The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 1: Shadowrun Dragonfall DC (In Progress!)

I finished Shadowrun Returns tonight. Overall it was a good (but not great) experience. I like the writing style and the combat, once I got used to it. It was a little "grindy" toward the end, once I knew where the story was headed. That said, the end is satisfyingly difficult and the entire run took 10 hours. I will give it a couple of days and then dive into Dragonfall.

Congrats on finishing Returns, prodiginy!

I made more progress in Dragonfall. I did the Bloodline mission. That was probably the longest mission for me so far, and although we made it through, we certainly took the hard route.

Spoiler:

I didn't have an easy option past the two main doors. I saved the girl trying to hack the electricity grid, but opted not to take down the power in the facility. That of course meant that I needed to enter via force, and then I had 20 turns before the heavy duty security team showed up. That led to a ton of fighting that I probably could have avoided if I had taken down the electricity grid.

In any case, we burned through a handful of medikits before they added insult to injury by taking out my expensive drone. Darn it.

I did get all the extras taken care of, so I hope this mission pays well. Drones are expensive, and I need a replacement.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:
RnRClown wrote:

I have yet to unlock a single achievement for Dragonfall. I should have. Anyone else experiencing this? I haven't played anything else to see if it's strictly DF or Steam related.

Mine are working fine, but about halfway through and I've only unlocked 7 achievements. It is possible that you haven't triggered any yet?

I've bought Flash from Zaak Flash. I welcomed Blitz onto my crew. There are achiements tied to those. I'm showing zero unlocked. These are the only two I can think of off the top of my head.

My saves also seem to not be syncing with the cloud. Maybe these issues are connected. I reinstalled Windows 10 recently and the issues seems to have came with that, perhaps.

No biggie. I'm not an achievement hunter. Just in case it was a simple fix. Or something to look into just to be safe of save file corruption with no cloud backup.

Aaaand that's me done with the extended edition content for Hong Kong as well. Fairly unnecessary stuff I thought but a couple of the side missions are interesting and at least it gives the player character and her brother a bit more closure...

Spoiler:

I decided she wanted to get her SIN back and return to Seattle in the end.

one hell of a tough fight at the end though. I think that last mission area took me a good hour and several attempts to beat. Even then I barely scraped through by the skin of my teeth. On EASY.

*phew!*

right..time to look at some of the DLC campaigns now I think.
Starting with the one linked in the first post (Antumbra)

pyxistyx wrote:

Aaaand that's me done with the extended edition content for Hong Kong as well.

Ha. I didn't even get to Dragonfall all week. I'm going to need up to April at this rate.

pyxistyx wrote:

right..time to look at some of the DLC campaigns now I think.
Starting with the one linked in the first post (Antumbra)

Please let us know how those go. I'm gonna need some extra Shadowrun content to fill the days until April.

I'm actually thinking I may take a stab at the SNES and/or Genesis games, having played neither outside of a handful of minutes.

I played quite a bit of the Genesis version, it's hella bitchin. Can't speak for SNES.

*Legion* wrote:
pyxistyx wrote:

right..time to look at some of the DLC campaigns now I think.
Starting with the one linked in the first post (Antumbra)

Please let us know how those go. I'm gonna need some extra Shadowrun content to fill the days until April.

I'm actually thinking I may take a stab at the SNES and/or Genesis games, having played neither outside of a handful of minutes.

Wait. The series didn't start with Shadowrun Returns?

Oh.

RETURNS.

*facepalm*

I didn't have a lot of time to play tonight, basically just enough to clean up the details after the last mission. Really nice payday on that one has me loaded with cash and karma to spend. I also learned that even though my drone got eliminated on the last mission, I still have it in inventory. Not sure how that worked out, but I'm glad that I won't have to buy another one. The one I bought cost almost $3k, so that's a huge savings.

With my cash, I'm going to restock on grenades and medical supplies and get a couple of Legion-recommended shaman spells for Dietrich. With the bulk of the leftover, I'll either get a second drone, a high-level cyberware upgrade, or a better deck. Not quite sure yet where the best bang for the buck will be. I'm leaning toward a drone, as it's basically like having a additional team member on each mission.

Timewise, I think I'm about halfway through everything on pace to finish the whole game in about 30 hours or so. Typical slow play by me, but I'm in no hurry and am enjoying the fun ride.

*Legion* wrote:
pyxistyx wrote:

right..time to look at some of the DLC campaigns now I think.
Starting with the one linked in the first post (Antumbra)

Please let us know how those go. I'm gonna need some extra Shadowrun content to fill the days until April.

I'm actually thinking I may take a stab at the SNES and/or Genesis games, having played neither outside of a handful of minutes.

First impressions of "Antumbra" were ...not great. A lot of big square areas with poorly written characters and a weird shift from one environment to another completely different one in the first prologue mission. I'll give it some more time - maybe it get's better...? It's supposed to be highly regarded, right? So there must be something to it?

THAT SAID, I also took a quick peek at the opening of "Mercurial", another mod, and that one shows much more promise with a MUCH higher quality setup.

pyxistyx wrote:

First impressions of "Antumbra" were ...not great. A lot of big square areas with poorly written characters and a weird shift from one environment to another completely different one in the first prologue mission. I'll give it some more time - maybe it get's better...? It's supposed to be highly regarded, right? So there must be something to it?

THAT SAID, I also took a quick peek at the opening of "Mercurial", another mod, and that one shows much more promise with a MUCH higher quality setup.

I didn't spend a lot of time going over mods but Antumbra *seemed* to be at the top of the pile. Maybe because of its size more than its quality? I've updated the first post with a link to Mercurial.

it's got a 5 star rating so... *shrug* problem is I don't know how good 5 stars is in context!
Maybe it get's better though. I'll give it a proper amount of time before I give up on it.

I feel like after playing through the two most recent official campaigns I should appropriately curb my expectations for fan material.

Okay, got a bit of a late start but I'm finally ready with this. Got an Elf Shaman ready to go:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/t4ZEaCF.png)

I'm well behind most of the rest of you. I just hired on Alice and have started what I assume will be the meat of the game: doing side missions to pay her off. It's not the best structure for an RPG, but it's not the worst.

One thing I've found really interesting with this game is how it actively pushes against the usual archetype of what a protagonist should be like. You can't always be nice, supportive, agreeable, and compassionate with a light side of snark and rebellion against authority. You can be that, but you won't get below the surface of some of the game's more interesting characters and storylines.

Which is interesting, because Monika was like that, or at least seemed to be in the time you're with her. Implying either hidden depths in her character, because she also had to navigate the same shifts in tone and personality that you do, or implying that there was a sincerity to her character that you, as a person perpetually able and willing to respond in wildly different ways, can't touch.

This might be the first game I've played since Persona 3 that implies that the player character is a vacuous fraud who is willing to say and do anything, even if it's contemptible, to get what they want from people.

I hesitate to say that the game is "about" manipulation in the way that Persona 3 was, as there doesn't seem to be a conscious reinforcement of that theme on a mechanical level, but it's an interesting subtext running through the whole thing, this contrast between what Monika was and who you are and what it takes for you to fill her shoes.

(I'm also curious to see if the game really goes anywhere with the hints it keeps dropping about the authoritarianism inherent in anarchy. I'd be pleasantly surprised.)

ClockworkHouse wrote:

One thing I've found really interesting with this game is how it actively pushes against the usual archetype of what a protagonist should be like. You can't always be nice, supportive, agreeable, and compassionate with a light side of snark and rebellion against authority. You can be that, but you won't get below the surface of some of the game's more interesting characters and storylines.

I'm at the same spot as you, and an instance of the above is the most memorable things that's happened to me so far.

Character: Eiger doesn't take to niceness.
Me: I'm the video game hero and I'm going to be nice.
Eiger: Get f*cked.

I earned the 50,000 and took it to Alice. Things be heating up.

Prior to this it was Glory's mission followed by the Aztechnology run. I enjoyed both and think we navigated them quite well. Well written as ever.

I think I am closing in on 50 hours play time.

I also have a ridiculous amount of credits. 18,000 I think.

I'm late to the party, but I'll join in! I've been looking for an excuse to finally go through this game as it's been sitting in my Steam Library of Shame for two years now.

Gravey wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

One thing I've found really interesting with this game is how it actively pushes against the usual archetype of what a protagonist should be like. You can't always be nice, supportive, agreeable, and compassionate with a light side of snark and rebellion against authority. You can be that, but you won't get below the surface of some of the game's more interesting characters and storylines.

I'm at the same spot as you, and an instance of the above is the most memorable things that's happened to me so far.

Character: Eiger doesn't take to niceness.
Me: I'm the video game hero and I'm going to be nice.
Eiger: Get f*cked.

I'm in the same spot as well. Nice to see some of us have work/life/game balance.

Feegle wrote:

I'm late to the party, but I'll join in! I've been looking for an excuse to finally go through this game as it's been sitting in my Steam Library of Shame for two years now.

Welcome! I’ve added you to the list. Good luck, let us know how you like it!

By the way, I wouldn’t call anyone starting now late to the party. We originally weren’t going to start until February 1, with maybe three months to play, so this is still super *early*. I’m guessing we’ll run until the end of March at least, even with the early start, so there is plenty of time to play at a leisurely pace.

Gravey wrote:

Character: Eiger doesn't take to niceness.
Me: I'm the video game hero and I'm going to be nice.
Eiger: Get f*cked.

Haha, yes!

I’ve also found that there are a number of decisions in the game where taking the honorable road only serves to make things much harder. When I’ve chosen the “honorable” route, I kind of expect the game to reward me, but this game sometimes just says, “Well, fine you helped those people, but now your mission is going to simply be much harder because of it, and you and your team might die. Deal with it, hero!” And your team reacts to that as well.

___________

On another note, I was reading a bit about the modding tools, and watched a quick tutorial. They look pretty easy to use. When I’m done with the game, I’m thinking maybe I’ll mess around with those tools a bit and see if anything comes about.

CptDomano wrote:

Got an Elf Shaman ready to go:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/t4ZEaCF.png)

Haha I have the same race / class / portrait!!

It's working out great so far. Hope you like it as well.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I just wrapped up another side mission: Getting bio supplies for the doctor. I think the mission could have been more interesting had I chosen differently early on, but it was fun nonetheless.

Finished up this quest this morning.

Spoiler:

I was getting a bit worried in the last battle outside of the building. Took a lot of damage all around and Dietrich had to revive. Made it though. Dietrich’s fetish summons really helped out. So did their shaman losing control of his.

I like that the vendor NPCs have personality and aren’t just there to sell you stuff. And that personality might be fairly shady.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

On another note, I was reading a bit about the modding tools, and watched a quick tutorial. They look pretty easy to use. When I’m done with the game, I’m thinking maybe I’ll mess around with those tools a bit and see if anything comes about.

Hmm...I wonder. Maybe I'll have a poke around with that instead of trying to play through existing mod stuff...

pyxistyx wrote:
Godzilla Blitz wrote:

On another note, I was reading a bit about the modding tools, and watched a quick tutorial. They look pretty easy to use. When I’m done with the game, I’m thinking maybe I’ll mess around with those tools a bit and see if anything comes about.

Hmm...I wonder. Maybe I'll have a poke around with that instead of trying to play through existing mod stuff...

In case it helps, Harebrained Schemes put out some tutorials on getting started with the editor, and there is a pretty good editor wiki page that has instructions on all the tools to make everything you need to build a campaign. The Getting Started page in particular might be helpful.

I've watched a couple of videos, and thought they made things seem pretty doable:
Quickstart Guide #1 (How to set up a battle in about 5 minutes)
Quickstart Guide #2 (How to build a custom interior map)

I'll add some of these modding links to the first post.

It would be very cool if we had a GWJ created campaign to play!

Playing an unarmed physical adept has been hugely enjoyable. Stride (passive and active) makes getting to and fro a doddle. Killing Hands (passive and active) provides the damage. I have always utilized a fist weapon, though, whilst increasing Strength and Close Combat throughout. These two affect the to hit chance. Martial Defence (active) helps avoid devastating critical damage when out of cover. Magic Resistance (passive) takes some sting away from handling mages.

I did not progress Unarmed or Chi Casting past the abilities I desired. Maybe 4 in one and 5 in the other. Roundhouse Kick is great. Rip Armor is good. I had it via a +1 armor until I needed better protection, by which stage teammates could shred armor.

Dietrich with Haste and Heal helps a lot. I loan him some spells such as Armor and Blur. He is awesome support.

I'm in the endgame and I'm punching holes through most. Glory built for pistols can tandem with Aim from Dietrich, and that flush from cover SMG shot from Blitz. Targets up to four enemies with the powered up revolver to devastating effect.

Playing this has really driven home for me how much innovative Mario + Rabbids is. (Stick with me! I promise this goes somewhere!)

If you haven't played it, or can't because you don't have a Switch, Mario + Rabbids is a turn-based tactics game with all the standard mechanics of cover, chance to hit, that sort of thing. It has a lot of innovative mechanics (especially in the area of movement), but one of the more interesting ones to me is that it collapses all the various chance to hit mechanics into three outcomes: if you are behind or beside someone, you have a 100% chance to hit; if you have line of sight on someone and they are partially behind cover, you have a 50% chance to hit; targets entirely behind cover have a 0% chance.

At first, I was a bit put off by this, but as I played, I found that it streamlined a lot of the decision making and also left an impression of the game being more fair. I knew where my characters would be most useful, and I knew where they would be in danger. I could build a solid strategy around flanking and dealing damage in a way that didn't depend on whether or not a particular critical shot would actually connect.

And while I understand that an 86% chance to hit is still a 14% chance to miss, my brain has a tendency to round numbers like that up and assume that an 86% chance to hit will hit, and it can really feel unfair if it misses. Likewise, while a 14% chance to hit is still some kind of chance, I round that down and assume it will miss, so I probably won't take the shot, but the AI will, and it'll feel unfair when they connect a shot that I wouldn't have even made.

I spend a lot of time while playing this game feeling frustrated by missed shots I can't manage to land and successful shots I can't manage to avoid. I have zero doubt that under the hood, the random number generator is humming along normally and not defying probability, but it nonetheless makes for a grating experience. Why can't Glory manage to hit any of three attacks with a 70% chance to hit? Why did their grenade manage to crit all of my characters at once? Why does this character always feel like they miss despite being a goddamn marksman?

It's just numbers, baby. But it's annoying.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Playing this has really driven home for me how much innovative Mario + Rabbids is.

*snip*

That's an interesting idea - to remove chance from the to hit equation. Does Mario + Rabbids have predictable damage too? To a degree, you could reinsert a chance element if the damage amount was spread over a wide range. For example, if a shotgun has a 100% chance to hit in a given situation, but does 1-25 damage distributed evenly, then you kind of get at the "miss" effect if you do just a couple of points of damage.

I don't mind the misses so much until I chain a few of them together on a critical turn. That's frustrating. Granted, it probably only happens a few times in a game where your whole team misses their shots, but when it does, it's aggravating. "I did everything right and still am getting pummeled."

I'd also speculate that gamers remember their aggravating misses more than their lucky hits.

Although, having said that, I remember winning the last battle in XCom when I literally had one very low chance to hit on the final boss, and no other options. Everyone else was dead, and the next turn I was going to die. I hit the shot and won the game. That was way cool in a Hollywood ending sort of way, but I almost feel as if I didn't deserve the victory.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

At first, I was a bit put off by this, but as I played, I found that it streamlined a lot of the decision making and also left an impression of the game being more fair. I knew where my characters would be most useful, and I knew where they would be in danger. I could build a solid strategy around flanking and dealing damage in a way that didn't depend on whether or not a particular critical shot would actually connect.

Every year I'm more and more of the thinking that simpler in game design is better. Like Colin Chapman's philosophy of car design: "Simplify, then add lightness." What do you lose by cutting out complexity? More importantly, what do you gain?

Alternatively, or additionally, every gamer should learn some basic probability, or at least read something like The Drunkard's Walk. I think in the Shadowrun Returns catch-all someone complained that a 90% chance to hit means they should hit 9 out of 10 times.

Shadowrun Returns certainly feels like a game where your primary goal is to manipulate the RNG in such a way that the odds work out in your favor more reliably, whether via movement/positioning, or buffs and debuffs via whatever abilities are available to you. While that sounds dry, I've found it satisfying. I can't deny the rage tho at missing an 82% shotgun blast from one tile over. So far, at least, I haven't encountered a scenario like in XCOM where one bad dice roll cascades into an avalanche of pain on my team. Having to reload encounters has felt more fair so far.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

Playing this has really driven home for me how much innovative Mario + Rabbids is.

*snip*

That's an interesting idea - to remove chance from the to hit equation. Does Mario + Rabbids have predictable damage too? To a degree, you could reinsert a chance element if the damage amount was spread over a wide range. For example, if a shotgun has a 100% chance to hit in a given situation, but does 1-25 damage distributed evenly, then you kind of get at the "miss" effect if you do just a couple of points of damage.

No, damage falls into a fairly predictable band, and the game will even give you cues for what you can expect the damage to do to your opponent, including whether or not it will be lethal. If you're making a kill shot, you'll know you're making a kill shot.

Instead, the game is all about movement and positioning. It fundamentally rethinks movement, with your units being able to catapult off of each other, slide through enemies, move around the level with warp pipes, and the like. If XCOM and its descendants are about manipulating the RNG in various ways (as I think beanman is right to say) then Mario + Rabbids is about moving to be in the right place without also being in the wrong place.

Where unpredictability and cascading effects come in, then, isn't in whether a shot hits or misses but in what additional effects are inflicted. Units can be bounced or pushed out of cover, lit on fire so that they run randomly around, frozen in place so they can't reposition, or have their ability to attack restricted. It all plays into that positional element in a very elegant way, because it's about taking units out of their positions or making those positions less advantageous.

(Which is why, and I apologize for the tangent here, I found the article from the designer of XCOM about Mario + Rabbids to be very frustrating. It's an article full of praise, but he repeats multiple times that XCOM is a game about systems interacting in unexpected ways while Mario + Rabbids is basically a tactical puzzle game. But all of the add-on effects are systems that interact in unexpected ways to keep any two scenarios from being alike. Mario + Rabbids is more handcrafted than XCOM, but that doesn't mean its maps are single solution puzzles. End rant.)

Thinking more about this game, if it is fundamentally about manipulating the RNG to your advantage, then I wish that those advantages were more pronounced. +10% aim doesn't do much to increase your odds of hitting, and there's a strong visual disconnect between targets standing upright and dazed when they're stunned and your units still failing to hit them with a melee attack.

I'd rather encounters were shorter and deadlier for everyone than a slog of missed shots.