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Real Time Strategy (Games) Role Playing (Games)

Review: Dragonshard 171

Posted by Zonk
from the ltb-bracers-of-armor-+1-pst dept.
The Dungeons and Dragons license has graced some truly fine videogames. Planescape: Torment and the Baldur's Gate sagas are some of the finest gaming experiences RPG fans can cite. Dragonshard is the first melding of Dungeons and Dragons with the Real-Time Strategy genre, combining traditional RTS action with RPG elements to create a unique whole. While the game doesn't redefine my understanding of the RTS genere, it's very different from your normal title and is well worth checking out. Read on for my impressions of Liquid Entertainment's Dragonshard.
  • Title: Dragonshard
  • Developer: Liquid Entertainment
  • Publisher: Atari
  • System: PC
  • Reviewer: Zonk
  • Score: 8/10
Wizards of the Coast's newest campaign setting, Eberron, is the backdrop to Dragonshard. Though this is the first Eberron videogame, the pulp fantasy environment is set to play home to several types of games for a good reason. High adventure and intrigue are core concepts of the setting, and techno-magical items allow for a vaguely more modern feel while maintaining the fantasy overtones. The elements that distinguish Eberron from your standard D&D setting are woven deep into the game's structure. The construct warriors known as the Warforged, magical crystals called dragonshards, and craft-mages known as Artificers all have gameplay repercussions. Despite this, the flavour of the Eberron setting isn't captured as well as one would hope. The game is set on the jungle continent of Xen'drik, and as a result some of the most interesting Eberron-specific elements are far to the north on another continent. The wilderness-based dungeoncrawling paints the world with a generic fantasy brush that detracts from the source material substantially. While the gameworld is obviously Eberron, I would have enjoyed the inclusion of some of the most interesting setting elements (such as the Dragonmarked houses or the intricate political situation in the wake of the Last War) into the game. My nitpicking aside, it's definitely D&D. Riffling through the Monster Manual at random will give you a good look at the critters you'll face. All the favorites are there, from Beholders to Ilithids, and they look great.

In addition to the setting, Liquid also broke new ground with gameplay elements. While most RTS titles pit you against other factions in titanic battles, Dragonshard offers more than one way to play the game. On the surface of Xen'drik you build a fortress settlement and train up characters referred to as captains. These captains fill different character templates from the Eberron setting (artificers, rogues, ranged warriors, warforged soldiers, etc). Powerful captains attract soldiers which bolster your numbers while campaigning aboveground. There are several unique hero characters you can choose from as well, and these lead your captains in battle against opposing forces. The problem is that the only resource you can gather aboveground are the semi-ubiquitous dragonshards. Like every good adventuring party, you need gold to fund your conquests. In the grand tradition of D&D there is just as much gameplay to be had belowground as above. In the dungeon realm of Khyber, which runs beneath every level's map, monstrous creatures with hordes of loot await your blade's ministrations. By taking your captains belowground you leave the common soldiery behind, reducing the game to a much more traditional dungeoncrawling experience. Defeating these creatures nets you experience, which you can apply to captain types in order to level them up. In a nice circular fashion, leveled captains gain more followers. These soldiers don't count against the maximum number of followers you can control, and above ground your captains lead huge armies against your opponents. As you conquer more of the map above, you'll find new entrances to the Underdark and new opportunities for loot.

The result is a fun combination of traditional Warcraft-like combat and something more akin to Neverwinter Nights. The focus of game's storyline is very RPG, as well. A group of good-aligned warriors united in their worship of the Holy Flame seek three mystic seals which will allow them access to a giant hunk of Dragonshard. The powerful relic has affected the local lizardfolk population, changing them in substantial ways and providing the primary adversary for the Holy Flame's army. Aside from the goals you'll attempt to fulfill in acquiring the seals, quests you receive from characters scattered throughout the map give you opportunities to gain additional power and treasure. Items can affect your Hero's stats, and some quests can even open up new captain types in your base. The experience taken as a whole is very different than your standard cookie-cutter RTS, and the variety of gameplay ensures that if you get bored with one aspect of the game you can indulge in another activity to switch things up.

Base building in Dragonshard is fairly unique as well. Bases are laid out into blocks of four squares, with a central citadel and a stout wall surrounding the buildings. Unit-building structures are built on each square. Once their training facility is constructed, captains can be trained and (if you have enough experience) upgraded to level 2. By building another of the same structure type adjacent to the original, you can train units more quickly and upgrade the captain type further. Beyond simply upgrading the captains, there are structures you can build in the square arrangement that will improve the statistics of adjacent unit structures. Placing a mana increase obelisk in an arrangement with priest and sorcerer producing buildings will allow your spellcasters to be more effective in combat. It takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of putting together a base it's easy to throw one together fairly quickly. After you've ventured into the Underdark enough times to gain some sizeable wealth you'll have a base that resembles a small city, with monuments and buildings nicely blending together.

The visual look of the game is distinct, and quite attractive. Units are highly detailed, with lots of nice touches given to the captains and heroes you'll be leading. One hero has a cross hanging from their armor that swings as she runs, while the angelic Archons wield inner-lit lightning bolts. The lizardfolk are especially intricately designed, with spines and scale flaps all over the place. The world is equally beautifully rendered, with environmental effects aplenty and a deformable terrain adding to the experience of combat in a substantial way. The most dramatic way to see the terrain deformation is the infrequent impacts of dragonshards from above. The first time it happens, it's quite startling to see. The explosions of crystalline shards are heavy enough to knock your troops off of their feet if they hit nearby, and leave collectible shards nestled in impact craters in their wake. The downside to all this pretty is a drag on your rig. While I don't have a cutting edge setup, I can play Half-Life 2 with most of the shinies turned up. Just the same, a screen full of warring armies caused me slowdowns on a couple of occasions. Despite the slowdowns, Dragonshard is a dramatic game. The auditory environment is dramatic as well, with angry cries and clashing blades adding emphasis to the visual devastation. Heroes and captains have unique vocalizations and catch phrases. As with every RTS they get old after the hundredth time you've heard them, but until you get fed up and turn them off you'll enjoy their gusto. There are precious few cinematics in the game, with most plot elements being explored via cutscenes acted out within the engine. While this is a good way to show off the game's graphical power, it can make for some odd moments. Up-close, the running animations of the heroes looks decidedly awkward. Additionally, there are no animations for characters to turn in place. When a hero turns to address one of his fellows, he rotates in place like a cardboard cutout. It's distracting, but the cut-scenes move the plot forward effectively. While some of them skirt the line of hokey gaming patter, for the most part they do a good job of keeping you informed about your goals in the single-player campaign.

The single-player mission is enjoyable, but re-playability is fairly low due to brevity. Multiplayer is where the game gets an extended life. Whatever reservations I have about the single-player are easily ignored when it comes to online play. The aboveground/Underdark gameplay makes for an even more interesting experience when other adventuring parties are thrown into the mix. In addition to probing the dungeons for treasure and experience, you have to fend off the opposing forces as well. This can be a tricky prospect if you've just put your party through a difficult boss battle. Beyond the basic gameplay, there are additional objectives that you can attempt to gain dominance. A capture-the-flag-like mode has you collecting artifacts before your opponent does, while another gametype requires you to take and hold places of power for a given span of time. Good gameplay is nothing without opponents, and I was very happy to have little problem finding folks to play against via the browser. The only catch is that you have to download a patch straight off in order to get online. A small price to play for the most entertaining way to play the game.

I didn't like this game at first. My knee-jerk reaction to this version of Eberron set me back, and the gameplay didn't jump out at me the way many other games have in the past. It's been a slow year for Real-Time Strategy, but after some time working with Dragonshard it began to grow on me. The base-building has a very different feel to it than your standard model, and the Underdark dungeoncrawling component is the perfect contrast to combat between massive armies. There are still elements that weaken the end result. The single-player game is very short, and confusingly while there are three races in the game there are only two campaigns. The game has occasional slowdowns, and the random Underdark spawn tables can make for overly interesting forays in the Multiplayer game. Overall, though, Dragonshard is well worth taking in if you're a fan of strategy games or the Dungeons and Dragons brand. Eberron is a fascinating setting, and I'm looking forward to seeing it realized more fully in future titles.
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Review: Dragonshard

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:57PM (#13724140)
    and confusingly while there are three races in the game there are only two campaigns.

    There are plenty of real-world examples. For example, consider the three races of Sunni, Shiite, and God-Fearing Christian, which are only engaged in two campaigns (Iraq and Afghanistan.)
  • by imsabbel (611519) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:00PM (#13724156)
    Every unit has >1 special attacks that can be used, some quite often (i.e. ever 10 seconds or something), but there is no way to quickly select those specials of a group of mixed chars.
    So the barbarians can activat their bloodrush, or the archers summon rats/bats, or the healers cast "hold" spells, but if you have a group of all ranged characters (like archers+healers), you cannot select those powers. You got to deselect the group and select a "racially clean" group. (instead of doing the obvious and just accept the the command only for appropiate units).

    That way, to get the most out of the game, it becomes a "who clicks faster" competition, and frankly, if i want to measure up in that department, i play winter games on a c64 emulator...
    • I guess you have never heard of control groups...
      • Well, make a control group for everty of the 12 or something different unit types?
        Maybe you want archers at 2 different places or something?
        And even if you give up any kind of tactics for unittype quickselection, the battle will just be group1->activate power->group2->acticate power... ect ect.

        I rather spend my clicks per second on actually doing something.
        its like Warcraft3, only every unit is a mini hero. (with 2 or 3 different powers, mana that recharges, ect). There were about 15 times the firs
        • Most of the time games like that just make me wish I could delegate more responsability to the AI. Frankly, it should be pretty obvious when you need to cast a power like that, it's unacceptable that I have to do it manually. That's the biggest reason I'm still a fan of Kohan, the AI did all of that stuff for you and let you control the battles from a higher level.

          Who wants to be a general when you have to call up each man individually and tell him to throw that grenade already?
          • Thats really my point.
            It looks like the developers couldnt decide if they want to make a RTS with units and hero units that have powers, or an action RPG ala silent storm.
            I think this game could have been awsome if it were a bit deeper(real experience, for example), but allowed to issue command while in pause.
            It really
        • Pause? Hmmm. Homeworld2 (at least) let you do exactly that in single-player missions. In fact, it was suggested in strategy guides. You could still issue commands while paused, which made it much easier to get your fleet(s) into position, then pause every minute or so and re-arrange units as you saw fit, or quickly switch back and forth between targets. However, if you got used to doing this, you were in for a sharp surprise in multiplayer. At least the AI seemed fairly smart. I've played Empire Earth since
    • by meowsqueak (599208) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:22PM (#13724308)
      You just hit tab when you have a diverse group selected, and the focus moves between each type of unit. You had to do the same thing in Warcraft 3 and it's not too bad.
    • If you select a large group of units, tab will take you through the various unit types. You can also click once on their icon at the bottom of the screen to select that particular type of units. Double click an icon will select just that unit.

      It really has a very simple interface, reminds me of Warcraft. Perhaps you should play the tutorial in future, before leveling complaints at the game?

    • I've only tried the demo, but it had the worst AI I've ever seen. Some monsters will just stand there and take range damage until they fall over (the Frost Giant when you get through the first tunnel for example - he sees you (he talks to you) but if you don't close with him, he just stands there in his camp while you shoot and Fireball him). Others will come after you when attacked, but as soon as you get over a line, they go back to where they were, and wait for you to shoot them in the back again. The al
  • Add-On (Score:5, Informative)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:00PM (#13724162) Journal
    The game is set on the jungle continent of Xen'drik, and as a result some of the most interesting Eberron-specific elements are far to the north on another continent

    Yes and this will be the add-on "City of Daggers - Sharn"
    • "Sharn, City of Towers."

      In fact, Sharn has a whole book [wizards.com] dedicated to it, its personalities and quirks, and its vertically stacked and striated neighborhoods.

      And then up the Lightning Rail a ways, you'll reach Wroat, Starilaskur, and finally, the crown jewel of the continent of Khorvaire, the Mournland. That ought to be a trip.

  • by Kranfer (620510) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:02PM (#13724172) Homepage Journal
    RTS along with D&D? Something definately worth while. I have always been rather surprised that Wizards never came up with a MMORPG that is D&D related. Lets hope they do... dragonlance related too. I would love to run around Krynn beating up the baddies! I shall settle for gemstone IV click here for link [play.net] for now. text Muds PWN too ya know :)
  • by 3.09 a hour (812839) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:05PM (#13724192)
    Honestly, i was very disapointed in this game. Its yet another C&C clone that just cant seem to get anything right. Lord of the Rings had the EXACT same building mechanism 2 years ago, with better graphics. Unless you have a real hard on for ebberon id steer far clear of this game.
    • C&C clone?? I wouldn't call it a blindly brilliant game, sure, but it is in no way similar to C&C. If anything, its feel reminds me of something like Age of Wonders or HoMM gone real-time. you can hardly call any RTS a C&C clone, and this particular game plays very differently to any other stuff in the genre.
    • Unless you have a real hard on for ebberon id steer far clear of this game.

      No, no, no, in Dragonshard, it's only the Dragons that can be hard.

    • by TerrapinOrange (805326) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:45PM (#13724481)
      Inflated reviews? Metacritic.com lists the average rating by the gaming media for this title as 82/100, which is pretty damn close to Zonk's 8/10. If this score is inflated, so are pretty much everyone else's.
      • You are correct. Most games are overrated. If you release a CD in a box, it earns a minimum score of 6 for most sites, regardless of the quality.

        82 is an insane score for this game. I was in the beta, and I hated it. I wouldn't have done any further than I went, but I wanted to see the process through. Warcraft 3 is still better, even though it is somewhat dated, now.

        Look at some of the real stinker games that came out, and what their metas are.

        Then look at who pays most of those websites/magazines who
    • Its yet another C&C clone that just cant seem to get anything right.

      I hate to break it to you but if your idea of an RTS is C&C then you shouldn't really be throwing stones at anyone. The genre has moved onward though numerous vastly superior games, Age of Empires, Starcraft, Age of Kings, Empire Earth, Rise of Nations, just to name a few and continues to do so.

      While it has it's place in history, C&C has not been a part of any serious RTS players library for a long time now.
  • If nothing else (Score:5, Interesting)

    by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:05PM (#13724193) Homepage
    I am not that much into RPGs (I suck at video games and don't have the patience to learn how to do things like check inventory), but I looked at the article because I used to enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons. I just have to say that this has been the best Slashdot article I have ever read. It is very well laid-out, is informative, and has supporting images that are appropriate.

  • by kensai (139597) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:07PM (#13724214) Homepage
    see the "Oh Shit" expression on his face on that last picture.
    • It's just like the D&D manuals, only in the manual the guy on the horse would be wearing leather armor. I think it's interesting how in almost every case, the heros in the picture are about to die. Dunno what that says about the artists, but it can't be good.
  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:08PM (#13724216) Journal
    It's been a slow year for Real-Time Strategy, but after some time working with Dragonshard it began to grow on me.
    Well, I don't know about that, as the RTS I've been looking forward to for a long time, the expansion to Dawn of War, Dawn of War: Winter Assault just came out. It's gotten generally good reviews, and I think the addition of the Imperial Guard and a more complex single player game makes it a worthwhile purchase.

    Demo Available here: New Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War Winter Assault demo [dawnofwargame.com]

    I may pick up Dragonshard eventually too... but I imagine that with the little time I have available for Game Playing I'll have my hands full with Winter Assault.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:12PM (#13724243)
    > A group of good-aligned warriors united in their worship of the Holy
    > Flame seek three mystic seals

    Warrior 1: "Ok, here, I've found the seals"
    Warrior 2: "Ummm, are those... circus seals?"
    Warrior 3: "How do they balance those beach balls on the noses?"
    Warrior 1: "It's... mystical"
  • SpellForce 2 does this... RPG RTS combo. It is a very special kind of suckage... games rarely suck that bad. In fact, I don't think any game sucks that bad. It's like a new discovery voyage of suckage. No, I didn't like it. So for these guys to say that's what they are doing... I have some serious doubts.
    • by Idealius (688975)
      I actually liked spellforce.

      Sure it was repetitive, but the RPG elements made the grind easier.

      What I DIDN'T like is when I got close to the end of the game and a bug in spellforce made my savegame unplayable. :(
    • Everyone seems to be making comparisons between this game and various other games, but I think it is very unique. It certainly doesn't play like spellforce, lets say.

      The actual PRG-ness in the game is very underplayed - sure, your characters level up, but it is a global leveling for all Captains of a certain type. Also there is no real inventory to speak of. The Underground section doesn't play like an RPG, but more like a smaller scale RTS with more unit micromangement required.

  • by eaddict (148006) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:19PM (#13724286)
    is an engine that can help a DM design thier own world for others to play in. Heck that is what D&D is all about. D&D gave you the books and you developed the world. Sure you could buy a world that the D&D creators fleshed out but I always enjoyed creating my own. If I could just get an AI engine for NPCs and monsters, graphics, and whatever building blocks I need to create my own world. THAT would be cool. Then I could host my world on a dedicated PC off of my high speed internet and control the number of users that come in....
  • .... Way back in the day there was an equally D&D horrible RTS called Blood & magic.

    D&D + Warcraft = Suck

    Jaysyn

  • Ok maybe I haven't played D&D in a long time, but is that a spaceship flying around in the second picture in the article??? They aren't allowed to put spaceships in D&D based games because well because I said so and thats that! Seriously WTF is that thing with the blue ring on it that looks like its flying?
    • Seriously WTF is that thing with the blue ring on it that looks like its flying?

      While I am not familure with this aspect of D&D there use to be a set of rules called "spelljammer" that had space flight.
    • The flying thing is an elemental galleon, built by house Khorvare, these ships are powered by a bound elemental of at least huge size. those galleons capable of flight use either an air elemental or a fire elemental. from the looks of the picture, I would say that that one is powered by an elder air elemental, top speed is approximately 20 mph. An elemental galleon can only be piloted by a dragonmarked heir of house Khorvare who posesses the mark of storm, least or higher.
    • They aren't allowed to put spaceships in D&D based games because well because I said so and thats that!
      Actually, there was an old module (City of the Gods maybe?) I think it was part of the Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign... it had high technology disguised as "ancient artifacts".
    • It's an airship, powered by an air elemental. They're pretty rare in Eberron, and are difficult to fly, and only go 20mph anyway, so don't expect it to fundamentally change the balance of the game.
  • by argent (18001) <peterNO@SPAMslashdot.2006.taronga.com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:23PM (#13724314) Homepage Journal
    Planescape: Torment and the Baldur's Gate sagas are some of the finest gaming experiences RPG fans can cite.

    I haven't played all that many of these games, because I became disenchanted with the whole genre long ago, but I have to ask... do any of these games actually provide any opportunities for role playing? That is, do you as a player have any control over your character's actions beyond those of a "choose your own adventure" book? Oh, sure, you can choose to go on or not go on side-quests, but beyond that the only results of your actions are whether you make it through to the ending, or at the most get one of a couple of different variations to the end.

    For a canned game, where the only person involved is yourself, this kind of interactive fiction approach is probably the best you can manage... but even the "massively multiplayer" games seem to give you awfully limited opportunities for developing your own character with his or her own motivations and goals. And, after all, that's what distinguishes the role-playing campaign from the canned dungeon crawl whete the DM may as well BE a computer...
    • Its a single player RPG that they crossed over from XBox that basically starts you off as a little boy in a town. Your family gets killed and you go into Hero training. What you do in game effects not only how you look (grow horns for doing bad stuff, get muscular from fighting, get tattoos...) but it also effects how the environment around you acts. For example I played and I went around killing and stealing from innocent villagers. Next thing you know people are groveling at my feet when I walk by them +
      • ...which, like its predecessor, was completely open ended. I had a great playing experience, and never followed the main story at all. Though like another poster said, you did give up early if you never played Daggerfall. Though I have to say, it did crash quite a bit, so I can't blame you for giving up on it ;).
    • If you haven't played Planescape: Torment, then do so now. The story alone is what makes this game a must play.
    • by thebdj (768618) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:33PM (#13724390) Journal
      Ummm...wow did you give up on the RPG early or what? I would have to say that BG is decently open. Of course there are never going to be a HUGE variety of end game scenarios. If you want a VERY open RPG, look to Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind (and two expansions), the hopefully soon arrive ES4. ES3 has tons of different quest lines to go down besides just the main quest line, there are also plenty of things you can do that effect how different characters will react to you.

      Anyone who has played a thief in ES3 can tell you that there are tons of opportunities to earn free items, and plenty of times to kill NPCs. The map is HUGE and the game had a cool story. Honestly, BG was ages ago and I cannot remember it too well, but you do have a decent range of mobility in your actions there, but with all single player games there is of course that main quest to shoot for.

      I personally liked KotoR as well, but you might still find it a bit restrictive. You will get a chance for multiple game endings and opportunities to selectively add party members based on your reactions and what not. KotoR2 is suppose to even start you out differently based on how you ended KotoR1. Like Dark Forces 2: JK, there really are only like two endings, but like I said there is only so much end game you can stuff into a PC game (more true with consoles).

      I would look into some of these games, because seriously if you abandonned the RPG before Baldur's Gate, you have missed out on a lot of great gameplay.
    • Next you're going to tell us that Capture the Flag isn't really all that much like actual warfare. No shit, seriously? Christ. Rob
    • Planescape: Torment would be about as close as you get to what you are saying - every action affects you in some ways, your character becomes YOU. It is entirely possible to go wading through thousands of enemies annihilating all in your path as it is to fight only when absolutely necessary (which is really rare).
      In essence, it is what a lot of DMs want to see in a Roleplaying game. Yes, it is still bound by some restrictions - this is a computer game, last I checked everything on a computer at this time
      • It is entirely possible to go wading through thousands of enemies annihilating all in your path as it is to fight only when absolutely necessary (which is really rare).

        That's a tactical-level choice, yes, but what if I want to opt out of the whole "combat" thing and have my character be an armorer or a research alchemist? I know Everquest has schemes where you can pretend to be a shopkeeper and sit at your computer typing buy and sell commands all day (or have a script do it for you), but that's seems to be
        • My favorite side adventure occured when the DM had an NPC slip a drug to my friend. We tracked him down and beat the name of his dealer out of him and spent the rest of the adventure taking over the drug market in town and ignoring whatever we were supposed to be doing.
    • If you have a person who writes the adventure and is running a game directly... you can get real role playing...

      It's a computer, until we have an AI that is nearly human-like in thought... we're not going to get true role playing on the computer, it's just how it goes.

      ===

      If you're looking for character development in RPGs, stick with table top, old bean, you'll be much happier...
    • Have you played Morrowind? That's the most "pure" RP environment I've seen in a long time.
  • Blood & Magic (Score:5, Informative)

    by HydrusZ (539461) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:25PM (#13724328)
    "Dragonshard is the first melding of Dungeons and Dragons with the Real-Time Strategy genre"

    You're off by about 9 years. Blood & Magic [gamespot.com] was a D&D RTS based on Forgotten Realms that came out in 1996. Not a terrible game, but it wasn't near the top of RTS's even back then.
    • Thank you, I was trying to remember the name of that one.

      Of course, sometimes it seems like most Slashdotters were about 5 years old in 1996, so maybe Zonk figured no one would notice.
    • Stronghold [the-underdogs.org]

      Released in 1992 according to the site. I was thinking of it and I had to do some searching to remember the name.

      I loved this game when it came out and played it for many hours. It is not a modern day rts game per say, but it definatly was ad&d in real time.

      So, you are right, this definently isn't new :)
  • Did anyone else find the narrator's voice extremely irritating? Also, in the tutorial, he insists on telling you multiple times how to do something simple, and congratulates you patronisingly and annoyingly every time you accomplish these simple tasks. I almost gave up on the game by the end of the tutorial. Instead I played the first mission and gave up after that.

    Speaking of which, it took me two hours to get through the tutorials! It might be great for complete newbies but I just wanted to know what made
  • Eberron Setting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:36PM (#13724409) Homepage Journal
    Eberron ain't that great a setting. It's not particularly inspired, and the rules for it don't help it reach its stated goal, which is to create "Cinematic Roleplaying". Wow, ok, I have these "Action Points" that can be used as die bumps. Thats crazy. Wow, the "Extreme Adventurer" gets more of these die bumps. So very cinematic. =P

    I think their core concept is that if you publish modules with one or two film noir-esque illustrations in each one, that somehow will make a roleplaying experience cinematic. (And no, it doesn't work.)

    For a roleplaying system that actually, really, creates a cinematic feel to it, try out Feng Shui some time. There's a D20 adaptation for it (Google "Burning Shaolin"), but their core system is better. No dis on D&D, I play it a lot, it's just that they really missed the mark on this one.
  • It's been a slow helluva long time, IMHO there hasn't been a really good RTS since Rise of Nations.

    Every single one I've played has been a disappointment since then.

    ===

    Until there is some sort of new concept in the RTS games put out on the market... things aren't going to change, either... it'll all just be rehashes of the same thing, over and over.
    • Rise of Nations was excellent. I though Rome: Total War was pretty good, although not exactly in the classic RTS style.
      Battle for Middle Earth was really uninspired.
      I am waiting for Age of Empires 3, which seems like it might introduce some interesting twists (i.e. the home city, indian nations you can ally with).
      Rise of Legends should prove interesting as well.
  • "It's been a slow year for Real-Time Strategy" *awaits for age of empires III*
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Stronghold, published by SSI in 1993 was also a D&D branded RTS, not an overhead view of all of the action, not multiplayer, but Real Time and Strategy nonetheless! It was also a pretty fun game. If you can find a copy of it I'd guess it would still be pretty fun today!
  • PS:T (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chaleur (896943) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @04:00PM (#13724579)
    Planescape: Torment was good in spite of the fact that it was based on the D&D system. Not because of that system. As one friend of mine put it: "It just shows what you can do with a system, when you ignore that system as much as you can, and just write a good story."
  • Eberron? donde? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rayde (738949) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @04:08PM (#13724631) Homepage
    i think i speak for many of us when i ask the question: Where are our Dragonlance and/or Ravenloft related games and/or movies? Personally, these settings interested me the most of all the TSR worlds. Someday, the Chronicles [dragonlance-movie.com] will be made into a movie, and then everything will be right in the world. :-D
    • Someday, the Chronicles will be made into a movie, and then everything will be right in the world.

      Yup. Eberron is an interesting setting, but with its trains (or lightning rails) and planes (sky wagons) I found myself longing for the high fantasy of Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms. Those stories would have been nearly impossible if the companions had a train to hop ...

    • Dragonlance probably seems too dangerously close to Forgotten Realms for the required differentiation for a mainstream hit (let's see: fantasy, elves, knights, middle-age technology...). Ravenloft was heavily based on peculiar variations and additions to rules that I never bothered to learn, such as all that tarot and curse stuff. It's probably also one of the least known campaigns. Frankly I liked Dark Sun the best, and they did actually make a couple of Dark Sun games.
  • I was going to run a quasi-RTS D&D game. The idea was, you're the leader of an organization (or a god, but that position was reserved to a specific few). I'm the DM. To interact with your minions, you interact with me.

    And every weekend, I'd play out all the results from all the opposing minions.

    Didn't work out, though. I didn't have the spare time required. But I did put together a bunch of pages [brew-masters.com] describing how it'd work, if anyone's interested.
  • by mcbevin (450303) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @06:57PM (#13725866) Homepage
    I've played it ... its fun, but nothing greatly different from other RTSes. A few peculiarities to make it interesting for a while, but if you play it a lot I'm sure it boils down to just as much micro as Warcraft III (and similar strategies etc as well). For a few weeks entertainment (depending on how intensively you play - for me with a full-time job a few weeks at least) for someone who likes RTS games in general its worthwhile.

    I would ignore the 'first D&D RTS' claims - once you get past appearances its not much closer to D&D than Warcraft. And unfortunately the more magic etc you throw into such a game, the more micro-ing is required (personally I always find games with lots of magic + heroes etc initially attractive, but due to the inevitable micro-ing required for such games I tend to end up playing the more strategic games like Kohan longer). And the dungeons are just an excuse to lean the games towards creeping which inevitably makes the games more of a race.

    But I would also ignore the 'another C&C clone' trolls. If its your kind of thing, its worth a play as long as you don't expect too much over existing RTSes. It is definately different, but its not D&D, and if you play any of these RTSes too much they inevitably all boil down to the same thing. Its inherent in the name _real-time_ strategy that time is of the essence, and thus micro etc becomes ever more important once the basic strategy+tricks are understood.
  • ..."Dragons Hard"? I'm thinking, whoa rpg geek pron game. Then I see it's just a regular game. Oh well.
  • This isn't the first time D&D (officially) has been merged with an RTS game. There was an earlier game called "Blood and Magic" [fileplanet.com] which was poorly set in the world of the Forgotten Realms, there was even a series of FR books to support the game. It wasn't a very good rts game, though.

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