Knights of the Old Republic EP45: THAC0!

By Shamus Posted Friday Jan 22, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 119 comments

Link (YouTube)

Here it is. The big reveal of the big secret the game has been hiding right under our noses. The truth is out, and it will forever change how we see our character, our friends, and our relationship with the villain. Old conversations will take on new meaning and the earlier visions suddenly tell us more than we realized.

So naturally I expect everyone will jump down to the comments and argue about THAC0. Nerds.

Like I’ve said before: This twist wasn’t so much “concealed” as “obfuscated by genre tropes”. BioWare did the exact same thing in Jade Empire. All the stuff that sounded like the usual “YOU ARE THE PROTAGONIST OF A VIDEOGAME” ego-stroking was actually the foreshadowing. And most people didn’t question it because we’ve been soaking in “chosen one” narratives since we were tiny little baby nerdlings and this sounded like more of the same.


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119 thoughts on “Knights of the Old Republic EP45: THAC0!

  1. Collin says:

    You say I’m the chosen one? Yeah sure whatever, just feed me some xp, I’m here to fill up bars and make my numbers grow.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’d laugh… but my utter addiction to clickers and idlers show this to be disturbingly true…

      1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

        Every time I even think about Cookie Clicker, I have to resist the urge to lose three days of my life playing it.

        I’ve found the cure in that case is cheating. Honestly. I’m dead serious about all of this. I can’t explain why this game hooks me so bad. Humor maybe?

        1. Squirly says:

          So, I’ve never played Cookie Clicker before, but from what I can tell it takes the bubble-wrap popping mentality of games like Candy Crush to an absurd level, where it might as well be virtual bubble-wrap.

          Accurate? Or am I insulting someone’s precious past time with no justification?

          1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

            Its about right. Its bubble wrap by gamer standards. There is a slight math game around which upgrades to buy first. You can buy a bunch of smaller cookie makers quickly or wait and by larger ones but you’re waiting at the slower pace because you didn’t buy those smaller upgrades. But getting the math wrong just means you get there a bit slower than if you got the math right.

            Even though your cookie manufacturing gets boosted to absurd levels, there are always upgrades you can purchase to make the actual clicking of the cookie a viable option and later on there are golden cookies that temporarily multiply manufacture so while you can just leave it running, you definitely benefit from sitting and clicking stuff.

            The other part is the game has a lot of running gags and it even gets weird later on. There’s a lot of stuff about Grandmas (one of the cookie makers you can buy). The headlines get more and more absurd like “Doctors recommend all cookie diet.” You can buy a time machine later on to steal cookies from the future. And Eldritch abominations eventually take notice of what you’re doing.

            That said, there’s a script you can run that automatically buys the upgrades for you in the right order. But then there are scripts you can run that max out the variable for how many cookies you have. Thats how I got free.

          2. Dragomok says:

            Actually, the appeal of Orteil’s Cookie Clicker is four-fold:

            1. game mechanics so minimalistic they shouldn’t work, but somehow do (especially the opening gameplay curve – it’s just so perfect), and perfectly transition from clicker to idle paradigm while still allowing for clicker powerplay,
            2. plot of discovery that strongly ties to the central theme of escalation, and somehow manages to have at least one, enormous plot twist,
            3. fantastic artstyle,
            4. humour, put everywhere, permeating the whole experience.

            So it hits centrally for the niche of game design nerds (including Markuss “Notch” Persson, creator of Minecraft) who love reveal-based plots, off-beat French jokes and high-quality pixel art. And big part of its mass popularity in 2014 was that it hit Japan. There was even an erotic manga based on it.

            Loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of copy-cat games that started to drown Newgrounds, Kongregate and mobile app market extremely often interpret 1. as “simple” or “half-assed”, never even attempt 2., sometimes get 3. right, and rarely do any of 4. Not to mention even these with high production values might even botch interface or the “idle” part.

            Anyway, another good game similar to Cookie Clicker, but with much more solid, crazy, character-driven and – no pun intended – concrete plot, as well as slightly more engaging mechanics, is Wall Destroyer by tellurium. Coincidentally made in Orteil’s idle game maker.

            Not that I could play either of these since March 2015 for personal reasons.

            (Yeesh, I haven’t commented in here for a loooong time.)

            1. Jesin says:

              Pony Clicker is another particularly good one, imo.

        2. Jean says:

          I have bad news for you. The Cookie Clicker Beta has updated. And now resetting allows you to access a Skyrim-like Perk Tree that you spend your Heavenly Chips on. New buildings, upgrades (including synergy ones for two different buildings at once), and cheevos too.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            And now I’ve blown 4 hours playing this damned game again.

            Go fuck yourself. ;)

      2. Hal says:

        Man, I had it bad for Clicker Heroes for a while. At one point, I realized that it was nothing but a treadmill, and I jumped off.

        It’s bizarre how many games I played that required that epiphany.

    2. StashAugustine says:

      I mean that was the twist in KOTOR 2…

  2. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I dunno, the whole thing became really obvious to me either when I saw Revan was wearing a mask or during the bridge fight cutscene (they may be the same cutscene, I honestly don’t remember). At this point I was really getting impatient for when the game would let me officially figure this out.

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      See for me this reveal was huge, where as the one in Jade empire I saw coming from the beginning of the game. The only reason I have for this is that “your mentor is evil” is a trope I had seen before multiple times, whereas “you are the big bad” was, at least at that point completely new to me.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Jade Empire I figured out by being very familiar with Martial Arts media (movies, books), so when I noticed the kindly old master making the Closed Fist face, I knew things were off kilter.

        In this game I figured it out because Darth Revan was called the “Dark Lord,” but the model was clearly female (I was playing a female character), so I quickly put 2 and 2 together.

        1. SharpeRifle says:

          Ugh honestly Jade Empire telegraphs the “twist” in so many ways I’m always surprised that anyone was surprised. Heck I’m still kinda pissed that they obviously realized that it was paper thin and just decided to railroad you to it anyway.

          If it hadn’t been for your allied characters, the sideplots, and the interesting combat I don’t think I woulda gone.. through… wait…I’m not sure but I think feel about Jade Empire the way most of us feel about ME2.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Just because you realized it,with all your knowledge of the tropes,does not make it paper thin,or obvious,or bad.Ive seen a bunch of twists before they were revealed,but I always recognize when its my knowledge of the tropes.Theres a difference between je and me2 in that je builds upon the foundation logically,foreshadows the twist,and shows you how the protagonist would be fooled.Me2 does not give you any reason for why the protagonist would be fooled any time,nor why tim would even attempt to fool shepard.

            1. SharpeRifle says:

              Paperthin was hyperbolic…I apologize. and I am not actually arguing that Jade Empire was bad or worse than ME2 …just that a lot of the fun goes out of it when you know you are a guided missile with a kill switch. It kinda leaves you very impatience to get the sudden but inevitable betrayal over with (or alternatively to do anything but what you have to).

              I liked it a lot more once it pulled its 360′ and dropped me back into the “Chosen One” role.

              Course wasn’t that much game left then….and I liked all the hitting…the hitting was fun.

        2. Benjamin Hilton says:

          For me I figured out the master was bad in the beginning when you leave the cave early and he starts acting all shady.

          1. Except the twist wasn’t “Master Li is bad”, the twist was “Master Li intentionally trained you to defeat the Emperor for him yet still be vulnerable to his own attack.” That was what was awesome about it.

            If you’re even mildly curious it’s really apparent that Master Li isn’t telling you everything and that something weird is going on, which is what makes the reveal later work so well. If they hadn’t foreshadowed it, it would have just been a WTF moment. It probably still wouldn’t have been BAD, because it was a pretty cool twist, but it would have felt really out-of-the-blue.

            1. Benjamin Hilton says:

              On my second play through I was able to appreciate that. However that doesn’t change that fact that my character spent most of the game trying to rescue a person that I called being evil from the very beginning.

              1. IIRC if you play as Closed Fist you’re more out for revenge than trying to rescue Master Li.

    2. Gruhunchously says:

      I wonder how your first impression of the game changes if you know that there IS a twist, even if you don’t know exactly what the twist is. If you’re actively scanning the story for any hint of subversion or trickery, then I suppose it would be easy enough to guess what was going on. If you go in expecting a fun but tropey Star Wars RPG, then the twist is much more likely to blindside you, because the twist itself is couched in RPG conventions that you might not even consciously notice.

      As for me, I was vaguely aware that there was a twist somewhere, but I completely forgot about it by the time it became relevant. I was too busy being blown away by the rest of the game, as it literally was my babby’s first RPG, and the very idea of LIVING in a Star Wars world and getting to talk to people with in-depth conversations and choosing where to point the ship was mind-boggling to me.

      1. wswordsmen says:

        Not the best person to answer the question (I don’t catch many plot twists.) but I was spoiled before I ever played the game, and the twist still worked, not for the twist itself, which was spoiled, but how well it built up to it. I totally missed so many hints about it and the flash backs to the hints was still amazing.

        1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

          Me too. I only had spoiled “Player is Revan” and I think I’d already left Dantooine when it was spoiled which is why I didn’t pick up on Jedi Council knows you’re Revan so I totally missed the possibility that Bastila and Jolee know you’re Revan. So there was still some surprise there both in the clues they dropped and in the related reveals such as guess who HK-47’s original owner is?

          So if all you know is the first thing I put in spoilers, don’t read the others ones and it should still be a nice scene. You can still appreciate how it was crafted and there are nice moments with how your crew reacts to the news. This scene made me like Mission that much more (I already kind of viewed myself as he knew big brother/sister).

      2. Joe Informatico says:

        I only played KOTOR for the first time less than 2 years ago, but I was vaguely aware there was some kind of twist. Pretty early on I figured out what it was, because Revan’s always masked, never referred to by gender, and there wasn’t really a good reason why my PC would be having ominous dreams about Revan and Malak unless she was related to them (I don’t recall such things happening in the films unless the characters had very close–I think always familial–ties.)

        Of course I was also playing KOTOR about 15 years after Fight Club, M. Night Shyamalan’s career, and J.J. Abrams’ “mystery box”. The twist is now the expectation for a genre narrative, not the exception (although I think the mass culture is pushing back against that). I wonder if I still would have seen it coming if I was still a “tiny baby nerdling”.

      3. Benjamin Hilton says:

        This is actually a really good point. When I first played Kotor I had no reason to think that there would be a twist, and got completely blindsided by it.

      4. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Dont know about these two games,but I know how it is for some other twists.Most recently,I figured out the twist of the movie predestination in the first 10 minutes.It did not ruin the movie for me.Because it still has great acting in it and is well shot.Thats the difference between a well told story with a twist in it,and a weak story that hinges only on the twist.

  3. Grudgeal says:

    The reveal scene, while well-choreographed, is somewhat undercut by the reveal that Darth Malak engages in Evil Laughter with his Vader Voicebox. It’s like, we’ve had all these cut-aways to this eeeevil Sith Lord and here we are, in person, discovering he’s basically a top hat and a moustache (maybe a monocle) away from being a panto villain. And it only gets worse from here.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      Because he is a weakling and a joke compared to Revan. The only people he scares are those that have no power to resist him.

      1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

        So he’s Kylo Ren before Kylo Ren.

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          Pretty much. KOTOR 2 (naturally) is much more direct in its condemnation of Malak, but even in this game it’s effectively understood that he was always the dumb muscle of new Sith Order, with Revan being the brains. He betrayed her from afar because he knew that she would probably beat him in a straight fight, and basically owes his success to the overwhelming power of the Star Forge, rather than any tactical competence of his own. I mean, this is the guy who’s go-to strategy seems to be leveling entire planets with no regard for the consequence. The Empire’s destruction of Alderaan almost seems carefully calculated by comparison.

          Anyway, here’s some adorable pre-Mandalorian Revan+Malak (possibly Revan/Malak) cartoon fanart that I found.

        2. James says:

          Also i like to think he did it from afar because he wouldn’t be able to in person, before their fall they were best friends and comrades in arms. i like to think some of that still existed in Malak and he steadily fell further to the dark side while he was THE Dark Lord and blowing up planets.

  4. FTR says:

    THAC0 is super easy, subtract victims AC from attackers THAC0, then roll higher than that.

    One sentence people, this is not hard.

    You could do some weird stuff with it though, I had an ancient Dragon magazine that had a method for THAC0 defense, basically it boiled down to characters rolling the monsters attacks, but it did mean that the players were rolling dice and engaged on not only their turns but the monsters as well. Not a bad thought.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      Those calculations are confusing for a lot of people. Look up the THAC0 number for your character class/level, then subtract your strength bonus and your weapon bonus from it. Then subtract your opponent’s AC. And these numbers you’re subtracting could be negative.

      The 3rd edition system: roll a dice, add your bonus, and see if you hit the target number. It’s simple, involves no double negatives, and can be used for practically everything, not just Armor Class.

      1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

        High numbers are good is just more intuitive and more importantly, you lose none of the mechanical complexity. This is the kind of “simplifying” I support every time. Removing needless obfuscation while maintaining complexity just means you get to higher level play that much faster.

      2. silver Harloe says:

        so you’re saying I was supposed to do:
        * roll >? self.thac0 – self.bonus –
        but I always did
        * roll + self.bonus >? self.thac0 –
        which is mathematically equivalent(*)

        it sounds like in 3rd edition they’re doing
        * roll + self.bonus >?

        but presumably they still want the feature that hitting a level 1 orc becomes easier as you level up, so I guess they’re increasing self.bonus instead of lowering self.thac0?

        (*) though “self.thac0 – self.bonus” could be pre-computed and cached on your character sheet next to each weapon, making the actual system: “roll >? self.cachedvalue –” which is just as simple as the 3rd edition formula?

        1. mhoff12358 says:

          What made 3.5 simpler was that “bonus” and “AC” were a bit more derived from specific things.

          At a starting point, all things have 10 AC.
          So a very simple attack roll between two perfectly generic commoners is 1d20 >? 10.

          Then anything affecting you affects your side of the equation and anything affecting them affects their side of the equation. It turns the comparison into “you versus them” rather than “die versus difficulty number which is based on a handful of concerns”, which although mathematically no different is a bit simpler to wrap your head around without having to read the rule book.

          1. AdamS says:

            I see. It’s like in Eclipse Phase, where they revised the d100 mechanic by saying that the margin of success is equal to the number you rolled, as long as it’s equal to or lower than the stat you’re rolling. Previously it was determined by subtracting your roll result from the stat, so a negative margin was a failure. Skills of a given rating still allow for the same margin of success and failure, it’s just that you’re doing math when you fail instead of when you succeed.

        2. guy says:

          3e had Base Attack Bonus. +1 per level for fighters and suchlike, +3/4 per for rogues and such, +1/2 for wizards and such, with charts so you don’t have to remember the rounding rules.

      3. Joe Informatico says:

        Also, for every d20 roll in 3e and after, high is always better. No more remembering “attack rolls you want to roll high; saving throws and proficiency checks you want to roll low; oh, and thief skills use d100 for some reason”. Too many inconsistent subsystems to keep track of.

    2. Lame Duck says:

      Yeah, I don’t think the main problem with THAC0 is that it’s incomprehensibly complicated, but rather that it’s needlessly complicated; it’s not an intuitive way of dealing with numbers for most people, it adds an extra level of headache when people are trying to learn an already very complex game and I’ve never been able to see any advantage to the system over much more simple checks, like the ones that replaced THAC0 in later editions of D&D. I’ve only ever played D&D in PC game adaptations, though, so if there was some logic to why THAC0 was designed that way, I’d love to hear it.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah,the main problem with thac0 is not the thac0 itself,but the stupid way in which everything is calculated.So you have bonuses,which you subtract from one another.Than you add that to the roll.But now,instead of doing the same with ac,you actually modify the thac0 with the ac(which is inversed because….subtraction is better than addition,I guess),and then you compare the modified roll to that modified number.Its needlessly convoluted.

    3. King Marth says:

      I always saw it phrased as adding your opponent’s AC to your roll against THAC0, so the target number was always the same. This then makes the negative AC make a bit more sense, as you’re actively imposing that penalty on your opponents.

      Unifying action resolution was one of the better advances, along with unifying stat modifiers. Dice roll + modifiers vs target number is a good schema, but the trick is that everything under “modifiers” is also “your stuff” while the target number is always “other stuff”. When you’re adding your strength and magic weapon bonus to your opponent’s armor and then comparing it to your martial prowess, the conceptual clarity is lost compared to adding your strength/weapon to your martial prowess and comparing that to your opponent’s armor.

    4. ehlijen says:

      THAC0 could have been explained so much more intuitively, though:

      You have a to-hit number. That’s the number you need to roll to hit when you make an attack. The enemy’s to-be-hit modifier (armour class) applies as a modifier to that roll.

      The problem was that armour (something players would assume they want to be good) was better the lower the number was (when the game teaches high=powerful in most other areas).

      1. Actually in 2nd ed you wanted your AC and saves as low as possible, because you had to roll over your saving throws to make a successful save.

        So, attacks = as high as possible
        defenses = as low as possible

        Considering 2nd ed didn’t have Attacks of Opportunity, I’d say it was pretty simple.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Except wasn’t your attack measured in what number you needed to roll as well, making attacks = good when low?

          1. No, you had a number called THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero). The math was simple (as they mentioned) but EXPLAINING the interaction to a new person was a pain in the ass. You didn’t actually ROLL your armor class. Other people rolled AGAINST your armor class.

            Basically, if you were doing something, you wanted to roll high. If you had a defensive stat, you wanted it as low as possible.

            1. ehlijen says:

              Ah, now I get what you mean. Sorry.

              I thought you were talking about the numbers on the sheet for both categories, not roll vs number listed.

    5. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

      Wasn’t there any even cruftier mechanic before ThaC0?

      I recall trying First Ed one time and we had to check our attack rolls against a chart.+

      1. guy says:

        From what I’ve heard, that had basically the same outputs as THAc0, but via table lookup rather than telling players the equation.

        1. Decius says:

          Nope. That chart was weapon type against AC type, with the AC value standing in for the AC type.

          Each weapon had different effectiveness versus different armor- you had to check your weapon vs the armor type to know your THAC0 modifier, and then you had to do the THAC0 math.

        2. drlemaster says:

          Way back in 1st ed., charts were ubiquitous, and there was no thought for a unified mechanic for anything. Each class (fighter, cleric, etc.) had its own attack chart, and you had to cross reference your level and the opponents AC on the chart to figure out your target number. (And to make matters worse, the charts were buried in the middle of the Dungeon Masters Guide.) By the time second 2nd ed. rolled around, everyone was sick of constantly consulting the charts, so they reverse-engineered the math that went into the charts and came up with THAC0. By the standards of modern RPGs, the math involved is pointlessly cumbersome, but those of us who were playing at the time were thrilled with THAC0, because we could no longer needed to keep the book open to that page and look up numbers in the chart a hundred or so time a night.

    6. Christopher says:

      Mumbles was right.

  5. 4th Dimension says:

    Are you really supposed to loose that fight with Mallac? Because he is a pushover. You basially hit him once and he runs off.

    Now Rutskarn you may be laughing, but it’s really easy to set up sledding competitions on star ships. Simply pick a LOOOONG corridor. Longer the better since there is more time to accelerate and thus injure yourself horribly.
    Have someone mess with the gravity not to disable it but to ANGLE it so now the corridor is not “flat” but it’s a descent. Take a yurt bag or sled of your choice and let the fun/hurt begin.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I wonder if they actually do this in the actual navy.

      “Ok boys,are you in your places?Turning starboard sharply!”

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Nah in actual navies the everyone is shitfaced drunk when not on duty for fun. And I’m not even exaggerating too much.

      2. Decius says:

        I can relay one anecdote from submarines: The Executive Officer (XO) (Riker’s job) would get his exercise buy jogging laps around the missile compartment, basically the only place long and clear enough to actually jog.

        The Captain (Picard’s job) would tell the missile compartment watch (redshirt) to relay when the XO was running forward and aft, and then tell the helm (W. Crusher) to pitch the boat up and down to make the XO have to jog uphill both ways.

        Everyone else just had to deal with the floor changing to +/- 30 degrees.

        1. Retsam says:

          This reddit comment is a pretty great variation on the same.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Decius’ story sounds like if Skippy was Captain

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I wonder if someone was watching them on the radar,what where they thinking.

          1. 4th Dimension says:

            If they were trying to see a sub on radar they probably saw nothing since radars really aren’t useful for detecting subs. On surface they are very low to the sea and as such have a small cross section. And if it is submerged, the radio weaves don’t really penetrate water well.

            What you use is sonar, and I’m unsure you would be able to resolve the orientation of the sub unless they are pinging the sub hard.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Fine,sonar,you pedant.

              And I wasnt talking about the orientation,but the constant moving up and down when they werent moored.

              1. guy says:

                They would probably assume it was some foreign variation of the Crazy Ivan.

              2. Decius says:

                Depth is very difficult to determine via sonar (even active “everyone knows where you are now” sonar), because all you know is a bearing (and distance, with active sonar).

                Firing solution on torpedoes are basically “take this list of bearings, sounds, and times, and this description of our maneuvers, and find some possible vector for the enemy that matches all the information available, and we’ll shoot a torpedo where that solution thinks they might be.”

                1. Josh says:

                  It is also worth noting that despite what all the submarine movies might imply about underwater combat, there is one and exactly one instance where a submarine has intentionally sunk another submarine in combat while both were submerged. And that was during WWII with unguided anti-ship torpedoes.

                  1. Supah Ewok says:

                    Is that due to the difficulty of underwater combat, or the fact that since WW2 we have not been in open war with any country capable of fielding submarines, though?

                    1. Josh says:

                      The latter, which is probably a good thing.

                      Likewise, for that same reason, nearly all modern naval doctrine is effectively untested. The closest anyone’s gotten was the Falklands War between Argentina and the British, and in comparison to the world wars or other similar grand-scale conflicts, that was rather minor.

                    2. Decius says:

                      A little of column A, a lot of column B.

                      When we were doing sub-vs-sub exercises, the MCPOs of both boats decided who was going to win and threw the match in order to have a definitive outcome.

                      Where “throw the match” means ordering peons to pressure wash the inside of the hull when procedure says to rig for silent running.

                    3. guy says:

                      Both. We haven’t tried since WWII, but also finding subs on sonar when they’re trying to hide is so hard that they sometimes crash into each other by accident.

            2. I was under the impression that radar works reasonably well for subs–if they’re not submerged. Wasn’t this eventually how the U-boats came to be devastated?

              1. ehlijen says:

                That is true, but the usefulness of that fact depended on WW2 era U-boats performing much better while surfaced in terms of operational range and speed.

                While submerged, they used up supplies much quicker, travelled slower than their common targets, were limited by small oxygen and battery reserves and had a much reduced sight range (and no sonar).
                Only in the late war was the first submarine that could stay submerged for strategic travel built (and only once the atlantic war had been decided).

                Modern day submarines have few to none of those weaknesses and can thus stay under water and evade Radar that way without basically becoming useless.

          2. Lame Duck says:

            If the submarine’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’.

    2. John says:

      I like to think that Malak the mid-boss is a little joke at the player’s expense. He’s very, very easy on the Leviathan and very, very hard on the Star Forge. Surprise!

    3. silver Harloe says:

      They were kinda wrong to call it a “forced to lose” fight. It’s more of a “you can’t keep the enemy from retreating before dead” fight.

      1. Galad says:

        What happens if you do not forgive Bastilla, other than, I guess, gaining dark side points? Do you still have to fight Malak?

  6. StashAugustine says:

    Why do video games insist on making all their to-hit systems glorified d20 X-to-hit systems? Why not use old-school wargame graduated odds tables or modifiable die pools like X-Wing/Armada?

    1. Gragsmash says:

      This specific game is based on the Star Wars RPG that was in print at the time, which was a d20-licensed property.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        And a ton of other RPGs were directly derived from D&D . Heck, if you look at any sort of media you could swear that D&D was existing in a complete vacuum. I guess that it was “the big thing” and it was attractive to use a pretested system but at the same time outsource the individual rolls to the machine.

        1. Gethsemani says:

          The reason D20 got so big in the 00’s was because Wizards of the Coast devised the D20 Open Gaming License. It basically meant that anyone wanting to make an RPG could use the D20-system of D&D fame free of charge as long as it acknowledged WotC as the owner of the D20 system. It was really attractive to smaller developers to use a system that a lot of people already knew and not having to create their own system and play test it (something that’s very time consuming). That’s why we got Star Wars D20, Call of Cthulhu D20, Pathfinder and loads of other games that used the D20 system. WotC effectively made D20 the (free) GURPS of the 00’s.

          1. Joe Informatico says:

            It worked though. Tabletop RPGs were in decline in the 90s. The OGL breathed new life into the industry for at least another decade.

            1. Supah Ewok says:

              5e was recently declared to have OGL too.

      2. John says:

        It also helped, I’m sure that Bioware already had a D20-based engine up and ready to go. Heck, in order to go from Neverwinter Nights to Knights of the Old Republic they actually removed some D20 mechanics, like attacks of opportunity.

    2. GloatingSwine says:

      Really, the internal mechanics of a computer RPG don’t matter that much. The only thing that actually matters is whether the player can make a reasonable prediction of their odds of success, and can easily determine what affects those odds when building and equipping a character, and that can be handled by providing good feedback.

      D20 type systems at least have the benefit that it’s pretty easy to tell how good your numbers are. Every +1 you can get improves your odds by a nice graspable amount.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Hudson, The Doctors, Karpyshyn, L’Etoile, and now Gaider. I wasn’t a fan of all of them, but still…feels like the old guard is falling, to be replaced by something else. But we knew this.

      1. Supah Ewok says:

        Karpyshyn’s back, but is only working on SWTOR.

      2. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Wow. I didn’t think the next Dragon Age would be even worse but that seems likely now.

    2. Wow, last I heard he got shuffled over to the New Mystery IP. Did that get canceled or something?

  7. Gragsmash says:

    I totally get how to use ThAC0 and the descending AC system, but I was completely happy to switch to the consistent ascending values-for-everything of d20 system, and subsequent refinements.

    I still love running old modules, you just subtract ACs from 20.

    Oh, this bugbear is AC 4? Nope, it’s AC 16.

  8. We have Carth and Bastilla right where we want them.

    Apply the magic marker!

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      That’s how Malak eventually breaks Bastilla’s will.

      “You think these are your friends, Bastilla, but in your moment of vulnerability they turn and draw cartoon smiles all over your face. How can the Jedi preach morality and discipline while allowing for this unchecked deviancy?”

  9. Henson says:

    The reveal was one of the first times in games I had to just stop playing and lie down for a bit. I was pretty immersed by this game and had been playing a mostly-good character, almost bland in some ways. And when the reveal came, it felt like a betrayal. To think that the oh-so-wise Jedi would lie and manipulate about something so big, ‘for the greater good’…well, it made you think.

    It’s also interesting how effective it has been for writers to lie to their audience.

  10. Gruhunchously says:

    I don’t think that referring to female Revan as ‘Dark Lord’ is terribly egregious. It’s archaic, but it fits the whole ‘knights and knaves IN SPACE’ feel that Star Wars has always had elements of. For comparison, female Jedi Masters are still addressed as ‘Master’.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Point is, you can’t do that and still claim you’ve played our assumptions. Its not like the “surgeon was your mom” riddle or “Samus was a girl.” Lord and Lady are generally gender specific.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I love the simple premise that guides this twist.Instead of the old “you are great because you are the protagonist” its “you are the protagonist because you are great”.Its just so natural that you wonder why more rpgs dont use it.

  12. skulgun says:

    Check out Carth and a trooper playing blaster-pattycake at 5:27

  13. Alexander The 1st says:

    So I hadn’t seen the CGI montage where Bastila and crew are talking about things, just the Korriban reveal of Revan Behind The Mask. For me, it still worked, and I feel it worked better without the montage – it’s just that *one* memory that makes it clear that – oh right, Revan should have a face behind that mask…and it’s yours. What makes it work for me is that this is the point where your memory is coming back in full – but as Revan, your memories are always while wearing the mask. That’s why you didn’t notice that when the memories came back earlier in the past. So until you get the mask removing memory scene, it sort of plays out like Luke’s vision versus Darth Vader on Dagobah.

    I also knew of the twist beforehand, and still found the scene where Carth gets told what’s going on pretty cool. It’s giving away the plot twist…to someone who’s *not* the player character. Which sets the mood for how powerful the revelation *is*, while still building suspense as to *what* the revelation is. It also reveals who knew the revelation beforehand out of your team that you assembled at the beginning – and who did not.

    It’s a whole scene and escape sequence dedicated to the same effect as the final echo in Jade Empire where Master Li congratulates you on keeping the basics at heart…only to reveal that the basics you were told to keep at heart had specific flaws, which you should *not* have kept to heart. A full scene dedicated to setting up something going down.

    It’s a shame that this game crashes a lot with the BINK Video Codec.

  14. Rack says:

    This twist weirded me out because it’s so blatantly telegraphed in Kashyyyk. I still can’t see how it’s possible to miss it on a lightside playthrough.

    1. Pyrrhic Gades says:

      Any sensible light side player would have left Kashyyyk to last, lest their ears bleed from all the Wookiee speech

    2. Syal says:

      Because of the Chosen One framework. You’re the strongest Jedi since Revan, you’re looking for the Star Maps because Revan did, the game is quite obviously building you up to fight Revan as an equal in the endgame. The computer letting you in is just another stone in the path; you’re Revan’s counterpart, of course the computer gives you your info, because “we’re very much alike, you and I”, and such.

      And it’s not like this would be the only thing that needs handwaving. The Star Map reveal was pretty underwhelming.

  15. Aaron says:

    im pretty sure that formula rutskarn explained at the beginning is the same used by accountants:

    “alright so you got some hard choices to make here if you want to get the loot, if you choose wrong the market could get a critical hit on your accounts and then you would have to switch your character class to diseased beggar”

  16. Jakale says:

    So…the particular happenings surrounding the THAC0 talk may have reminded me a little of a certain movie and inspired me to make something.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thumbs up.

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      Mumbles has mentioned she’s tall, but wow, I had no idea.

    3. MichaelGC says:

      Quality! :D

    4. James Porter says:

      This is the best. Everything about this is perfect, I especially love how it even looks like Rutskarn. Quality post!

    5. Lachlan the Mad says:

      Pardon my ignorance, but what film is that?

      1. Fizban says:
        It’s pretty good, checked it out at the library when I was a kid.

        Clip is amazing.

    6. Cinebeast says:

      HOW did I miss this? I mean, this is perfection.

    7. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Brilliant. The guy even looks a little like Rutskarn.

    8. Cuthalion says:


  17. Tuskin says:

    I named myself Revan when I replayed the game recently and used a save editor to give me the outfit.

    It felt like everyone was just referring to me in the third person.

    1. ehlijen says:

      I liked Calling myself Naver Thrad in replays of that game. It makes the party’s shocked reaction very hilarious.

  18. guy says:

    Incidentally, I played Jade Empire long after having the twist spoiled, and discovered that actually your character doesn’t have to uncritically accept that you’re just that awesome. Whenever someone talks about how your style seems strange, you can actually ask them about it. They’ll mostly say that it seems to have a fake weakness to lure people into futile attacks. None of them can actually figure out exactly what’s going on.

  19. Not looking at the comments because I’m playing Jade Empire for the first time. I think I know the twist, I figured it during the first conversations right after the initial training. And it will be an awesome twist. I figured it in part thanks to having played this game.
    When I played KotOR, I didn’t figure it until Malak himself said that. I did suspect it at different points, and the Saul death whispers almost had me saying “it IS it”. But whenever I suspected it, I turned it down. In part by what you say of hidden behind tropes (not that I knew about tropes), in part because I had recently watched a few films that were a little cheating with their twists so I thought “if this is like all films, they’ve been hinting so many times about this twist it will be something completely different” and in part because, like that friend, I played a female character and assumed Revan was male and I thought if that was the twist then they would have forced a gender or a more or less ample set of characteristics for your char.
    And when I got to the reveal. Ooooohhhhh, I LOVED IT. If I liked the game very much until then, I loved it even more after and since then I’ve never uninstalled it and replayed it several times. If they make a new SW film after this new trilogy, or before, or a series, I want them to take on this. If they do it right, it will be the best series ever. And a great film (nothing can be better than The Empire Strikes Back, though this might be).

  20. Wide And Nerdy says:

    “Its not slavery if you guys are friends.”
    -Mumbles, 2016

    1. The Defenestrator says:

      Sure, that makes sense. See also: Han Solo and Chewbacca; Luke and R2-D2.

  21. Spammy says:

    I think that Super Robot Wars: Original Generation did the “Supposed to Lose” fight very well. 2/3rds of the way through the first plot arc you run into the Big Bad and his seemingly invincible boss machine. You can’t beat him, you’re only supposed to lower his health to 80% to progress in the stage. It’s a pretty scary stage because he is strong enough to wipe the floor with you.

    But when you face him at the end, without adjusting his stats (I’m pretty sure), he’s a surmountable challenge. By that point you have better mechs. You’ll have more pilots. You’ve improved your mechs more. Your pilot have more levels. You’ll have gotten status effect weapons to use on him. Also the stage where he shows up early is kind of designed so that you can’t bring your full strength to bear on him, which you are able to when you’re meant to beat him. If my hunch that they didn’t cheat is right it’s nice that they handle that organically.

    And then Original Generation 2 starts doing that like every three or four stages and it’s awful because it’s yet another log on the “They upped the difficulty too much” fire.

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