Another good classic-style CRPG - Avernum: Escape From The Pit

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Bill Loguidice
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While we've been commenting like crazy on The Legend of Grimrock in a fairly informal thread (man, we should rectify that with a proper blog post): http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/4245 , there's another game I got about a day after that gives a similar welcome nod to classic computer RPG stylings, Avernum: Escape From The Pit: http://www.avernum.com/avernum/ .

The cool thing for me is that outside of beta testing Ultima IV - which is just the pure Ultima IV experience - I have been unable to find a good classic style (Western, of course) computer type RPG to this point to play on my iPad 2 (which is odd considering there is something like 200,000 apps specific to the iPad). Avernum appears to be it. It has a very usable isometric perspective, lets me create a custom party of four characters, and is turn-based. I've only played a little way in, but so far, so good. At $9.99 in the app store it's not cheap as apps go, but I don't mind paying that for something like this. I think I remember trying some of this company's other CRPGs years back and not being able to get into them, but for whatever reason their formula seems to work very well here for me.

I'll update as I play more...

By the way, I've been able to put a decent amount of time into The Legend of Grimrock because I've installed it on my gaming laptop and have been able to play it in bed after a busy day's activities. Similarly, with the iPad 2, I'm able to play pretty much anywhere. Something you have to get creative when "free" time is precious...

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Bill Loguidice
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The Bard's Tale on iOS!

Wow, I didn't realize that The Bard's Tale on iOS was not only the comedy action game (which I have on the original Xbox), but also includes the first two classic CRPGs. Guess I'm getting another CRPG set for my iPad... (doubt I'll play it on the iPhone, but it works on that too!)

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-bards-tale/id480375355?mt=8 (supports a BT keyboard, too!)

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Bill Loguidice
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More Avernum thoughts

I played a little more into the game and must say it's an old school delight so far. Despite it being on the iPad, it makes no concessions to approachability, i.e., it presents reams of information on the screen. While normally this would be a downside, for a CRPG-style game, this is a definite plus. Everything is touch friendly too, so it's not like the interface is broken in any way. I think in many ways this is probably superior to a mouse-driven interface on the PC, simply because you can just touch the element you want more info on, or for instance, if it's a character, touch to give a command to, rather than search for the keyboard hotkey or move the mouse pointer. It just works.

With the above in mind, I'm still rather overwhelmed by the depth of options (I think a hallmark of the series, right?), though I would think in a less casual play schedule, I'd adapt much faster. Again, this is exactly in line with any good CRPG of depth and I'm glad no unnecessary compromises were made. This is exactly what you'd expect on a PC (at least from the isometric CRPG multi-character party style game), but with a solid iPad interface.

I'm just happy that me bitching and whining for so long about wanting to play a modern version of the type of CRPG I want has been fulfilled with both Legend of Grimrock and Avernum iPad. Particularly with the former, Wasteland 2 has a model to follow for doing an update of this type of game right...

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Matt Barton
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I don't think he's

I don't think he's intractable; I see him doing interviews with other folks. Who knows. I had a guy (who shall remain nameless) who refused to do an interview because I had done an interview with a gay developer. Really? Sad part is, the talent in question did one of my favorite RPGs. Ugh.

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Shawn Delahunty
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Thanks for clarifying Matt

Sorry about that--I really should have Emailed you privately about it. I had no idea Jeff was quite so... uh, "intractable" about communications. I've read other places where he admits to being terrible at even communicating with game-site reviewers to get his latest game reviewed. This makes me sad and a little frustrated--I'll just leave it at that.

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clok1966
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Jeff from my understanding is

Jeff from my understanding is a VERY busy man. I read alot of his posts and they get alot of replay in game sites and such. He is a excellent guy to read so I hate to say it.. i think with games development ( i think he does almost all his own work, small time, but huge games), writing some good posts that are great reads. I doubt it has anything to do with anything but pure busy.. Especially in the last year.. releasing his back catalog On STEAM and the new game too..

His games are quite good, love the turn based combat, its simple enough to grasp, but has some depth to it. I picked um all up on STEAM when he released um.

Matt Barton
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I've emailed Jeff Vogel

I've emailed Jeff Vogel several times using the contact stuff on their site. He didn't even offer me the common courtesy of a refusal; just ignored all my requests. He might have a good reason for it, but it doesn't exactly endear the man or his games to my heart.

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Bill Loguidice
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So far, the interface is

So far, the interface is about as intuitive as it can be for such a complex game on a tablet. I need to put several more days into the game though to really know the ins and outs. So far, no complaints, but a game of this complexity I need to experience more things. I'm devoting most of my time to Grimrock still...

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Shawn Delahunty
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Very curious about your experiences...

Please keep us posted about the play experience on the tablet. I'm wondering about your impressions of the interface; usability, clunky spots, and so on. I'm guessing that Jeff Vogel got things pretty well ironed out, as he has blogged about the "jaw dropping" success of his initial iPad game Avadon.

I started messing with the Spiderweb Software series of CRPG's about 3 or so years ago myself--though I've been following the The Bottom Feeder blog of Jeff Vogel for about 7 years. Thus far, all I've made time for is play partway through the demos for Avernum 5 & 6--mostly to get a feel for them.

My verdict? I love the old-school CRPG aspect, though I am happy that he's been able to update his graphics engine for Avernum: Escape and Avadon. His older engines are quite dated looking, though I've found his writing to be consistently good, and his storylines are interesting. (As a side note though, I have found that ALL Spiderweb Software games work well under Linux if you use WINE to run the Windows version. This is more than I can say for a lot of non-Indie games from the same era.) When I get a window of time, I want to buy all of Jeff Vogel's games on the CD-pack, and start going through them (probably sometime late this summer.)

Actually, I'd like to put in a suggestion that Matt maybe consider setting up a Matt Chat interview with him at some point. Vogel has been flying solo as an indie RPG developer since 1994 or so, which gives him some interesting views on the industry and the cycles it's gone through.

I've GOT to order Grimrock this week though... been dying to play it since I saw the first dev/alpha-test videos about 8 months ago.

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