ?

    Just by doing some reading you'll grasp a lot of information that will eventually prevent your death in your future first playthrough. AC mechanics are one of them, so you shouldn't be able to complain that you don't know how it works.

    Nonetheless, the game is so kind that it takes you by the hand and explains it again in case you were not paying enough attention to the manual or if you were too lazy to actually read it. There's a green tutor every fifty meters or so, each one of them can help you progressively without it being a pain in the neck. It's great.

    During Obe's training, you're allowed to go from theory to practice so you do get hit but no health is drained. It's a very neat training and you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the ups and downs of melee and ranged attacks.

    You know how often you get hit in different situations - i.e. if you're in the front line, behind, using ranged attacks or not et cetera - after ten minutes of training, so you KNOW how often you'll get hit in the future in the same situations since it's supposed to be- and you're told so several times - a REALISTIC training.

    So yeah, unless you decided to skip it or were half-asleep while doing it, you quickly realize that ranged attacks are paramount because of how effective they are. I believe that's quite obvious when hobgoblins are summoned.

    On the other hand, melee is tricky so you should know it's best to avoid it unless you're fully prepared. It's impossible not to see what happens if you send a mage in the frontline during the training. Even those with a decent armor do get hit, so the message is clear.. range is awesome !

    The game even goes as far as to show several types of monsters with a comment from Obe before they're introduced to you so you know what to expect in the future. You're also permitted to try over and over depending on your curiosity and interest. Even when it stops, there's nothing preventing you from reloading and replaying the training.

    What else do you need ?!

    You simply need to do the training and notice how it's played. If you're observant and curious, the training will help tremendously in the future fights. The basics of the game's fighting strategies are right there, in this safe training.

    So to pretend you couldn't have possibly known that rushing to a wolf face-to-face with a squishy character wasn't such a great idea is simply not true. You were just not paying attention.

    I would also point out that the wolf danger is mostly valid for the highest diffculty settings. The lower you go, the less it's going to be a death wish. Assuming you're sending an equipped warrior to deal with the wolf - and you should if you read the manual or listened to the tutors or did Obe's training - you can outdo the beast easily.

    And if it's your playthough and you decided to play on "Insane", well... how can you honestly complain, lol ? The name says it all, "INSANE". Take some responsibility !

    2) Again, this has little to do with luck and it's entirely possible to predict what's going to happen on the way to the FAI and how to deal with it.

    First, is it not true that you're well aware of the fact that you're being hunted down like an animal ? By the time you get to FAI, there's been three murder attempts already. How many do you need to expect more to come ?

    It's also very clear that whoever is planning them is well-informed because he knew where to find you and when to find you in a very short period of time. So the threat is more than serious and you should know that.

    It seems impossible to me that someone would run up to FAI, being casual and all, and get totally surprised that another assassin - again - would try to stop him on the way !

    If that's what happens then I'm sorry, the player was just not paying attention and got what he deserved. The game is not to blame.

    So... getting two more people on the ride is kinda logical because you shouldn't stay alone being vulnerable and all. Obviously.

    And if you didn't get those two because of your paranoid tendencies seeing assassins everywhere - that's me -, then be paranoid all the way through and scout the areas with Imoen until you notice that there's a strange guy that seems to be blocking the way up to the FAI. Now well well, isn't that convenient for an assassin ?

    Also keep a speed potion from the moment you meet Imoen after the third assassination attempt in case there's a fourth before you meet the trusted Khalid and Jaheira, now that's what I call common sense... in other words and generally speaking, do something to max out your chances since it has little do with luck ! If you think a bit before getting there, you'll have many options in your head to turn the tide. I can guarantee that.

    Now, getting to the fight per se.

    Any spell he casts is predictable. Why ? Well, again, the manual. And if you didn't read the manual, didn't get an interest in spellcasting through the character creation process - because it allows you to pick spells WITH their respective descriptions offered to you on a silver platter - then there's, again, Obe's training.

    Yes, there's a mage in this training, there's a wand that deals some magic missiles too and those shoud have raised an interest in spellcasting and its destructive nature. I also believe that since EE Gorion uses Miror Images in his fight against Sarevok and you should notice how they're successively removed as he's getting hit.

    I would have accepted the idea that the spellcasting was not predictable IF and ONLY IF the guy was throwing at you some very-high level spells you could not have known at this point. But, really, that's not the case.

    So to be totally surprised that a mage cast basic offensive spells, well.. let's just say it's far-fetched.

    You have learned how powerful ranged attacks were, so... use your bows as rapidly as you can to have a chance to kill him before he starts casting. If it fails, keep pumping arrows in him with the oil of speed you kept for your best archer and most of the time you'll just shred the poor guy. So... was it THAT hard ?

    Not to mention... Gorion told you to flee fights you can't win. That's another option, and it's a pretty good one because the guards will intervene. Again, how can one pretend this wasn't something you could have thought out ? Not more than ten minutes ago, you were avoiding a fight to let someone else have it.

    Now I'm not saying that this is always easy, but it's not overly complicated nor impossible to learn differently than from dying. More often than not, one was just not paying enough attention ang got punished for it.

    Being lazy - and a lot of players are - is not the same as being taken by surprise in an unfair way.

    Post edited by Simulacre on
    ThacoBellGrond0
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,768
    @Simulacre , Are you saying you avoided the bears and wolves during your first ever playthrough of BG, and beat Tarnesh on your first try? I'm having trouble taking you very seriously here.

    I'm not taking myself or this topic very seriously either. It's getting kind of silly. :smiley:

    Gotural
  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member, Moderator Posts: 13,132
    But you can Detect Traps in Baldur's gate. Your thief characters can do that. If you want to boost their chances of Detecting Trap, you can use a potion of Master Thievery, a Potion of Perception, and/or Potion of Power.

    Torgrimmer
  • NeoptolemusNeoptolemus Member Posts: 25

    @Simulacre , Are you saying you avoided the bears and wolves during your first ever playthrough of BG, and beat Tarnesh on your first try? I'm having trouble taking you very seriously here.

    I'm not taking myself or this topic very seriously either. It's getting kind of silly. :smiley:

    I'm thinking his point is there is plenty of information that would allowance you to unpack the challenges you described with out trial and error.

    I also wonder if the different ways people start games factor in here. Personally I had read the manual and spell description multiple times before I had played much (started playing as a kid with limited screen time and sharing with my brother). So I've also had a strong grasp of mechanics and strong and weak enemies, spells etc.

    Whereas these days with a new game I tend to just boot it up and play to learn

    GoturalThacoBell
  • SimulacreSimulacre Member Posts: 102
    edited October 11

    @Simulacre , Are you saying you avoided the bears and wolves during your first ever playthrough of BG, and beat Tarnesh on your first try? I'm having trouble taking you very seriously here.

    I'm not taking myself or this topic very seriously either. It's getting kind of silly. :smiley:

    That's exactly what I'm saying. Call me liar if you wish, I know what I did for a fact.

    Most people will die in the first fights, that's true, but that's because most people don't bother reading all there is to read. They also tend to rush Obe's training without realizing that this is a neat and very helpful training. Finally, they give it a try with wolves or bears because they're in the "why not" mindset. I'm a very dedicated roleplayer - that's what RPGs are for - and I prefer playing the game as if I were experiencing the story myself.

    Knowing that, would I be trying to kill wolves or cower in the dark, waiting for Imoen to tell me the coast is clear ? The answer is obvious to me. It also allows me to stay alive, because realistic playthroughs are much more efficient than clicking on everything and see what happens.

    I stand by my statement that there's nothing exceptionnal about that wolf or the mage, especially if you're playing on the lowest difficulty settings. Oil of speed + arrows are enough to get the better of this so-called dangerous mage, fleeing works too.

    Those tactics are quite obvious if you paid attention. If you didn't, you'll be punished.

    Baldur's Gate is a game that punishes you if you don't make an effort. Yes, that's true. But it's rarely unfair.

    It doesn't qualify as a "trial and error" game.

    Post edited by Simulacre on
    ThacoBellUnderstandMouseMagic
  • SimulacreSimulacre Member Posts: 102
    Pingwin said:

    There are still plenty of areas that are most definitely trial and error. A few examples:
    1. The pack of wolves near the Beregost temple. Ok, an experienced AD&D player may know just how dangerous vampiric wolves are but I expect most players would find out the hard way.
    2. Assassins at the back door to the Nashkell mines. They will make mincemeat out of a low level party who has just made it through the mines.
    3. Ankhegs north of the FAI. So close to a safe area but low level characters will die.
    I'm sure some people have some cheesy tactics and will happily go to such areas with level 1 characters, but in general I'm sure most experienced players will know which areas are easy for low level characters and which are dangerous and will plan their route through the game accordingly. There's only one way that you can do that and that is trial and error visiting areas when you are unfamiliar with the game to see how dangerous they are.

    They are most definitely not trial and error.

    1. You don't need to be an experienced player to know that a pack of wolves should be avoided if you're low-level, especially if they look different from their usual counterparts and have a spooky name when you hover your mouse above them. Common sense, really.

    This fight can be avoided if you bothered scouting the area first with your thief.

    During my first playthrough, I avoided many fights because I was unsure of the outcome. Unlike most games, you're free to not engage in Baldur's Gate. Use that to your advantage instead of shooting first and ask questions later.

    It's not so hard to stay alive in Baldur's Gate if you take your time and play cautiously. You'll manage pretty much everything if you bother equipping yourself and raising levels a bit before taking risks.

    2. Only if you go there unprepared, and you should always be prepared. There's nothing preventing you from sleeping in the mine and you should make a break if you're out of spells or hurt. The fight in itself can be tough but it's nothing crazy if you're playing on the lowest difficulty settings.

    3. Again, your thief shoulp help you notice that there's something odd crawling under the earth. I'm assuming you're talking about the Fishing Village - i.e. the map just north of the FAI, as you say - so you should know that someone comes to you to tell you about them. I don't remember the name though. It's not like you weren't warned that there would be something different there.

    ThacoBell
  • PingwinPingwin Member Posts: 140
    So you're a new player who's arrived at the FAI inn with a low level character. You foolishly stray north to the Fishing Village.
    Let's say you have already figured out about scouting ahead using a stealthed thief. You see an ankheg or two. Now what? Assuming you haven't got an encyclopedic knowledge of 2nd edition AD&D monsters, you've got no idea of how dangerous they are so you have two options:
    1. Attack the ankhegs and find out
    2. Decide that they look quite big and dangerous so back away and come back when you are higher level.
    If you pick option 1, you are probably in reload territory as an ankheg can easily kill a low level character with one hit so you don't even get chance to see the fight is going badly and retreat.
    If you pick option 2, when do you return? You still have no idea how dangerous they are so whatever level you are when you first return, you don't actually know if you can defeat them.
    If that's not trial and error, I don't know what is. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it's just the nature of the game as opposed to a lot of games where you are essentially rail roaded through a load of encounters that are of an appropriate difficulty level. BG expects you to explore, and to get killed whilst you figure out which areas are easy and which are dangerous.

    BelgarathMTHBaronVG
  • SimulacreSimulacre Member Posts: 102
    edited October 12
    Pingwin said:

    So you're a new player who's arrived at the FAI inn with a low level character. You foolishly stray north to the Fishing Village.
    Let's say you have already figured out about scouting ahead using a stealthed thief. You see an ankheg or two. Now what? Assuming you haven't got an encyclopedic knowledge of 2nd edition AD&D monsters, you've got no idea of how dangerous they are so you have two options:
    1. Attack the ankhegs and find out
    2. Decide that they look quite big and dangerous so back away and come back when you are higher level.
    If you pick option 1, you are probably in reload territory as an ankheg can easily kill a low level character with one hit so you don't even get chance to see the fight is going badly and retreat.
    If you pick option 2, when do you return? You still have no idea how dangerous they are so whatever level you are when you first return, you don't actually know if you can defeat them.
    If that's not trial and error, I don't know what is. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it's just the nature of the game as opposed to a lot of games where you are essentially rail roaded through a load of encounters that are of an appropriate difficulty level. BG expects you to explore, and to get killed whilst you figure out which areas are easy and which are dangerous.

    You don't need an encyclopedic knowledge of the 2nd edition of AD&D monsters to be wary of ankhegs the same way you don't need an encyclopedic knowledge about wilfdife to know that a bear or a cheetah are dangerous. There are survival instinct and common sense to offset your lack of education on the subject.

    An ankheg is big, has frightening mandibles and it can go underground. So what, are you just going to assume that it's weak despite its size and obvious advantages ? That doesn't make any sense.

    So yeah, retreat is the only logical option. To that you wonder, until when ?

    To know when it's wiser to take risks, I think four criteria should be used :

    1 - Is my gear on a par with the best of what is sold in most merchants ?

    Now I'm not talking about very rare or prohibitively expensive items, I'm talking about the best of what is considered a standard equipment. That would be the most common armors and weapons, including those +1 standard and storyless weapons which are not so rare in Baldur's Gate 1. They can be found in a lot of places.

    Seeing the same kind of stuff on sale over and over makes you realize the power curve. If 9 sellers out of 10 won't sell anything better than plate mail, then it means most fighters will have a plate mail at best. If you don't have the money to get that kind of equipment, then don't take big risks until you do.

    Afterwards, when you equip your entire party with plate mail, large shields, helmets, bows, +1 swords, you're going to eliminate most threats without worry.

    That's not "trial and error", that's common sense.

    2 - Is my party full ?

    Why would you risk your life with two or four allies if you can have six ? Wait until you've got a whole group to start attacking the weirdest and the strongest of foes.

    3 - Do I hit lower monsters often, and do I get hit by them ?

    You were introduced to a variety of enemies during Obe's training. Use that. When you see these foes again in your adventures, engage them because you know you're going to win. There are enough of those to allow you to level up and get some nice equipment on the way.

    Two scenarios then :

    One, if you easily dispatch these foes, then you might consider killing stronger foes provided all other criteria are met.

    Two, if you still have trouble with them, whether it's for hitting them or getting hit by them, then no, you're not ready to take the next step and you should keep trying until it becomes a piece of cake.

    Again, that's common sense. Don't face a world champion until you can beat the local champion, then the regional champion, national champion and so on. I hardly call that "trial and error".

    4 - Has it become long and tedious to level up ?

    The leveling system pretty muck works like in real life. At first, it's very easy and fast to level up because there's so much to learn and you know little if anything. Afterwards, when you start mastering a few things, there's not so much to learn. You'll still progress but at a lower pace.

    To know if you're rather strong or weak you simply need to consider if you progress rapidly or slowly. That's going to tell you if you're mature or not and thus if you're ready to face stronger threats or if you need to stick with small-timers.

    So.. was that hard ?

    No, it wasn't.

    It is, however, a mental effort and a roleplaying approach that are the keys of success if you don't want to die on your first playthrough. If you did die, that wasn't because the game is insanely difficult - arguably it is if you play on Insane but we're talking about beginners here that shouldn't select those settings in the first place - or because the game is "trial and error" but because most people won't bother with a realistic and demanding playstyle.

    Baldur's Gate is a pure RPG, it punishes you if you play without personifying your character, if you fail to incarnate the mindset the protagonist should be in - that is terrified, weak and tired -.

    If you rush things without knowing the game in advance then, yeah, you're running straight into a wall.

    Cowering, waiting, retracing steps, scouting all the time, thinking first and ask questions first before engaging... those are boring for most people. They'll rather click, see what happens, then reload if it went wrong.

    Now this is totally fine and I'm not lecturing people on how they should play Baldur's Gate for the first time. But you can't complain then that you were the victim of a bad and unfair game because YOU decided to take unrealistic and inconsiderate risks. Now that's not acceptable.

    The game's mechanics are complex enough to allow you to play safe and that's the most important point of all.

    Yet, most beginners will die shortly. Yes, I've never questioned that.

    But is that the sign of a "trial and error" game ? No, it's not.

    It's the sign of laziness, it's the sign of people who are eager to discover the game and don't want to scratch their head roleplaying it, at least not for the first playthrough.

    Post edited by Simulacre on
    Grond0ThacoBell
  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,025
    I agree, so long as you are the smartest guy in the room trial and error doesn't come into it.

    GoturalSimulacre
  • BaronVGBaronVG Member Posts: 2
    I gotta tell you, I've played through about 20 times since the original. I just bought the latest full on deluxe super duper version with BG1, TOSC, Dragonspear (which I have yet to play) and BG2. I started from the beginning running on core rules. First time ever doing a multi class (Elf Fighter/Mage). Wasn't a fan until the XP levels balanced out so when the rest of the party is 3/4 of the way to the next level I"m on the same level. All that aside. I just finished with the dwarven doom guards in Durlags tower. I'm 6/6, Kalid 7, Jah6/7, Bran7, Neera 8, Imeon 8. I actually beat them the first time through, without summoning any monsters/animals/undead only using haste and potions of giant strength. Seemed almost too easy. Saved my game after I beat them, and started back from my last save. I couldn't beat them again using the same method, in fact barely made it through 2 rounds before main character died. Finally ended up luring them out one by one with Imeon and running them through summoned monsters hasted to soften them up while I pelted them with missles till they got to my 3 fighters buffed up.

    So yeah sometimes it is trial and error. You can think the same thing will work every time but the roll of the die (or computer generated number) decides all.

  • SimulacreSimulacre Member Posts: 102
    edited October 15
    While it's true that a good roll is important, there are plenty of strategies to compensate for a bad or even a succession of bad rolls. In fact, the more straightforward you play the more you'll depend on dice. Conversely, the more brainy your playstyle is the less you're going to care about rolls. Here's why :

    Firstly, there are some gamebreaking spells or items that don't depend on rolls. Learn how to use them and they'll be a trump card in dire situations.

    Secondly, you can limit the importance of rolls by increasing the probability they'll have a positive impact or by diminishing the probability they'll have a negative impact. This is how Thaco and AC work, for instance.

    Thirdly, the more rolls you make the less you'll be likely to fail what you were trying to achieve. Sometimes, three quick and medium attacks are better than one long but super strong attack. You're very unlikely to miss all those three rapid attacks while it's a serious possibility you'll miss a spell - for example - that takes forever to cast. If soloing, I usually prefer rapidity and flexibility over slow but powerful attacks. When leading a larger group, it becomes okay for one party member to take bigger risks. This way, you can master your luck or rather lack of luck.

    So you see, behind what appears to be pure randomness there are some rational choices to be made and ways to limit and even cancel out the luck factor entirely.

    If your success depends on the quality of the rolls, you have yet to find a better method.

    So, no, I don't believe Baldur's Gate is a "trial and error" game simply because it rolls a lot.

    Post edited by Simulacre on
    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 7,679
    @BaronVG That's an example of your strategy not being perfect, than any trial and error.

    SimulacreGotural
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 9,775
    Well, it's an example that the game uses a ton of d20 dice rolls... if you don't like that, then what are you doing anywhere near something branded "D&D"...

  • BaronVGBaronVG Member Posts: 2
    @ThacoBell No strategy is perfect, and in order to perfect one....how does one perfect a strategy? Oh....maybe by trying different strategies until they find one that works...also known as Trial and Error.

    While there are some tried and true ways to destroy enemies, I personally gain more enjoyment by trying new things. Which is why I love Baldur's Gate and all of it's sequels. And D&D in general.

    A strategy that works using an Evil Bard party with all of the evil characters in the game may not work with a Good Barbarian party with nothing but the good characters.

    I've been playing this game for 20 years, I haven't played the same way twice. Cause "Roleplaying"....trying new fun things.

    @Simulacre Maybe trying different strategies isn't "Brainy" enough, but I play this game for enjoyment. I happen to enjoy when I do something and it doesn't work out the way I planned and have to adjust on the fly.



    Permidion_StarkGrond0BelgarathMTH
  • SimulacreSimulacre Member Posts: 102
    edited October 15
    BaronVG said:

    @ThacoBell No strategy is perfect, and in order to perfect one....how does one perfect a strategy? Oh....maybe by trying different strategies until they find one that works...also known as Trial and Error.

    While there are some tried and true ways to destroy enemies, I personally gain more enjoyment by trying new things. Which is why I love Baldur's Gate and all of it's sequels. And D&D in general.

    A strategy that works using an Evil Bard party with all of the evil characters in the game may not work with a Good Barbarian party with nothing but the good characters.

    I've been playing this game for 20 years, I haven't played the same way twice. Cause "Roleplaying"....trying new fun things.

    @Simulacre Maybe trying different strategies isn't "Brainy" enough, but I play this game for enjoyment. I happen to enjoy when I do something and it doesn't work out the way I planned and have to adjust on the fly.

    Well... sure, it's a totally legit way of playing the game. Go for it !

    However, choosing to depend on rolls WILLINGLY is incompatible with saying that it's a trial and error game.

    Post edited by Simulacre on
    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 7,679
    @BaronVG But what did you do when you found out you were losing? Did you hope for perefect rolls? You could retreat to recover, alter your strategy on the fly. Your loss was completely avoidable, so no, not trial and error.

    Simulacre
  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member, Moderator Posts: 13,132
    I remember when I first played BG, I didn't realize there was another exit to the Nashkel Mines, I retraced my way all the way back through the mine to the top and therefore never had to live through the withering fire of the headhunters waiting by the back exit. The lady with the ESP helmet in the inn was bad enough!

    UnderstandMouseMagicBelgarathMTH
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 2,122
    ThacoBell said:

    @BaronVG But what did you do when you found out you were losing? Did you hope for perefect rolls? You could retreat to recover, alter your strategy on the fly. Your loss was completely avoidable, so no, not trial and error.

    First time I fought the dwarves in Durlag's I was totally anihilated very quickly because they hit like a truck. Not sure what strategy I could have employed beforehand when them hitting so hard was so unexpected.

    Seriously, there wasn't much "on the fly", I was already dead. :D

    Still the worst fight IMO in BG and with SCS it's even worse.

    Oh yeah, and the super skeletons, again in Durlag's. It's a skeleton, no sweat, they die easily.....except this one hasn't....and now it's killed my frontliners....and now it's killed me.

  • redlineredline Member Posts: 274
    Simulacre said:

    Pingwin said:

    So you're a new player who's arrived at the FAI inn with a low level character. You foolishly stray north to the Fishing Village.
    Let's say you have already figured out about scouting ahead using a stealthed thief. You see an ankheg or two. Now what? Assuming you haven't got an encyclopedic knowledge of 2nd edition AD&D monsters, you've got no idea of how dangerous they are so you have two options:
    1. Attack the ankhegs and find out
    2. Decide that they look quite big and dangerous so back away and come back when you are higher level.
    If you pick option 1, you are probably in reload territory as an ankheg can easily kill a low level character with one hit so you don't even get chance to see the fight is going badly and retreat.
    If you pick option 2, when do you return? You still have no idea how dangerous they are so whatever level you are when you first return, you don't actually know if you can defeat them.
    If that's not trial and error, I don't know what is. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it's just the nature of the game as opposed to a lot of games where you are essentially rail roaded through a load of encounters that are of an appropriate difficulty level. BG expects you to explore, and to get killed whilst you figure out which areas are easy and which are dangerous.

    You don't need an encyclopedic knowledge of the 2nd edition of AD&D monsters to be wary of ankhegs the same way you don't need an encyclopedic knowledge about wilfdife to know that a bear or a cheetah are dangerous. There are survival instinct and common sense to offset your lack of education on the subject.

    An ankheg is big, has frightening mandibles and it can go underground. So what, are you just going to assume that it's weak despite its size and obvious advantages ? That doesn't make any sense.
    An ankheg is also not visible until it can see one of your party members and pops out to attack. I feel like that invalidates a bit of the "well OBVIOUSLY an intelligent player would know not to go that way" argument.

    BelgarathMTHGotural
  • redlineredline Member Posts: 274

    The game can kill you sometimes. So can life. It's a role-playing game.

    What's more, it's a game from the 90s. Maybe this is a generational thing... I mean did anyone get through Sonic the Hedgehog without dying? Or Ghosts & Goblins or Kid Icarus or Legend of Zelda? Or Zelda 2 or Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy, where unavoidable random encounters could utterly wreck you?

    This goes back to the very invention of video games: you were supposed to die. Die, put in more quarters, try to get further the next time. A lot of players now find that sort of thing unpleasant or anyway exotic - OMG Dark Souls! - but in the 90s it was par for the course. The Baldur's Gate devs grew up playing arcade games and NES games and Sega games, as well as D&D. "Trial and error" just means "it's a video game."

    And, not for nothing, this 2D pixellated game from 20 years ago still stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best examples of the genre since released...

    I agree with everything here. I also feel this game is trial and error, as are many of the examples you posted. The game is brutally hard to new players and realistically cannot be beaten without prior knowledge of certain encounters and challenges, knowledge that cannot only be acquired by first trying and failing. Some old-school games are similar - others are more willing to let skill alone succeed without metaknowledge (I'd put Sonic in that category, with the exception of that godawful carnival drum thing in 3).

    It's a relic of older design. I personally prefer a game that minimizes "how was I supposed to know that" moments, which is something BG2 certainly improves on.

    BelgarathMTHsemiticgod
  • YazOYazO Member Posts: 10
    Sometimes it's VERY trial and error. You have to learn the hard way.

    Just today I was doing that Aec'Letec demon fight. Without previous knowledge and the way I do it--no prebuffing, that fight is bound to take you down at least two times. The first time I went in with nothing else than Stoneskin on my mages. It's not possible to make a come back.

    Second time I do minimal prebuff--manage to finish the fight but with two party members turned to Ghasts and gone forever. Now we learn that there is some sort of... thing that just kills your party members out of no where.

    Third time do full prebuff and completely curb stomp.

    BelgarathMTHredline
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 7,679
    In all of these instances, it was still possible to retreat. If one of your frontliners goes down super fast, its an obvious indication that you are not prepared for the fight. Run away, and come back invisible or stealthed to retrieve your companion's body and equipment. When you come back, you know to expect something dangerous.

    Gotural
  • redlineredline Member Posts: 274
    ThacoBell said:

    In all of these instances, it was still possible to retreat. If one of your frontliners goes down super fast, its an obvious indication that you are not prepared for the fight. Run away, and come back invisible or stealthed to retrieve your companion's body and equipment. When you come back, you know to expect something dangerous.

    One could argue this is still a form of trial and error. Reloading and retreating/healing/prebuffing are pretty similar in terms of the player experience - maybe you have the bonus satisfaction of never having seen the Game Over screen but you still had to take a beating before you could have any idea how to succeed.

    Gotural
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 4,033
    I also wouldn't necessarily describe basic knowledge about the world as metaknowledge. I knew what ankhegs were before I ever saw BG because I'd read the 2nd edition monster manual. I don't think though that was inconsistent with role playing - the knowledge would have been commonly available from people living within hours (or even minutes) of where ankhegs can be found. So in RP terms all I was doing was pretending that I'd had conversations with the locals (as any sensible adventurer would).

    ThacoBellGotural
  • redlineredline Member Posts: 274
    YazO said:

    Sometimes it's VERY trial and error. You have to learn the hard way.

    Just today I was doing that Aec'Letec demon fight. Without previous knowledge and the way I do it--no prebuffing, that fight is bound to take you down at least two times. The first time I went in with nothing else than Stoneskin on my mages. It's not possible to make a come back.

    Second time I do minimal prebuff--manage to finish the fight but with two party members turned to Ghasts and gone forever. Now we learn that there is some sort of... thing that just kills your party members out of no where.

    Third time do full prebuff and completely curb stomp.

    Just to play devil's advocate, Durlag's Tower and Aec - as tough as they are - were when Bioware really started to move AWAY from trial and error. Traps started being marked by subtle environmental cues (unlike the main game). Fights were challenging, but fair (e.g. the demonknight doesn't dump unavoidable web and stinking cloud on you to start every battle, and gives you the mirror to level the playing field). Even Aec's death gaze was hinted at from Grael the ghoul and an accompanying journal entry all but telling the player to stock up on mirrored eye potions. Granted, most probably ignore those cues at first, but when I died to Durlag's traps I didn't feel like the game screwed me; I just got careless and needed to pay closer attention.

    subtledoctorSkatan
  • YazOYazO Member Posts: 10
    redline said:



    Just to play devil's advocate, Durlag's Tower and Aec - as tough as they are - were when Bioware really started to move AWAY from trial and error. Traps started being marked by subtle environmental cues (unlike the main game). Fights were challenging, but fair (e.g. the demonknight doesn't dump unavoidable web and stinking cloud on you to start every battle, and gives you the mirror to level the playing field). Even Aec's death gaze was hinted at from Grael the ghoul and an accompanying journal entry all but telling the player to stock up on mirrored eye potions. Granted, most probably ignore those cues at first, but when I died to Durlag's traps I didn't feel like the game screwed me; I just got careless and needed to pay closer attention.

    'Beware the gaze that is not a gaze, but a look into your soul...' or some such.

    If that is enough to make you prepared for the Aec'Letec fight, then my hat to you! I was rather testing my limits.

    For the record I did complete the fight without Mirrored Eyes, but that hardly matters now. I said to myself that I need to complete the fight as quickly as I can and the game allowed me that. That's why I like it.

    As far as traps at Durlag go... I really did not mind those... they were so ubiquitous, that my thief was spotting one, disarming it, only to spot another one directly after. It would have actually been harder if they reduced the density of traps there, so that you don't always 'hit a hooker with a coin in a crowd', as it were.

  • redlineredline Member Posts: 274
    YazO said:

    redline said:



    Just to play devil's advocate, Durlag's Tower and Aec - as tough as they are - were when Bioware really started to move AWAY from trial and error. Traps started being marked by subtle environmental cues (unlike the main game). Fights were challenging, but fair (e.g. the demonknight doesn't dump unavoidable web and stinking cloud on you to start every battle, and gives you the mirror to level the playing field). Even Aec's death gaze was hinted at from Grael the ghoul and an accompanying journal entry all but telling the player to stock up on mirrored eye potions. Granted, most probably ignore those cues at first, but when I died to Durlag's traps I didn't feel like the game screwed me; I just got careless and needed to pay closer attention.

    'Beware the gaze that is not a gaze, but a look into your soul...' or some such.

    If that is enough to make you prepared for the Aec'Letec fight, then my hat to you! I was rather testing my limits.
    Maybe it's new to EE, but the journal entry after speaking with him is much more explicit about taking precautions as one would with a basilisk.

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