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chronos

Black & White Flaws

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chronos    100
I played Black & White for the first time quite recently and encountered the following problems: - Tutorial elements in Land 1: Land 1 in Black and White is part tutorial, part gameplay. In a game that''s supposed to be free-form the tutorial element seemed really intrusive. Walk-throughs and gameplay do not mix. - The Totem''s behavior in Land 1: When I couldn''t raise the Totem in the Village Center I wondered what I was doing wrong. I found out by looking at the manual that the Totem pole on Land 1 cannot be raised. Good interfaces are consistent. Lack of consistency is confusing. - That damn vortex: When the good spiritual advisor went through the vortex and back I thought I could do the same. Perhaps there was something at the other side of the vortex I could use to save the villagers. To my surprise, the vortex closed behind me. I had to wait for the temple to be completed to get back to Land 1 (using the load function). Advisors shouldn''t be able to do things that gods can''t do. Lack of consistency is confusing. - The intro video: I skipped the intro video hoping to watch it again after playing a little. Who knew it would be a one-shot deal? I had to reinstall the game to view the whole thing. Things should not be skipped without the player''s okay.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I bought Black & White recently and quickly discovered some problems:

--It''s buggy.

--It''s not even that fun.

--(personal note) didn''t care for controls

I later disposed of my copy of Black & White.

Actually the game was pretty good, on some things, but it just annoyed me the rest of the time. And it was so slow, and ate up so much memory. I had to quit out of several programs to get it to run w/o crashing my computer.

Many people liked it, but I agree with you: It was half game/half tutorial.

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a person    118
the tutorial was required to some degree (maybe they shoudl have seperated it from the rest of the game, though it was not that intrusive). anyhoo see patch for fix. the vortex is one way. maybe you should have paid more attention to the story (your land was being ravaged by a more powerfel diety). though they probally should have mentioned that it was a one way ticket, just incase ppl missed that subtly.

why were you messing with the totem on the first land? you were not told of them yet and you should not have known how they worked. reading ahead from outside sources would have that effect on disrupting the flow of the game like that.

the intro video, YOU made the choice to skip it. though of course you could have started a new game. this may have not occured to you. (if this dont work, then ignore my abhorent scarcasim in the previous sentence)

the game was not confusing at all (well maybe a little bit), but not enough to destroy the gameplay after you got used to it.

it was not half game half tutorial. granted there were some sections that you were given lessons on how to accomplish things, but they were part of the story. you may not have liked it due to reading strategy guides which made the small lessons useless. there was much gameplay that did not involve going through lessons, but many ppl used strategy guides to solve puzzles quickly and turn the entire game into a run through as fast as you can fest. if you played the game to just enjoy it and not try to beat it quickly, you probally would have enjoyed it much more. the game was quite system intensive but the min req should have gieven you a clue. you did turn the settings down to match yoru config right?

did you even bother to try the multiplayer game?

though this game is not for everyone. it probally was slightly ahead of its time (though not as far as trespasser was).

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chronos    100
a person: Perhaps if you paid closer attention to what I said in my post instead of interpreting my words in whatever way suits your arguments we might actually have an interesting discussion.

I never said the tutorial was unnecessary. I said that walkthroughs and gameplay do not mix. A standalone tutorial would be fine. As it is, the tutorial seems very intrusive to me. I don't like my playing interrupted by long-winded explanations of how to move along with mouse pointers labeled "Demo" in bright red letters. Not intrusive? Just now I tried zooming during the rotating portion of the tutorial and was told to continue rotating instead. If it were a standalone tutorial these things would be fine, but it's rather intrusive as part of the game.

The Totem: The creature cave contains a note indicating that your creature has not yet learned to move the Totem and suggests that you move it while he's watching. This is on Land 1, so you're wrong in assuming I consulted outside sources. In any case, there's a lack of consistency between the way it works on Land 1 and the way it works in other lands. It's confusing.

The vortex: I said that the spiritual advisor's ability to go through the vortex and back was confusing. Nothing about the story suggested the vortex was strictly one way.

The intro video: Yes I chose to skip it. I never said otherwise. Read what I said more carefully. You'll notice I was under the impression that I'd be able to view it again later. Starting a new game did not bring back the intro video. Rather than giving yourself an out by excusing yourself if you happen to be wrong about an assumption of yours, how about checking the facts before posting?

What irks me the most about your post is the way you assume these problems were all my fault. I hope this post clears up this invalid assumption of yours.

Edited by - chronos on January 30, 2002 5:50:22 AM

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LessBread    1415
I played B&W for quite a while, then got frustrated because the game started cheating on me in the 3rd level. It let my opponent travel much too far out of his domain in order to steal trees from me. I also thought that after 16 game years my creature ought to have figured out how to eat when he was hungry but I kept having to save him from starving. I thought some of the controls were counter intuitive as well - i don''t recall exactly because it''s been a few months now, but I seem to recall having to pull out to zoom in and push in to zoom out - or something like that - the controls seemed reversed to me. On the other hand, the graphics were swell. I really enjoyed sacrificing the dead bodies of overworked villagers at the temple too and the lightning spell worked great for wreaking havoc on the neighbors. I agree with some of the other criticisms regarding interweaving the tutorials with the game. I have to say overall that it was a big step forward for games, but still had room for improvement.



‘But truth's a menace, science a public danger.’ Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

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chronos    100
It just occurred to me that while playing the game I was going through golden scrolls in relatively rapid succession, a side effect of having the tutorial as part of the game. I wanted the tutorial to be over with so I could get on with the game. Nemesis'' old creature was telling me about spells and had a final and important lesson for me. I was eager to learn some spells, so I activated it. It turned out to be the downfall of my village.

Black & White features beautiful graphics and an interesting concept, but the implementation is flawed. (Not only in terms of gameplay, but stability too... It often crashes my computer upon quitting the game, and the textures are often drawn incorrectly).

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antistuff    122
This was the first time that I heard of a game and was really anxious to buy it. The first day it was out I grabbed a copy. When I tried to play it my video card wasnt good enough, so I went back out the same day and bought a new one. So I basically spent $120 to play this video game. It looked that cool.

I was dissapointed and I was impressed. Some parts of it I thought were completly amazing, like the graphics, the sounds, it has this very atmospheric quality to it. But after playing it you soon realize that its pretty much just a real time strategy game with a whole bunch of new ideas. Really great ideas. But its hard to play because the controls to move around are so dumb. In my opinion, nothing that I have seen beats WASD and mouse for 3d game movement. This allows zooming, rotation, and moving around. The hand thing was a good idea, inteded to give you a presense where in most RTS games you have one, but it didnt really work as well as it should have. The creature idea was great though, i loved that

Can''t say anything about multiplayer havent tried that and probobly wont since i gave it away to a friend (and no i didnt pirate it i erased it from my computer and gave him everythign it came with).

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Doy    122
Although the graphics were great, this game just wasn''t fun. The gameplay was slow and repetitive, and this especially comes out in island 3, when you find out that you can''t derive any pleasure from the game whatsoever without your creature. As the game is about taking over villages by inspiring faith, all the miracles boil down to doing the same thing (just use a miracle, any miracle, on a town over and over to win, really doesn''t matter which you use, although alternating two helps). Most shocking of all is how pathetically small the single player game is. I read the review after I bought it unfortunately, and when I heard there were only 5 islands I was actually quite pissed off, as I had already gone through 2 of them in about an hour and a half. Once I got to island 3 and my creature was gone, I just shut the game off and never looked back.

Molyneux blundered big time on B&W. His older dungeon keeper and dungeon keeper 2 were both superior in about every way fathomable except gloss.

|)0Y: l337 5p34|< 4n0ny|\/|0u5

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Rixter    785
I agree with antistuff about it seeming kinda like a fancy RTS. I was really excited about the idea of an open ended game where you simply rule however you want to, I thought all the objectives were kinda dumb, I mean, if you''re a god, why do you need to look for rocks? I don''t actually own the game, a friend of mine does, so I haven''t been able to play as much as a lot of people, but I was hoping for a game sort of like SimCity with strong AI and the ability to send a giant cow to eat your followers, but it almost seems like they were trying to satisfy as many people as possible, but failed to fully satisfy almost anyone. I still think its a really cool game and plan to buy it after I get a faster computer (500mhz k6-2 w/ voodoo banshee just wouldn''t cut it I''m afraid), but I do think it tried to be too many different games. (or something).

__________________________________________
We get signal.
There are bombs exploding all around us!!

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a person    118
maybe i read too much into your statements (i ahve a bad habit of that). i undertsand you want the tutorial part seperated (which is why a partially agreed with a spiffy sentance in parens).

i was not trying to give myself an out, i was actually trying to be slightly comical. plus i dont want to chance erasing my game to check out whether it shows the intro again or not. black& white has a horrid player managemnt/save system which i dont trust to keep my save good and my creature''s memory intact. just out of curiosity which intro movie are you talking about? is it the particle makes a logo thing? the intro where you are brought into the world?

i did not realize that the creature cave gave that advice. that is a huge oversight by the developers.

the story did give the impression the vortex was one way. maybe its just how interperet the fact that another diety much more powerful then the player controlled moved onto the players land. i guess it depends on how you interperate the danger considering the HUGE creature from land one used to belong to the diety AND was considered too weak, furthermore injured that creature gives the impression you wont be going back to that land (you do later in the game, hopefully that does not spoil the game for anyone, if so look at my pen...)

black and white is not a game you rush through. you shoudl try to do some silver scrolls in between the golden ones. enjoy the game and dont get wrapped up in the foul points which i admit can be bad at times. trust me when you get past the first land you will begin to enjoy the game more.

as for textures being messed up, you may want to lower video settings or upgrade yoru video drivers. i nor ppl i know have had problems with that. this ranged from a voodoo5 to a geforce3. the game never crashed, though the saving takes quite a long time (upto 1-2 minutes in some cases, they really should have put a progress meter on that) the game seems stable, but then again i have a stable machine. it may be you have bad drivers, not enough memory, or a rouge program running in the background that is not being nice (not a virus, but things like anti virus software ussually dont mix with games nor do some other things).

in some cases they are but face it you had much higher expectations of the game then i did (i fansinated by the ai, though abit stupid still a worthy effort that almost puts it in the ahead of its time leauge like tressapser did for physics in a game). this may be the reason why i did not notice nor care about some of the faults you mention. i guess the solution is "Dont believe the hype".
but you seem not to have played the game too much. give it chance, the early land is a bit quirky, but after you get past that (consider land one your mandatory tutorial) it is much better gameplay. though some ppl wont like the game at all.


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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I had onlye two problems \w this game, both are related.

1) the creature is totally useless. When I first downlo^h^h^h^h^h^h purchased the game and started playing, I spent lots of time just trying to train my creature to do something useful. After 2 days he still could not feed himself and he had developed a somewhat disturbing profeciency with lightning bolts (as in he lightning bolted *everything he came in contact with* ). So eventually I gave up on the creature and discovered

2) all you have to do to win the game is kill every other person on the map and replace them with your villages. I spent the first 2 days trying to follow the instructions given by the guides. I sent my creature to help out in other villages. I filled their bins with food and wood. I watered their field. I kissed their babies and gave their old women foot massages. And ya know what? It didn''t friggin work. It would take hours and hours to gain a territory and then the opponent would simply win it back again in two seconds. So screw that. I found out that if you just kill everyone in the other villages and then send in one of your villagers to take over, you can beat the entire game in about 4 hours. So that game is too easy and the creature is unnecessary.

Didn''t try the multiplayer.

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chronos    100
quote:
the story did give the impression the vortex was one way. maybe its just how interperet the fact that another diety much more powerful then the player controlled moved onto the players land. i guess it depends on how you interperate the danger considering the HUGE creature from land one used to belong to the diety AND was considered too weak, furthermore injured that creature gives the impression you wont be going back to that land


Okay, it''s possible to interpret it that way, particularly after being asked to chuck as many things as possible into the vortex, but it''s really not the only way to interpret it. It''s easy to imagine becoming powerful enough to save your village from the wrath of Nemesis, so that two-way travel through the vortex is not ruled out by the story. Besides, when you''re scrambling to save your village and you see a vortex through which both a villager ("there''s a whole other world in there!") and the good advisor make a round-trip you tend not to think in terms of one-way vortices.

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chronos    100
By the way, I did activate and solve a bunch of silver scrolls. I did not intend to play through Land 1 quite so quickly, it just turned out that way. Again, I was under the impression that I would be taught about spells, not that my land would be destroyed.

The video I'm talking about is the intro to the game where you hear primitive music and see examples of good and evil gameplay.

Oh, and the sailors in the game are perverts!

Edited by - chronos on January 31, 2002 5:30:04 AM

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For the most part, I find the game excellent, but there are occasions where the designers commit the cardinal sin of gaming, they break their own game world''s rules. This MUST NEVER BE DONE, FOR ANY REASON. This is because as soon as the game (ie the opposition) breaks the rules, the player is entitled to do so too in order for it to be fair. They do this by cheating (which, incidentally, cannot be done anyway in B&W).

The worst example is in land three, where if one captures a village, the enemy sends a pack of wolves to it to regain belief.

The problem is, it takes you ages to build up belief through repeated miracles, and it should take FAR more than a single pack for the enemy to reclaim it. However, the designers cheated by having the whole village INSTANTLY change alleigance if even a single wolf arrives, in blatant disregard for the rules of gameplay.

I covered this problem in depth in an older post about "integrating cheats, on purpose, into a game", which I believe has resurfaced in our forums suddenly.

In short, if you design a game world''s rules, you should stick to them, come hell or high water.

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Zileas    122
Black and whites defining flaw was that it tried to do too many things at once. ITs effecitvely 3 or maybe 4 games in one, and the games arent fun for the same sorts of people really. Hence, very few people get what they want in B&W even though they might get a thing or two. I firmly believe you need a pretty focused core set of gameplay for a game to be understood and loved by a lot of people. The more latitude you take, the more you lose people.

It sold like crazy with graphics and spin. Its sustained sales were poor for a game with such strong early sales. It didnt deliver as good peer recommendations or replay value as is necessary for a megahit, but it was made a hit through lots and lots and lots of candy and lots and lots and lots of spin. Many movies are "highly successful" on that model too, even though they arent good movies. Such is life.

There may be lessons to learn in marketability, but it didnt sell nearly as well as say the sims, which was a decent product too in terms of replay value, and has extremely good sustained sales.
Zileas

Edited by - Zileas on January 31, 2002 6:22:14 PM

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aDasTRa    122
it seems to me reading through most of these posts that everyone of you who complains about the game hasn''t even played it through. no one even mentions getting past the 3rd land.

i understand some of these criticisms, and i myself have issues with the gameplay. The fact remains though that there is no other game out there remotely like this. It may not be perfect, but hey, even half life is flawed.

What really shocks me is that here, in a game development forum, game DESIGN forum yet, hardly anyone has mentioned any of the technical leaps and bounds this game makes. Yeah it looks pretty, but if thats all you notice i don''t wonder why you don''t like it. I believe the creature ai is absolutely outstanding for one thing. And the little subtleties, like the phases of the moon actually mirroring the real phases of the moon where you live, or the game''s weather mirroring the real weather where you live, or how the look of the game actually changes depending on how you play.

Black and White is a different kind of game. If you want something that looks shiny and you can rush through, get some quake or command and conquer. If you want a game with some depth with plenty to do, try finishing this one.

<(o)>

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chronos    100
Part of the reason the game was so successful, I think, is that the concept is very interesting and the game''s imagery very powerful. Just looking at the game''s box, good and evil in opposition, brings forth images of awesome power, great deeds, dark rituals, fearful subjects and other such things. The game had very lofty goals, but it didn''t live up to them.

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a person    118
to the ap, the creature is not useless. i successful taught it to feed my villigers, and to help other villegers. also the reason the game is called black and white is because there are two ways to handle many of the situtaions presented. for instance, getting villages. you can detrsoy them, which is the easy way out. or help them and impess them via mircales and the creature which is more difficult. its up to you how to play the game.

i agree with aDasTRa when it comes how many ppl are portraying this game (especially chronos who said nothing good aobut the game yet). personally i place it up there with trespasser (for those who never played the game, definatly download the demo). like trespasser black and white raised the bar on design and required cpu speed. both fell short of the intended goals, and were plauged with bugs. yet they both were original games that really give a bright glimpse into games of the future assuming companies dont continue producing clones of games because ppl are willing to buy them. lets face it hl should be killed already and along with it cs. ppl need to stop playing those games and actually try something new.

trespasser, for those who have not played nor heard of it, was a first person adventure game. its difficult to describe the gameplay due to its fantastic use of physics (its sad not more companies today make a game like that considering how fast pcs are now). it was pretty free form (though i only played the demo) and allowed you to throw crates in the water (which woudl float) or even stack them to reach higher places. you could also use guns like bats to hit the dinos (but ussually that did not work to well). dinos could get broken legs and trip. animation was determined partially by the physics engine so logs coudl be used to roll at dinos. you were actually afraid of the dinos since they were pretty powerful and somewhat cunning (well maybe the ai was pretty bad, but the physics made up for that). in fact its one of the few jurassic park games that is actually quite decent. the min req for that game was a 200mhz (or may have been a 166) (3d card optional) which was quite high back then. it used agp textures if you had the video support for it. major downfall was the same as balck and white, too much horsepower required and a bit buggy. though a still great game. hopefully i will actually find the time to purchase the game. and yes the demo is 100% legal, it is not soem warez thing, its an actually demo. somethign many compaines dont bother with now a days.

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GBGames    217
In my opinion, Black and White was a great game. I remember playing it for a few days in a row before I had to do actual work again. I unfortunately haven''t picked it up since, although now that I found this post, I plan on reinstalling it (I have reformatted 3 times since).
Anyway, what are its flaws?
The save game feature, which was added late in the development of the game, is badly done. Who saves the game in the registry?
Also, when I start the game, it takes forever to load. This wouldn''t be so bad if I could choose which save game I want. Unfortunately I have to wait until I am in the game before I can change to another game I have saved, which wasn''t all that intuitive anyway. It wasn''t easy to find out where and how you could do it in the first place.
Also, if it could allow you to specify what exactly you are trying to teach the creature, that would be good. I had the same problem just trying to teach the creature how to feed himself, with only so-so results the two different times I had played it.
I thought the gestures system was actually a great implementation! While I didn''t have a problem with icons before, this game allowed much greater freedom.
I felt the controls were intuitive, until I accidentally moved too close to the edge of the screen and then instead of moving up or down, I was rotating.
As for the game itself, I have to say that the most annoying thing is for the game to teach me how to play it when I already know how. While the tutorial was very helpful the first time I started the game, I dread having to go through it all when I reinstall it again.
All in all, I think B&W was great. I haven''t played past the 2nd land, I think, so I don''t know about the 3rd level issues, but I will keep them in mind.
Also, why do some of you just want to beat a game as fast as possible? You complain that you could beat the game within 3 hours or so since it is too easy, but I have probably logged days playing it and I enjoyed it. It is a fun game to play, although I would have liked having the ability to move water...I am a god, right? Why can''t I do anything with the water? B-)


-------------------------
(Gorgeous graphics)+(beautiful sound effects)+(symphonic music)+(no gameplay) != Good game

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Black & White sold well for the same reason Project Ego will sell well.

Hype.

People were looking forward to it, so when it came out they bought it. End of story.


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chronos    100
aDasTRa:
quote:
What really shocks me is that here, in a game development forum, game DESIGN forum yet, hardly anyone has mentioned any of the technical leaps and bounds this game makes.


Surely you don''t think issues such as consistency and tutorial integration are irrelevant to game design? If I comment on the negative aspects of the game it''s because that''s what I notice the most, and because looking at others'' mistakes helps us avoid these ourselves. I welcome you to mention more of these technical leaps and bounds you speak of. So far you''ve mentioned only creature AI, which I feel is too dependent on interaction with the player.

a person:
quote:
i agree with aDasTRa when it comes how many ppl are portraying this game (especially chronos who said nothing good aobut the game yet).


I know I''ve focused on the negative aspects of the game, but you''re quite welcome to discuss those aspects of the game''s design which you feel are positive ones.

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My guess is the game was expensive to develop because they had to keep replacing all the beta-testers that shot themselves having to go through the tutorials over and over when looking for bugs. The tutorials definitely should have been skippable... and as for your advisers popping up to tell you things, the adviser should poke his head out and let you know what he wants to tell you, without taking control away from you. Then you can click him and go through the usual deal (with him controlling the camera to point things out, as they do now) or ignore him.

~CGameProgrammer( );

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
HEY,
To anyone that think B&W has too many bugs. I have to agree that I don''t think they planned the whole thing that well at first, but maybe you should look into how it was done. B&W is a project that became bigger and bigger as they where programming it. They talk about Millions of lines of code. They talk about being lost in their own code. I think it is a pretty nice accomplishment. I am impressed by what they have done. It is avant guard for sure, and the AI is quite nice for a GAME. I don''t think you guys that are complaining about DETAILS have any idea what is involved in creating a game such as B&W. I use B&W as reference. It will stay with the all time best created game of its time.

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ekenslow    122
I think a prior poster summed it up well when he said the game''s flaws are the result of breaking their internal world rules. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the last land (yes, I did finish the game). The last land is so horribly designed that when you finish it you don''t get a sense of accomplishment so much as a sense of relief, kind of like recovering from the flu: "Glad that''s over, but I never should have been subjected to it in the first place".

I think the specific flaws have been enumerated already. The opponent god chain-casting spells even though he has no worshippers, the opponent creature walking around with 0% health and stamina (which instantly goes up to 100% if you send your creature to fight it), etc.

The enemy AIs in most games cheat in some way. This is pretty much just a fact of life, but the Black & White AI just rubs your face in it and laughs at you. Besides the relatively minor bug and performance issues, that''s the biggest flaw I saw.


--
Eric

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