The Risen Report #5: Slave

By Alec Meer on October 20th, 2009 at 11:40 pm.

This guy?

HATE

I hate this guy.

Alric here manages the improbable feat of being an especially memorable arsehole in a monastery full of arseholes. If you recall, I find myself in the monastery due to a grave error that has irrevocably driven me from my chosen path of banditry, and led to my being forcibly conscripted into the Order – a presumed-sinister conglomerate of mages, religious types and fighters that’s the closet to what passes for authority in this stricken land.

I remain very concerned about the long-term consequences of a game as prone to strange behaviour as this one is thinking I’m still half-bandit, but grudingly pressing on with the Order’s questline seemed my only option. In short order, I’m given some robes (which are surprisingly good armour, it transpires) and I manage to rob a staff from the very back of a fellow novice. I’m all set for magery. Hell, I’m even beginning to feel enthusiastic about this.

Then I meet Alric. The arsehole. As well as being Captain Grumpy From Grumpyland, he repeatedly insists I call him ‘Master’. Well, no. I’m not doing that – not for you, not for anyone. Apart from possibly for Jon Pertwee, but he’s dead now. Alric gets more and more pushy, but I refuse to yield to his ego. That’s when he tells me to sweep the floor.

!

Now listen, matey. I know Risen’s is supposed to be a harsh world, but I’m here for the fantasy escapism, not menial housework. I barely ever sweep my own floor, y’know? The bugger won’t even give me a broom, a situation I eventually resolve with a midnight pick-pocketing spree. (Speaking of which, one upside of my having rather unorthodoxly already done most of the Harbour City quests is that I’m fairly well-trained in lockpicking and pickpocketing. This makes the Monastery something of a treasure trove for me – had I been caught or wandered over here straight away, it would have been a frustrating world of locked-tight mystery.) I’m furious, and this makes me do something out of character. I look around. Coast is clear. Stab.

This is very, very naughty of me. But I can’t pretend I’m not enjoying it, especially as the game’s oft-screwy clipping means he’s ended up with his face stuck inside a wardrobe door and can’t hit back. Down he goes, and leaves behind a supremely tasty sword. I grab it, then brace myself for trouble. This surely won’t go unpunished in this guard-filled place.

No-one comes for me. Alric eventually gets up, as most non-monster NPCs do in Risen, and he doesn’t try to take another pop at me. When I try to talk to him, he doesn’t say anything. My finger hovers over quickload, unsure. Is this a bug? A taciturn agreement that I’m the better man? I check my journal – alas, my floor-sweeping task remains. Hmm.

Even with vengeance obtained, it seems I have no choice. I have to sweep ten floors. God, I hate you, ‘Master’ Alric. At least I’ve got your tasty sword, though.

Sweeping done, I’m allowed to go train. This involves three frowning men telling me I’m not strong enough then demanding a fight. Joke’s on them, as, again, my prior excursions in Harbour City mean I’m currently something of a beefcake. They don’t last long, leaving my final training opponent… Master Alric. I can’t help but giggle, especially when he strides into the arena holding a bit of stick rather than his shiny sword. Which I’m not even using, having pickpocketed an even tastier staff from a passing dude in a fancy robe. It’s a staff with a sword on the end – can’t do better than that. Alright buster, let’s do this dance again…

Turns out Alric isn’t such a pushover when his face isn’t stuck inside a wardrobe. It’s a long and bloody fight, and if I told you how many times I quickloaded and saved, you would not think highly of me. I hate you, Alric. I hate you even more because you can beat me when your magic sword is taken away, dealing massive damage with just a bit of stick. But I get him eventually. It feels good. I only wish I could demand he then swept my floor.

I resent being in this monastery, but at least I no longer feel like a nobody. Still, my frustration at being locked inside it is growing rapidly. Over the next few hours, I trudge around performing various tasks and undertaking various tuition for the Monastery’s various bigwigs. In the process I learn how to make scrolls, I talk to a madman who lives in his own library, I resolve an argument involving a turkey and I steal so very many things. It’s fun, and the more high fantasy feel of this place is a pleasing contrast to the earthiness and grime of Harbour City. But I want out. I’ve been stuck inside this musty place for hours. Occasionally, I wander to this mountain prison’s parapets and stare wistfully at the wide world below.

Soon, soon.

Mini-spoiler ahoy! Aieeeee!

I also end up investigating a murder This involves long conversations with pretty much everyone in the Monastery, in a way which makes me feel as though I’ve employed some sort of deductive reasoning but in reality is only about truding back and forth until new dialogue options open up. The grand finale, though, involves me pretending to be a drug dealer to lure the killer out. My mind-altering wares shared amongst the Monastery’s populace, I take another freaky, fully-clothed bath and wait.

The lights dim, and a darkened figure appears. Who could it be – who could have murdered the previous local dealer for his cash-pile? It’s only bloody Alric. What. An. Arsehole. One more time for luck, I beat the crap out of him. Don’t you ever show your face around here again, Alric. As he leaves, he mutters something about how he’d have expected better of me, that there was some worthy purpose for his actions. Not for the first time, I wonder about the route not taken, what I’d have found out if I’d somehow joined forces with this murderous egomaniac. Not that there’s any way I’d have ever done that, of course. Not with bloody Mr Sweepy here.

Spoilers end.

A bit more pretend book-reading, scroll-making and trudging later, finally, finally I earn it – permission to leave. I walk, not run, towards the doors that have kept me in here all these long hours. I’ve earned this.

Oh yeah. I’m so back. Have I now managed to best the great cruelty the game heaped upon me last time? We shall see…

, .

70 Comments »

  1. AndrewC says:

    Yay!

  2. Lambchops says:

    While he may be a knob that Alric lad sounds like a hardy fella. It’s not many folks who get up from a stabbing!

  3. Vinraith says:

    This just sounds better and better. Can anyone confirm what the DRM on the boxed copy is? My understanding is that the Steam version has Tages 3-install no revocation DRM going for it, but there seems to be some dispute about what’s on the boxed version. I’d Christmas list this thing if there weren’t limited installs on a physical copy.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Gamersgate has it listed as having SecuROM, so without any further info I’d assume that’s what’s on the boxed version. That or the same thing as the Steam version. Either way I wouldn’ t touch it with a ten-foot pole, as excellent as it seems to be.

      BTW, for those interested, GOG has Gothic 2 for 30% off this week as part of their JoWood promo thing.

    • Vinraith says:

      I actually grabbed that Gothic 2 deal, figuring it was the best way to test things out.

      SecuROM doesn’t bother me if it lacks limited installations. I’m probably going to get this, the question is whether I can ask for a boxed copy as a gift without having to worry about limted installs, or whether I have to use Gamersgate to circumvent the problem like I often do.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Right on. I was tempted by the Gothic deal, but I’ve bought a lot of games the past couple weeks and with a copy of Morrowind coming in the mail (I know, I know, only PC gamer left who hasn’t played this) I don’t know if I’ll really have time to fool with yet another RPG.

    • Hattered says:

      SecuROM? I thought I’d read Tages elsewhere. Either way, it’s an off-line disc check. It occasionally thinks the real disc is a fake, but just trying again usually works for me. (According to their forums, this occurs more often for some.)

    • invisiblejesus says:

      I just did some digging on this. On the disc version, it’s Tages, and just a disc check, according to people on the Steam forums. On Steam, it’s Tages with 3 activations. On Gamersgate, according to their site, it’s SecuROM of some kind or another, but it’s worth noting that Gamersgate policy is to grant more activations for the asking, no hassle other than having to fire them off an email.

      Steam is obviously a shit deal, especially considering it’s $10 more. The other two, depends on your point of view I guess. Personally I’m going to wait and see if a totally DRM-free (other than Steam) version becomes available at some point.

    • Vinraith says:

      “Gamersgate policy is to grant more activations for the asking”

      Yup, which is one reason Gamersgate is my favorite non-GOG digital download service.

      However, if the boxed copy is just a disc check, I’ll probably just go with that and be done with it.

    • Alastayr says:

      Vinraith, the retail version has only a simple Tages-based CD check. No activation needed, no limits at all. To my knowledge, all Digital Distribution versions have the Tages 3 machine activation limit. Which is expandable by calling the publisher and begging.

      There are some compatibility problems with (newer) “cheap” SATA (TSSTCorp, Plextor) and a few IDE drives however, so you might not be exactly trouble free. But imho, Tages is still less of a PITA than SecuRom.

    • Theory says:

      “Gamersgate policy is to grant more activations for the asking”

      This is how every install “limit” system I’ve ever looked into works.

  4. Ian says:

    Those guys always think they’re so big when their faces aren’t trapped in furniture.

  5. Railick says:

    Question, did you reload and lose all those hours of playing or did it let you go back into the place without reloading ?

  6. Taillefer says:

    No climbing on rooftops to discover hidden things or uncovering the library’s secrets?
    You are an insult to thieves, sir.

  7. Eschatos says:

    Just got this to see what all the rage is about. So far I’m undecided, but as long as it’s better than Gothic 3 I’ll end up happy.

  8. Down Rodeo says:

    These are very interesting, it’s quite an insight into how the game is good in some ways but confusing and punishing in others. And Alric sounds like a Dick. Even the name. Alric. Dick.

    In other news, I’m getting more ads for Evony, with a woman who seems to be… let’s just say she’s looking fairly happy with being captured, or however it is they market it now.

  9. Hattered says:

    I second the Alric hate. For my second play through, I’m going as a mage (/thief, there’s no escaping my thief-ish ways). The sluggishness of the controls during combat frustrates me at times, especially when trying to dodge around a block-happy opponent. When I finally defeated Alric in the arena, I quick-saved, then finished him off while he was down. I played out a few minutes, but quick-loaded after being reprimanded by Vitus and having a quest canceled (No! My precious XPs!).

  10. Weylund says:

    You beat up major NPCs with impunity, and steal with it too. No one notices you traipsing around removing all the valuables in a locked and guarded monastery. Then some fluffer kills you repeatedly with a bit of stick. After you were, without choice, made to join a guild that you’d have preferred to avoid. And then subjected to hours of inescapable playtime.

    Why is this game good again, apart from being able to do fantasy stuff in fantasy land?

    • mootpoint says:

      Presumably due to the reasons you listed in your first paragraph.

      Although, agreed, it would have been impressive if there had been some commotion about stuff going missing, perhaps even a quest to find the thief. I’d say there not being any ramifications for beating people up is the bigger of the two bugs/features though.

    • Hattered says:

      You can beat NPCs up if no one else is around, but they’re usually pissed off about it afterward. If you beat up an NPC and then kill them off, other NPCs call you a murderer and guards try to kill you. Alric may be a bit of an aberrant because of the quests in which he’s involved.

      The “stealing items with no effect” is a problem with most games that allow stealing of items lying around. Risen is decent in that if an NPC sees you go somewhere you shouldn’t be (e.g. their house), they follow you and berate you until you leave. If any NPC sees you sneaking, they call you out on it. If an NPC sees you stealing something, they attempt to beat you up and take it back. However, after an item is stolen unseen, it may well have never existed, unless its theft is quest related. Fixing this in general may lead to more realistic worlds, but it may also be a bit tedious. Hearing a bunch of sad NPCs complaining about losing things might be fun though.

    • K says:

      This is where they’ve gone backwards from Gothic 3; guards noticed things being stolen or people being murdered and they’d question you about it. But because they didn’t actually witness it, they’d let you off with a warning, but be suspicious. If you continue to do it, then they accuse you and probably attack.

      People do actually comment on you sneaking around though, and will attack if they see you stealing, or warn you off if you’re trespassing.

      I suppose it’s my biggest disappointment with Risen. While I enjoyed it, they didn’t really evolve anything from Gothic, and have gone backwards. Still, you can punch people down and then finish them off by jumping on them. That counts for something, right?

      The beating people up makes more sense in the uncouth bandit camp. And certainly made sense in Gothic, which is basically in a prison colony. It was often a way to get people to listen to you. It’s a logic which doesn’t quite hold up in a monastery. But, to be fair, if you attacked people in most other games, it would be a fight to the death.

    • Clovis says:

      @hatterred: If I could make NPC’s cry by stealing their water pitcher then I would spend hours and hours just doing that. Hmm… maybe I should buy the Sims 3…

  11. jay says:

    I’m glad you kept going with this after part 4, have enjoyed reading.

  12. Benkyo says:

    I was wondering the same thing.

  13. Chris says:

    Amen, Weylund. I couldn’t imagine feeling any sympathy for, or relation to, an game where I can stab NPCs (bloodlessly, at least in the picture above) who then recover and don’t even acknowledge the assault. Oh well, I’d already given up on this one after the previous posts about the portrayal of female NPCs (or is it still NPC _singular_?).

  14. Scott Ossington says:

    Well their is actual ramifications for stealing stuff if people see you doing it, but if you are a sneaky sneak sneak then you can get away with it. Unfortunatly I have lost my interest in Risen and have started to play Sacred 2 with the copper bikini nipples and the playable robot with the monocycle.

    • Elyscape says:

      If the playable robot had a monocle, I’d be spending my negative dollars on Sacred 2 right now. As it stands, I can put it off until I have a system that can run it.

  15. anotherman7 says:

    That's nothing Meer, I remember stealing a stall from a guard's HAND. I too am glad to see another one of these, after the buginess and all. I finished Risen myself a few days ago and it is a great game. Be warned however, there is a drop in quality after chapter 2. Linear as hell and not a side quest to be seen. That and the final boss was rubbish. Quite a shame, really.

  16. Cooper says:

    Thank you, Alec.

    I had considered maybe – somepoint after I’m done with Oblivion and get around to playing the fan-fixed Gothic III I’ve got playing Risen.

    Now, honestly, I don’t feel like I want or need to. Like your Morrowind diaries, I’ve really enjoyed reading this – exactly the kind of responses I may have had had in the game.

    That’s no bad thing. It’s no revelation that many RPGs require a lot of hours input, and I just don’t have the patience nor time. It’s no hidden secret that these types of games take hours of involvement, and I’d much, much rather read these engagements than slog through it myself.

    I really like reading these playthroughs, and as someone who gets less and less time to spend on games, I still enjoy reading these when I’m at work.

    So, again, thank you. Partly – as I feel – for playing these games on my behalf when I cannot. But also for giving me something to read and engage with (surely I’m not alone in being someone who reads more about games than they can play – given lack of time, but an ongoing adoration for a format; like a fine art student working for KPMG who occasionally visits the Tate Modern) when I know I couldn’t imagine a time when I’d have the hours (nor the skill) to put into producing the nicley succinct but funny written engagements with a game I’ll probably never have the time to play.

  17. DarkNoghri says:

    My thoughts? I’m in shock that it’s possible to put text above the opening picture.

  18. PODON says:

    The PC disc is protected by Tages. Check the Deep Silver boards: dozens of people (including me) cannot get this game to work out of the box, despite repeated attempts. For many, its either return the game to the vendor (if you can), get the distributor (a Swiss outfit) to send a workaround that bypasses Tages (but only after you send them proof of purchase, a scan of the original CD, etc. etc., and it takes awhile) or spruce up your living room with a $40 coaster. The game was already pirated before it came out, so all this did is prevent legitimate users who put cold, hard cash on the table from playing the game. And at this point, no one at Deep Silver or Pirhana Bytes is offering any explanations or apologies, or putting up a patch/workaround that would resolve this, though clearly one is available to those who want to go through the rigmarole described above. It’s a damn shame, especially since does seem to be a interesting game as described by Meer, but really, on this one, caveat emptor.

    • Klaus says:

      After borrowing the full version from a friend, I managed to get it to work by disabling my firewall and antivirus. I’m not sure why, but it works.

    • Klaus says:

      Also, I’m using Pc tools firewall and Eset NOD32. Just for anyone curious.

  19. malkav11 says:

    There were only two things preventing me from getting Risen: 1) I still need to spend a lot more time with the Gothic games – II and III, specifically. Beat 1 some time ago. And I already own those. 2) Demon’s Souls. It’s not in any meaningful way the same sort of game, and it’s on a filthy boo hiss console, but it’s spectacular and time consuming.

    Now I get to add “bullshit DRM” to the list.

  20. Nesetalis says:

    Well… You know, you can kill those NPCs… once they are down, you attack again, and you shove your stave through their chest. I accidentally did it to the first guy your supposed to spar with, I was sad… I didnt mean to kill him.

    No one seemed to notice though, consequences are really not very strong in that game. Kicking some ones ass and stealing from him after hes down is fine, but killing some one? no one pays attention, its just weird.

  21. cw8 says:

    I went to get my recommendation from HabourTown, then Pallas asked me whether I want to be a Warrior of the Order or a Mage. I chose being a pure Mage and I’m now using level 2 Runes which is cool. I think you’re conscripted to be a Warrior of The Order.

    Took me 20 mins to down Aric and ninja his sword in that training duel.

  22. Owen says:

    Your write-ups always make for a great read Alec; this one is one of the best.

    Fairly sure Risen won’t run on my PC so I’m considering getting the 360 version, although it would appear to be a bit shoddy in comparison. Although if that’s the case, hopefully the price will drop quite rapidly.

    Anyway. Thanks again for this next chapter!

    • Malagate says:

      Owen, you’re only fairly sure Risen won’t run on your PC? Have you tried the demo? It’s on steam, so I could understand you missing it if you’re not a steam-ite, but I’d assume it’s also downloadable elsewhere…
      At first glance I too thought it wouldn’t run for me, mainly because I’m still using a P4, but after trying the demo I can see it runs quite smoothly actually. Looked quite good too, something I’ll consider for Christmas or beyond.

  23. Lobotomist says:

    So glad you returned to Risen.

    The game is such a surprise to me. I can not let it down since i got it (after i was intrigued by the demo).

    And same goes for my friends. Our coffee break talks turned into “Where exactly did you find souldrinker sword shard ?” or “What is the best combination of sword strikes to kill ash beast?”

  24. _Nocturnal says:

    That’s a fascinating read, Alec. The idea of forcing the player down a path he wouldn’t take, in an open world game where choice is everything intrigues me, actually. It’s very powerful. I’m drawn to compare it with virtual rape, though I’d like to avoid the word if I could. And if the game is made with this in mind and gives you the chance to do something about it later, that would be fantastic.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It is absolutely nothing like that, and you need to be much, much more careful with your choice of words.

    • _Nocturnal says:

      Said choice of words is quite limited, English being my second language and all, sorry. I try as best as I can.
      So, as I see it, the game took away control over your character and did something to it, changed it without asking you for consent, right? Then he is given over to you again and you have to live with what’s happened. That’s some provocative stuff right there, or am I misinterpreting something?

    • Railick says:

      The word you used is pretty strong, so strong infact I won’t retype it here. I’d say Alec was virtually conscripted (Forced to join a military force without consent) The game didn’t scar him in any way or assault him or his character in a way that would permantly scar him as a human being like the word you used would imply :P As well the word you used is only for sexual things forced on a person so since this was not it doesn’t apply.

      So I would go with virtual conscription which means :compulsory enrollment of persons especially for military service

    • _Nocturnal says:

      Thank you, that helped a lot. I tried offsetting the effect of the word by adding “virtual”, hoping to detach the sexual aspect and magnitude from it, but obviously without success. (I was also reminded of a particular text given as an example for that New Games Thing Of Which We Don’t Speak Here.)
      I’m not inclined to agree about those events not scarring the character at least, though. As I understand it, Alec didn’t want to be aligned with the monks, but his character got taken away from his control by force, and was made a monk. Now everybody considers him that way and only Alec knows that’s not how things are supposed to be. I find this conflict especially interesting and wonder if such matters were considered by the developer. If they did thought of such a case and made it possible to resolve the conflict later, then that’s a genuinely great idea. If they didn’t, then it’s just bad game design. The answer seems quite important.

  25. Heliosicle says:

    The demo kinda put me off, but it seems like its got a good story to it and alot of depth, this or Dragon Age…

    • Hattered says:

      The story is decent, but the majority of it is built up in the first two chapters, leaving the later chapters rather light. I got about 44 hours out of my first run, which included as many side quests as I could find and much exploration. It felt a bit like Morrowind, somehow, but on a smaller scale. If the demo put you off, I can’t say I’d recommend it to you. It’s a beautiful game, but a bit thin.

      SPOILER-ish
      Chap. 1: Choices, divergent paths. Chap. 2: Converging those paths.
      Chap. 3: Go here. Chap 4. Get stuff, come back.

  26. Mischa says:

    Fun fact: quickloading is not necessary for that fight. After you lose the fight with Alric, William suggests some tricks to make a second fight more balanced: getting Alric drunk and making him fight with the worst sword in the world. Of course, to manage that, there are some subquests first…

    • Hattered says:

      Fun times! I need to learn to resist that urge to force my characters into living in the best of all possible universes. I blame all those years playing games where failure means losing.

  27. Owen says:

    @Malagate Well, I’ll give it a try then actually. I’m running a pretty ancient AMD XP 3000 single core, which is fast becoming (become?) the key problem, as a few recent games have required dual core minimum.

    As you’re running it on a P4 though, then maybe it’ll be alright. I’m not a graphics ‘ho so not fussed if I need to crank things down to low to get it running.

    Fingers crossed :)

  28. Hippo says:

    LOL, you had to sweep the floors? I was wondering what all the dustpiles were about, but since I had the good sense to just call him Master and be done with it, I never got that quest.

  29. der Rudi says:

    I was in the monastery as the Don’s emmissary and noticed the dust while on a thieving spree. Fun was had when I emptied a room of goods, woke the occupant and commenced midnight sweeping.

    The game is fun because you can do stuff like that. It can also be frustrating when it comes to other areas (quicksave/load nightmares etc.). Right now, it still evens out for me.

    • Lobotomist says:

      What are quicksave/load nightmares ?

      For me it does both in aproximately 2 seconds

    • der Rudi says:

      You’re right in that it does not take long. It’s just that the possibility of quicksaving is present which, combined with unforgiving combat, leads to the following: unnecessary risk taking and ubiquitous quicksaving. I’d rather they removed the whole option, because this way I’ll never learn to avoid risks or become better at combat.

    • Lobotomist says:

      I am not so sure

      Is one of the last PC game trademarks. I dont want to play console games with their automatic checkpoint saves.

      Although we are more and more forced into console mentality :(

  30. tekDragon says:

    Really enjoyed risen. Can’t fathom playing it as a mele character, seems like it would have made the game’s many fights 3x as long, 2x as annoying, and made me use the save/reload function about 8-10x more.

    I played it as an ice mage (which I never usually do) and once you get to rank 10 in ice, every fight is a cakewalk.

    • Taillefer says:

      Nah, all character types can become over-powered. Whether by design or not.

      Once you have a high enough strength you can kill anything with any weapon. Sickles, branches, bare fists. My melee character can punch lizardmen to death in a couple of hits. Also, once you master the art of dodging you can tackle opponents which should be beyond you.

      The key thing to remember is that you can’t train a stat above 100 (at least, not that I found), but you can use other means to pass it (potions, plants, etc). So save up potions and use them to go way beyond 100. You can end up with about 20 potions to increase stats, which at +5 each, is a huge increase. Suffice to say, alchemy is well worth the investment.

    • damien says:

      why do i never have any fun playing any sort of mage / caster in RPGs?

      all melee, all the time…

  31. tusque d'ivoire says:

    Thanks for writing this, Alec.

    I started playing the game after reading these excellent articles. And thanks to your advice, i was a little more cautious exploring the island.

    This was fun when i wasn’t playing yet, and now it’s even better. And I’m already very much tempted to play a new character. A mage, maybe, voluntarily.

  32. thunderhorse says:

    I’m the same way.. I just get angry and reload. I spent quite a while on that Alric fight, dropping the difficulty down and everything, wondering why it was so hard. I heard about the subquest afterwards, unfortunately. And I already had the wine! Damnit.

  33. Haderah says:

    I personally killed him. And a few more guys in the monastery. 7. Plus all the cattle. It feels nice to not hear the same “Oh you naughty child of the delusion, how could you join those bandits? Do not step where i step for my steps are holy and your shoes leave poop trails” Okay, maybe not exactly the same line but you get the point. Stupid girly robe wearing,staff fighting,potion making old guys raising their voice at me? Not on my watch. When i beat someone up, he stays down. Forever.

    Yeah. Forever.

  34. wrathfirex says:

    Thanks ALec M, your reports were the push I needed to buy this game! I wasn;t a terrible fan of Morrowind but I loved Fallout. And yes I went through a crisis like you when I got stuck in chapter 2. I wanted to be a mage but spent too much points on other warrior skills and ended up being a halfway weakling with level 2 Fireball and level 4 sword skills :(. Unlike you, I restarted to hoard more points and replay some quests I had missed.

    BTW, grabbed me a digital copy of Gothic 2 from GOG with the discount and thinking of getting Gothic 3 since its price has dropped where I live.

  35. Stony says:

    On the strength of Risen (most of the negative points raised in these articles are completely accurate, but the strength of the world, characters and quests more than balance them out for me), I finally got around to dusting off the copy of Gothic 2 I picked up from GOG in a sale ages ago. Ye Gods, it’s ugly! For me a big part of RPGs is the immersion in a semi-believable world, and Gothic 2′s presentation just didn’t let me suspend disbelief in the same way that Risen does.

    I’m going to give it a proper go at some point, and see if I can get past the crusty exterior to the sweet gaming meat inside, but I do wonder if games like these, which rely on atmosphere to an extent, just have a sell-by date beyond which they look too dated to be immersive. I probably couldn’t go back to Morrowind now for similar reason, which I put dozens and dozens of hours into in the past. The 2D games like Planescape Torment have held up much better.

  36. Railick says:

    I've always found this to be strange. I REMEMBER Morrowind being beautiful when I played it, but when I go back and look at it now it is ugly as heck when compared to Oblivion. In 10 years is Oblivion going to look like crap compared to whatever I'm playing then? Will we ever reach the top to where games will not longer visually age? Where it is not possible or useful to crame any more polygons into a model or will we keep going into our computers can render reality on our screen ? (Say a 100% replication of real life that looks just like a real life movie)

    When we reach that what's next? As computers continue to get stronger and more powerful but the graphics can no longer improve beyond that point what we will use all that extra power for? I suspect the first program that can render a model that looks like a true human being 100% will probably only be able to render 1 at a time, so maybe additonal upgrades will go into making that technology actaully usable in video games but once technology advances enough to where this is trival what will the additonal power be used for? God forbid anyone release a new game that doesn't not work on someone's computer.

    • K says:

      We keep advancing until we can simulate the universe.
      In fact, we may be in that simulation right now.

  37. Railick says:

    OOooOOOoOOOO
    What happens with a simulated universe can simulate its own universe?
    I had an idea for a book once where a guy dies and then he wakes up and he's in a small room with wires stuck to him that connect him to some sort of machine. He gets up and disconnects the wires and hobbles outside the room where he finds a long hall with doors leading to a bunch of other rooms evenly spaced out with people in them either connected to the machine or just sort of sitting there looking dejected. He discovers from some people that refuse to re-enter the simulation that they are all immortal and that the only way to experience a life is by connecting to that machine. That every one that has tried to go off one way or another down the long hall way always comes back and stating that it goes on forver. No one knows where they are or why they are there but ultimately people either go back into the simulation for another live through or go totally F@#$@# crazy and just sit there forever.
    The only probably is I couldn't figure out a way to make that more interesting then the paragraph I just wrote :P

    Shadowcat “It hammers at my retinas like an evil woodpecker of pure energy”

  38. malkav11 says:

    2D games (imho) hold up a lot better than 3D games – 2D games come off as somewhat pixellated, but they look good or don’t largely based on the artistic skills of the people who did the graphics for the game, and filters and such can make the pixels less obtrusive. 3D games have to deal with our having adjusted to games with vastly more polygons and fancy lighting effects and physics and god knows what else. Still, I can go back to a 3D game from the early 00s, whereas original Playstation era 3D (console or PC, whichever)…. gah, my eyes.

  39. Wendy Skeleton says:

    What is it with those baths while being fully-clothed? As a female gamer, I hope there’s some kind of mod that’ll get him naked. I love my beefcake!