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Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 10:49 am
by intric8
I've been pretty quiet around the site lately with the holidays and all. But in the background I've been going full steam ahead with Buck Rogers for Amiga, as well as several C128D projects.

With Buck Rogers I hit what I believe to be an impossible (for my team) impasse. This scene I've made it to is so brutal and unbalanced I'm going to try and backtrack several hours worth to see if I can simply 'bail' and go find something else to do. Pretty awful.

I wondered if it was just me, and every resource I've found that mentions this battle (and they all do) remark how it's simply awful. There are no special tactics to be found, just rebooting the game over and over until the perfect set of rolls fall your way. Well, I've already tried for 3 days with at least 2 dozen attempts. I give up.

Here's the scenario:

You find yourself in a tight little room with 2 (2!) RAM combat bots. These things are nearly impossible to kill in the best of circumstances in a large open space. But in this case they throw two at you, and you're literally face to face. They each have over 80 hitpoints, really low armor classes, and are equipped with rocket launchers which can do 10-40 points of damage to each of your characters. One hit can kill half my party. And they get to go twice since there are two of them.

I typically get to use 2 characters before the annihilation. And most of the time, they simply miss the bots completely due to their insane armor classes. On top of that, many weapons that do hit bounce right off of them.

I've been able to kill one of these things a couple of times, but I'll only have 1 or 2 characters still alive at that point. And then there's the second bot still standing there, and seconds later I'm staring at the screen "your entire party has died. RAM continues with its plans unheeded" or some annoying shit like that.

Anyway, I give up on that battle for now and entire part of the game. I don't care if breaking off from the storyline is "poor taste". That battle is completely unfair and obnoxious. It's a shame, because up to that point I feel like Buck Rogers as it was implemented was near the top of all of the Gold Box games I've ever played. There are some core game design changes that they made I really disagree with (like the system for curing your party's wounds). But the story telling components are 100X better in this game than most.


Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:34 pm
by McTrinsic
I would encourage you to go through this review/play report. ... n.html?m=1

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:58 pm
by intric8
I looked at that. He’s playing the DOS version and mentions the same battle being dumb/awful.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:45 am
by intric8
Specifically, this is how the CRPG Addict describes the issue I'm going through:
So far in the game, my most hated enemy are these RAM combat robots capable of firing explosive rockets every two rounds. The damage the rockets do is extremely variable, so if I run into them, I have to pray that I don't get a bad roll in the first round, or they can wipe out half my party. They're immune to some firearms and have extremely high armor classes. The only strategy to stop them from firing the rockets is to disperse the party--ideally right around the enemy--but this is hardly preferable because they then pummel you with nail guns that do 40-50 points of damage per round. There have been a number of combats where I've had to face two of them, and it's taken multiple reloads to get out anywhere close to intact.

It's in these places that I miss the D&D options the most. I can't cast fire resistance spells. I can't "haste" and "bless" everyone before battle and hope for some lucky critical hits early in the combat round. I can't put everything into a Hail Mary backstab. I can't run out of attack range. I can only reload and hope he does less damage this time. Buck Rogers could have restored some of these tactical options with sci-fi analogues to D&D's spells and magic items--stimulants, ointments, special suits, cloaking devices, EM guns that screw-up robots' targeting systems, and so forth--but they just didn't.

My party rode the laser's platform down the elevator shaft and had to fight a close-quarters battle against two very difficult combat robots. This was exactly the type of combat I described above, where there were really no tactics that could make a difference and I just had to keep reloading until everyone survived.
He says the damage they do is variable. That might be the case in the DOS version, but in the Amiga version the damage is always total annihilation.

I have not been able to complete this battle with a single survivor, let alone everyone surviving.

I’m actually on the verge of quitting this game, which really leaves me feeling raw. I may wind up reviewing it where I’m stuck even though I try to always finish a game first. It was a refreshing blast of fun before I got to this point. As of right now, it feels impossible. I've tried everything I can think of but no one ever survives. I even back-tracked a couple of days worth so I could fly around (for hours) looking for chaff grenades, which I finally found on an asteroid base for sale. Chaff grenades prevent those bot from shooting their rockets. So I thought, maybe if they stop obliterating me in 2 rounds I might have a chance.

I then went all the way back to that room, and I still die. Every. Single. Time.

Their AC is so low I usually miss when I fire at them. Most of my weapons when they do hit produce 0 damage. I can use swords against them and the swords produce the best damage. But even if I mute their rocket launchers, the combat bots simply use their needle guns which are 10x more devastating than mine. They virtually kill 1-2 characters every round.

So I stand there and usually miss them while they kill me off 1 character at a time. Because it's a small room I can't scatter my party. I have a rocket launcher, too, but if I use it I usually wipe out my own characters because there's simply no room to maneuver.

I've no idea how anyone has ever gotten past this point. It's pretty awful. Zero defense, no in-battle healing, and the best I've done is kill one of the things before watching the 2nd one finish me off. In fact, the healing system in this game is really shitty. It only happens after a battle is over, and it's random. I've actually gone and fought lesser battles just to try and get my party healed after the fact! Completely backwards.

I'll try a few more times today, and if I get the same results I'll either launch off the planet and do other things (which will make my NPC bail, and ruin the story) or quit.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:18 pm
by McTrinsic
Make sure to read the comments on all of his 5 blog posts regarding Buck Rodgers.

Especially the tactical use of chaff Grenades seems to help.

Never played it by myself, though - it’s on my list of games to play ‘later’.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:48 pm
by intric8
Yeah, I got the grenades but they don't help at this point.

What I decided to do was backtrack 2-3 days worth of gaming from previous saves, and simply leave Mars. I give up on that for now and will go explore other parts of the game.

My hope is I can increase my characters levels to make them (maybe) double the hitpoints they are now before I try and return to that impossible room. I think that's my only chance: increase in levels & skills and see if that helps.

The good news is, after flying around I made my way to Venus - which already looks AWESOME. Very cool update to the environment graphics and enemy icons.

Worth noting:
This game does not work on a stock early 3000 machine. So I've been playing on my 1000. It works great. But there are two bugs I've encountered.

1) The game won't let me change my character icons. I mean, I can change them before starting a session and they'll be there the whole time. But as soon as I save and quit, they revert back the next time I play. This bug has never happened to me on a Gold Box game before, and it's unfortunate. Two of my characters look identical and there's nothing I can really do about it unless I want to go in and change them before every play, which is tedious.
2) In the environment battles, my game will freeze up about 20% of the time. This can be really annoying, and it's pretty random. After a freeze, in about 5 seconds the machine gurus.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 2:06 pm
by intric8
Here are some of the cool new green-themed Venus screens I've encountered after flipping Mars the bird and playing on elsewhere. Pretty cool battle environments, too!

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:50 pm
by intric8
I decided to not throw in the towel just yet after having a total blast on Venus. Being off for the holidays has its perks as it allows me to play several hours at a time, which is great. The Venus environments, NPCs and baddies are a ton of fun. For a Gold Box game, it's very visually rich. Beating Venus made my characters advance 1 level. I still don't think that's enough to survive the final Mars battle, though. The amount of hit points the game sprinkled over my character's heads felt like a few grains of rice.

So after Venus I went flying off into space and decided to become a space pirate.

This is one part of Buck Rogers that is 100% unique from all of the other Gold Box games, and it's very very cool. Essentially you can fly off and take command of your ship when you encounter hostile forces in space. One of your players will be the pilot in command (my Rocket Jock), while everyone else is either shooting at the target or trying to make repairs. When fighting you actually have to target specific systems on the other ship, otherwise the damage is spread across all of them. My preference is to go after Hull and Weapons if you want to really kick their butt. Going after Engines seems to work well for boarding, as they can't escape. I started off just blowing things up (and getting blown up sometimes myself). But it turns out boarding them is WAY more lucrative.

Once you do board a ship, you have to take complete control of it. And in this game, that means no prisoners.

The game switches to the typical 3D hallway and isometric battle tactics views you're used to seeing in other modes of the game. Thankfully the ship maps are very small and you don't even need to map them out - you can do it in your head no sweat.

After you've wiped out the ship's personnel (guilt free) and disabled all of the computers in Engineering and the Bridge, you scrap the vessel and make a ton. I was earning enough to just get by on the planet missions and basically refill my ammo. That was about it. After being a pirate I'm freaking rich!

Although, that doesn't really translate into being able to buy anything in particular that should make me beat the combat robots any better than before. The shops in this game are pretty lame from what I've seen thus far. But the game is at least fun even if I feel like I'm grinding a bit just to try and max out my hit points. I wonder how many levels this game allows my characters to gain? If I'm near the end already, I may really be screwed.

But my thought is I'll spend a few days as a space pirate and try to increase my characters at least one more level. Maybe having a few extra hit points will make it so 1 or two characters are still standing after the horrible Mars battle is over. I kinda doubt it, but I've got no other idea on how to get past it beyond pure luck and a bit of extra health. Fingers crossed!

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:25 am
by intric8
I just wanted you all to know: I finally beat the stupid combat bot room.

It was completely insane and I've many more white hairs to prove it. And even after beating it, it's still 100% awful, dumb and unfair. It really is. But I did get through it after 3 hours of non-stop trying. I'll explain fully in the review whenever I finish the game. I hope to carve out several hours this weekend to get to the end screens.


Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 12:01 pm
by intric8
My next game, which I'll be finishing later today, is actually one I've been beta-testing for Double Sided Games for the past week and a half called Hired Swords 2 (HS2).

It's a very pretty, fun and "racy" RPG for the Commodore 64 that is expected to ship on April 3, 2020. I will save my thoughts and comments about the game until later, but I will say that there is no other RPG title for the C64 like this at all and it's going to drop a lot of jaws (and raise eyebrows) as word spreads.

But before going into the game I think I'll first try and show my hardware setup I put together for this experience. It's been a lot of fun using my first love - the C64 - heavily for the past 1.5 weeks. And I think my test station is fairly unique amongst the QA team, several of whom use VICE for convenience which I completely understand.

It's not easy to do a totally fair review as core mechanics of the game are still being tweaked as I write this, but I've got enough to convey what I think is going to make quite a splash when it is released. And getting my hardware going was pretty thrilling, too ('cause I'm a Commodore nerd!).