My Endgame Stats and Impressions

 
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CGman
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Joined: 07 Aug 2008
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:06 am    Post subject: My Endgame Stats and Impressions Reply with quote
I recall writing one of these never-ending recaps / odes for the first game, though it appears to have vanished into the interweb (along with the old natomic forums). Here goes another...

My endgame stats screenshot can be found at: http://fas.harvard.edu/~yrosenb/tse2endgame1KCE.png
(and yes, I was another Kaltos, Charlotte, Enshadu groupie – how can you not pick Enshadu?)

NOT PICTURED:
93 / 97 – Level of party at game’s close before / after final boss
2 - Number of tries to beat the final boss (anyone else reshuffle their skill points entirely to create an unbeatable defensive party for this one?)
0 – Number of friends who understood why I was so excited about this game, though not for lack of my explaining (of course, they did think it looked very pretty)
3 – Number of days actually used to beat the game (with a virus [the biological kind], conference, and trip from Boston to NY in between the first two and the last, today)

SOME COMMENTARY:
From what I’ve seen on these forums, my first-time game-time is quite normal (14 hrs and change), but my KO’s (317!) are through the roof. Two things by way of explanation –

One, on my otherwise highly efficient and wondrous Vista machine (but see earlier in this sentence), the game froze a lot, during battles and otherwise – the music continued, but the action would just stop, and one would have to ALT-F4 and restart the game. It’s a testament to how enjoyable TSE2 is that I put up with it, and just saved as often as possible to avoid losing valuable progress (which is why it was very helpful that saving one’s game did not cost money this time around). I suspect this constant phasing out during battles could have messed with my overall KO total (does quitting during a battle do this Mark?).

Two, as you can see from the skill sets, I had a highly offensive minded party, whose basic modus operandi was to pound the enemy into submission before they even got started. If I had to pull out my defensive skills on a non-boss battle, it made me sad (case in point: never used Aurora, and proud of it Very Happy). Instead, I preferred to throw my party against each area’s enemies with various offensive strategies and then keep to the ones which had maximum effectiveness. This made it possible for me to level up 5 times off the Porto Vale zombie brigade without really watching the screen, and it’s how I managed to beat every single boss on the first try, with the exception of the first incarnation of the Crone and Bastise, both of whom took two. But such high-dividends experimentation usually begins with a lot of quick deaths - hence, normal game-time with high KO’s.

IMPRESSIONS:
I must admit at the outset here, there was so much that entertained, engaged and fascinated me in this game that I am having trouble organizing it and finding somewhere to start, so if this feels a little discombobulated, that’s why!

In essence - everything you changed to make this game better worked. I went back and replayed half of TSE1 and was just blown away at how much you improved upon such an excellent game. Running, refund points, graphics, user interface, complexity of inventory and levels of strategy, individuated storylines – everything just clicked. There were the same great twists, characters and worlds – all ramped up a notch in the production department.

Loved…
* The moment in the Enclave cut-scene where you realize how this game will tie back into the Spirit Engine motif and its remaking the world theme (explaining, somewhat, the holdover title). Really clever. For a minute I thought you were going to actually play it out the very same way, while in an entirely different world – a villain seeks to recreate the world in his/her image; our heroes stop them. [Indeed, I am intrigued by the concept of a series of games with the same sort of gameplay, but taking place in radically divergent universes, with new character narratives and inner workings - but all moving inexorably towards the same endgame each time, to the activation of the Spirit Engine – the only question would be how. Would make an interesting and ingenious franchise.] But what you did here in TSE2 at its end was superb as well – the bittersweet final scene especially, which was both thoughtful and fitting.

* Jacques. His personality, his hilarious ever-smoking cigarettes, and his entire monologue in the final scene. You must make a hidden tavern in some future game of yours where he and Rick Brutal hang out.

* The moment in Porto Vale upon leaving the bunker and discovering the city devastated. All the effort put into bringing the city to life earlier – with lush buildings, backgrounds and various attractions - pays off when the party ascends to discover its utter destruction. Josh’s music works perfectly here.

* Dishonest Pete. You should have dropped him into more places though – that’s half the fun with him.

* The collapse atop Frostmaw – I was waiting for a race against the clock segment (considering my party allegedly needed to scale the peak before nightfall, I almost expected, if not for its impracticality, that the entire mountain would be timed in such a way). This was the first time refund points really came in handy, as I souped up my already offensively impressive party for some heavy damage, at the expense of the skill points previously invested in my semblance of party defensive skills.

* The Battle at Longreach part – You negotiated the game’s style of play with the idea of war very nicely. I saved in a separate slot there so I could go back and enjoy calling in reinforcements later (my party was in sudden-death mode on a rather high level, and so never needed them Smile). The backgrounds were once again beautiful and really captivated me.

* The Ship - amazing environment, and great reveal with the map too.

* * *

Overall, you did a wonderful job in every way. I was blown away over and over. I fully intend to replay this game with a new set of characters and strategies, once the time comes around. Thanks for such a beautiful and enjoyable piece of craftsmanship and I wish you much luck in all your future endeavors.

~Yair (CGman)
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Brickman
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Joined: 13 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
You beat Ick Thelloth on your first try with a reckless-offense party? Shenanigans! If you charged into that battle without a lot of healing can only imagine it contributed about thirty deaths to your total. Anyways, I feel like pointing out that the extra leveling you did probably helped you a bit, but it's not like everyone's a straight-run fanatic like me. My end-game party was level 90 only because I made a point of winning all the carnival games before leaving, but I crushed Batiste on my first try. Aurora FTW, with it you lose almost no health at all during the first two forms. (Course, you were probably further than two levels ahead at some points in the game; experience supposedly diminishes if you're ahead, plus a level's worth at chapter 6 isn't a level's worth at chapter 9)
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CGman
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Joined: 07 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow - thanks for reading my epic and responding.

I too made sure to beat all the carnival games, which certainly helped my XP (very easy with an offensive minded party, plus, I was sure Urtat would come back to help you sometime later in the game - alas for me).

Regarding beating Ick on the first try - I did use my defensive skills (particularly Powder Imps and Heal, which I almost maxed out by the end of the game) on boss battles. Just never on regular ones (I think I mentioned that above). The reason I could do this was that each character was wearing a variety of self-healing and party healing items, so damage was not permanent, despite no skills being applied towards its mitigation. Seriously - if I died a lot at the lengthy boss battles, you think my time would be the same as pretty much everyone else with a tenth of my KO's? I pretty much only died on regular skirmishes while figuring out my tactics, which barely takes up time, while almost never slogging through any boss more than once.

XP definitely diminishes the higher your level - and once you're ten levels above (as I was by the zombies, as they proved easy leveling fodder), you get 0. I kept this distance between myself and the enemies for a bit, but by the end, I just wanted to find out what happens Smile and it gets way too difficult/time-consuming, and strategy / skill point distribution is way more important than level there anyhow. Once you can max out a few skills, you're good - you just need to know which ones for which battles.
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Mark Pay
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Joined: 09 Aug 2006
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Location: Margate, UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the report CGman! Very Happy It was very decent of you to take the time to write it and I'm so glad that you enjoyed the game.

I'm sorry to hear about the freezing problems. You're sure that it wasn't the pause hotkey pressed by accident? ( It's a silly question I know but I have to ask and make 100% sure, because it sounds unusual )
Did you notice any pattern to the freezing? Was it always during battles?
If there is any other information that you think might be related, please let me know, because I would obviously like to try and see if there is anything I can do about this.

It's really interesting to hear how you did with a strongly offensive strategy. In answer to your question, KOs are not recorded when you quit or lose. They could, and perhaps should be, but the statistic collection was a late addition that piggybacks on another save file, and I didn't particularly want to mess around with the issues this would raise.

I have found the original game too painful too look at for years now! But I learnt so much from it, and it has served as a useful foundation.
Your idea of a game series working towards the same eventual narrative endpoint in different ways each time is very interesting. Few series get the chance to explore such a concept.

I'm very happy that you felt satisfied with the ending of the game. It was difficult to write. As with the Chapter 5 start you mentioned, Josh wrote music specifically tailored to the scenes after they were implemented ingame, and I think the results of his attention to detail are fantastic. Both times his score makes them come alive.

Thanks again for your kind words! I appreciate them very much.
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CGman
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Joined: 07 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Nope, not the pause hotkey - happens on the menus as well. Completely random in placement for the most part (battle, world, menus), though with a tendency to occur right after a successful battle. I've discovered a similar issue with TSE1 which never occurred on my older, slower machine (though it tends to simply quit randomly, as opposed to freezing). As I noted, the music keeps going - only the gameplay stops, if that helps. The only major difference between my old computer and this one is Windows XP and Vista (and of course that my new one is much, much faster). The game could go for quite a while without any issue, then suddenly go through a bout of them, though there was nothing different running on my PC during those periods.

Wasn't really such an issue, as I just kept going back and saving at every possible opportunity, so not as big a deal as it sounds.

Do you know if anyone else had this problem?
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TwiTerror
Musical Maestro


Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
If the music keeps playing that means the error is most likely in the game related side, not the music side.

The music plays in a separate thread that would keep going regardless of the status of the game thread (the game thread signals the stop, though).

Hope that helps narrow things down.
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Mark Pay
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Location: Margate, UK

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It sounds like an issue with Multimedia Fusion 2 or one of its extensions. Which is not good news because I'm not able to do much about them.
I've not heard of MMF apps freezing before. Usually they just crash. I don't think the TSE1 issue is related.

It's wierd that it occurs seemingly at random. Outside of the data loading/saving at level transitions and music transitions, all the game is really doing is basic number-crunching and sprite-drawing using the standard MMF functions.

As Josh says, since the music keeps playing, the music code is probably the one thing we can rule out.
Beyond that I'm baffled, and I'll have to wait and see if anyone else reports similar issues. Sad

I'm sorry that you've been having these problems, they do sound like a big deal to me and rather annoying.

Please let me know if you think you sense any pattern to their occurance.
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CGman
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Figured it out, and you can't make this sort of stuff up.

My Dell Vostro laptop's touchpad has two little bars on its edges, one horizontal, for side-scrolling, one vertical, for regular scrolling. When the user moves their finger up and down on the vertical one, the cursor changes to an up-down scrolling icon (much like it would for a scroll-wheel). A similar icon appears in place of the mouse when the user moved side-to-side on the touchpad's horizontal scrollbar. However - the latter causes TSE2 to freeze! So basically, whenever I move my finger onto that bar (i.e. the entire bottom of my touchpad) and go sideways, that icon appears (or sometimes even doesn't) and freezes my game. In a game which involves general much mouse movement, I'm bound to do this sometime or another by accident, and hence, the freezing.

I really wonder whether this sort of bug is really worth your time to troubleshoot. I'll be more careful from now on (now playing with Ionae, Pyau and Grace, and loving the new storylines).
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TwiTerror
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Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hey CGman - I completely overlooked this myself. I played TSE2 on my laptop before we switched the internal engine to MMF2 and I didn't even notice. I played a bit on my Dell laptop that has the same mechanism and didn't have the problem, but I'm pretty conscious about that scrolling thing because I use it in normal use.

I'll see if I can figure something out.
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Mark Pay
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Location: Margate, UK

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
That is something of a relief. Thanks for tracking down the trigger.
I wonder if it is conflicting with the custom mouse cursors displayed in the game?
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CGman
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Round two complete - check. Still no Aurora - yup. Pretty much all those defensive stats were for Ick and Batiste.



3 more characters to go...
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Brickman
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
What exactly did you use flashbang for? I can't really picture too many uses for it with such a short stun duration (with three foes, it'll stun one of them for a little under half the time it takes to recharge the skill; for bosses, it's more or less nonexistant). Does it really make up for the lousy damage compared to explosive shell or aimed shot? How?
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CGman
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Nah - Grace just has it as part of her default chain ("Aimflash"), so I experimented before dumping it when I realized it wasn't really helping Smile. Lucky and Aimed Shot all the way.

And the 2 Enpowders, of course, are for beating the one-hit carnival contest.
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FurryRage
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I don't think flashbang is better than explosive shell, but with Ionae it's necessary, since she can't get explosive shell. She can only use flashbang for concussive damage...

Also, for explosive shell, if you enpowder your shot, does it at damage to the first ennemy only or also to the one behind (and if it hit the one behind, does it do full enpowder bonus damage or half the damage, as normal)
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