Roman Nose: Age of Decadence Demo

By Kieron Gillen on January 5th, 2010 at 12:11 pm.

Any suitable caption escapes me. Man!

We’re going to be playing catch-up with what happened in the PC world when we were away for a while. One of the bigger indie thrills was Iron Tower releasing their long awaited combat demo. Then they had a tweak and released another one with some bugs removed. While I’m excited about this as ever, I haven’t actually had a chance to the demo yet, so I’ll direct you at Vince for his Combat Survival Guide to ease you in. And an internet video of it in – er – action.

Well, no, there’s not. The guy removed it because he didn’t like it to “force” me to change it. Of course, I’m just going to keep it here, in a monument to the diplomacy-skill fail-check of an Age of Decadence fan.

See, all it’s done is make the post of a game you like look even more slapdash and highlight that parts of the fanbase have a tendency towards foot-stompiness. And show that RPS can be just as petty as the readers sometimes. Man! This does remind me of the famous bloodbath thread when John first linked to Age of Decadence. Ah, those were the days.

Anyway, a lovely person has actually done a new video, in HD, with sound, which – as a general hint for developers – is absolutely the sort of asset which should be released into the wild when you’re releasing a new demo.

Yay!

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70 Comments »

  1. Rinox says:

    Looks very Fallout. Which is nice.

  2. Ragnar says:

    Combat was ok. Nothing really groundbreaking though.

  3. Schaulustiger says:

    Ummm… can I have an “auto-resolve combat” function, please?

  4. Lilliput King says:

    Don’t really know why they keep releasing things to do with the combat.

  5. poop says:

    yeah the combat is better than the fallout combats but I really dont understand why they are pushing this part of the game so hard. ah well, atleast the game itself is good despite being made by a group of the worst kind of arrogant NMA fanatics.

  6. vash47 says:

    I thought this game became vaporware!

    If they live up to the original scope of the game this might be the best RPG in the last years.

  7. Zaij says:

    They’re not promoting the combat, they released this so they could balance and tweak combat before release if I remember correcty.

  8. Macq says:

    Finally!

  9. leeder_krenon says:

    why squares and not hexes?

  10. archonsod says:

    Hmm, wall o’ text in a font seemingly designed purely to damage one’s eyesight, I hope they remedy that before release or the game is going to be unplayable at high resolutions. The combat is very fallout-esque, unfortunately the graphics seem to originate from the same era. It reminds me of Darkstone for some reason.
    As far as the combat itself, it’s horribly bland. If you’re going to do turn based combat you need to find some other way of making it interesting.

  11. The Hammer says:

    Those were the days indeed, and it’s still looking decidedly pedestrian.

    Which might not be the point, but then I’m clearly not the target audience. It’s clearly a game with a lot of depth (judging from those feedback threads), and I remember liking Vince’s comments on roleplaying in RPGs back when RPS had THE INTERVIEW, but it just seems so slow, and I can’t NOT notice those graphics and animations. Games are a visual medium, and even with low resources, you can make something that looks pretty.

  12. RogB says:

    a hell of a lot of ‘misses’ considering they are a square apart. is this a battle of blind people?
    also, needs more huge numbers appearing overhead when hit. I want to see big numbers for big damage, not squint at a combat log.

  13. Azazel says:

    Wow. We’ll be getting Black Mesa Source and HL2 Episode 3 next.

    Um anyway, I will be downloading this after work, oh yes.

  14. Calabi says:

    The audio is a mess, you’ve got the crowd cutting into the music, so its hard to hear both clearly had to turn it down.

  15. newt says:

    I just wish the author will realise how horrendously out-of-place (not to mention annoying) is such epic music when set to a completely static, turn-based combat scene.

  16. HermitUK says:

    Reminds me of FFT Advance’s combat. Even down to the Archer missing all the damn time.

  17. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    I just wish the author will realise how horrendously out-of-place (not to mention annoying) is such epic music when set to a completely static, turn-based combat scene.

    Why is that?

  18. skizelo says:

    Dwarf Fortress has caused me to look at all combat where you cannot sever tendons as sadly incomplete. Anyway, it seems like a relatively sane way of handling fighting, but what if you could talk to the romans?
    Anyway, Diogo, you can’t put action music to turn based combat w/ one animation for any single action. It reminds people that they could be watching Gladiator. Remember that bit when he decapitated a dude w/ two swords at once? That was awesome!

  19. Aganazer says:

    It reminded me of Darksun and that would be about the highest compliment I could give it. Darksun had one of the best combat systems I have ever playing in a RPG.

  20. FhnuZoag says:

    Yep, they’ve pretty much run into exactly the problems I predicted they would.

    As yourself watching that: wouldn’t it be so much more fun controlling the archer and the sworddude in that fight? The guy with the hammer basically has zero options in there, except keep rolling the die and hoping that it comes up right. The people favourably comparing this to fallout are crazy. In fallout, the archer deciding to fight in melee range would be dead on the second swing.

    • Razz says:

      Actually, the hammer guy has about 7 different attack options with just that hammer. He can aim for the arms and disarm the archer. He can aim for his head and knock him down. Aim for his legs and he can’t keep running away, forcing him to fight close range. He can use several fast attacks or only one or two slow, hard-hitting attacks. He can switch to a different weapon (like a one-handed hammer and shield) to adjust his strategy. He can switch to throwing weapons if he’s got the skill to use them and fight the archer from range. All of these have different chances to hit, different AP costs, different damage ranges.

      Again, don’t judge this on the video. Please :(.

  21. Combat Dude says:

    This is turn based tactics without the tactics, it seems. At least if that video is representative (hoping it isn’t). I’m glad the game apparently includes the option to complete it without a single fight.

  22. Krikey! says:

    I tried the demo and I was very impressed with it. Animations were fluid, and combat was somewhat exciting. Of course, I’m more interested to what they can do with the dialogue and the rest of the story.

    • Krikey! says:

      Oh I just saw the trailer. No wonder all the negativity. The “feel” I got from the demo was somehow different from the trailer. Everything in the demo felt more appropriately set.

      My suggestion is to try the demo. There are more choices than just “rolling the die” and praying. There is a whole array of different attacks you can execute with one weapon (as should be available in any RPG), including Power Attack and aiming for different parts of the body.

  23. Razz says:

    The video really, really doesn’t do this justice. It’s honestly not a game that’s very fun to watch, because you can’t possibly get a grasp of the depth of the combat system by watching a video like this. It also seems incredibly slow until you play it yourself and realise you’re constantly trying to come up with new tactics to fill in the blanks between hits and misses.

    Of course you do have to appreciate turn-based combat and can’t be expecting something fast and furious. It’s not an action RPG. But you’d be surprised what kind of tactical depth they’ve put into a single person turn-based game. Forget Fallout, I’ve played both Fallout and this demo extensively and can say without a doubt that this is a lot more fun, deep, and balanced than Fallout’s combat ever was.

    All of the weapon types are fundamentally different. Changing character builds around changes how you approach the combat entirely. You’ve got so many different options within a single build that figuring everything out will take you a while. It’s HARD but, most of the time, FAIR hard. If you’re failing you’re probably doing something fundamentally wrong, and adjusting your strategy will help you along.

    Seriously, I don’t want to seem like a marketing whore or something, but just trust me when I say this video doesn’t do it justice at all. If you had any interest whatsoever in this game, try the demo out. It’s oodles of fun. And this is coming from a graphix whore and someone who generally doesn’t like CRPG combat.

    • Razz says:

      Also, if you’re going to try the demo: take your time. Don’t jump in, expect instant gratification and jump out again when things aren’t working out. It takes a while to get an idea of how everything works. Read the guides on the Iron Tower forums if you’re in trouble. Don’t just give up. It’s worth it.

      I’m sounding like such a fanboy here, but fuck. It just breaks my heart that a game which is showing this much potential is just getting dismissed due to a silly video.

  24. Dominic White says:

    The content of the game seems solid, but it really shows that it’s been developed by the worst kind of Fallout fanboys – they’ve taken the Fallout UI and copied it wholesale.

    This wouldn’t be a problem if the Fallout UI hadn’t been clunky, oversized and badly organized a decade ago. They’ve had a very, very long time to improve things, and haven’t. I mean, ferchrissakes, they’ve even used the Fallout trade screen. Not a clearly laid out shop setup, but an interminable scroll-bar of oversized icons with no information until you mouse over them.

    The Fallout games were pretty great, but they had three major flaws. The party AI, the combat pacing/balance, and the UI. They seem to have dealt with two of those three, but fully embraced the third. Why?

    • Patrick says:

      To be fair it’s better than Mass Effect’s shop UI, not that that’s something to aspire to.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yes, but that’s like saying that leprosy is better than cancer.

      What blows me away is that they haven’t just come up with a poorly designed UI – they’ve gone and made the concious design decision to use one that was poorly designed a decade ago and hasn’t gotten any better since.

  25. Pantsman says:

    I met Annie and Brian at PAX this year, and was able to chat with them for about half an hour about their new game. It was cool!

  26. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Kieron Gillen said:
    Diogo: Overtly Ironic juxtaposition. Like putting Ride of the Valyries over simple-direct-footage of people playing ludo.

    KG

    Well, yes. Probably. In retrospect I guess I felt more or less the same with that Gears of War commercial wit the “Mad World” theme. That might’ve been the intention… Or not. I’m unclear what Vince was trying to achieve with the music. Haven’t paid much attention to it but if it’s a part of the game soundtrack it might’ve just been a case of 1+1. Then again what *would* be the right soundtrack for turn-based fighting, though? I fondly remember the Wizardry soundtracks for instance, and those had epic tones as well.

  27. Leeks! says:

    I’m all for a more methodical combat pace, but you can’t use that as an excuse to write off the importance of visual feedback. It’s one of the best ways to tell a player “yes, you’re doing well!” or “no, don’t do that!” during the fight, and it’s especially important if the combat system is as dry, dry, dryyyy as an old school western RPG’s is. That was something Fallout understood, with it’s hilariously over-the-top gore and mid-battle taunts. It’s too bad the lesson seems to have been lost on Weller and his team of adherents.

    Dry isn’t neccessarily bad, but it has to be done right. I’ll see for myself when I download the demo after work.

  28. IAmDissapoint says:

    What the hell.

    Most of the posters in this thread didn’t even play the demo before commenting? Yeah, if you watch a video of it, it looks like turn-based Street Fighter, but when you actually play it, it’s pretty exciting. Should I take the chance in power attacking to drop him quickly? Should I use my AP to back up and make him come to me wasting his points? Should I take the chance to cripple one guy with a ranged weapon so he approaches slower while I deal with his friend? This guy has some pretty heavy armor but a weak looking helmet…maybe I should take the chance to go for his head?

    All of the different weapon types have their unique properties and uses as well.

    You can also speed up the animations (a must in every TBS). The combat status information gives you all the feedback you need. They really should get rid of the video and replace it with other gameplay preview, as the combat is something better played through rather than watching.

  29. Calabi says:

    @ Razz

    Options dont neccesarily equate to tactics. If the different body parts have similar chances to hit then whats the difference. The different body parts is a bit antiquated anyway. Who cares what body part you hit, you just want to kill him? Who seriously aims for the hands, eyes or nadgers in combat. You might go for their nadgers but you would do that in response to them leaving them open. Not in an overt chosen manner. If your picking some arbitrary place on their body to hit them then no wonder they miss all the time.

    Lots of choices are not tactics, they are just choices. The more choices the more irrelevant some of them are.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Who aims for different body parts – umm, anyone who’s actually fighting. Huge difference between hitting someone in the head and hitting someone in th, say, liver…

  30. IAmDissapoint says:

    @Calabi

    Body parts have different chances to hit. I’m sure if I were a gladiator fighting some guy and the same overhead move I was using kept getting blocked, I would think to try other locations…

    Aiming at different parts lead to different conditions…aiming at the legs cripples a guy so he moves slower. Aiming at the arms causes them to drop their weapon.

    • Razz says:

      Exactly, options DO mean tactics in this case. For example, spears use more AP to use than daggers but have less accuracy and can only be used two squares away from your target. Daggers have a chance to ignore armour. Axes have a chance to break shields. These aren’t just superficial options which don’t really mean anything in the end, they change how you play the game (combat). In other words, yes, they can be seen as being a big part of tactics.

  31. Jimbo says:

    It kinda looks like Gladius, except not good in any way at all.

  32. dhex says:

    that video is pretty bad, but you guys are all wet. if you miss the days that were, the demo is at least worth a runthrough.

    “Who cares what body part you hit, you just want to kill him?”

    ok, so i have a sword, but you get to choose where i hit you. would you prefer to be stabbed in the arm or in the neck? :)

  33. Unaco says:

    That looked incredibly boring… and I actually enjoy Turn Based games.

  34. Calabi says:

    You wouldnt hit me in either because I would be running like hell. But it doesnt make any difference, either way you are dead and each is as equally hard to hit. Neck is defended by arm, arm is always moving. If hit in sword arm then unable to defend oneself, you are dead. If hit in neck head falls off, you are dead.

  35. Anon says:

    Why not play it yourselves? (Replying to those whose opinion was formed from just watching this video)

    You can download the demo here: http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,1259.0.html

    And I also think there is no point in commenting if you do not even like turn based combat, yeah? Kinda like me reviewing a RTS, even though I dislike playing RTS games – it wouldn’t make any sense.

    Anyway, here’s hoping for a 2010 release!

  36. Balor says:

    The video does not really do the game justice. The game’s combat in pretty intense, and I certainly recommend this demo to anyone – I’ve just blew two whole days on this! That is more that I’ve spent with most modern games recently.

    By the way, utilizing aimed shots is really useful, and the more annoying when AI does this one YOU.
    When you disregard defense for all-out attack, and enemies begin getting high hit chances with aimed shots, expect to be fucked.

    For instance, ‘archer + swordsman’ combat becomes absolutely annoying due to archer pinning your legs down with his arrows, you cannot get to lightly lightly armored ass for some sweet retribution – and the swordman guy keep disarming you and get aimed shot on your body for armor penetration.

    Combat with triarii is also pure hell – guy with a hammer will often knock you down, axewielder will spell death for any shield user due to his ability to sunder shields, and the leader with a huge twohander will simply kill you in three powerful hits if you will let him hear you.

    As for the final (if optional) combat with 6 imperial guards… I can but say ‘good luck’, because I ONCE managed to kill 5 of them with my hammer/shield build, but the axewielder destroyed my shield and chopped me down.

    Yet, let me restate, this demo gave me a HUGE amount of fun – moreso them some ‘finished products’.

  37. Thants says:

    @ IAmDissapoint
    Actually, a turn-based Street Fighter sounds interesting. Are there any turn-based fighting games?

  38. poop says:

    okay I just noticed that literally all the text of the game is written in fucking PAPYRUS and its bugging the shit outta me

  39. Anon says:

    I remember one on the PS I think it was. Every fighting move was turn based, t’was good.

  40. Starwars says:

    Like others have mentioned, a simple video won’t really capture much of what is good about the demo. The planning, the trying out the different weapons for the fights (there are various weapons within one weapon type, and they all have their uses), the tearing out your hair when you die horribly and the nice feeling when you switch strategy and manage to get through the fight successfully.

    Balor pretty much said it, this is the main thing I play right now despite having other full-on games on my plate as well. It’s fun as hell. I mean, if you don’t like turnbased combat in RPGs then it’s likely you won’t like this of course.

    It’s obviously inspired by Fallout 1, but the combat is on a whole another level here, it’s *way* more fun and challenging. The demo is not that big so I’d encourage people to at least try it out.

  41. caster says:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/casterAoD#p/a/u/1/Mxdit3qBhIQ

    If your going to post videos about it at least you could have chosen a good one.
    Try these too.

    No audio but you can see different builds and enemies.

  42. Calabi says:

    @ Funky Badger

    Yes you do, but you dont have different odds to hit different parts in hand to hand combat. You cant treat a whole person as some bits that have differing chances to hit. In hand to hand all parts are equally as hard to hit, someone doesnt neglect to defend their hand, over their chin, they might be extra protective of their testicals but then you wouldnt go for them unless they left them open.

    Maybe using projectile weapons, guns and arrows, but what fool would aim for the hands or head with their low chance of hitting when a hit in the torso will disable, kill just as well. The optimal strategy is to always go for the part with the highest chance to hit.

    Hitting body parts is a fun thing for gore etc but it isnt really a deep strategy.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Different parts are not all equally as easy to hit, not at all. Example, its almost impossible to hit someone in the head if they see the blow coming – reaction time based on peripheral vision is ~10 times better than “normal” vision, and the head only has to move an inch or so to avoid the blow. Compare that to, for example, a punch into the shoulder or a kick to the leg – in both cases the target is much larger (and therefore harder to move out of the way) .

      If you’re firing a weapon then you aim centre-of-mass as even a glancing blow is a kill (as I understand it) – in unarmed (or lightly armed) combat between people of comparable skill one hit tends not to be a finisher, hence strategy and tactics, e.g. go for the body/legs early in the fight to wear the opponent out, then go for the head…

  43. Sam says:

    Tried the demo, pretty bad experience with it.

    The aimed body part shots are garbage strategy or bugged . I hit a guy in the arm and disarmed him, and his weapon appeared in his hand again immediately, just before he knocked me to the ground with it.

    Certain weapon skill specs will just get you killed by certain opponents. No strategy other than an absurd run of luck could save you. As the linked reaction (Carlson or Mitsoda, don’t remember) state, this would be all well in good in a party, with interesting terrain features, but in a whitebox single combat, the combat system just doesn’t hold up at this stage.

    And what’s with not running towards hotspots with a leftclick? You have to move there, THEN click on what you want. I cannot conceive of a reason for this.

    Probably passing on the game. Shame, I was looking forward to it. Constantly emphasizing the less-than-stellar combat system seems like an odd choice for publicizing this thing.

    • erbgor says:

      @Sam

      That’s a terrible review. How much time did you spent with the demo? 30 minutes?

      This is mindboggling to me, finally a single player turn based rpg where different weapons actually behave differently (axes chop shields, spears hold off enemies, hammers knock down et cetera) and the AI actually adapts to what you do (enemy groups try to stay together, if you stay back and snipe with your bow some enemies will start throwing axes at you) and despite of all this so many comments like yours.

      Aimed shots to the arms disarm if they hit. Obviously the enemy will rearm himself, what did you expect? But he loses ap and thus attacks/movement.

      It is pretty harsh and unforgiving, though, I’ll give you that. But in the full game you will not have to fight every battle. This is just a combat demo and was always supposed to be hard. Not every character build can be the arena champion.

  44. Duterasemis says:

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, did you guys have to use MY combat video? It’s not a very good one. The audio was recorded too loud and it’s nothing but me getting my ass kicked! I’d ask you nicely to change to a different one but it’s much easier for me to remove it and force you to.

  45. evilhyde says:

    “The aimed body part shots are garbage strategy or bugged . I hit a guy in the arm and disarmed him, and his weapon appeared in his hand again immediately, just before he knocked me to the ground with it.”

    Aimed shots work just fine. After disarming an opponent, the weapon appeared in his hand because he re-equipped it (which uses up 4 AP just as it would for the player to open inventory). I used aimed shot on arm quite a bit on my unarmored spear build by disarming and stepping back a space, leaving a 2 handed weapon enemy only enough AP to close in on me but not use a power attack (or any at all). Saved my butt on the last guy in the inn fight when I had 1 HP left.

    All builds are viable. I can say this both from my own experiences and those of others on the forums who have completed the game with various builds. On some fights you may have to change up your general strategy (use shield on a dodger, wear heavy armor on a character that is normally light or unarmored, use a 2hander instead of 1, or even a different weapon which is viable due to weapon synergy). I personally like this because it gives more variety and tactics, and going by most of the comments here people are complaining about it being too simplistic so the reality should be a plus.

    I’ve had some fights that seemed absolutely impossible on some of my builds, then I went and switched a few points around (25 – 50 out of my weapon skill into a secondary, and vise versa) or changed some other tactics (between equipment, weapon attack types, and placement there is quite a few options) and the same fights became almost trivial.

    I was originally not so interested in the combat of AoD and mainly played the demo just to see the engine and controls, but now I’m actually excited about playing a combat character.

  46. Vince says:

    @ Sam:

    “The aimed body part shots are garbage strategy or bugged . I hit a guy in the arm and disarmed him, and his weapon appeared in his hand again immediately…”

    When was it supposed to appear? Tomorrow? Next week? It cost him 4AP to equip a weapon. Considering that avg AP is 8-10, your aimed attack has cut his attacks during the next turn in half. In a game with low HP that’s definitely an advantage.

    “Certain weapon skill specs will just get you killed by certain opponents. No strategy other than an absurd run of luck could save you.”

    If you say so. You sound like a very knowledgeable guy when it comes to TB combat. Care to post some examples of “certain weapon skills that will just get you killed by certain opponents”?

  47. Oscar says:

    Here is a video I just made, in HD resolution. It’s more representative of the gameplay and graphics of the game.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwNVXj3T770

  48. utharda says:

    I spent about 6 hours playing this today.

    I’m not sure if I’m proud of that, but I will be buying one when it comes out.

    Maybe two!

    Combat is wonderful and deep. In some ways it reminds me of eve, party because of the rock paper scissors aspects of lining up different builds, and partly because you can’t have a “do it all” build. You have to know what you character can and can’t do, and strategize appropriatley.

    Well done.

  49. Sam says:

    @Vince

    It’s possible I wasn’t reading the combat logs correctly? I was using what I thought was almost exactly this tactic from evilhyde’s post: “I used aimed shot on arm quite a bit on my unarmored spear build by disarming and stepping back a space, leaving a 2 handed weapon enemy only enough AP to close in on me but not use a power attack (or any at all).”

    I reloaded and tried that a few times and he (Papa) just picked the weapon up, stepped forward and knocked me down. After that happened a few times, I gave up on it. I tried fast attacking, backing up to have him walk into my attacks (didn’t happen enough to be useful before I got backed into a corner), power attacking, etc. Maybe I didn’t allocate skills right, maybe I missed something. Anything is possible. I do pretty well with games like JA2 and the like, so I don’t think I’m a neophyte.

    Given the response, I’ll try poring over the combat logs more closely, maybe it will click this time.

    • galsiah says:

      @Sam
      That tactic only works against relatively slow two-handers – usually those wearing heavy armour. Papa has studded leather, allowing him 11AP, and IIRC he does have 11AP – you can see this since he’s able to walk three squares (6AP), and attack (5AP fast attack). Against such an opponent, the disarm+withdraw approach won’t work. It’ll work against opponents using a two-handed weapon, who don’t also have either 11 or 12AP. I think that’s everyone apart from Papa.

  50. Anonymousity says:

    Wait, did you play the same fallout as me? Standing surrounded by 2 enclave soldiers bashing away at me with super sledges, me blasting their longer range adversaries with eye shots from my alien weapon while they wail away at me?

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