The Risen Report #4: Victim

By Alec Meer on October 13th, 2009 at 8:49 pm.

Me, here, somewhere, friendless, alone.

Everything went wrong went I made it out of the first city.

Alert! There are a few spoilers in this, one of which may be major, but I honestly don’t know. But I’ll flag that one up in the post as it approaches.

Apology! I’m away in France at the moment, and all my screenshots are back home. So I’m going to illustrate the post with pictures of kittens instead.

Key to Risen is it is two opposing factions: the bandit fraternity of Don Esteban, and the religious fanatic/mage alliance of the Inquisition. Fairly early in the game, you decide which of these most appeals, and work towards it. It’s one of Risen’s cleverest systems, in fact – rather than simply following a fixed plotline that eventually unlocks chumminess with one or the other, instead you pick and choose your sidequests. Once you’ve done a given amount of them, and acted in favour of a specific faction, you reach the point where your favour is high enough that the core story progresses, one way or another.

It’s good stuff, because you’re carving your own path through the game whilst simultaneously advancing the plot. Compare it to, say, Fallout 3, where it’s only ever either/or. (The last thing I want is to inspire yet another bloody Elder Scrolls vs Gothic pissing contest, but F3′s simply a contemporary touchstone).

So, I picked my side – as detailed yesterday, through my actions rather than through what I’d pretended was my conscience. I did a bunch of stuff for the bandits, and I was off to see the Don, via a secret escape route from the city that meant I didn’t have to pay a tithe to corrupt guards.

Mine!

No hurry, I reasoned, as I wandered through some fields, smashed some gnomes in the chops and had an idle chat with some pacifist monk types. What’s up this hill? Oh, some sort of monastery. The monastery, in fact. Can’t hurt to take a look…

Fade to black.

I’m inside the monastery and labelled a recruit, due to invisible powers its doorman had apparently exercised to force me inside. I was pretty disgusted at the game for this – it’s supposed to be a game of choice, but the mere act of a guy seeing me caused it to break its own rules, deny me the chance to fight for my liberty and force me down a certain path. Perhaps some sort of mention of magic would have appeased me, but no – I was supposed to presume that somehow this one guy had overpowered me and dragged me inside. Couldn’t I have fought back?

I roamed the monastery for a while, occasionally pausing to rob things. Seemed I was stuck here. I found my to a parapet and gazed forlornly at the mountainside below. Then I remembered the ring. I’d reclaimed it from a shrieking harpy of a woman who’d somehow acquired it from the cartographer across the road. He wanted it back, but, puzzlingly, was so pleased that I’d retrieved it for him that he told me to keep it. Whatever.

Not mine!

Only now did I remember it had the property Acrobatics +1. Only now did I remember a loading screen message that told me Acrobatics was the only way to survive long falls. I gazed at the drop below me, assessed the nearest thing I could land on. There- a lump of gleaming crystal about halfway down. Steady, steady…

Crunch. But I’m still standing, just. Neck a health potion and then…

Crunch. Yes! Freedom!

Thump. Ow! Whassat?

Three gnome-murders later, I really did have freedom. Right, back to the city to sell all this monk crap I stole.

A few hours pass. Things are sold, beasts are slain, sub-quests are completed, skills are upgraded, big swords are bought. Everything’s fine. Time to go see the Don at last.

The Don won’t see me. Why? Because I’m a flippin’ monk.

Oh. God. So I’d thought escaping from the monastery was part of the game, something allowed – but it seems it was me finding a loophole. Nothing had changed about my appearance or statistics, but everyone in the Don’s camp knew I was and treated me as a member of the opposing faction. I’m insulted, I’m threatened, and if I try to enter the Don’s chamber, I’m met with a small army of angry, sword-wielding bandits.

Meanwhile, the head of the Inquisition faction in the city had earlier told me to bugger off for signing up to the bandits. So I’m not in with them either. What happens now?

Possible spoiler! Possible spoiler! Aieee! Safety resumes immediately after the next kitten picture.

On the plus side, a failed attempt to bypass the Don’s guards by turning into a snail and sneaking in had revealed the big man was sat in front of an enormous mountain of gold, fleeced and taken and bullied from the people of this island. This is not something a Good Person would do. So allying with him probably would have troubled me, ultimately.

Also not mine!

Still: I’ve broken the game. And, while I have been keeping several safety savegames, due to various overwriting I didn’t have one that was close to the time I was thrown into the monastery. I only had shortly afterwards and six hours previous. Bloody, bloody hell. If only the game was clearer that my status had immediately, irrevocably and invisibly changed, despite no visible and stats difference, then I’d have immediately known to have reloaded immediately. I wasn’t given any monkish garb or token, no quests were given or cancelled, and the guys in the city had treated me normally upon my return – so there really was no sign that I was pervading some unseen monkish aura all of sudden. I’m not certain if it’s a bug, poor explanation, rank stupidity on my part of a bit of all three. Whatever, I’m in quite the pickle.

So what now? Do I rewind by what amounts to around 9 hours of play? Or do I see how far I can get in this bastardised state, if enough monks will treat me as an ally to allow progress, or if too many doors have been shut by my earlier banditery? Am I friend to no-one, enemy of all? Does it even matter, or can I simply head off-piste and go exploring until I get bored – hang the fate of the world?

CLIFFHANGER.

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127 Comments »

  1. Mundus says:

    Yep, this combined with the crap ending is what really brings the game down.

    I have no regrets, I love the game and beat twice once as a thief/bandit and as a mage but look hard enough and the edges are quite jagged and baffling design decisions. I’ll also point out the same thing happened to me. I was doing the Don’s quest and was caught, now I know they said I would be “enlisted” so to speak, but I figured with enough ingenuity and luck I could escape and the status quo would be restored. My difference was I used a levitation scroll to go over the wall and glide right back into the bandit camp. Sadly, it seems the game railroads you into joining the monks, but never makes it appear that you’re stuck for life. Most players would try to escape (e.g. the core of role playing) and assume that was it, just a little sidetracked and back working for the Don. Guess Piranha bytes never took that into account.

    *Spoiler*

    Also be prepared for the ending, it’s bad… like Two Worlds bad.

  2. Mundus says:

    Ack! Excuse the grammar or lack thereof, need some sleep or coffee.

  3. Lambchops says:

    To be honest if i’d been playing the game now the monastry would probably be the first place I would be headed.

    The first guy who talks to you is so insistent about you following him to the bandits in the swamp that I just didn’t trust him and I would have fancied hearing what the other guys had to say.

    In which case i would probably have got miffed at being bundled off and reloaded!

  4. Railick says:

    I'll probably kill that first guy, that's just the way I am.

  5. Nevarion says:

    Hmmm… strange. Sounds like a oversight on the design part or a bug? Although you went up to the guard at the gate of the monastery and got the fade-to-black-being-knocked-over thingie before introducing yourself to the Don, right?

    If they kept the old system, it could pretty much come down to the armor you wore or rather not. In past Gothic games you could be attacked if wearing the wrong armor. Or you missed a / the part of the main story progression needed like introducing yourself first to the Don before hitting the gates. As otherwise you declared your intention to join the Bandits but the Don didn’t give his approval yet. Meaning that you aren’t really part of the family as of yet. A nod from a henchman isn’t good enough. The boss has the say and no other.

    Either way it’s unforgiving and a as a fellow player I’d say “Yeah, that sucks!” but at the same time it is why I love the game(s). *grin*

  6. EGTF says:

    Oh god if I get this game I’m going to end up with 6000 saves to be on the safe side. The horror stories on some of the forums to do with the game :/

    http://forum.deepsilver.com/forum/showthread.php?t=43727

    To save people having to follow that link basically a quest that some people have taken with about 20 hours+ sunk into their characters, and answered person a) by saying they’ve done every quest for person b). But as they didn’t do all the quests for person c) (I think this is the case) before answering the game doesn’t progress.This ends up breaking the game and making it impossible to complete, and as most people cycle saves they’ll happily continue playing and doing every quest they can till too late they realise they made the wrong choice.

    Can you imagine sinking 30 hours just to find out there was no way back to 10 hours ago and you had to restart?

  7. Jackie Oh says:

    Have you met any other female NPCs since the slightly-submissive, scantily-attired woman on the beach? On the other hand, I’m downloading Dragon Age’s character creator right now. Hmm…I wonder if I can make a character of the same sex as 51% of the population in that game?

    • damien says:

      taking your question at face value (stupid of me…) risen has about three (four?) character models / skins for the women in the game, probably less than ten for men. so yeah, all of the women pretty much look either like prostitutes or farmers in burlap sacks.

      as for how they’re written, one is the wealth obsessed wife of a thief / gangster who wants to be pampered, one is the well meaning but ultimately inept (to her husband and to you, really) wife of a crime boss who cares more about the “good job” her husband thinks she’s doing for him than actually doing it, one is the wife of a crazed hunter who mostly rolls her eyes at the fact that he spends most of his time away and searching for a deadly mythical creature on the island next to their hut, one is a mother and wife who’s company her sons and husband go to varying lengths to avoid, one is a conversationally distant / cold purveyor of pulchritude who will answer your questions for a fee, one is a mystical prostitute who has visions after sharing her bed, one sits in a bathtub all game, etc.

      then there’s patty. who is an actual character. (yes, she gets held prisoner)

  8. CogDissident says:

    I’ve finished the game (clocking around 35 hours). And without spoilers, let me just say that the plot was amazing, right up until chapter 4 started. Then, less so.

  9. malkav11 says:

    I approve of the use of kittens to illustrate this post.

  10. Megazver says:

    Try doing the Monastery.

    • Megazver says:

      And a few people specifically warn you that if you get near someone from Order when you’re not in the City, you’ll be forced to join. I mean, come on.

  11. Matzerath says:

    So monk-hood in this game is a sort of contagion?

  12. Soobe says:

    Strange.

    I was accepted as one of the Dons men, and without plotting in any way, casualty made my way up to the monastery several hours later and was fine–no joining with them, I was treated as a guest and nothing more.

    In short, bad luck I guess, but not so great game design. If it makes any difference, all of the horror stories the NPC’s tell of the brain washing and abductions had an effect on me, I stayed clear of that place as long as I could.

  13. Matt says:

    So… this is what the Risen experience is, then?

    All snarky comments aside, I appreciate this little diary. I can vicariously play the game through you, as it’s time to accept the fact that given the backlog of games I would like play, there are many (including this one) that I’ll never get around to playing.

  14. keroton says:

    What about your autosave?

  15. Rumbrave says:

    He mentions in the post that the Monk faction doesn’t seem to recognize him as a Monk. So “Just be a monk, little bitch!!” doesn’t really help much guys.
    Alec: I feel your pain. It’s probably worse because you have to split time away from other game’s to do these writeups.

    I was bored to tears halfway through the Don’s camp though, and I have a pretty long attention span. I guess this game isn’t for me.

    SPOILER BELOW:
    I spoke to the Don’s wife, Rachel, she introduced herself and gave me a fish. Upon walking back, a man accosts me and says “BOY the don’s wife sure has it in for you! Better be more careful next time buddy.”
    Uh…what? After that I had a feeling the game would be broken by me at some point. I’m that guy that gets stuck in the terrain on everything he plays.

  16. unclelou says:

    “Key to Risen is it is two opposing factions: the bandit fraternity of Don Esteban, and the religious fanatic/mage alliance of the Inquisition. Fairly early in the game, you decide which of these most appeals, and work towards it. It’s one of Risen’s cleverest systems”

    That was one of the features that made Gothic so great, too, and the quests were more intertwined even than they are in Risen – you had three decidedly different factions: basically hippies, conservatives, and a left-wing faction, and you really started to hate the factions you didn’t join. Lovely. :)

    • Innokenti says:

      Er… a clever system would be one that’s not quite so binary. In this way, Risen doesn’t seems in any way remarkable and with the poor design/bugs, a step backwards really. Frankly, anything that goes with ‘there are two diametrically opposed factions, choose one and be stuck with it for the whole game’ is pretty boring. It may have been necessary because of various limitations in ages past, but now it’s just lazy design and writing.

      From my personal experience of Risen – I’ve been forced to give up after about half an hour of playing it because there is practically nothing that appeals to me. Great! I can fry fish and meat! Er… that’s about it.

    • Jochen Scheisse says:

      I would disagree…while the choice you make in the end is binary (or in the Case of Gothic 1, um, trinary), the question is mainly how organic the way to joining the faction you choose is, and that’s what PB does well, generally.
      Because it is neither realistic nor good to tell as a story how you change factions in mid to late game. The general storyline has progressed to a certain point. You have accumulated favor within the faction you chose, and probably disdain in the factions you did not choose. Even if the other faction(s) should let you do the dirty doubly cross and come over to them, they would not realistically entrust you with the kind of resposibility normally needed to drive the story forward from then on. I mean, seeing as you are known as a dirty double crosser then.
      There are certain ways around that dilemma, but they would be extremely complicated, essentially meaning to implement whole new career paths through the game, not just “reactivating” old career choices. So I can understand why they did not do it, because while such an option would be mandatory in, let’s say a spy RPG, a fantasy RPG doesn’t necessarily need to support these options as long as it does the main quests well.

  17. Ikew says:

    Well NPCs believe that everyone who enteres the monastery gets mind controlled by the inquisitor. They have been telling me this at least 3 times. What happened to you still sux tho :(

  18. Latro says:

    Well, I went a bit different. I went with the first guy – nice guy offered me help so I didnt have any reason to think he is not trusty – did a bunch of things in the bandit camp, went to the city, started to see the “bandit” in “bandit camp” (till that far I thought they were freedom fighters as they claimed), so in the city I switched to the Order by the way of the mages, so I became a mage too.

    A mage with kick ass sword skills.

    In any case, you sure it automagically brings you to the Monastery? Cause I only have one case when I walked near some ruins and they proceeded to bit the crap out of me, then when I was unconcious they dragged me to the Monastery.

  19. Leafcutter says:

    When I was shang-haighed (sp?) to the monestry, I noticed that all my Swamp quests were cancelled. Being that I had no choice about going to the monestry and the quests I choice were cancelled on me, I immediately reloaded my last save and avoided those order types until later in the game.

    Later in the game, you can visit the monestry as a guest rather than a law breaking vagrant.

    Seems that you have managed to find a flaw in the quest & reputation model tho. unlucky.

    Cheers.

  20. Frosty840 says:

    Risen is a bit “Gothic-Lite” rather than “Gothic 4″, but to be fair to it, it is a much more coherent whole than any of the Gothics.
    In particular, Gothic would rather frequently introduce you to a new area by getting you to kill a bunch of Giant Rats or whatever the local bothersome fauna was. Risen, to its credit, doesn’t do this, although the flipside of this decision is that {spoilers left out}.

  21. Frosty840 says:

    Risen is a bit “Gothic-Lite” rather than “Gothic 4″, but to be fair to it, it is a much more coherent whole than any of the Gothics.
    In particular, Gothic would rather frequently introduce you to a new area by getting you to kill a bunch of Giant Rats or whatever the local bothersome fauna was. Risen, to its credit, doesn’t do this, although the flipside of this decision is that {spoilers left out}.
    BTW I love your blog!

  22. toni says:

    you are funny, mr reviewer sir. you did not break the game. you still can get back into the monastery. and you could have used a levitation spell with acrobatics to do that. and about 300 NPCs in the whole game told you that once you get snugged by the inquisition: it’s inquisition ONLY time. there is also a time where you decide for the don AND still can get caught/incarcerated/escape and return, still being in the Don’s service. this is a game that rewards exploriing and forward-thinking, not jumping headless into any situation……

  23. Quine says:

    Faced with that sort of game-trashing situation I think I’d be trawling the forums for handy faction-rebalancing console commands. Good old PC gaming…

  24. Not an Anonymous Scumbag says:

    this is a game that rewards exploriing and forward-thinking

    It does? It feels like Mr. funny reviewer got a kick in the nutsack for his exploring and forward thinking.

    “How dare you explore the area surrounding the monastery? STORY PIDGEONHOLE FOR YOU.”
    “How dare you try to be creative in escaping the monastery? INQUISITION FOR YOU.”

  25. Megazver says:

    I’ve thought about it a bit more and you’re, well, a bit daft. The game warns you several times that going up the hill if you don’t want to be a monk is a bad idea and you still whine about not given a choice? The choice was “If you don’t want to join the Monastery don’t go up the hill”. And you didn’t even save despite being warned that, hey, irrevocable choice land ahead? Good job, you!

    Also, as soon as you join, all of your bandit quests are cancelled and your rank changes to Recruit in the character screen. Carlos doesn’t talk to you because, well, you shat all over his city. But you clearly didn’t even try going back to the monastery, because if you talk to the doorman again, he actually acknowledges that you managed to jump out of the monastery and lets you back in.

    Go do that. Or reload.

  26. Eben says:

    Kill everyone and rule the land, its the only way to be sure

  27. SanguineAngel says:

    “Kill everyone and rule the land, its the only way to be sure”

    Now that’s what I call a life lesson.

    Also, I haven’t played the game yet myself (damn funds) but it sounds to me like the game is supposed to do this. That it gives the player enough hints to tell them it will do this that they can happily avoid it.

    However, from everything I have read about risen and played in gothic, it still seems like a silly design choice. Something more in keeping with the rest of the game would have possibly been to either have an actual combat scene, whereby if you are defeated the above happens. OR tweaking the reputation status a bit so that you are only a member of this faction if you declare it, or perhaps you are given the option to betray them, since you were abducted anyway, by visiting the bandit Don.

    I DO like that you can kind of find yourself in surprising and unfortunate situations. It would just be nice if you could also get out of them with cunning and be rewarded for that.

    Still excited to play it personally!

  28. macc says:

    I agree with toni. The Monestary is just a sort of turning point between chapters, so it is not weird to lock you in for a short while for the story. After the story progression inside the monestary, you can go as you please again (even as one of the DONs men, it is not true you’re forced to choose sides at that point).

    If you decide to bypass this with an unconventional way of leaving the monestary, there is also an unconventional way of getting back in again. You got to love Risen for that. The game is defenately not broken.

  29. Malagate says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    Kill everyone and rule the land, its the only way to be sure

    Thing is, I tried that in the demo against that mostly-drowned woman (after I had taken her to the house and fed her some meat), turns out she was indestructible and had a mean left hook, forcing me to hide on the roof of the house to get away.
    I was really expecting Risen to not have the immortal NPCs, they always spoil the mood and frankly there are ways to create a game where you can kill anyone and still progress (see Arx Fatalis).

  30. K says:

    If everybody in an RPG tells you there’s a big scary monster in a forest which you should avoid at all costs, it’s in every RPG player’s blood to go looking for it! Then they’d expect to be able to fight it or run for their lives; not get an instant death cut scene. In much the same way one would expect to be able to run from the monastery guards or kill them.

    It’s an odd thing to do on the dev’s side, because you can run from the white robes in other cases, such as the entrance to Harbour town.

    And finally, for those that missed it: THE BANDIT QUESTS DIDN’T GET CANCELLED FOR ALEC SO HE HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING HE WAS NO LONGER IN THE BANDITS’ FAVOUR.

    Ahem.

  31. mlaskus says:

    I did a similar thing, after entering the city I did some quests, but before aligning myself with any of the factions I wanted to see the Don’s camp. I couldn’t bribe the guards to let me outside and I couldn’t find the secret exit out of the city so I tried escaping by jumping from the city wall. I figured that I could bribe my way back in again and if not then maybe find the secret entrance by myself.

    After seeing the Don’s camp I decided to go back to the town. I approached the guard that was so easily bribed before and tried speaking to him. I figured that he would be quite surprised to see me outside again and demand a bigger bribe now but I couldn’t even start talking with him. There were no dialogue options. The only other idea I had was to find the secret passage, it wasn’t so hard, I found it quite quickly. I got badly disappointed when I realized that I cannot open the passage even with my precious Open Lock scroll. I thought that I would have to load a save game from a few hours before, but then an idea struck me. I got out over a wall, maybe I can get back in over it again.
    This involved killing a few recruits guarding the gate and running away from some invincible monk(he would recruit me if he beat me). After a few minutes I began to slowly make my way up the main city gate. I got back in thanks to a glitch that let me land in mid air while trying to jump up to the top of the wall. This was my most unpleasant experience in the game, later it got better but I was very disappointed that the game didn’t allow me to escape the city and get back in without glitching. :/

  32. Wulf says:

    I’ve decided to give Risen a nose, and I like what I’m seeing thus far.

    What pleases me the most is that PB seems to have kept the smart animals from Gothic III, because they were by far and wide my favourite element of G3.

    Wolves, for example…

    - Would not attack you unless you charged them.
    - Would bark by way of warning, to tell you to back off.
    - Hunted in packs, and opted for easier prey than humans.

    Basically, in Gothic III, once one learned the almost peaceful nature of the Wolves, there was next to no reason to kill them. After learning that, I’d have to say that only bouts of rampant player stupidity and/or sociopathic violence would lead to their deaths. There was no valid reason to kill them in my eyes, so why do it? Each and every one of them could be very easily avoided with some wit and basic observational skills.

    With Alec’s description of Risen early on I have to admit I was a bit perturbed. Had they gone back to Oblivion’s unrealistically suicidal Wolves (every animal was horribly unrealistic in Oblivion, I have to say)? And on that merit, would they even charge a guy in plate armour? Was PB going backward?

    I can’t blame Alec for not knowing (but having read this, now he does!), yet I was relieved to see in the demo that this didn’t seem to be the case. My first encounter with a Wolf saw them snacking merrily upon one of those big chicken things. I approached, slowly, and I got really quite close. Then the Wolf started barking madly, so of course I backed off! I rubbed my chin for a moment, and then dipped into the bushes on the side of the trail, and tracked around the fluffy bugger without needing to engage him.

    It’s only a game, I know, and killing whatever in a game means nothing, but I find these little touches are simply amazing. That I could approach a Wolf, carefully, only to have him bark at me and warn me (as opposed to charging suicidally forward), and then slip around him without combat, is an amazing thing. So many Western RPGs have tried to condition the player that if you see an animal, they’ll be an obstacle in your path and must be murdered in order to progress.

    That idea never sat well with me, and I always felt like a real monster for murdering innocent animals. I mean, what kind of heroic figure clubs a beast to death? Given the choice in a game, I wouldn’t do it, simply because that helps me get into the role more and allows me to feel more like a protector of the lands rather than a bloodlusting slaughterer.

    I’m hoping that the animals sin Risen continue to be so smart, and if they do I’ll find other ways to gain my experience that don’t involve actions that I personally feel wouldn’t land me in the psychiatrist’s chair. But then, I’m weird like that, because even in games I prefer not to kill unless it’s the only option. And if it is the only option then that’s boring and a testament to unimaginative game design, say I!

    That might be why my favourite MMO (that I can’t stop playing) of late is Champions, playing a psionic who would — at worst — put people to sleep and leave them to wake up with a bit of a headache only appeals to this side of my personality. Knock ‘em out and let the cops drag their unconscious bodies off!

    But yes, Risen is promising, and if the demo keeps going this way, then I might just pick up the full game.

    It’s amusing though, a culture known for creating more generic fantasy RPGs in which you run around slaughtering things has evolved a developer which creates games where none of that is necessary. I defeated a lot of people in Gothic III, and I accomplished a lot of things, but I don’t think I ever once actually killed anything, not a bug, not an animal, not a person.

    And that’s bloody fantastic.

    *wanders off to play more of the demo.*

    • Taillefer says:

      Actually, I haven’t seen any creatures attack other creatures yet (but they may do so, I just haven’t witnessed it), so the World doesn’t seem as alive as Gothic. Gothic 3 was wonderful with the wolf packs actively running around hunting things, and herds of bison charging across the plains because they can.

      The world is much smaller than Gothic 3 though, and packs of roaming creatures wouldn’t actually have much place to roam. Probably rather annoying for low level characters too, especially since a lot of creatures are faster than you this time.

  33. Wounder says:

    Would it be safe to say “I told you” at this point? :)

  34. Railick says:

    Ryzom was awesome for creatures attacking each other and walking around in realistic looking herds.

  35. Nid says:

    I think I saw a pack of wolves eating a boar I had killed previously. That is pretty much the only interaction between animals I’ve encountered in the game.

    Obviously at that point I died, *again*, since I did not expect any mob on the path I had cleared a few minutes before.

    First time I saw the “Saving often is a good idea” tip, I laughed. Not anymore, no siree. I have about 100 saves now, and counting :)

  36. Shadders says:

    I hate games that do this kind of thing. Spellforce 2 Shadow Wars has a bit where you get a level to do up and call your own. So in typical RTS mode, I mined every resource that could be had before returning to the main plot. I figured I’d have lots of resources to build an army with when it was needed. Several hours into the plot, I return only to find that I have bugger all resources and the mines are now dry. I now have to fight off the un-dead with no ability to create more troops or buildings. Bah!

    What on earth possesses developers to program things this way?

    Mind you, it’s not as harsh as some games I care to recall…

    Going WAAAAY back, I remember playing Omnitrend’s Universe on the Atrai 800 (twin 5.25” floppy drives no less). For all you youngsters, it was a bit like Elite, but with the ability to land on planets and walk around in a basic text adventure. This thing came on several 5.25” disks and required you to create a character disk. But if you died, your character disk was wiped. The smallest mistake could kill you. My favourite death was adding myself and some cargo into a shuttle in order to land on a planet and trade said cargo. Only, I forgot to assign a shuttle pilot so I and a lot of expensive cargo got jettisoned into space and died by burning up in the atmosphere as nobody was qualified to fly the bloody shuttle.

  37. Shadders says:

    Sorry if this is a double post!

    I hate games that do this kind of thing. Spellforce 2 Shadow Wars has a bit where you get a level to do up and call your own. So in typical RTS mode, I mined every resource that could be had before returning to the main plot. I figured I’d have lots of resources to build an army with when it was needed. Several hours into the plot, I return only to find that I have bugger all resources and the mines are now dry. I now have to fight off the un-dead with no ability to create more troops or buildings. Bah!

    What on earth possesses developers to program things this way?

    Mind you, it’s not as harsh as some games I care to recall…

    Going WAAAAY back, I remember playing Omnitrend’s Universe on the Atrai 800 (twin 5.25” floppy drives no less). For all you youngsters, it was a bit like Elite, but with the ability to land on planets and walk around in a basic text adventure. This thing came on several 5.25” disks and required you to create a character disk. But if you died, your character disk was wiped. The smallest mistake could kill you. My favourite death was adding myself and some cargo into a shuttle in order to land on a planet and trade said cargo. Only, I forgot to assign a shuttle pilot so I and a lot of expensive cargo got jettisoned into space and died by burning up in the atmosphere as nobody was qualified to fly the bloody shuttle.

  38. Shadders says:

    Damn, it was. Sorry.

  39. dvandersluis says:

    *Contains chapter 1 spoilers!*

    I kind of got into a similar situation. I did all the don quests up to meeting the Don and clearing out the white robe camp before venturing off towards HT or the monastery. Then I went to HT, avoiding the monastery and front gate guards, and completed all the non-factional quests in HT as well as 3 of 4 quests for each side in HT.

    At this point I decided I wanted to check out the Monastery — I made the assumption that because you could walk around the Don’s camp and use the trainers and do his quests before choosing a side, you could do the same with the Order, and I wanted to see if I could learn magic and then side with the Don. I saved while standing on the ledge above the front HT gate and jumped for it. No quests were cancelled upon entering, although the only Bandit Camp quest I had remaining was to find Master Illumar to learn about scroll writing. The first thing I did after entering the Monastery was look for a way to jump out, which I quickly found (and even ran back to the Don, who would still talk to me — I hadn’t handed in the golden sword at the time and was still given the option to talk to him about that). In the Monastery, I completed all the training/master quests (other than Pallas’ to help the Order in HT, because it would cause me to choose the side I didn’t want to pursue), the murder mystery, etc.

    Then I returned to HT to finish the quests to side with the Don. I noticed at this point that NPCs were addressing me as being a member of the Order (for instance Weasel gave me the Order reward and wouldn’t tell me about Scordo). I returned to the Bandit Camp, where NPCs there were also referred to me as an Order loyalist. I spoke to the Don successfully, and he made me a hunter, at which point NPCs in the Bandit Camp would refer to that point (although Oscar for instance had dialogue options that refered to both factions). However, the Don wouldn’t sell me Hunter armour and Fincher would no longer train me.

    I didn’t return to the Monastery to see reaction there, but that seemed to me like it was a bugged state (and I came to realize that visiting the Monastery before joining the Don wouldn’t be fruitful anyways, because scroll writing is learned regardless) so I returned to the point before I jumped out of HT, but it definitely didn’t work out the way I would have expected.

  40. Arkose says:

    It's clear from the strategically-placed fences and anti-magic crystals that PB doesn't intend for you to be able to escape from the monastery, but being a PB game there is always some way to break the rules and enter or exit a restricted area.
    Alec's experience was made significantly worse by the bandit-related quests not being cancelled as intended. To be fair, however, every non-Order person you talk to about the monastery warns you about the strictly permanent nature of recruitment. A few people believe they are in fact brainwashing or enchanting recruits to make them convert after seeing previously hardened lawbreakers become paragons of virtue, and under such circumstances it is quite understandable that they would not trust anyone who claimed to have escaped.
    Alec, when you are first taken into the monastery you are greeted by Master Pallas who officially welcomes you into the ranks of the Order and tells you to talk to a person in a side room to get your robes. Did this not happen? It could be that the one thing bugging (your quests not being cancelled) broke the other too. If this is the case you might not be able to continue as getting your robes is one of the key beginning steps in the monastery.

    • Taillefer says:

      “It’s clear from the strategically-placed fences and anti-magic crystals that PB doesn’t intend for you to be able to escape from the monastery…”

      There are, however, also items hidden on the roof.

  41. MoonDragon says:

    Alec, I’m sorry if I’m repeating someone but there are too many posts to read them all.

    There are 3 factions you can join in the game. Don’s rebels, Warriors of the Order, and Mages. I’ll simplify the ways of joining them for the sake of this post:

    You join Don’s rebels by going into the swamp camp (at any time before you actually got accepted into a faction) and doing quests for him until he officially accepts you into his ranks.

    You join Warriors of the Order by getting press-ganged. This happens if you are met by one of the other Warriors in the world while you still do not have a faction.

    You join the Mages by successfully completing the Order quests in the city and thereby gaining voluntary access into the Monastery.

    Those are the basic differences. There are, of course, shades to this. If you do the last, you can still volunteer for being in the Warriors. But if you get press-ganged into the Order, you may not join the Mages (as far as I know). Technically, you should be able to join Don and his rabble even if you do the order quests in the city. But don’t hold me to that.

    In your situation you should be able to go back to the monastery and they will let you back in to continue with your training towards becoming a Warrior of the Order.

  42. JD says:

    Alec,

    Are you going to continue the Risen Report? I would hate to see it abandoned like A Fool In Morrowind.

  43. Chris says:

    You found one of the biggest bugs in this game. Many guys got this problem after they did all stuff in the bandid camp, then did the whole harbour city and THEN were caught BEFORE the don finally lets you “join” his forces.

    Good you reloaded, otherwise you would have gotten a mixture of treatment as bandit / mage :D IN THE SAME DIALOG :D

    Looking forward to more of you …. nicely done :)

  44. Exyll says:

    This report is good stuff but just wanted to say:

    If you read through the dialogues from Jan to the guys on that 1st farm, they CLEARLY tell you(summarized):
    The inquisition is desperate for new recruits and are hauling people off to the monastery for conversion, NO QUESTIONS ASKED
    Another NPC says something to the effect of ‘Dont go near the Monsatery, you’ll get snatched up and no one will hear from you again (summarized).
    Bad Game design? Maybe
    Broken game? Nope, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

    But kudos on the report – I hope others will take the time to understand this type of RPG.
    It’s not pretty, its not photo-realistic graphics with 32 million colors and glowy light effects, but it is
    Deep, it’s immersive and it’s not going to hold ur gd hand and point out every little thing you need to do or missed and there’s no GPS for every single objective you get so – you have to think.
    Sucks for a lot of players I know, but fun times for me!!

  45. Autiman says:

    I have to say that this has been one of the best games this developer has made. After almost a decade of playing computer games, this game introduced huge game changing factors that put the terms “fun” and “exciting” on a whole new level. This game DOES NOT hold your hand throughout the entire time you play. You actually need to think and reason sometimes to make progress which I hardly see in many games these days. The story is good even though it has the same framework as the past Gothic games. The graphics are also acceptable even though they had the potential to be much better. Lastly, this game has a very good amount of polish which I find lacking in many games released presently; especially Warhammer, Aion, and Dragon Age. I’ve currently beat the game as a mage and melee, and going for 100% achievement unlocks!! TY Piranha Bytes for countless hours of entertainment.