Thursday, March 20, 2008

Neverwinter Thoughts

I haven't logged in to Lotro in over a week and I am only now beginning to realise how much I needed a break from mmorpging. I am slowly working my way through Neverwinter Nights 2 and I love being able to play when I like and stop when I like. I love playing a game with a defined story line that will come to a definite end. I love playing a party game where I am in sole charge of all the characters.

Don't get me wrong, I am normally a sociable, chatty player but for some reason I don't feel like talking while I play at the moment.

Despite the fact that NWN2 is hitting the button for me I cannot overlook some glaring problems with the game. My biggest complaint is the appalling character and mob AI. You cannot rely on computer controlled characters to do anything other charge suicidally into battle.

Sometimes poor team AI can be got around by using AI modes which constrain AI behaviour. NWN2 has a very detailed set of AI constraints with choices such as whether or not a character will use items and several levels of spell casting aggressiveness. Sadly the game designers choose to leave out the two most important choices: passive/defensive/aggressive mode and stay/follow mode. There is simply no way to tell a character not to enter combat and the only way to get characters to stay behind while one goes scouting ahead is to turn off the AI. Bizarre. In short the AI is unusable. This would be a fatal flaw except that this is a turn base game at heart and you can freeze the action turn by turn while you micromanage things. That's what I do. I assume that's what everyone else does as well.

Perhaps a more fundamental objection is with the D&D 3.5 rule set itself. Stop telling me a spell does 5d6 point of damage, tell me it does 5-30 points of damage. Why do players have levels and monsters have hit dice? I am sorry if I upset pen and paper gamers but I really think an arcane dice based rule set has no place in a modern Computer game.

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