Knights of the Old Republic EP36: Sunry Execution

By Shamus
on Dec 4, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

This Sith we interrogate in this episode sounded really familiar to me. (And his old-man voice seems to be at odds with his young-ish face.) He actually sounds like Deckard Cain from Diablo. I looked on IMDB and Deckard’s voice actor is indeed credited in KOTOR, but this character doesn’t have a name so I can’t be sure.

I’m rolling my eyes at all the “boring puzzles” in this episode, but the tricky thing about puzzles is that they can be really hit-or-miss. Some of them are a welcome change of pace. There’s nothing particularly wrong with these puzzles, but I was probably snarking because it’s really boring to watch someone else solve a puzzle.

I notice puzzles have been falling out of favor at BioWare. KOTOR is packed with them. Jade EmpireI’d consider the cultural debate against John Cleese to be a puzzle, since it’s really about manipulating binary switches. and Mass Effect seemed to have fewer. I can’t remember any puzzles in Mass Effect 2 or 3.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] I’d consider the cultural debate against John Cleese to be a puzzle, since it’s really about manipulating binary switches.



20207Feeling chatty? There are 47 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Matt Downie says:

    I got into an online debate a while back about whether it was a good idea to put puzzles in a tabletop RPG. People were saying things like, “People who want to play an RPG probably don’t want to stop doing that and solve puzzles.” Which made me think, “Did puzzles stop being an integral part of RPG adventures at some point?”

    • Merlin says:

      It’s pretty easy to put together a level-appropriate combat encounter against another bunch of bad guys. Heck, D&D even has standardized tools like challenge ratings and encounter XP budgets for that. Much harder to design a good puzzle, especially since any particular player or group will approach the situation differently. So yeah, I’d say that they’re less common and less essential. When you do see them, they’re generally there to gate off ‘optional’ stuff, like hidden treasures or secret passages.

      • manofsteles says:

        On the table, what different approaches have you folks experienced regarding the difference (if any) between the player’s knowledge and puzzle-solving ability vs the player character’s knowledge and puzzle-solving ability? (I don’t know what if anything the current RPG books recommend on the matter)

        For example, could an extreme PC Intelligence score hinder a player or provide hints?

        It’s been a long time since I played (even longer since I ran a game) and would love to hear about some more experiences.

        • Pyrrhic Gades says:

          Not that I’ve ever played a tabletop game besides Settlers of Cataarn, but I’d immagine you can just yell “I ARE SMART” and complete the puzzel that way

          • manofsteles says:

            I completely understand that. I was thinking more along the lines of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, except with skills maybe allowing for giving a character insight into the puzzle as opposed to dialogue choices.

            For example, if a character is faced with a mechanical puzzle that looks like it would raise or lower a bridge, could she somehow use knowledge of architecture, dungeoneering, or the history of the people who built the ruins? Maybe the type of puzzle is common to a certain type of ruin or something? How could a GM handle that if she so chose?

            Just to be clear, I’m not asking for advice, I’m merely speculating and merely hoping to have a lively discussion to scratch my nostalgia itch. And thanks so much for the responses I’ve already gotten.

            • Matt Downie says:

              It’s easy enough to have a skill check solve the problem for you, but at that point it isn’t a puzzle, it’s a dice roll.

              • Sleeping Dragon says:

                I suppose you could do some kind of hybrid system if you really wanted to. The Mansion of Madness boardgame for example has this thing where the player has to actually solve the puzzle but they can do it over multiple turns and each turn they get a number of moves depending on the appropriate statistic of their character. So even a player who can figure out the puzzle by just glancing at it will have to spend multiple in-game turns to solve it if playing a character who would be bad with it. The synergy the other way around can be less than optimal though if you ask me.

      • evilmrhenry says:

        The big problem is:
        1: To reach the next part of the adventure, my players will solve this puzzle.
        2: My players are not able to solve this puzzle.
        3: Shit.

        Avoid that pattern, and you should be fine.

        • Zaxares says:

          I get around that issue by having a DM-controlled character in the party who can give subtle hints where necessary.

          • Jeff says:

            I like to stick little mascot characters with my PCs.

            It started off accidentally, I gave them a kitten that was supposed to be a joke character – immortal and always hanging around the party no matter where they went or how they tried to get rid of it. That aspect of the kitten never came up, because they ended up adopting it as a mascot. They often prioritized her well-being more than each other, once accidentally leaving a party member behind while arguing about who’s going to carry the kitten.

            So eventually I’d have her wander down corridors when the PCs were too busy chatting to actually proceed with adventures, or have her stumble onto things if the PCs all failed necessary perception-type checks, and so on.

            It’s a handy little tool, and it’s convenient to have a DM-voice without needing to have an actual character around. When they’re not needed, they’re just a little fuzzy creature in the background.

        • Matt Downie says:

          There are other potential problems. A common situation is that one player takes charge of solving the problem, while the rest just sit there.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I dont mind puzzles as long as they arent mandatory.Same as combat and dialogue.

  2. Majere says:

    They could have at least given the named characters unique heads that is just uncanny.

  3. Gruhunchously says:

    You guys are just lucky you aren’t The Doctor. He starts talking and then suddenly it’s seven billion years in the future.

  4. MichaelGC says:

    There’s a floor-tile puzzle in the Overlord DLC for ME2. It’s fairly … rudimentary:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM9mI_7IKs8

    PS That guy might well have meant a rumblepack – certainly wouldn’t be the strangest thing anyone has bolted to their face around here…

  5. StashAugustine says:

    “Here Lies T. Hanoi

    Unmourned, Unloved”

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    All right,I killed her!But not in the way they are describing it!That has all been a plant

    • Gruhunchously says:

      It’s still a pretty interesting twist, though. Especially in this game, which is usally a lot more simple in it’s light/dark, Republic/Sith dichotomies. Sunry committed a crime under Selkath law, but covering it up might actually be the best option if the Republic wants to protect it’s kolto supply. I mean, it’s kind of undermined by the Sith always being unsympathetic, unrepentant dicks about everything, but it’s still interesting to consider from a lawful good perspective.

      • John says:

        The thing that bugs me is that Sunry is really insistent that the Republic war effort will suffer if he is convicted–and the Republic officials on Manaan seem to agree–but the verdict in the trial has absolutely no effect on anything at all, in so far as I can tell.

        • Gruhunchously says:

          Ah, well. That’s the way it is in most RPGs; the big sweeping decisions you make will likely not have any noticeable affect in the game’s time-frame. If your lucky, you might get an ending slide or news report describing what eventually happens (that’s the Interplay/Obsidian way of doing it), but not much else. It’s more an exercise of in-the–moment role playing than a consideration of consequences.

          Funnily enough, there is a decision coming up on this planet that does have several immediate and significant consequences if you make a certain choice, but I’m sure we’ll get to that soon.

          • John says:

            True, true. But you can evade the worst consequences if you can remember the right arbitrary series of dialogue choices. Which I can’t, unfortunately. I have never successfully weaseled out of the consequences of my evil actions on Manaan without resorting to a walkthrough first.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Whats a kolto?

  8. Gruhunchously says:

    All this stuff about companions glitching out during cutscenes reminds of something that really impressed me about Mass Effect when I first played it. Whenever Shepard starts talking to someone with their companions in tow, both companions usually turn to look at him/her. It seemed like a nice, simple way of making them seem involved with what was going on, as if they were silently processing what their commander was doing.

    • Trix2000 says:

      While that may have been better in some ways, I always found it weird in ME1 how much they ‘got into formation’ for a bunch of conversations. Not really a problem or anything, but still looked off to me.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        Mass Effect 2 improved on this by having companions go off and do random thing during particular cutscenes, i.e sitting on the steps during Tali’s trial, leaning over railings, pacing back and forth and the like. But they still held that formation a lot of the time.

  9. manofsteles says:

    I wonder what relationship there is between the prevalance of puzzles and the prevalance of strategy guides? Before my home had Internet access, I remember getting stuck on Silent Hill, going back to Software Etc (I think it was still Software Etc) and just buying the strategy guide in case I got stuck again (which I did).

    I also wonder how much player frustration had to do with the shift away from puzzles. I only heard about Sierra’s penchant for puzzling puzzles, so I can’t speak to them specifically.

  10. Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

    Dragon Age Inquisition does have the Astrariums which are about connecting the dots without going through the same line twice or something (I can’t remember). Some of them are kind of tricky and none of them are mandatory, there are a bunch of those. There’s also the thing with the Ocularums or something like that where you use it to mark all the pieces of shards to collect.

    There’s probably one or two one off puzzles in there too that I’m forgetting.

    • guy says:

      There’s a set of big floor puzzles in the ruined temples; one of those “step on every tile exactly once” things. The party management interface makes it a pain because your party members will follow you and their steps can also count, so you have to fumble around with the tactical interface to make them hold position. They’re at least mostly optional.

      The Astrariums are connecting a bunch of dots to exactly match a figure without doubling back. I liked them.

      • John says:

        I think they patched that puzzle so that you automatically go into solo mode when you start and leave solo mode when you solve the puzzle. That’s definitely how it works these days, anyhow. I can’t remember what it was like at release any more.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          That must have been the patch yes because i remember having the same problem as guy at release.

          They had a lot of things to fix. Not just bugs but also bad design decisions.

  11. SlothfulCobra says:

    Hey Josh, before you get to actually progressing in the main quest, remember that there’s also that quest where you have to get rid of your party members, along with the way to get rid of the Gizka on your ship and the missing Selkath children. After that, there’s still swoop racing to really pad out your time on Manaan before you leave, remember, you have to race at least three times to get the top prize!

  12. I wouldn’t say puzzles are falling out of favor with Bioware. They tend to do more of them in DLC and optional content. (There’s a godawful one in a lost elven temple in Inquisition tho the godawfulness is mostly due to the horrible tac cam than anything else).

    I think they’ve gotten the hint that people don’t want to do the same puzzle 5000 times to unlock things, though.

    • James says:

      Is this the tiles on the floor one? i don’t remember having issues with it that much, though its been awhile.

      • No, that’s in Mark of the Assassin DA2 DLC. The one in Inquisition involves lowering some pillars so that you can shoot some trees to set them on fire.

        The problem is that you have to spread your party out by using the tac cam, because you have to do several things simultaneously to do the puzzle. It’s not HARD to figure out, the problem is that if you accidentally turn the tac cam off your party will all run away from where you’ve told them to stand. Oh, and you can’t see what the heck you’re doing using the tac cam because they put it in a broad room with a low ceiling that screws with the camera angles you can use.

  13. krellen says:

    Campster:

    Sorry, this game has a lot of voice actors and a lot of them have been in a lot of other stuff.

    When you start really paying attention, you find out that the voice actor community is really, really small.

    • James says:

      part of it might be that Bioware trusts these guys to at-least not be awfull, and the top VA’s tend to be hired a lot because they are very good, i feel for Elias Toufexis, the guy is a great VA but his voice is astonishingly unique so everyone thinks Adam Jensen when they hear him.

    • Most AAA games use unionized actors, which IIRC means they are pretty much stuck using ONLY actors who belong to the union due to union contractual requirements.

      That and professional voice actors really are worlds away better than amateurs. DDO has interesting examples of this because they have dungeons that were narrated by Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, Ed Greenwood, Tolero (one of the DDO devs) and Wil Wheaton. It’s cute but their narration is really flat and boring. Then you go to one of the areas that was narrated by a pro who “does all the voices” and it’s just STAGGERING how much better it is.

  14. bloodsquirrel says:

    “I am sith, I will never betray them!”

    …you’re a pretty crappy sith then, aren’t you?

  15. Tuskin says:

    A lot of this Manaan music is used in SWTOR.

    Mostly on Manaan obviously.

  16. Sleeping Dragon says:

    You can find all the classic puzzles in the “casual” games nowaday. Especially in the “hidden object” genre there is plenty of sliding puzzles, matching puzzles, pattern following puzzles… I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen a couple cases of towers of Hanoi.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>