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Very disappointed by the chess "challenge" in Durlag's Tower

SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
I was expecting something interesting and original mind game, wow it is complete trash. I was playing blindly and just moved knight to C3 to see what is this about and I saw a hoard of enemies rushing at me, supposedly pawns in violation of chess movement rules. I thought it is turn-based clever challenge but it is complete chaos with no rules. Total disappointment, very unfair especially for someone playing blind.

And the White King is placed wrongly. A white King starts at a black square, not on a white square. What is this ?!?

The rules say you can't move the King but I just move it without problem. The enemy cast from across the board a mile afar,confusion to my side ?!? I can't believe the devs threw such low standard and unfair challenge at the player.

So disappointed I have no desire to continue this game

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Comments

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,205
    Yeah, I could never get that one to work the way they seemed to intend it to work either. Just end up cheesing it.

    I haven't been following your whole journey with this game but it's just one encounter though. "No desire to continue the game" seems a disproportionate response, though maybe you haven't been having fun up to this point, and this is just the final straw.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,782
    "So disappointed I have no desire to continue this game"

    Geez, its one encounter. And an optional one at that.

    "I can't believe the devs threw such low standard and unfair challenge at the player."

    You're in the bonus super dungeon, of course its gonna be hard. Its not unfair either, you can do things that the ai cannot. Like spam fireballs into the fog of war.

    You're late game, so if you bumble ahead, of course your gonna have a bad time.

  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    edited June 4
    Lol you are right, I threw blind fireballs in the fog of war and here is the result - all dead in their original place

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,205
    Yeah, think I used cloudkills last time I did the encounter. Same basic idea.

    It sucks to take all the challenge out of a fight by manipulating quirks of the AI that way, but if there's a way to do that fight in the spirit it was intended I haven't found it.

    Seems like the chess battle had the potential to be one of the more unique and interesting fights both in the game and in RPG's in general, if it actually worked.

    ThacoBellPokotaStummvonBordwehr
  • PingwinPingwin Member Posts: 256
    It's a long time since I bothered going that deep into Durlag's Tower but if you send a stealthed/invisible character forwards, you can see what's waiting on the other side of the chess board. Then you can legitimately have everyone unleash fireballs, potions of explosions etc..

    It would have been more fun if the mechanics of the encounter felt more like a chess game rather than just a fight with a chessboard background but it is what it is. Probably impossible to do a great deal along those lines with the BG engine.

  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    @Chronicler

    Yes it is overall bad challenge, the worst I have seen in rpg games. It is cheap, unfair and confusing to start with. The fun of any challenge is when you first play it blindly to have a feeling of a clever made challenge.

    I was in anticipation of a nice challenge, spent like 5 minutes to try to move my pawns even. The devs inappropriately IMO have hidden the enemy beyond the fog of war. It would have been nice to show them immediately when you are teleported there so that you have an idea at least that this is going to be real-time battle, not a turn-based battle as chess is turn-based game.

    The description of the rules was also poorly done, at least for any DM would know the rules and transparity is the heart of the rpg. But here the player is thrown onto a chess board without knowledge what is this going to play like. The "challenge" is masqueraded behind an illusion of a chess game to follow, but I was immediately let down by seeing what this is actually, a paravane for a challenge.

    Even after numerous reloads I still feel way overpowered in this fight. This to me is not satisfactory fair challenge, it is a chaotic slaughter with no tactical elements whatsoever.

  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    @Pingwin


    Totally agree sending Coran ahead in Stealth mode. Problem is I was mislead by the devs that this is a clever chess game to be played in a sophisticated manner. So I was like scratching my head, nothings happens, no enemies visible, I have to make the first move apparently playing with the White. So okay the only figure that can move in chess over the others are the knights. As soon as I moved him I was let down by what I was seeing like a hoard of pawns rushing at me and bunch of casters casting spells atthe same time. Very anti-climactic. They better remove the chessboard and just make it a field fight for that matter. What the heck this has to do with chess at all, bad puzzle. To say it is a puzzle is a misnomer

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,782
    @Soido Its because of engine restrictions. The devs wanted to do a proper chess match, but there was no way to implement it in game. That combined with about a 3-4 month dev cucle for the expansion, and there wasn't really any time to implement something else.

    ChroniclerMoomintroll
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,205
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Soido Its because of engine restrictions. The devs wanted to do a proper chess match, but there was no way to implement it in game. That combined with about a 3-4 month dev cucle for the expansion, and there wasn't really any time to implement something else.

    Right, I forgot. Durlag's Tower was a part of an expansion that had pretty limited time/budget constraints.

    Most visible in the Ice Cavern, which is just a mirror image of the Firewine Ruins with some wizards scattered about carelessly. They meant to make it into a fully fleshed out dungeon in its own right, but ultimately had to cut just about every corner just to get it in the game at all.

    While Durlag's Tower is in many eyes the biggest success of that expansion, it makes sense that there would still be a couple facets of it that didn't quite become what they had planned.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,782
    I'm just glad they Durlag's is so well designed and finished in every other aspect. Cutting corners in other areas was definitely the right choice.

    ilduderinoStummvonBordwehr
  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    The whole scripted chess encounter is poorly executed in my view. It overwhelms the player with false information to expect a chess puzzle which never happens and never delivers. It just throws a hoard of mobs at the player trying to obfuscate as much of the screen and the line of sight (as if my party suffers from shortsightedness and can't see an army across 30 feet due to so-called isometric fog of war) in order to bring leverage against the player and surprise and wipe out the party.

    It is an old game, those times video games were more like rinse and repeat re-load try again etc. And devs were doing everything possible to make it so because they simply believed back then that this was gaming about. They didn't care much about how fare this feels and how it plays blindly, the goal was to simply overwhelm the party so you can keep trying, with little regard of testing and gameplay quality control and in-studio testing of principles like fairness and leveled gameplay.

    But gaming has evolved much since those times. Now it is billion dollar industry with many games being multiplayer where issues like fairness and being equally developed becomes critical for the financial success of a title. Even outside multiplayer, devs are trying now to level it up so you feel satisfaction and just say "wow look at just what I pulled against this hard opponent". No cheese, no ridiculously hard untested foes, endless disconnected crawling in dungeons, and no pseudo-chess games. Now they want it to be like as real as it can get, like when you go to watch a new movie and come out of the cinema highly entertained. They respect your time and want you to have mind-blowing fun, and not to be frustrated by archaic and outdated masochistic experience.

    Old RPGs were like that and were losing fanbase quickly against the new reality. Bioware made a gigantic leap to keep the rpg up to date by eliminating the unfairness re-load "try hard" principles of old gaming, and make video gaming a rewarding personal experience. They re-modified the whole system and got rid of controversial gambling dice mechanics, and made battles more tactical in nature instead. Plus they added tons of cinematics and role-playing for even more reality. I often wonder if Larian's BG3 will be total disaster because I am not sure the DnD game style is relevant anymore. Sure it will have some fans but will it ever be a good game anymore. Maybe the decision to turn to turn-based mechanics can save the day, something never done before with DnD mechanics.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,782
    "It is an old game, those times video games were more like rinse and repeat re-load try again etc. And devs were doing everything possible to make it so because they simply believed back then that this was gaming about. They didn't care much about how fare this feels and how it plays blindly, the goal was to simply overwhelm the party so you can keep trying, with little regard of testing and gameplay quality control and in-studio testing of principles like fairness and leveled gameplay."

    No, just no. Baldur's Gate was actually an effort to make RPGs more accessible to a wider audience. One of its touted features back when it came out was how easy it was for a new player to get into compared to its contemporaries.

    "Old RPGs were like that and were losing fanbase quickly against the new reality. Bioware made a gigantic leap to keep the rpg up to date by eliminating the unfairness re-load "try hard" principles of old gaming, and make video gaming a rewarding personal experience. They re-modified the whole system and got rid of controversial gambling dice mechanics, and made battles more tactical in nature instead. Plus they added tons of cinematics and role-playing for even more reality. I often wonder if Larian's BG3 will be total disaster because I am not sure the DnD game style is relevant anymore. Sure it will have some fans but will it ever be a good game anymore. Maybe the decision to turn to turn-based mechanics can save the day, something never done before with DnD mechanics."

    All so very wrong. The fanbase for the old games never went anywhere, they just stopped making games aimed at us. Everything is now made to appeal to the lowest common denominator. To say that BG isn't tactical and only dice rolls is to not understand the game or its mechanics at all. Oh, and turn based DnD games HAVE been done. Turn based was the original format for computer RPGs. Baldur's Gate going real time with pause was HUGE step forward in RPG mechanics.

    If you're going to make statements about game creation, history and trends, you should actually learn about those subjects first.

    DinoDinBalrog99ilduderinoStummvonBordwehr
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 755
    In the big picture, this chess encounter is just a case of a cool idea poorly executed. The developers might have been better served to take it out entirely, but they settled for turning it into one big fight.

    Tactically, it's one of those fights where it's not worth it to even pretend to play fair. Get out your favorite flavor of cheese, blow past it, and enjoy the final level of Durlag's Tower beyond.

    BG2 has plenty of fights like that, too. Nobody ever plays fair against groups of beholders.

    DinoDinPokota
  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    I also was enjoying Durlag, although very hard area and feels overdone by old-timers' devs obsession of overpowering with unfair difficulty.

    But when it came to this encounter it just crossed the line. Yep, best would have been either remove the whole chessboard comedy and just throw one epic field battle, or just remove the whole thing and teleport the player to the last basement level.

  • RedRodentRedRodent Member Posts: 65
    edited June 4
    Durlag's Tower is basically the final exam of BG1. It isn't more unfair than anything else in the game, but it does test your abilities more than any other part.

    It's also a fairly common game design division to include an optional super dungeon even today, especially with DLC (which basically is the modern day-equivalent of the game expansion packs of old).

    That's not to say it's not cheap at times (the chess game is a particular weak part), but given the AI it's forgivable.

    ThacoBell
  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    edited June 4
    They even messed up the King's position in chess. White King always sits on the black square, and Black King on the white square.

    Unless the enemy is playing white in which case they should be starting first, but the player has to make the first move for some reason ?!? And for some reason you are being told weird rules like your King cannot move ?!? Player has no rooks, the enemy has rooks ?!? You can't see the enemy pieces initially ?!? Bishops are allowed to move over the pawns which are blocking the opening ?!? Queen allowed to move over pawns ?!? You teleport suddenly there, then go through a door to the next basement, as if some bad dream or something ?!? Out of sync with the whole dungeon.

    Everything points that this was just one bad bad idea in the first place which should not have been in the final release.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,782
    "I also was enjoying Durlag, although very hard area and feels overdone by old-timers' devs obsession of overpowering with unfair difficulty."

    You keep saying this, nothing has been unfair. The enemies play by mostly the same rules that you do. Nothing about any of these challenges has been unfair.

    DinoDin
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 779
    edited June 5
    Baldur's Gate was definitely an RPG made in an era where save-scumming was quite common, but, as Thaco said, it's actually a solid step forward from what preceded it. Yes, playing BG for your first time, especially if you know little about D&D 2nd ed, is going to be a crapton of saving and reloading. But man, in the 90s, you typically had to maintain rotating multiple save files for a playthrough, for fear of getting stuck in either an insufferably grindy situation or literally blocked by some bug in the quest design. You would sometimes have to reload something tens of hours behind because you get stuck in one of those situations. BG is one of the first epic, tens of hours kind of RPG where you didn't have to worry about this.

    ThacoBell
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,233
    The things reminiscent of chess are:
    - the pieces of varied strength and the positions they start in.
    - the fact that opposition pawns that reach your back line become queen's. i.e. bad idea for you.
    - the penalties (lightning) on your pieces that move onto squares not allowed for them.

    It couldn't be an actual chess match without radically altering the nature of the game (changing your party and the real-time gameplay for instance) - and if they had done that an awful lot of people would have objected about it ;).

    I don't particularly like the encounter myself, but that's not because it doesn't closely resemble chess. Instead it's because it closes off some strategies players are likely to have used heavily elsewhere and therefore it feels a bit limiting - the main remaining strategies are employing mass area effects or cheesing it by going invisible and bypassing the initial encounter. I normally play solo and tend to take a patient approach to killing enemies, so the encounters that don't allow that (the coronation at the Palace is another example) can be annoying. However, that's not a bad thing from the context of replayability - if you could use the same strategies everywhere in the game, you'd be much less likely to want to play it again.

    DinoDinThacoBellStummvonBordwehr
  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    edited June 5
    Yep I don't remember seeing anything so badly executed in any rpg puzzle. It is like one of those inappropriate jokes when you would try to laugh if it was not so sad.

    It has nothing to do neither with chess nor with BGEE and nor even with the spirit of the meticulous and methodical dungeon crawl of Durlag's Tower.

    This could have been potentially interesting challenge if the game was turn-based, but in a real time it just felt like a flat joke where you can outright say that the devs overkilled the script in pursuit of originality . I call it bad taste.

    Not the whole game is such though, but only this particular scripted scenario stands out as rather weird content choice that still baffles the rpg pundits.

    It does not break the whole game, only a small scripted episode, but is very anti-climactic leaving the audience (especially new players) with an exclamation like … what the pfffff was that.

    My understanding is that this is one rare flaw in the overall game. I even have read some people opt skipping the whole Durlag ordeal and just move to SoD and BG2 which are considered of higher rpg quality and high level gameplay and variety.

    Post edited by Soido on
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,782
    @Soido "I even have read some people opt skipping the whole Durlag ordeal and just move to SoD and BG2 which are considered of higher rpg quality and high level gameplay and variety."
    Don't take it out of context. They recommend you skip Durlag's because you seem to be having such a hard time with it, not because it or BG is bad. Heck, Durlag's is considered one of the best dungeons in the series, and there's a lot of people who BG1 as their favorite over BG2.

    Grond0Rik_KirtaniyaDinoDin
  • SkitiaSkitia Member Posts: 457
    I didn't really get that reaction when I played it. I usually rushed the king, used electrical immunity, and prayed that we endured, it was a tough challenge. It's not the best part of Durlag's tower, but it was interesting.

    Grond0ThacoBellStummvonBordwehr
  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    edited June 5
    This puzzle has a systematic error in the design. Any DM will identify what goes wrong here.

    This puzzle is meant to work in a tabletop system. The DM explains the rules, players know the rules, and the script plays by the same rules. But here we see a severe case of what happens when you design a pure tabletop challenge but render it through a video engine.

    For this to work in video engine environment you have to sacrifice the script. They had to teleport the party to the chessboard but never tell them rules. Simply teleport them there and say nothing, let the player learn the rules of the script from the engine. Let the player send a thief or invisibility member to scout ahead and learn the massive ambush ahead. The chessboard structure could be preserved but definitely remove the lightning bolts.

    It is just weird outcome when you try to implement a turn-based chess game into a real time confrontation. Almost every post I have read on this expresses some form of bewilderment of this puzzle and confusion of what follows. For this reason I believe this was originally designed with tabletop perspective and probably quite interesting outcome, but in real time it just fails to deliver. The DM should have said only that the objective is to take the enemy King, but they should have removed the chess rules from the script. Obviously it doesn't play like chess at all but is played via engine rules, e.g. classic field battle against enemy outnumbering you.

    The problem could have been mitigated if they had shown the enemy position ahead of the battle, e.g. remove the fog of war. So now you see this is real time event but with chess rules. A lot of the frustration is due to the DM leading the players into blindness at the onset of the chess challenge.

    Post edited by Soido on
  • masteralephmasteraleph Member Posts: 86
    Yes, the chess challenge crops up from time to time as something people complain about.

    Truth be told, they probably could've made it work using very heavy dialogue, but it would've been such a massive amount of coding that it wouldn't have been worth it.

  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    I used the console to check the enemy stats and it is frightening. They start all hasted, the King has over 100 HP, the rooks 80 HP, the Bishops 80 HP, the Knights tons of HP with AC -6 plus -2 vs slashing, the King with saves v/s spell of 3, 4 casters with dangerous spells and on and on impressive stats no time to list all of them how frightening foes they are.

    The battle itself is very hard even without the chess elements, and the chess rules and the confusion they create add further salt to the injury. It was definitely overcooked.

    It is nigh impossible to melee them all so focus must be on the King solely.


    The King is randomly determined what he will do. Sometimes he stays on his spot and casts scrolls which is very difficult to reach him with lightnings hitting from all over the place. Sometimes the King rushes down the board together with the pawns which is the golden opportunity to capture the King. Oh yeah why the King is rushing down is again another bizarre situation in the script because the DM tells you initially the your King cannot move.

    One funny way I killed the King outright was casting polymorph him into squirrel (via a Wand of Polymorph) and Coran sniped him one-shot to death.

    As other pointed you can just bombard the fog of war. Of course pure cheese. But you know what, feel free to cheese it because they definitely cheated on their side and overcooked the encounter and the script. So just cheese over it and move on, not the whole game is so cheap.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,782
    Its NOT cheap. This is the super bonus dungeon of BG. You can't just bumble ahead into it and expect to be victorious. If this level of strategy is too much, play a more modern game. They give a more simplified experience.

  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,273
    @Soido I just wanted to say that your posts give me life.

    Soido
  • SoidoSoido Member Posts: 172
    Cheers buddy and stay safe. In the meantime I am going to file a complaint with FIDE :D

    DJKajuru
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