Co8 7.x vs Vanilla ToEE -- long winded

Discussion in 'The Temple of Elemental Evil' started by dragonalumni, Feb 25, 2012.

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  1. dragonalumni

    dragonalumni Elemental Warrior

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    Preface : Most of you will probably disagree with what I’m about to say. However, I consider that sometimes saying something unpopular is necessary for a healthy perspective. I’ve played ToEE for short, albeit intense bursts. Initially when the game was launched (2003) , again in Spring 2008 and these past two weeks everyday for about six hours or more. (February 2012). Additionally while I played and enjoy DnD 1 and 2, I never cared for or played 3.5 or 4.

    Like I said, I picked started playing again about two weeks ago, I reinstalled ToEE and my first thought was getting back to Co8 and picking up the modpack so that I could enjoy my meander though the Temple of Elemental Evil. So I promptly installed Co8 NC 7.0 and started playing.

    From the beginning of my game play I felt something was wrong, seemingly every single encounter proceeded to kick my lily ass to the reload screen. The biggest problem was that my fighters, paladins and thief were simply getting “wiff” misses endlessly on encounters. So, I go on, bearing the running back to town half dead after each encounter, if for some reason I could finish the encounter at all, I managed to get to level 3 after completely all the hommlet quests and clearing out ever area I could before trying the boss fight in the moat house. After six tries I knew that I didn’t have the party makeup and or personal knowledge of the mechanics to beat this fight.

    Rather then give up completely, I downloaded 7.1 and opted to re-roll my group (spent a long time on this). I picked the classes, proficiencies, races and in general I pulled a huge munchkin, rules lawyer, math geek fest, to the best of my ability. I have to say that it made quite a bit of difference. In short I was able to clear the moat house after a couple of tries and finally beat the newbie dungeon and get to nulb. However, when I started adventuring again, I found that the ToEE was kicking my ass and so was the NC, hickory branch. In fact, I gave up my second party when my paladin and 2 fighters all died in 3 seconds to an Ogre mage (with greater cleave?) that was the last remaining monster of a large group that I simply could seem to hit.

    After this I decided to start a game of Vanilla ToEE just last night in fact. The difference between Co8-7.1 and ToEE-patch2 (with mobious patch) is like night and day. I did not wipe a single time anywhere, I was able to clear out multiple encounters without resting. It reminded me exactly of how Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale plays. Co8 if different and in short what I really want to say is, I feel that 7.1 is extremely difficult, unfriendly and highly prone to needing to know every aspect of ToEE, DnD 3.5, and Co8 “tricks” in added content. For example you cannot buy a scroll of fireball from Burne/Rufus in vanilla, but as one poster suggested in another thread, you might need it in 7.0. Also, the NC seems to be mandatory, because you will need every bit of XP before getting to the bosses.

    My main complaints really stem around the fact that for some reason using 7.0 my group always misses it’s hits so very easily and in vanilla hits a have what appears to be a 50% greater chance to land. That is a huge amount of difference; I could literally stand around a bugbear for 3 minutes with 3 fighters in 7.0 and not hit it once.

    When I got to the ToEE and found that the barracks in back that NPCs have fireball spells, while your wizard only have level 2 spells and that on whole they have been made to use spells like silence and buffs more effectively, while also having superior numbers I just found it wasn’t FUN. It reminded me of Final Fantasy Tactics, a game that, just wasn’t FUN for me.

    So, I want to say this, I know Co8 is built up around a long-standing and tight community, who has intimate knowledge of this game and often it’s members have played though it multiple times and find little challenge in most of it’s content. I understand that, however, if like me your just some dude who is picking the game, who doesn’t know 3.5 and hasn’t played through ToEE several times, I believe the difficulty of it (7.1) might be beyond most casual gamers.

    In short, I could not recommend Circle of Eight 7.0 NC to a casual gamer buddy who was familiar with crpgs like Baldurs and Icewind Dale, and even knew DnD. That’s quite a sad thing to say and I really wonder if that’s what the people involved in Co8 really want. I always thought the goals of Co8 was to primarily to fix it’s problems and secondly to give new options. If the goal was to build a tactical masterpiece for select hardcore gamers, I believe Co8 has probably accomplished it well. I may even try at some point to play 7.1 more, but I would only do using the perfect optimal party, stats, feats and skills. If you want a dual wielding ranger (I do), a druid healer, and prefer to use things like swords instead of polearms or other such “non optimal” choices, your better off playing vanilla ToEE.
     
  2. Pygmy

    Pygmy Established Member Supporter

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    A random number generator which appears to be distinctly unrandom over short time intervals has always been a feature of ToEE. Three or four consecutive critical hits are not as uncommon as you would expect (say the character is on a roll....). Conversely misses feel as though they have always been grouped together even in vanilla ToEE. I have lost count of the number of tense combats I have had in which a fighter and bugbear both on less than 10hps keep missing each other.

    I don't think Gaear could have changed the vanilla combat engine even if he had wanted to.

    Welkwood Bog ought to be straightforward for a 1st level party provided you can rationalize not running away from the hill giant and anything that can create such realistic illusions.

    I really fail to see how you get any satisfaction from the Lareth moathouse fight in Vanilla.

    The guards in the entry corridor perform no sensible function so you can kill them and then creep up to the next doorway, select sneak for wizard and move him/her into doorway (still no response from main room) let off web and step back out of harm's way.

    The next round cast protection from arrows and cat's grace on archery specialist ranger who steps back into doorway and starts peppering bow/x-bow armed guards; the only elements of suspense is whether the guards will be able to exhaust the arrow protection before dying.

    As for Lareth himself I recall you could kill the guards next door, march you party into his room and form a killing ring around him without him reacting....
     
  3. chano

    chano Established Member

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    You are probably right that those of us who want tougher fight have multiple playthroughs, we have been playing the game from vanilla through all co8 released and sometimes several times on some releases.
    This is the case with all games, the more you play the better you get at it.

    I remember back when playing TOEE pnp, it was tough, my group just didn't wander through it fighting battle after battle without resting, we took one small step after another.
    You are level one when you start, which means that all fights will be tough and you will need to prepare in some fashion, cleric casting bless will help alot.

    If you meet a higher level opponent, like the ogre, do not enter into melee but try to hinder him in some way and use ranged attack, if you go to the moat house at level 3 you will have web and tasha hideous laughter aswell as grease to help you.

    About the lareth fight, that one should be very hard, most parties should be wiped out there unless they are fully prepared, it's one of the key fights in the game and it has been remade so well by co8.

    Hickory Branch is tough and it should be, why add NC that doesn't challenge the players, as with all NC, wait until you have cleared most of the temple, HB might then be too easy, but do it without resting.

    I hope you will give 7.x another try to see all the brilliant stuff that the guys have made, just be realistic about the game, your party is up against opponents that are the same level as you or at times higher, taking a fight at the time is not necessarily bad roleplaying.
     
  4. erkper

    erkper Bugbear Monk Supporter

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    As much as you feared what you would say would be unpopular DA, I think what I'm about to say will be unpopular with you.

    TOEE is not Baldur's Gate, or Icewind Dale, or NWN, or any other crpg (d'n'd based or other) out there. It is what it is, and that is the most accurate rendition of the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Ed rules ever put into a crpg. (Possible exeption being Knights of the Chalice.) The changes made by the Co8 team have vastly improved a game that had so much potential yet couldn't live up to it due to bugs, poor AI, etc. If fixing the bugs (most of them anyways,) making the game even more true to the d'n'd 3.5 rules, and making the AI act semi-intelligently makes the game harder, so be it. I don't really think it does, but your opinion obviously differs.

    This is a crpg. It does not have a living, breathing DM to coddle newbie players and protect them from their own mistakes. I honestly think you must have to have enjoyed 1st and 2nd ed d'n'd and now struggle so much with this game. I too played AD&D (2nd Ed) and to this day prefer it to all other versions of the game, but if you didn't have gaming sessions where your party really had a hard time with equally-matched opponents then you had that kind DM fudging his rolls, AC, and whatever else he needed to make it easy for you. You can't get that here. In this crpg if you make bad decisions in character creation, or tactical mistakes in a battle, you will pay the price. Which, honestly, is fine with me. I get my butt kicked by this game occasionally, sometimes due to my mistakes and sometimes due to things no one can really control (like the crazy RNG giving the bandit leader a crit hit on his first attack nearly every time you fight him in the Moathouse.) You learn from your mistakes, rue the RNG, remember that bad luck really does happen, and move on. Nothing in this game is un-doable if you really do work at it. But conversely, not much will be just given to you if you don't play smart.
     
  5. dragonalumni

    dragonalumni Elemental Warrior

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    erkerper, that's exactly what i expected someone to say. i just think it's a bit bogus. i don't know how the RND on 7.0 is "different" than vanilla, but believe me sir, it is. it's like your entire party has a -3 to hit permanently. if you don't believe me go play vanilla. same fights, different results.

    it's true i've never been hardcore about gaming, i never play "impossible" settings for games, because in my opinion it's just like running a math simulation, not really gaming. but that doesn't mean i know how to play, and as noted elsewhere, i played and enjoyed 5.x and vanilla quite a bit in the past.

    as you pointed out ToEE wasn't original completely true to 3.5, and now it is, but the result is a vastly more difficult encounter and npcs that use and know every trick in the book and are usually higher level than you are. that's fine sometimes, but it wouldn't be so bad if random encounters with a couple of wolves and kobolds also didn't kick my ass too.

    ps-- after thinking about it a bit, i think part of it was i usually enjoy making my own full party of 8. meaning no level 4 elmo, no level 10 otis. i think the balance now requires taking advantage of these guys.

    i just think min-maxing, optimization, number crunching, ramps down the fun aspect of the game quite a bit.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  6. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    The history of the RNG in ToEE is simple. The original game shipped with one that I can't recall the name of. That was replaced by Troika/Atari in official patch 1 by the 'Mersenne Twister,' and that's what we've had ever since. End of story. I could see how you might experience noticeably different rolls playing totally unpatched ToEE vs. anything patched (including our mods), but there is absolutely no difference in RNG function between patch 1 and the present. I don't really remember much about the original RNG to be honest - that was before my time - but Troika/Atari must have thought there was something wrong with it.

    The only other thing that could be affecting your relative experiences is the Co8 proto overhaul that occurred between Co8 v4 and Co8 v5.5. (It was first introduced somewhere along the line in the early 5.0.x 'cumulative mods and fixes' days and first featured in a regular modpack in v5.5.) The proto overhaul simply brought most ToEE monsters closer to actual D&D stats, because in many cases they were nerfed - sometimes severely - in vanilla. There are very likely instances where some monsters are significantly more difficult now, but by and large, feedback over the years since it was implemented has not indicated any deal-breaker experiences. You said you played v5.x without problems anyway, so the proto overhaul is probably not to blame either. I really don't have a problem with going away from nerfed, regardless. The stats and figures are what they are.

    That leaves AI improvements, which I won't apologize for. Far, far more players have complained over the years that ToEE's enemy NPCs and battles have been "stupid" than have complained that they are too smart. AI improvements take some rigorous effort to implement effectively, which means they generally apply to specific scenarios as opposed to things across the board. (One across the board AI tweak I can think of is enemies trying to escape from webs, but is that really something that shouldn't be?) But again, you're complaining at least in part about wolves and whatnot, not just Lareth; there are no AI tweaks that were aimed specifically at cannon fodder monsters or battles.

    Incidentally, lest you or anyone else should think that Co8 is "going off the rails" with ToEE, I feel I should point out that Troika itself has pretty much endorsed us across the board. Back when they were still intact, Co8 did beta testing for them for the official patches. Since then, Agetian has remained in contact with some former Troika staff to get assistance and consultation for coding various elements of World Builder. And they've outright said that their recommendation for ToEE is to use the Co8 mods. That would frankly not be the case if they thought we were being reckless with the game.

    At any rate, there are a variety of alternatives that remain for you:

    • If you think the NC is too hard, play the standard modpack.
    • If you think the proto overhaul may be to blame but you still want bugfixes, play an older modpack like 3.0.4.
    • If you think the Mersienne Twister is to blame, play ToEE unpatched.
    • If you think we're lying about all this and have evil plans that we're withholding from the public, play vanilla.

    :shrug: Do whatever works for you. TFE-X makes it easy.
     
  7. erkper

    erkper Bugbear Monk Supporter

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    I thought I read somewhere (maybe the patch 1 readme notes) that they actually replaced an older version of the Twister with a newer version that was less likely to do exactly what we all complain about, i.e. more runs of 20's and 1's. If I'm remembering that correctly, I can't imagine the unpatched vanilla being anything but worse as far as RNG screwyness is concerned.
     
  8. dragonalumni

    dragonalumni Elemental Warrior

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    i made a mistake when i said that the RND is different. i shouldn't have said it like that, i should have said it more clearly. from my experience playing 7.0 vs patch2, there is something of a minus to hit involved in fighting everything, it's not random at all, it seems to apply to everything, from a wolf or kobold with 3-4 health to an ogre.

    but TBH, in order to find success in 7.0 early game (Last night) all i had to do was modify my play style, the main problem seems to be centered around my habit to carry 8 PCS, after i restarted with 6PCS and picked up elmo, the fights felt ok, i'm sure with rufus, burne, otis and other NPCS later, changing the balance of power in my favor later, I will be successfull long enough to get my own guys "into their power". i'm just not sure that i like this style. however, no doubt it works.
     
  9. Ank

    Ank Established Member

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    Dragonalumni to tell the truth things are hard to hit if u take the normal approach but once u realize u should be using things like bless/bane/prayer or the inspire courage in conjunction with charging or flanking all becomes much easyer
    As for yr own chars don't attempt to use generalist types, try touse highly specialized units, its fine to have smb to excell at smth and suck royally at everything else since each char should be capable of doing smth unique otherwise it will be assault of the clones(we all know how that ended)
    Also the game itself is aimed/tweaked towards a group of 5-6 adventurers so with an 8man crew u simply don't have the hp to last (not to mention i for one don't even dare have a melee char with anything less then a 14 in constitution)
    Hope all of the above is of help to you :yes:
     
  10. dragonalumni

    dragonalumni Elemental Warrior

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    what? do you because they won't have enough levels or something else? most of your advice seems useful later, like casting prayer, do i really need to cast guidance to kill delko spiders? seems like it!

    i'm playing a bit in 7.1 -- i've noticed sinced i switched to a six man pc group i don't get as many quests. i only have to convert the leather worker, i never get a second converstion quest (ie, miller) , and meleny's father never asks me to catch the thief outside his house. (2 last runs) i'm not sure why that is or if that is random. i've got the whole fed-ex thing down fast though, lol.
     
  11. Ank

    Ank Established Member

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    Humm bless &bane u get with a lvl 1 cleric as for inspire courage u get that from a lvl 1 bard as well.
    Not sure of yr quest/region tackle tactics but here's how i'm doing it with a 5 man crew no npc's:
    at lvl 1:
    decklow grove
    fedx homlet quests
    moathouse(court yard,top level excepting brigand battle)
    at lvl 2:
    welkwood bog(all of it in 1 pass)
    mouthouse(all that's left except lareth battle and perhaps bugbear/gnoll battles if u find them hard)
    at lvl 3:
    what ever else u can get yr hands on/what ever u left unfinished
    mrdy meadows as much of it necessary to reach 4th lvl(giant slaying is a must for the masterwork wpns quest)
    at lvl 4:
    lareth battle(by now all party has masterwork wpns and perhaps some gauntelets ogre power&amulets of natural armor)
    ranos&gremag's asasin slaying (after all u need the damn cash to craft like mad for the upcoming temple battles)
    nulb fed ex
    small part of the temple(so u can reach lvl 5)
    at lvl 5:
    mredy's run(wouldn't recomend it at lower level unless u are okay with heavy losses)
    systematic temple wipeout(after doing some quest for 1 faction preferably either fire or water temple quests and permanently picking and npc to join the party(i go for wicked he's probably the crappyist u can get but it gives me the ultimate pleasure to turn him into a true melee terror trough dropping the fineist quality equipment money can buy :evilgrin:)
    at lvl 1x+:
    nc content(unfortunately all of it except perhaps slavers quest,war of the golden skull,deity's avatar battle will be of the pepsi lite variety(squash matches))
    As u can see i haven't even touched nc(excepting welkwood witch is essentially a xp gap filler so i wouldn't be forced to do random encounter xp farming content for smth like beeing 100-300xp short of lvl x i deem necessary to tackle a certain battle)
    In regards to my party : 5man crew at start 1bard(xbow,offensive spell casting) 1cleric(polearm,buff&heal specialist) 1ranger(composite longbow focuses on maximizing both nr of shots per round and dmg) and 2 rogue mongrels(1 concentrates on raw dmg and abuses cleave&trip while the other embraces high mobility&max sneak atak dmg). with this configuration i'm getting an adequate difficulty trough most of the game(on average most chars die 2-3 times in theyr life time: 2-4times mele chars and 1-2 suport guys although i usually tend to keep the cleric out of harms way(she loses plenty xp to crafting)and oddly enough the ranger has both the hp&ac to make it out of most battle unscratched)
    Hope this helps
     
  12. Ank

    Ank Established Member

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    About my first toee impressions : first time i had a go at toee(in like 2004) i found it of aveg dificulty and after like 1-3 playtroughs the amount of crashes&bugs made my say my fare wells to it
    Second atempt at it came much later recall it was around co8 branch 5.x if i'm not mistaken that one was a total shock: ai got boosted a great deal and npc's started showing signs of logical/sane feet choices and yes in my first attempt i literaly got raped every few battles after that i switched to the dark side' :roll: ,began employing rape party's with compositions like 2 polearm barbs(yeah str 20,cleave,trip) 2sorcs(crowd kill spells) and a druid(elemental dmg&entangle class spells), naturally with rape squads the entire game became a joke difficulty wise and i started to lose interest in the game very fast after that i gradualy became interested in taking the ai on equal terms and after that in flat out crushing it with nothing but smart/finesse play as such i ended up where i am today as play style :
    1)the ai is generally either inadequate to cope with magic assaults or doesn't have access to it ; so why should i ?? as a result i no longer employ sorc/wiz/druid and all offensive spell casting i need in a pinch will never of the direct dmg/insta kill variety and will generaly restrict myself to defensive spell casting only
    2)melee this is smth the ai handles decently as such so should i, but i consider it necessary to play fair polearms aren't properly implemented in toee as such they will not be skilfully employed by me; usually the ai excels at melee by either sheer numbers or dirty fighting ,since i can't have the numbers i will definitely raise dirty fighting to its peek (rogue levels,trip,cleave,flanking,charge,ready vs aproach,5 foot steps) and with superior mobility and positioning i can hold my own against all but the largest and most vicious melee squads
    3)ranged the ai does this one well enough i suppose and i need it as well to survive : my xbow bard fires slow but accurately so she handles spell disruption my ranger is literally a smg specialist he can pretty much gun down anything solo in like 1-2 turns(so he's on party body guard duty/sniping problematic oponents)
    Future goals : developing the perfect low/no magic party capable of surviving the toee gauntlet, current progress : at a crawl but i have established i idealy require a bard like char that also combines some of druid/clerics healing&crafting abilities and does all of these acceptably well and as such he/she will be the sole party member capable of wielding magic leaving the other 4 slots to be filled by a combo of melee/archer chars
     
  13. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    There's no such function in ToEE. The only things that could cause it are a dodgy RNG or combing through each proto and increasing their strength or whatever, which was not done.

    I really think you'e just suffering a case of "the runs." I've noticed over the years that once in a while ToEE seems to randomly decide to eff over either a single character, a stretch of the game, or an entire game, in noticeable fashion. There are games for example where you could have two identical fighters but one will miss all day long while the other always hits. Or you could do the Lareth fight one day and not be able to hit the broad side of a barn but pull it off with little trouble the next day. Or you could even have an entire game where things suspiciously just don't go your way. Likewise with certain incidences, like was mentioned above with the Moathouse bandit leader. He almost always crits someone on his first swing - way more often than should be random.

    I'm unaware of how this could possibly be done, because the RNG is just a utility called by the game engine to provide numbers. It isn't a scripts-based thing that could be made to behave differently in certain scenarios. And yet goofy stuff happens. I think hardcore math people would say that the problem lies in our perception - we expect certain trends to approximate randomness and get suspicious when they're not seen, but in reality there is absolutely no reason why a 20 shouldn't be generated 20 times in a row.

    Regardless, the important thing to note is that Co8 has not fudged anything. The RNG and the core engine are their own entities and they do what they do no matter what we do.
     
  14. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    Interesting ... I did a bit more snooping on this from old Atari threads and found that:

    1. The original RNG was, according to Steve Moret, "a slightly modified version of the Quick and Dirty."
    2. The Mersenne Twister was actually swapped in in patch 2. Still, that was only a short time after patch 1.
    3. There was a mind-numbing thread at Atari where nerds came from all over the world to discuss the Quick and Dirty's problems and show through HARDCORE MATHTM that it was weak. So yeah, I think we're better off with the Mersenne.
    4. There is actually a command line you can use to go back to the original RNG. But I'm not going to share that here.
     
  15. erkper

    erkper Bugbear Monk Supporter

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    I remember what I read about the Twister now. Per Wiki, "Mersenne Twister is sensitive to poor initialization and can take a long time to recover from a zero-excess initial state" and "Another issue is that it can take a long time to turn a non-random initial state (notably the presence of many zeros) into output that passes randomness tests. A small lagged Fibonacci generator or linear congruential generator gets started much more quickly and usually is used to seed the Mersenne Twister with random initial values."

    Which to me means if Troika didn't implement a pre-generator it will produce some decidedly "un-random" numbers at the beginning of it's sequences - hey, that sounds familiar!
     
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