Thursday, October 26, 2017

Game 267: Twilight: 2000 (1991)

     
Twilight: 2000
United States
Paragon (developer); Microprose (publisher)
Released in 1991 for DOS
Date Started: 16 October 2017

Until firing it up, I thought Twilight: 2000 was going to be an RPG about vampires. I don't know where I got that idea, except for the obvious mental connection to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight, which I have neither seen nor read. Instead, the setting is apocalyptic. This makes it fairly original. We've see plenty of post-apocalyptic games, but this might be the first set during an apocalypse.
    
The manual (drawing from the materials from GDW's tabletop RPG) outlines a detailed and realistic set of scenarios by which tensions flare between NATO and Warsaw Pact nations over the reunification of Germany and other lingering Cold War issues. (The scenario was written in 1984, I should mention, before the Cold War ended, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, and Germany was reunified peacefully.) At the same time, war breaks out between China and the Soviet Union over border issues. Tensions flare to skirmishes which flare to all-out war. Nuclear exchanges occur, but with no side committing to complete nuclear annihilation. As a result, economies collapse, millions die in famines, and civilizations slowly unravel, with military commanders and units acting largely independently of any civilian authority.
      
Stock footage from planes and tanks sets up the scenario when you start the game.
     
France, which withdraws from NATO early in the alternate history, comes out relatively unscathed, but most of central Europe is a mess. Military units, cut off from any consistent central authority, become marauders or "go native" and help local populations with life-sustaining tasks like farming. Nations dissolve into fiefdoms.

One such fiefdom is in northern Poland, where an evil ex-police official named Baron Czarny has come to power with the support of his Black Legion. The player commands a party of 20 (!) rogue military veterans who come together in Krakow to support the city and oppose Czarny.

I want to pause here and note how odd this main quest is from an American perspective (and, of course, Americans made up the bulk of those who purchased this game). In the pre-Internet era of 1991, Poland was a far-off, barely-understood nation that kids made jokes about without having the faintest idea why. If you knew anything about it, it was a) that it had been invaded by Hitler, and b) the Pope came from there. But the developers chose it, and approximated realistic geography, instead of setting the game in a more familiar place like Germany or Italy, and players probably picked up a few things about the nation while playing.
   
The way the manual describes it, you create 20 characters, each with a unique background and set of skills, drawn from dozens of possibilities. From this party, you'll assemble squads of 4 to go out on various missions, strengthening the overall party and improving your home base, before taking on Czarny himself.

This is just the sort of game that, based on the description, I'd be very excited to play--if I didn't already have plenty of experience with Paragon's attempts to make anything fun out of one of GDW's properties. The warning bells start with the game manual, in which 25 of the 106 pages consist of errata--changes to the game made after the first 81 pages were written. The changes include the removal of equipment, skills, combat options, and sometimes entire interface screens.
        
The errata file makes it clear that "Interrogation" is the only necessary skill in the game.
         
If that isn't enough, the "readme" file that comes with the game documents another 10-12 pages of errata. One of them makes it clear that the only necessary skill in the game is "interrogation." But I don't know how well to trust that because it also lists 16 skills that "have been removed from the game," and those skills are still, in fact, in the game. Or, at least, they're present during character creation.

With my anticipation thus dampened, I went into the very long character creation process. As with MegaTraveller 2, I think the developers intended that the computer version could be used to create tabletop characters. There are six attributes--strength, education, constitution, charisma, agility, and intelligence---each of which governs 6 to 12 skills. Skills include expected things like heavy weapons, rifles, medical, interrogation, lockpicking, computers, stealth, and a variety of different types of aircraft and vehicles; but they also include such esoteric selections as geology, metallurgy, SCUBA, forgery, farming, fishing, and knowledge of any of a couple dozen languages.
      
Some of the game's many skills. I suspect most will turn out to be useless.
     
The manual says that it bolds the ones that are useful in the game, but half of those are on the list that were "removed" according to the errata, and the one skill that the errata says is essential, interrogation, is not bolded. So I don't know what to believe.

I manually created 8 characters, each favoring a particular set of skills, including at least one weapon. With no way to keep track of so many characters, I based them (and named them) on common archetypes. Thus, "Cagney" the ex-cop has skills with things like pistols, interrogation, persuasion, observation, forgery, and tracking. "Brown," the farmer, has all the rural and industrial skills: horsemanship, farming, fishing, foraging, and so forth. "Maverick" is the pilot. "Quinn" is the doctor-scientist. I've got a couple of combat heavies called "Matrix" and "Dutch" and an engineer named "Kaylee." The rest I auto-generated and just gave alphabetical names. You can start with less than 20, but you end up with less equipment and a chance that someone won't have that one skill that you really need, so there's no major advantage.
     
Part of my completed party.
     
Manual generation takes a long time and includes options I can't imagine a CRPG of even today's complexity making full use of. You start with a name and sex and then select a portrait from 15 choices for each sex. Then you choose a nationality from 9 options: Britain, Canada, Germany, Denmark, the United States, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia (they used to be one country, kids!), and the U.S.S.R. But it gets better. If you select Canada, Britain, Czechoslovakia, or U.S.S.R., you then choose the character's regional or cultural origin; for instance, Anglo-Canadian or French-Canadian for Canada. For the U.S.S.R., you get 18 sub-options: one for each of the 16 republics plus Chuvash and Tartar. Your selection confers one or two language skills from a list of more than 30.
     
Irish readers, how do you feel about being a sub-category of "Britain"?
  
Then you go to attributes. You can choose the "allocation" method where you divide a pool among the 6 attributes as you'd like, or the "random" method where the game rolls the dice. The "random" method is vastly superior, since with the "allocation" method you only get 32 points, and "random" routinely serves up totals in the 40s. You just have to keep re-rolling until you get the numbers you want. Holding out for at least 6s in everything means that most paths will be open to you.
     
Probably the best set of stats that I got among dozens of tries.
     
You start by allocating 4 points to a random selection of skills that are supposed to represent your hobbies. They include things that the game says will mostly be unused, like fishing, swimming, and motorcycles.

You then move on to your career choices. It starts with three major divisions--education, civilian and military--and branches out significantly from there depending on your choices and attributes. You can even back out of one path and start down another, for instance going to undergraduate school and working as an engineer before joining the Air Force. Usually at some point in your background, war breaks out and you end up with experience in some branch of the military. Various skill selections accompany your choices, and in between terms you get a chance to make further improvements to those "hobby" skills.
        
Various nonmilitary career options. Some have prerequisites for attributes, education, or prior careers.
      
For instance, Cagney started off in an education role as an undergraduate, which earned her computer, instruction, persuasion, and various engineering skills (she changed majors a lot). From there, she went on to law school, which conferred observation, persuasion, and interrogation skills. Instead of practicing as an attorney (which is an option), she went into federal law enforcement (pistol, interrogation, observation, stealth, computer) for three terms. War didn't break out until she was 37 and starting to lose attributes. Despite her age, she was drafted and joined the Army, where basic training conferred rifle, unarmed melee, swimming, wheeled vehicle, and thrown weapon skills. She joined the medical branch (medical, wheeled vehicle), got promoted to sergeant, and starts the game at the age of 41.
     
Cagney's final skill list.
    
Matrix (who I made German, since Austrian wasn't an option) started in the National Military Academy for the Army and immediately developed skills in rifles, heavy weapons, and combat engineering. (I had him focus on vehicles for all his hobbies.) From there, he went to basic training, with its associated skills, and directly into the Special Forces as an officer, which brought various weapons skills plus leadership, persuasion, and the like. He's currently 33 and a captain.

The number of combinations are near-infinite. There are six basic educational paths, twenty-three civilian jobs, and four military branches, each with a handful of arms. A medical character could start as an undergraduate, then go to graduate school, then medical school, then practice for a couple of terms as a physician--or she could head right to the medical corps of the Army. You can start as an entertainer, turn to crime when society collapses, get sent to prison, get drafted from there to the Marine infantry.

Once each character's career finishes, he or she can spend accumulated money on a selection of weapons, armor, and other useful equipment. They typically already come with several grenades and armor items. I made a big mistake here, the consequences of which I didn't fully realize until later in the game. Primarily, I didn't realize that as you scroll from left to right, what you see is the first item in the item's category, and you have to scroll up and down to see the rest of the items. I missed key items like tracked vehicle tools, antibiotics, snow shoes, Geiger counters, and other things. You really want to spend all your money during this phase.
     
Buying my starting items.
      
Once you have your party and deploy them, you begin in your "office" in Krakow. You click on the various icons in the office to accomplish tasks.
      
Didn't anyone in 1990 anticipate dual monitors?
     
The computer shows you your current status; the map indicates what territories you and Baron Czarny control; the radio communicates with your intelligence officer to get the next quest; the file has drawers for game operations and party management; and the lamp takes you out of the office and on to the mission.
    
Choosing which characters are part of the party.
   
For the first mission, the intelligence officer reported that one of Czarny's raids has left the city of Zator in crucial need of medical supplies. The city of Skawina is willing to donate some, but my team has to go pick them up and deliver them.
      
       
After leaving the office, you can visit the store room to get equipped. All the items that you have your characters purchase at the ends of their careers get dumped here, again something I didn't realize until I started playing. I was woefully short on equipment.
   
    
Then it's off to the motor pool to select the vehicle for the mission, which was easy enough for the first one because I didn't have any vehicles yet.
      
The motor pool later, after I'd acquired one vehicle.
      
I headed out the door and began walking to Skawina. The main interface shows an oblique view of a single character representing the entire party. Icons at the bottom, activated with the SPACE bar or the function keys, allow you to find food, handle game operations, radio back to base, check the character sheets, enter combat, talk to NPCs, pick up items, use items, check the map, and use the "observation" skill to gaze far off in various directions.
      
Paragon needs to find a happy medium between the tiny characters of MegaTraveller and the ultra-zoomed in perspective of Twilight: 2000.
    
Each map has a number of buildings that you can enter, but most are empty. You see furniture, but there's no way to interact with it, not even an "open" command for chests and wardrobes and whatnot. I'm guessing there isn't much reason to go inside places unless your quest object is there.

It took me a long time to figure out how to get around. The game map is divided into a number of small, discrete squares. It takes a long time--like, 10 minutes real-time--to cross each one, and there are about 20 of them in between Krakow and Skawina. So instead you use a kind of "fast-travel" by clicking on your destination and letting the computer take you there. When I did that, the computer told me the trip had taken 12 hours on foot but would have been faster if I'd equipped everyone with snowshoes. I hadn't even seen snowshoes as an option when was purchasing equipment, so this was my first clue that I'd missed something.
       
The smallest-scale game map.
      
Skawina had far fewer buildings than Krakow. It had a large building that the legend tagged as a hospital, so I figured the medical supplies must be there, but I searched it and didn't find anything.
       
This hospital isn't big on privacy.
     
I thus started searching the smaller houses. Soon I realized that if you look at the zoomed-in game map, you actually see a tiny flashing light where your quest objective is. In this case, it was in a house to the south of the hospital.
       
If the create is so small that I can hand-carry it for 30 miles, is it really enough to save a city?
      
I picked up the medical supplies and then used the fast travel option to get to Zator, over a day to the north, receiving the same admonishment about snow shoes along the way. Zator also had only a small number of buildings, and this time I was primed to look for the little flashing pixel.
    
You can't really see it in this static shot, but it's in the center building in the north row. The pixel representing me is on the street.
     
I entered the house and encountered my first NPC: a uniformed man. The game adopts MegaTraveller 2's convention by which you have to "hail" an NPC to get him to stop walking, after which you can talk to him. Unfortunately, when I tried, we had a communication barrier: he spoke Polish and none of my party members did. Stupid oversight, given that we're in Poland. I guess if I'd remembered to take a hand-held radio on the mission, there's a way I could have had a Polish-speaking character sent to me, replacing someone in the party, but as it was I had to go back and get him.
      
Maybe giving Polish skills to my character named "Dutch" was too confusing.
      
I returned to HQ and swapped out Matrix for Dutch, who speaks Polish, and returned to the NPC. He gratefully took the supplies and said that, in reward, a Humvee was waiting for us in the center of town.
     
We honestly couldn't have pantomimed this?
     
We found the vehicle and entered, at which point the interface switched to a real-time 3D driving view. This was unexpected and impressive. I haven't played enough with it to see the effects of crashing it into buildings and whatnot, but you certainly get around a lot faster than on foot.
  
I careen through the snow trying to align myself on the road.
   
Within 30 minutes, I was back at the base, where I had to maneuver the vehicle into the garage to finish the quest. One quest down!
    
An animation shows the car going into the bay. From what I can tell, those buildings in the background correspond to Krakow's real skyline, with one of the towers of St. Mary's Basilica at the highest point and the Church of Saints Peter and Paul with the pointy roof to its left.
    
Miscellaneous notes:

  • The game manual says that you need to eat and rest every 8 hours, and indeed there are options for fishing, foraging, hunting, and sleeping on the "necessities" menu. But I ignored this for the first quest and nothing ill seems to have happened.
  • For all the problems I have with their games, Paragon is one of the only developers of the era offering detailed item descriptions in-game.
   
      
  • Navigating is a little hard because the map screen shows north as straight up, but the main game screen has north to the upper-left.
  • Some of the buildings are annoying because they have back entrances that are obscured by the front-facing perspective. Fortunately, I read the manual and saw that the "V" key toggles the exteriors of buildings on and off so you can see the doors.
      
The "V" key removes the building's structure so I can see the back door.
     
Having experienced a basic sense of the game--though no combat yet--I started over with a new party (but keeping the same names and basic profiles) so I could properly equip them. I also created a couple characters who spent years and years in undergraduate school learning languages so I could call on them if I really do run into someone in Poland who only speaks Scottish Gaelic.

I'm also going to check out an add-on for the game that came out in 1992 called "The Colonel"; it supposedly embeds more graphics and sound into the main game.
      
Quitting the game gets you the 1991 equivalent of an ad for DLCs.
    
I leave this first session with a slightly positive reaction. The production values on the game are quite good, and the character creation process is more fun than even MegaTraveller. But I worry that Twilight: 2000 will end up delivering the same problems as other GDW games, including too much reliance on a limited skill set and no character development. The manual mentions nothing about skills increasing after creation, and I don't even see a mechanism for it (i.e., no "training center" or something). This omission, which seems to be a chronic issue with GDW games, calls into question its very status as an RPG.

*****

Time so far: 4 hours

67 comments:

  1. Just FYI, czarny means black in Polish

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    1. Interesting. I would have thought it had something to do with "czar."

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    2. "Czar" means "spell" in Polish :) It is pronounced more or less like "char". Our spelling for czar/tsar/tzar is actually "Car". Nothing to do with wheeled vehicles or trains :-P

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  2. I hadn't realized that these were the same people who made Megatraveler, but it makes a lot of sense. Both are games where they put way more effort into the character generator than the actual game. It wasn't until Darklands that someone finally made an actually good game to play after that kind of character generation.

    I really wanted to like this game but I ran into a brick wall after a few hours. IIRC the vehicle combat is horribly broken. It's a shame because this is the one post-apocalyptic setting that's halfway plausible and internally consistent.

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  3. Also, Kraków is pretty far south, so if the Baron Czarny has rebelled in the north, you have a long way to go.

    Nowadays, there isn't all that much snow in those parts, BTW; maybe couple months a year, and certainly not enough to warrant use of snowshoes. Perhaps there's a nuclear winter going on or something?

    As Knurek have already mentioned, Baron Czarny means Baron Black in Polish. As an interesting aside, we didn't have any barons in Poland; Polish and Lithuanian nobility in the Commonwealth was generally considered to be all equal. There were a few titles that were granted to the richest and more powerful families by the foreign powers; a few princes/dukes and some counts, but those were only used a courtesy, and didn't grant any power over a simple nobleman who work on his field himself.

    I hope to jump in with a few more interesting facts, as it's indeed rare to see a game set in Poland; even our own games are often placed elsewhere!

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    1. North Poland today was Prussia previously, plenty of nobles there.

      I'm sure it was set in Poland because that was a Cold War battleground, and it gave the game a suitably distant feel. Americans didn't know the place, it was literally behind the Iron Curtain, so it washed away preconceptions and left the RPG setting blank for whatever the GM wanted to do. Like Star Wars' "A long time ago in a galaxy far away".

      It's sadly ironic that Americans get ridiculed by Europeans all the time for failing to recognize that countries outside America exist, and yet when they do make an attempt to use a European setting, they get flamed for not getting it right.

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    2. I've never been to Poland, but I always picture it in my head as quite cold and gray with at least a little snow on the ground. That must be how American movies always depict it.

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    3. It's not the name "Baron Black," it's the sobriquet "the Black Baron," the ruthless leader of the largest band of marauders and brigands in Poland. In the original pen and paper T2000 adventures, he controls a large territory northeast of Warsaw where there are essentially no Soviet or Polish military units left, most of which broke up and joined his forces. Think Negan only with a much bigger army. And yes, the tabletop game included shifting meteorological effects from nuclear winter that were the best available in 1984, and simply growing food without mechanized tools or fertilizer when the growing season is already shortened is a major problem.

      I think Harland is spot on saying that Americans would be unfamiliar with Poland, thus making it sort of a blank slate for adventure plot. GDW had a habit of giving its RPGs a much more unified story, the first Traveller being a partial exception. Adventure modules usually presented a unified episodic story for a GM to run characters through as a campaign. "The Ruins of Warsaw" and the battle with the Black Baron is essentially the climax of the Polish Campaign, after which the players have the opportunity to take a museum relic train back to Germany to get back to the US.

      Also, the character generation system was very useful for generating tabletop characters, and we used it just for that purpose for a couple years before the rules were revamped in 1992 or 93.

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    4. There was a réal "Black Baron". In the Russian civil war, Peter Wrangel was the last White général to fight the Red Army. He was called the "Black Baron" and even mentioned in a Red Army song. He evacuated the Crimea in 1920? I think he emigrated to Yugoslavia.

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  4. I'm not Irish, but I assume they'd be more upset about being represented by the Italian flag.

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    1. This is one of those "I'm only half smart" things. I'm sure it was delightful to say "IRISH? IT'S THE BRITISH ARMY DURR HURR" without knowing the extensive history of Irish serving in the British Army. "There never was a coward where the shamrock grows" and all that.

      I'm surprised nobody has jumped all over them for the idiocy of representing England, Scotland and Wales with the Union Jack instead of their respective flags.

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    2. I was thinking "oh boy, Scotland and the union jack".

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    3. One of the recent X-Com games has England and Scotland as places of origin for characters, but not Wales, so it continues to this day.

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    4. Britain and Ireland together are referred to as the British Isles, and Great Britain includes Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is not a NATO member, and has less than 10,000 military personnel of all services. More Irish serve in the British Army than in Ireland, and have since the foundation of the Republic in 1922.

      (Full disclosure, I had to google liberally to confirm most of that.)

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    5. Great Britain is just another name for Britain, and is an island. It doesn't include Northern Ireland as that is on the island of Ireland. The term you are thinking of is United Kingdom.

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  5. I love this style of character creation (unfortunately, pretty much unused by any modern games outside of Planeshift MMO), but for 20 characters? It's a stupid overkill.

    I played with Twilight 2000 in my childhood, but I could never understand that game. And, as Miguk says, vehicle combat is AWFUL. I don't remember much about foot combat, but I don't think it's good, too. Generally, I feel that games like this are closer to X-Com/Jagged Alliance brand of "western tactical RPGs" than to traditional RPGs. But I believe it's not until 1993 and 1994 when the first X-Com/UFO and Jagged Alliance would get the formula for right.

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    1. Exactly my feelings too. Twilight 2000 had detailed system that could have given tactical approach to combat, but I guess Paragon were more fans of Midwinter than Laser Squad.

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    2. Twilight 2000, like most of GDW's games, was about two thirds tactical simulation and one third RPG. Compared to Dungeons and Dragons, which sacrificed a lot of realism in favor of playability, T2000 was much more complex and detailed in its combat procedures. Honestly, most of GDW's rules would have made better computer games, with all the randomness and detail taking place behind the scenes. But they were not unplayable, even with the even more complex vehicle combat rules. I usually tried to make vehicular combat rare by limiting access to armored vehicles by the party, so that they would usually dismount their soft-skinned vehicles and approach places on foot. Which, if you think about it, is what motorized or armored infantry are supposed to do.

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    3. Yes, I agree about the classification. I think it's difference between controlling a party or a roster.
      This game gives me a "Syndicate" vibe. It's also on the Adddict's list.

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    4. I've been pondering about the difference between certain strategy games which have evolving units that gain experience and can follow you through whole campaign - be it single soldiers (X-COM f.ex.), larger units like (Panzer General) or dynasties (Crusader Kings II).

      Why X-COM and Crusader Kings could be said containing roleplaying elements, but Panzer General type game is just a pure strategy, eventhough you can draw quite direct similarities with Heroes of Might & Magic style games? Requirement for character development would be fulfilled as will combat effectiveness by character attributes on all of them

      There's always argument that these strategy games are generally nothing but series of fights, but frankly, does most of the RPGs, especially earlier (and feels like fair share of the modern ones also), have any other content either.

      One argument could be freedom of choice. Early lower tier X-COM clones, Soldiers At War, followed infantry unit through WW2. There are set scenarios so you can't move your squad around Europe's battlegrounds at will, but then again, would single squad have any saying where they will be marching.

      Flexible inventories criteria is also met with games with individual units, but when scale turns to larger units it would generally be unfeasible. Let's say that in best strategy games you can load every soldier's rifle on fighting on Eastern Front, in worst strategy games you have to do it.
      I guess the situation would be same as in HOMM type games they are done with upgrades, perks or enhancements and magical equipments. Same effect on Panzer General, just replace enchanted plate mails with Tiger II's.

      I don't want to flood more games to Chet's list but, I'd be interested on hearing how others are interpreting this thin line.

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    5. Never would have figured Syndicate to ever be considered an rpg. Great game, but not an rpg.

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  6. FWIW, they almost certainly chose Warsaw and the scenario you describe because of the pen-and-paper RPG Twilight:2000. It's introductory scenario was set in Poland, and its first two expansions were The Free City of Krakow and The Ruins of Warsaw. The second had the PCs recruited to fight Baron Czarny on behalf of people living in the ruins of Warsaw. It included a mass combat system and had a lot of side missions you could go on to help build up your forces and undermine those of the Baron.

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    1. That makes sense. Puts a slight damper on my enthusiasm.

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    2. Befween Free City of Kraków and Ruins of Warsaw there was Pirates of the Vistula, a bridge module where the group helps a tugboat captain run the river to find his family in Warsaw. It also had a large-scale combat system for resolving the final combat with the Black Baron’s fleet.

      Honestly, other than he character generation system, my friends and I, who were dedicated Twilight players, were very disappointed by this game. My memory might be faulty but it had a difficult interface and a lot of game freezing bugs.

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    3. To be fair, I think you are right in why the TTRPG chose Poland as its setting. The game just used it for those same reasons, and due to the fact it is what players of the TTRPG would expect.

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  7. I guess I'm kind of echoing the previous comments, but really, it's very intriguing to see a game set in Poland. Even Polish developers rarely set their games locally, because it is seen as something that will reduce the game's international sales potential. And here's an RPG set in Poland, and not made in Poland.

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  8. Its an alt history - maybe Ireland joined the UK?

    Or somebody didn't understand the difference between "Ireland" and "North Ireland."

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    1. To me it sounds like they confused 'Britain' (an island) with 'The British Isles' (the archipelago containing Britain and Ireland).

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    2. It is due to the centuries-long tradition of Irish serving in the British Army. Sheesh, Stanley Kubrick made a movie about it.

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    3. DO you know that Ireland doesn't show up once in my list of RPGs by country? Moreover, I don't think I've ever heard from a single Irish commenter. Why do the Irish hate RPGs?

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    4. They may not have made the distinction between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but they (properly) distinguish between Anglophone and Francophone Canadians. Weird!

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    5. Well, bitSmith Games (http://www.bitsmithgames.com/) is Irish, and they've made a couple of RPGs. But they're relatively new.

      In my professional career, I did know one (only) Irish game developer - and he had spent most of his career, from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, in the UK. One individual is not much to go on, but I would still extrapolate from that to argue that Ireland's games industry has been stunted by two factor:
      - firstly, the overall small size of the Irish IT economy 1990s. Remember, for a very long time, Ireland was losing people to migration, and its high-tech industries were definitely not well developed. It wasn't until they changed policies and set the whole "Celtic Tiger" thing in motion that things really changed. Today there's quite a bit of IT and games development going on in Ireland, but this is still a relative novelty - certainly it doesn't go as far back as the 1980s and early 1990s.
      - the proximity of the UK's strong game industry and the lack of a language barrier, which meant that anybody who wanted to work in games like that friend of mine, would probably wind up studing IT in a UK university and then getting a job in the UK industry. So undoubtedly there are many Irish games development professionals out there - they're just generally not in Ireland, is all.

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    6. I live in Ireland!

      (does that count? :) )

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    7. Ireland and Scotland have impacted culture beyond their actually small populations, four million and five million respectively. Easier for any individuals seeking that career to have hopped over to the UK.

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    8. There are seven times as many Irish in America as there are in Ireland. Even today the population is only sixty percent of what it was before the Great Famine.

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    9. I stand corrected: I one Irish reader and one non-Irish reader in Ireland.

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    10. Back around 2009 there was an attempt to encourage the nascent gamedev industry in Northern Ireland.

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  9. I actually had a couple RPG table top box sets and suppliment books. I did buy the computer game back in 93 or 94 a few years after it was released when I switched from the Amiga over to a DOS machine... but never played it. Might have to go back and check it out.

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  11. Man I wish these style of RPGs did well and were still around. I think the bumbling of Paragon messed up the really good core of ideas this game and the megatraveler games have. If they streamlined things, and made the games actually fun they could have had something that could easily go head-to-head with the gold box games.

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    1. I think both (Mega)Traveller and Twilight 2k are both somewhat bad rules systems. The settings are fascinating, but I feel here the license does not help.

      Twilight in particular is an akward mix of wargame and RPG aspirations. It feels like they had difficulties on deciding on the scope of the thing, and the source material clearly wants you to do certain things.

      I also remember being annoyed that you were more likely to be shot in the head if you were prone, since some of the other locations became headshots.

      We did have a lot of fun with it, the setting has a lot of benefits,but the system really doesn't work too well.

      I never played the computer game, I'm looking firward to this, although I fear it won't be very good.

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    2. If you think about it, being prone reduces the chance you will be hit but increases the chance of a head shot if you are, because your head is blocking the view of your body. If I recall correctly, there was a different chart for firing at a prone target from the side versus the front, and it was also pointed out that shooting from above you would just use the standard hit chart.

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    3. Pedantry warning. Being prone will not significantly alter the chances of being hit in the head. It does mean that practically all the hits will occur either in the hands, head or the very top of the torso. Compared to a standing target, at the same distance the head will be the same size and as such roughly equally easy or difficult target to hit.

      I probably remember this incorrectly, but all torso hits were converted into head hits and leg hits were misses in the forward facing prone table.

      Anyway, that was far from the only issue with the game, merely something I felt to be indicative. A lot of the fun we had, we had despite of the rules.

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    4. I think you're both saying the same thing. Being prone reduces the chances of a hit but increases the percentage of hits that are headshots.

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  12. I never played the CRPG, but some friends and I tried the tabletop version back in 1989 or so. IIRC, we spent about 6 hours making characters and then everyone died 20 minutes into the game when we had a random encounter with an enemy squad that had a main battle tank for fire support.

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    Replies
    1. That was a dick move by the GM.

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    2. I am not so sure. Perhaps the GM wanted them to use commonsense and retreat -fast!

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    3. That's a very tough situation for new characters and players in a new system. Far better to introduce the rules slowly with a small firefight, or a bar fight that turns to a gun battle. I think you're being charitable. :)

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    4. Sounds like your experience with the game tanked in a hurry.

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    5. I don't have much experience with tabletop RPGs, but I agree with ThirtyNine: A good DM might have eased back on the rules for the very first encounter.

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  13. Gee, when do you get to shoot stuff?

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I was hoping to have at least one combat before my first entry posted, but alas.

      Delete
  14. Played this game in the early 2000s. Character creation progress was very fun (also I get the manual some weeks later and initially thought that ALL this skills are actually used in game). But I never made it over the first quest - nobody in my entire squad knew Polish. OK, it was my stupid mistake, but I was too bored to begin anew.

    One very fun thing that I remember was female heavy weapons specialist I created. I named her Vasquez after Aliens character, and choose US origins - and game gave her not only English skill but Spanish too. Just for her name, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You wrote "Tartar" instead of "Tatar". They're not as delicious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not so simple, google Tartar vs Tatar. The original term is in a different language with a different alphabet.

      Delete
  16. Some essential pointers based on my experience, rotified for viewer discretion:

    1. Or fher gb unir nyy ynathntrf xabja ng yrnfg ol bar punenpgre. Zvffvba-pevgvpny ACPf pna fcrnx nobhg nal ynathntr, naq vs lbh qba'g unir nalbar jub xabjf gung, lbh'er fperjrq nf sne nf V xabj.

    2. Teranqr ynhapuref ner gur jnl gb tb. Nalguvat ryfr zvffrf bsgra naq gnxrf sberire gb xvyy nalbar, teranqr ynhapuref vafgnxvyy sbrf, rira zhygvcyr barf vs lbh'er yhpxl, rira jvgu n cbbeyl fxvyyrq punenpgre. Unir nalguvat ryfr bayl nf onpxhc, naq ohl cyragl ba fgneghc. Gelvat gb hfr fznyy nezf vf na rkrepvfr va sehfgengvba.

    3. Zl zrzbel vf xvaqn unml, ohg V erzrzore gurer ner gjb zrgubqf gb cvpxvat vgrzf sebz gur tebhaq. Bar bs gubfr vtaberf jrvtug yvzvgngvbaf, juvpu vf n tbbq jnl gb trg gubfr rkgen teranqrf. Bar zvtug pnyy guvf purngvat, ohg V guvax gung jvgu guvf tnzr, lbh arrq nyy gur uryc lbh pna trg.

    4. NSNVX gurer'f ab jnl gb vapernfr fxvyyf be erpehvg punenpgref yngre va gur tnzr, fb qba'g yrg nalbar jub vf gur bayl bar gb xabj n pregnva ynathntr qvr.

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    Replies
    1. I converted them. I ran into #1 on my second mission, where a crucial NPC spoke a language that no one in my party possessed. Fortunately, that particular mission randomizes its location and the language the NPC speaks.

      Still, the combinatin of all of your hints suggests I really need to start over.

      Delete
    2. Zing, you bastard. I took your advice on #2 and got everyone grenade launchers. All this did was ensure that my enemies, who were equipped with small arms before, now all have LAW rockets. Meanwhile, I keep accidentally blowing up my own people.

      Delete
  17. Give a shout when you get bored or frustrated with combat, there is a simple trick to trivialize it.

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  18. People who have played this game before: why would a perfectly healthy character with low encumbrance suddenly have 0 initiative in combat and be unable to act at all?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The are probably panicing. Twilight 2000 Tabletop had rules on how characters act under fire. Unfortunately don't have rulebook at hand, so can't teko which attributes affect to it.

      Delete
  19. I think this is the first game that mentions Canada we've come across. I think also the difference between French and English Canadian is interesting.

    Also: I've been to Krakow, and that makes this the first RPG set somewhere I've been! Very cool.

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