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jastey

NTotSC for EET (and BGT and BG:EE) - Download

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2 hours ago, Isewein said:

I for one would never think of installing DSotSC or NTotSC without these balance improvements (and from what I recall from my last playthrough, there are still some encounters / items I would like to see nerfed further). This is not because I do not enjoy tactical challenges (we have the vastly superior SCS for that nowadays), but because gameplay and story integration into the original game are completely messed up otherwise. In my opinion, these pre-WeiDU mods actually trivialise the game when a random orc horde provides for more of a challenge than Sarevok and his goons, and moreover the uber loot of that orc horde would make Firkraag envious. That is why not only encounters, but also items are nerfed.

Yeah, the item nerfing was my contribution as well (originally, the mod gave you enough ankheg plate to equip half your party with), and I still fear it may be a little too much here and there.  Specifically, I'm concerned about the unique plate I made for Gothal, and some of the loot from the new Firewine dungeon (which I like conceptually, though).  If Jastey will allow me, I'd gladly go over them another time, and maybe create something truly unique instead of cheap Icewind Dale knockoffs.  I do so enjoy designing new items. ^^

2 hours ago, Isewein said:

I appreciate the concern for author's intent, but at some point you have to take into consideration that a) modding was, well, non-modular back in the day so you had to combine quest and tactics mods, while today we can easily chose to focus on either and b) strictly speaking, the author's intent was neither for the mod to be ported to BGT, EE, etc., and there is nothing stopping people from installing Classic BG1 and original DSotSC if that's what they prefer. As Jastey pointed out, you could also just raise difficulty to insane (but please leave nerfs enabled on D&D rules!).

Yeah, clearly the author never intended for his mod to run on BGT/Tutu/EE, so maybe I should also revert all the item edits I did to actually make the items work properly on the newer engines. ^^

52 minutes ago, subtledoctor said:

Oh look, "me" is back!  You're adorable, guy.

Everyone else, don't bother, you can safely ignore this troll.

I figured that, but thanks for confirming.

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Guest -me-


Oh look, "me" is back!  You're adorable, guy.


Great. Subtledimwit is here.  Nice to see you too, shitforbrains.  :)



As Jastey pointed out, you could also just raise difficulty to insane (but please leave nerfs enabled on D&D rules!).

Or better yet, you could set the difficulty level to easiest while you're playing the mod... Setting it to Insane wouldn't automatically revert everything back to original behaviour.  It does in some cases, but still a lot of enemies would be missing their stats, equipment, spells, etc.

Look at the original mod's readme and it's official site back using the internet archive. There were multiple instances were the mod warns you it's supposed to be brutally challenging --  "The recommended level of your party is 9/10. If you are below this level chances are you will not survive."  The main description says you need level 9-12 at least and suggests finishing all of the main story and its expansion first before you tackle the mod.


So, when an inexperienced buffoon like Angel says:


I was playing a party that was already overleveled by BG1 standards and well beyond the XP cap of both TotSC and SoD, and they were still nearly impossible.

he doesn't realize what he's experiencing is exactly what the mod description was talking about. His primary instinct is to immediately conclude the encounter must be broken, and not consider the possibility that maybe this is the way things were meant to be.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't go against the author's wishes and rewrite the mod. Sure, you can make changes for the sake of balance, mod standards and whatnot.  But make sure the original vision and atmosphere is also preserved and accessible somehow.

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Ignoring people who can't go three pages in a thread without re-using the same insult, it's worth noting a few things for the record for the sake of readers who might be worried by this inane guest spammery (sigh, I thought guest posting was disabled? (at least guest posting by formerly banned users?)):

  • I'm pretty sure I've never seen anyone complain about this mod because a part of it was too difficult.
  • I have seen people complain because various parts of the mod were stupid, and bad.  (That's paraphrasing, of course.)
  • The current version makes a bunch of things in the mod better, and less stupid.
  • If anyone liked the mod the way it used to be, if they liked those stupid things in spite of their stupidity... that is actually a perfectly valid point of view.  Of course that version of the mod exists, and anyone is free to use it.
  • That point of view being valid of course does not mean people with different tastes shouldn't be able to play this better, less-stupid version.  Arguing that is just ridiculous.  (And yet, somehow unsurprising from some quarters.)

Jastey, you have taken on much, and IMHO you are doing an admirable job with this and other projects.

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Anyone wanting to discuss this topic in a constructive manner is welcome to do so here.

Everyone wanting to throw insults and personal attacks go walking with the dog.

Anyone searching for the moved posts, they are here.

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Guest -me-

Yes, we were actually having a constructive discussion originally until the riffraff started to come along and repeat the same arguments that you already initially presented, Jastey.

I'm forced to repeat myself because these same arguments were being repeated back to me by the ignorant, brainless simpletons (especially the turd burglar above you who is in here just to argue):

- use the old, buggy version
- fork the mod and make your own version (yes, i'm sure it's a good idea to have multiple variations of the mod where each fork counteracts the other)
- people have different tastes (I never said there was anything wrong with different tastes, just make sure to also respect the original author's intent)
- and finally, cry 'troll' and call for a ban when they run out of arguments because that is the only way they would save face.


I'm pretty sure I've never seen anyone complain about this mod because a part of it was too difficult.


*facepalm*

Dude, just stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

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14 hours ago, Angel said:

If Jastey will allow me, I'd gladly go over them another time, and maybe create something truly unique instead of cheap Icewind Dale knockoffs.  I do so enjoy designing new items. ^^

I'd be thrilled!

I'm not maintaining the mod because I think I'm the best suited, but because I wanted this old one-of-the-first mods to be available/playable/enjoyable on nowadays engines. This is not meant as a justification with regard to the ongoing discussion, but what I meant was: I am happy if others will contribute or even resume maintenance.

 

-me-: I think we are done with repeating the same arguments, and I would appreciate tuning down the swear word, too.

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Worth clarifying, I guess:

I threw around the term stupid a bit carelessly, and some might misconstrue that. To stay constructive I'll give an example.  At some point in a quest you come upon an enemy called "lesser tanar'ri."  This is evidently a kind of lower-planar creature, because the mod author used the term from the 2E Planescape setting.  So far, so good.  But, the .CRE just uses a generic "demon" animation.  And it doesn't specify which kind of lesser tanar'ri you are encountering.  When I glanced at the files in Near Infinity, I noticed that their stats make them more like a 'tanar'ri lord' or something like that.  They make very little sense given the name of the creature.  Like, they are more dangerous than Aec'Letec.  (Mostly because the author just applied the "make an enemy hard by making it immune to everything" logic.). But, it doesn't make sense why a demon lord would be hanging around this little cave in the Prime Material Plane, much less three demonic lords in close proximity.  Story-wise, they are pretty clearly meant to be actual lesser tanar'ri.  Now, when the mod was made you could not easily find source material, much less digital versions.  But now we can just grab the sourcebooks and use an actual lesser tanar'ri there, with actual lesser tanar'ri stats.  Somebody (;)) suggested using Maurezhi or Babau.  I think that would improve the mod.  Using shorthand, it would make the mod better and less stupid.

In another place, there is a wizard, but he is coded as a fighter/druid and has the stats of a fire giant.  That's... sorry, the quickest way to describe it is "stupid."  People suggested, more or less: decide what that creature is supposed to be, and make it be an actual example of that thing, with stats to match.

Now of course, some people might not like those changes.  It's okay to have different tastes!  But, I think it is probably incumbent on them to provide better arguments and more productive suggestions than "bambi turd burglar grumble troll!!!1!1"

 

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I'm open to any civil discussion about the subject.  Like Jastey, I do not claim to be the best person for the job.  But she sought someone who could edit items and creatures to help her, and I answered.  If someone feels they can do a better job than me, they are welcome to show their work anytime.

And it's true that I am not a very hardcore player (even though I did finish Ascension once and SCS is a staple in my mods), if anyone can reasonably convince me that I have made some enemies too "soft" I'd be happy to give it another look.  Of course "reasonable convince" does require being able to make your point without swear words or insulting the other person's abilities or opinions.

For now, what I plan to do is 1) revise the items, maybe add or replace some, and 2) go over the enemies I nerfed (which can easily be counted on one hand by the way, it's not like I turned the whole mod upside down) and see if I may have overdone it a bit. 

Spoiler

The three(!) enemies I changed were officer Tidus, Haebal and general Gothal, all three of which had stats that didn't make a lick of sense.  Tidus had a thac0 that would make  an avatar of Tempus jealous (even before taking his Girdle of Giant Strength into account) and he's nothing but another Black Talon goon.  Haebal was, as pointed out above, coded as a fighter/mage with druid spells, the stats of a fire giant and a simple "hit nearest" script that never used spells at all, and he's supposed to be a wizard!  And finally General Gothal had an ungodly amount of HP that would make some of the dragons in BG2 jealous, an armor class so insane (-20) that my level 10 paladin with a ton of buffs still couldn't hit him on anything less than a 20, but would rarely attack at all (much less hit if he did), making for a boring fight that lasted over half an hour until I finally rolled enough crits to finish him.

@subtledoctor, your point about the lesser tanar'ri is a good one, I will go through my source material and try to come up with something appropriate there if I can.

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56 minutes ago, Angel said:

I will go through my source material and try to come up with something appropriate there if I can.

At some point we discussed this elsewhere (see the various posts following that one).  My thoughts lean toward

-- Babau... supposed to be skeletal-ish and powerful, maybe use a skeleton warrior animation with some retouching.  These are pretty strong, if I recall - they are actually greater tanar'ri, so not what the original mod claimed, but in line with the original mod's making these enemies very strong.

-- Cambion... the animation already exists, and they are very versatile (can play as fighter or fighter/mage, of any experience level you desire) and can fit well as PC enemies pretty much anywhere in these games.  Not very imaginative, but probably the easiest to do.

-- Maurezhi... this idea is my favorite.  These are tanar'ri that are at BG1 power levels (5 HD) but they can supposedly gain power from defeating and eating powerful foes, so you could reasonably bump the stats a bit, rationalizing that they had recently made a kill.  And they would have a strong incentive to attack the player, since they would gain even more power by eating someone that powerful (never mind the divine heritage).  The hit points are low but they are dangerous - basically a kind of demonic ghoul.  You could easily portray them with the ghoul animation and an applied effect that recolors them charcoal/black.  Their natural weapon could include Hold-on-hit and they could mix it up with spells like Spook, Ray of Enfeeblement, Invisibility, and Summon Ghouls.  Code them as mage/thieves so they could use that invisibility for backstabbing, have them summon a small ghoul army behind your back line, have them Enfeeble your front line... I don't know much about AI scripting but I feel like a typical fighter/mage script would work fine and you would only have to define their memorized spells.  Those spells are supposed to be usable at-will, so apply a custom Wondrous Recall effect every couple rounds to restore what they already cast, and the combat script should take it in stride (theoretically).  A group of these together could be a pretty nasty encounter, and really unique.

Edited by subtledoctor

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Guest -me-

What is stupid is not having the ability to see these ancient mods were made using sticks and stones.  The authors didn't have the luxury of modern tools and advancements.  Most of their modding was done by fiddling around with hex editors or sometimes even the occasional fumbling around in the dark of the game executable. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect them to pay attention to detail and follow everything according to the rule books.

Now, with that in mind... 

let's look at that example of yours - the creature who looks like a wizard but coded like a fighter/druid and has the stats of a fire giant.

Again, given the context of the mod (read the original documentation where it repeatedly warns of the difficulty and to be level 9-12 at least), and given the mod installed a Level 40 XP rules pack, and given the lack of resources and ability of the authors to come up with new creature animations, perhaps the player is left to his imagination and assume this creature is something unique and that it was just meant to be this way. Stupid or not, the idea was to have the player face something really, really, really difficult.

Now, for the sake of balance, you can still go ahead and change this creature to a maurezhi or a kobold or an xvart, and have its stats fall in line according to 2e rules.  Nothing wrong with that.  But the original vision of that creature should also remain accessible in some way (like at a higher difficulty level or so), simply for the sake of preserving the integrity of the mod.

Otherwise, today you'll change the creature to a maurezhi.  Tomorrow, some new maintainer will claim even a maurezhi is too difficult, and replace it with a tasloi.  The day after that, someone else will replace it with a gibberling.  This will go on an on until one day someone starts to wonder "Wait a second, are we doing the right thing? what was the original creature really like?  Is this what the authors would've wanted the player to experience?"
 

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Oh dear, but that's precisely the point. Since they were made "using sticks and stones", it is only natural that porting them to the modern instances of the engine we would also make use of modern capabilities to adjust balance and integration issues, no? Otherwise, if from the technical limitations that once shaped these mods you derive some Platonic essence of what they are supposed to be, you certainly would not want to have them ported to EET (or WeiDU, for that matter) in the first place, would you?

 

Your slippery slope analogy simply does not apply, because the yardstick by which balance and integration are measured is not subjective player experience but the original game itself. Nobody is going to change the Tanar'Ri into Tasloi, or at least nobody who would not apply the same treatment to Aec'Letec. But then again, they could just play story mode, so I really don't see whence you derive this fear of a plot to gradually dumb down BG mods. It seems to me you are mistakenly projecting professional industry trends on the modding community.

Edited by Isewein

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Guest -me-

You are conflating porting to different platforms with game balance.  They are not tied together.  You cannot confuse the two.  The point is, you can port the mod to newer engines/platforms and also stay close to original behavior, but that's not what's happening here.  The newer changes have altered a creature so much to the point it's almost unrecognizable from the original.

Of course, the dumbing down was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but considering both DSotSC/NTotSC have been nerfed over and over and over by multiple maintainers over the years, that exaggeration isn't that far off...

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3 hours ago, grodrigues said:

Most modders, and most BG2 players I would wager, simply do not favor these old-style tactical mods

Probably because there is nothing "tactical" about them.  There is nothing tactical about an enemy that has 100% resistance to physical damage, for no reason explained by the mod's story or by the lore behind the creature or the content of the game world.  These games are rightly seen as some of the best ever, largely because of the sheer number of tactical tools they give you to solve problems and progress through the story.  All the stats, all the races, all the spells, all the party combinations, etc. etc. A good encounter mod would use that stuff against the player, keep the player on their heels and make them sweat a bit about overcoming a challenge unlike the hundred other challenges they just played through.

Early incarnations of this mod?  "Dur, your sword doesn't work against me."  "Dur, your mace doesn't work against me either."  "Dur, your arrows don't work against me either."  "Dur, fire doesn't work against me either."

That's not "tactical."  It's not interesting.  It's not fun.  I mean, hey, if there's a puzzle to it - if there's something I need to figure out in order to make vulnerable what seemed to be an invulnerable enemy - that's always good fun.  If the characteristics of the enemies had something to do with the story being told in the adventure, that's great.  If the story involves some super-tough adversary, even if it's boring in execution, that's fine because at least it would be internally sensible.  But when an encounter is boringly executed for no reason at all?  Not a boss monster, no, but a generic, no-name, no-personality, no-consequence mob?  If someone is willing to put the time in to make that encounter better, then God bless.  (Note, I said "better," not "easier."  Frankly the encounter isn't really hard in the first place.  Making mobs immune to 7 out of 8 kinds of attacks doesn't make them "hard."  It just means you use Power Word: Reload and employ that 8th kind of attack and easily blow them to bits.  Whoop-dee-frackin'-doo.)

I mean these threads have been around for over a decade.  Players come around and say stuff like "the mod had potential, but X, Y, and Z encounters are stupid.  Will not install it again."  You want modders to ignore that?  You want the mod to be set in stone, warts and all, for eternity?  Because, for the umpteenth time: you can still play that version of the mod.  It is out there, have fun.  Meanwhile it is ridiculous to suggest that others shouldn't have the chance to play an improved version - even if you don't personally like the improvements.

If the original authors came around and said "hey stop messing with my creation, I don't approve of your changes!" then it might be a different story.  But honestly, that wouldn't happen.  If the authors suddenly came back chances are they would be engaged and their work would continue to evolve.  Read all these forums.  That's what modders are doing here.

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For what it's worth, thanks to all you modders to DO all the great work you do. And thanks, Jastey, for updating the mod to fit in better with BG1. It's still a great post-game challenge, without being an unscalable beef-wall. 

I tried a mod that had a great premise -- adding a ton more assassins sent by Sarevok, and a quest to conquer their stronghold.  It was fun -- except for the item load. A low level assassin on the road to Beregost (easily defeated) had a sword that would worthy of ToB. Later, non-unique groups of assassins all had Varsconas. It completely ruined the itemization experience of the game, and made me question the judgement of the mod author. I discovered that it was absolutely the intent of the author, and I made the choice to not use the mod.

I'm glad that -- after the mod authors leave the community -- others are willing to pick up their work and modernize it to fit in better with the BG continuity. I'm sorry, but being "broken" IS a thing. Handing out +3 weapons to level 1 characters, or stacks of +2 platemail on scrubs, or whatever IS actually broken.  When I hear stories about what NToTSC and DSotSC used to contain, I shudder. Now, I can enjoy their quest content within a complete EET megamod experience, from Candlekeep to the Throne.

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Later, non-unique groups of assassins all had Varsconas. It completely ruined the itemization experience of the game, and made me question the judgement of the mod author. I discovered that it was absolutely the intent of the author, and I made the choice to not use the mod.


Regarding the duplication of overpowered & unique items - I agree it breaks immersion. I remember having a discussion with Jastey over on the DSotSC forum. It's possible those items were deliberately equipped to make enemies harder. So the suggestion made was to leave those overpowered items equipped on those characters, but make them undroppable (just for the sake of maintaining historicity). After the enemy is defeated, players can be rewarded with a different, rebalanced version designed by the maintainer.

That said, we're talking mainly about the encounters themselves here. There seems to be some bizarre, unspoken, ritualized tradition of nerfing that almost every maintainer or contributor goes through.  Sadly, it seems this tradition isn't going to stop anytime soon.  As time goes on, every new maintainer would come up easier versions under the claim that it's better.  But that word is very subjective.  Sure, a lot of the newer generation players or those who are not used to difficult mods might prefer this easier version.  But that doesn't mean you should completely throw out the old way.

Wouldn't it be more sensible to have the player try these newer, redesigned encounters and say, "Interesting. So this is the newer, nerfed version. Okay. Now let's see what the original was like" then change a setting like difficulty or perform some in-game action that unlocks the original version of that encounter?  ALL in the same version of the mod.  Currently it's somewhat implemented, albeit in a very loose, sporadic manner.  It's silly and impractical to suggest to use an old, buggy version where things are not functional, and where you have to jump through several hoops, dodge the occasional crash, and use the CLUA console once in a while just to progess through the mod.

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