Poll

Which describes your UA use?

I play UA with UAShell to apply "hacked" mods.
18 (85.7%)
I play UA by itself and never play "hacked" mods.
0 (0%)
I no longer play UA.
2 (9.5%)
I have never played UA.
1 (4.8%)
I don't really know what UA is (I'm new).
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Voting closed: January 26, 2014, 10:07:40 AM

Author Topic: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)  (Read 9211 times)

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2013, 02:03:07 PM »
Wow cool now that would be interesting to see. For me at least i was thinking today how to play all games here i like (that includes Rays games mostly and other good ones too), and how much time will i need for that. Lately also i was thinking about FRUA and tabletop (on roll20.net actualy). I have to admit that FRUA/DC have a really important part in my RPG thinking now. I think i need at least few years to play all games here :). Have anyone played everything btw? :D

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2013, 02:26:54 PM »
Sometimes I feel that I'm the only one who's playing those old unsexy unhacked modules...

You're not the only one who blows the dust off of the old unhacked vanilla modules once in a while.  They can be fun...or terrible.  Depends on who wrote them and how much effort they put into them.
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Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2013, 03:02:53 PM »
I was starting to feel the same way 'bout you.   ;) 
If we count you, it seems like we're losing about everybody who's worked on the UA Serial Mod Project.  (I wonder when's the next installment...)   :P

I am concerned about GoldBoxFan.  It seems like one day he was quite active and the next day he was suddenly gone.  I sent him a PM, but have not gotten a response.  I pray that he's okay. 

Naturally, I understand that UA can get a bit stale, --and that it is easily blown away by the many charms of so many newer games.  My biggest disappointment, however, would be if there are never any more mods written by you, Olivier, a FRUAuthor of such promise.

I'm very flattered by your kind words, hans.   :o

And that would be a disappointment for me, too, with all those projects I started back in the days. But I was never really good at persevering, there was always a point when I thought "I don't really care about this anymore" and "why waste my time on this silly thing?" and "what's the point if I don't even like it myself?". As I believe I've said before, the only times I ever got something done for UA or DC was when there was a deadline and others were expecting me to complete what I started. All three modules I released were created for a themed challenge and their stories were all kind of fragmentary (and in truth just an excuse for me to play around with sound and graphics  :angel:).

Although I hadn't initially planned it, the encouragement I got from you and Ben J made me think about a sequel to A Tale of Two Cities a few times and one time I actually started working on it, but then I discovered that I had a strong dislike for some parts of the first game and I didn't want anything new to be tainted by its flaws ...  ::) (Well that, and also that I was aiming to high again; it's much more sensible to start small and humble, but it's no use if I don't like small and humble.  :P )

Anyway, never say never.  ;)


I think i need at least few years to play all games here :). Have anyone played everything btw? :D

 I've played through (almost) everything I listed in the Hall of Fame, but that's only a fraction of all the available designs (mostly the "hacked" faction  ;) ).

That reminds me. One of these days I should probably update the sticky with the new releases ...


For my part, I'm still around.

Hey, Ray, good to hear from you! I hope your little family is doing fine. :)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 03:08:16 PM by Olivier Leroux »

Offline Ray

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2013, 04:23:41 PM »
BTW, Ray, I recall that you had a P&P adventure published in Dungeon Magazine (and for all I know, maybe more since), did you ever convert your own adventure for UA?

I haven't, but it HAS occurred to me.  More as the years go by, and it feels less like MY adventure, and more like just another module I found in a Dungeon Magazine...   ;)

I think it would be fairly simple to convert, actually.  It's a fairly straightforward adventure... 


Hey, Ray, good to hear from you! I hope your little family is doing fine. :)

No complaints!  Hope you and yours are doing well, too, Olivier!   :D


Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2013, 07:32:30 PM »
And that would be a disappointment for me, too, with all those projects I started back in the days. But I was never really good at persevering, there was always a point when I thought "I don't really care about this anymore" and "why waste my time on this silly thing?" and "what's the point if I don't even like it myself?". As I believe I've said before, the only times I ever got something done for UA or DC was when there was a deadline and others were expecting me to complete what I started.

I'm going to be long-winded with my advice...just a forewarning:

This is a common trap.  I don't know an artist in any form who doesn't believe what he or she is putting out is complete garbage while they're working on it (in my experience, people who think what they're working on is the best thing ever usually are only doing mediocre work at best).  You will nag yourself with doubts and second-guess whether it's any good.  You will get frustrated and give up.  You will hate it.  It will be the worst thing ever seen in civilization ever, or so you will convince yourself.  Who would like such a mess?

But, don't let the negative thinking end the project for you.  Keep pushing.  Keep going.  In the end, you will be glad you did. 

So many of my own modules almost didn't see the light of day because of self-doubt.  I had my head stuck in "AT1: Dark Alliances" for two years.  I rewrote the beginning fifteen times.  I scrapped whole sections of it.  And I gave up more than once.  But, the important step in the process was that I put myself back into it, even if I had to force myself to do so.  Some people will tell you not to force yourself, but I find that my best work comes out when I make myself do something (and it sounds like you're the same, since you perform when there's a deadline).

This belief has followed me through everything I've done.  UA modules.  NWN building.  My current project.  You name it.  I gave up on all of them, took a few days or a week off, and then made myself go back and came out better for it in the end.  So, my advice is: Listen to the voice inside, give in and quit when it tells you...so that you can go back to what you were doing a week later without it bugging you anymore.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 07:35:43 PM by ProphetSword »
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Offline Nol Drek

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2013, 08:31:40 PM »
On the other hand, I've just realized that designing for the UA group that remains is kind of like planning an adventure for my tabletop group--It's like devoting a bunch of time to a small group of close friends that I've known for YEARS.

You have hit the nail on the proverbial head.
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Offline hans

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2013, 11:20:16 AM »
Part of the issue with people moving on, I think, has a lot to do with the fact that you can only do so much with UA.  And, by that, I don't mean engine limitation...I just mean there's only so many times that the same kind of engine is going to be enjoyed before you start to feel burned out on it...
 

Along these lines, it might be helpful to stop and think about how SSI continued to produce successful GoldBox games after introducing the engine with Pool of Radiance.  We can note what SSI did to keep their engine fresh, perhaps as lessons for UA designers.

Subsequent GoldBoxes had new stories, with fresh ideas, of a general high quality.  (UA's "Heirs to Skull Krag" has received much criticism for not matching that quality.)

Subsequent GoldBoxes had new art, usually of improved quality. 

They all introduced (at least some) new monsters (one of the first things their ads would boast, after giving a teaser of the new storyline) and new items and new spells.

With exceptions, they introduced new music

Some took us to new milieus: Krynn and the world of Buck Rogers.

Of course, none of the GoldBoxes were ever so antiquated as UA is now.  Still, they re-used their engine for a (relatively) long while, bringing enough freshness to each new release that they are all still replayed by fans, today. 

Offline hans

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2013, 08:40:22 PM »
To complement the above thoughts, it may also be instructive to consider what strengths UA may boast beyond those found in the GoldBoxes. 

The GoldBoxes were team efforts, whereas most UA mods are the creations of indivdual authors.  For UA, this strength is maximized as individual authors find their "voice."  A "voice" unique to one author is demonstrated in the stories they tell and how they tell them.  In telling a story, even if it is not original to the mod author, there are many choices to be made, from details and emphasis in text (even how much text), to what art to use where.  The more these choices reflect an individual author's tastes, the more they have their own recognizable "voice."   

It is not unusual for UAers to have favorite mod authors on the basis of this strength.  My personal favorite mod author is Steve Gustafson, due to his prevalent wit and whimsy.  I wish he was still active, writing more mods for me to play. 

Another strength UA may boast is the creative freedom it gives its authors.  The GoldBoxes were limited to a particular style.  The writers and artists adhered to certain rules, guided by the expectations of their audience, as well as those of TSR.  UA has no such creative shackles, leaving its authors free to indulge their own tastes, and free to experiment (even wildly experiment). 

Gore, sexuality, taboo subjects, foul language, religion, politics, and more, that you would never see in a GoldBox game, can already be found in certain existing mods.  Authors can be deliberately offensive, taking their own chances on possibly alienating their audience. 

Moreover, authors may stray from the straight, epic adventure styles of the GoldBoxes to fashion comedies, love stories, mysteries, horror stories, metaphors, etc., of any mixture, and of any length.

So, while the basic GoldBox engine elements of UA may grow stale, there is still much room to add freshness to any new mod.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 08:47:04 PM by hans »

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2013, 08:58:32 AM »
The problem with that is that I rarely see UA modules that can hit the same heights as the original Goldbox games.   There is a glut of modules that were written by authors who came, chucked out a module in three days and then disappeared from the community forever.  Truly great modules are few and far between...and most of us have played those already. 

There's also only so much that we can change about UA.  Hacks only take us so far.  The Goldbox games introduced things we have a hard time replicating (moon phases, monsters who have special effects when they die, reinforcements called during battles for either side, weather effects, spaceship combat, etc).  SSI was able to manipulate the code to do truly original things that we can't.

A lot of these things can be done (and more) in DC.  But, there are folks who refuse to even look at it, which is a shame.  Here's two recent screenshots of something Manikus is working on.  You tell me if it's not the successor to UA.  There are more people generating buzz about DC than UA at the moment.  (It can do more, it works in Windows, it has better screen resolutions, unlimited events, etc).




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Offline Vix

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2013, 05:46:38 PM »
If I weren't so busy with personal life, a bi-weekly D&D campaign I run, a monthly Star Wars campaign I play in, a Marvel Super Hero game I occasionally run (was weekly, now bi-monthly), Marvel Avengers Alliance and Terraria ... I would probably spend some time with DC.

I still long for a turn-based tactical system where terrain, lighting, and other non-character obstacles are included.

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2013, 04:06:03 AM »
I am just happy that i am able to work again with DC though i wish i could have a tabletop campaign too. But above all i wish i could make my own works real and playable. For now i guess i still need lots of preparations and learning and playing FRUA to be able to do something really serious and good. For now i hope to make something good for DC, meaning to finish a design and that i can say i am proud of it. Anyway i have been working last few days with DC/FRUA and i am still sorting my things and preparing to do that mod i hope i will be able to do something, though i have some questions like how can i have a random teleport, or random event ect but i guess i should start with basic tutorials. Hm well here is a song just to help with all that
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZwhzf8NC4o
http://german.about.com/library/blmus_nena99luftbE.htm

Offline hans

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2013, 08:17:02 PM »
The problem with that is that I rarely see UA modules that can hit the same heights as the original Goldbox games.   There is a glut of modules that were written by authors who came, chucked out a module in three days and then disappeared from the community forever.  Truly great modules are few and far between...and most of us have played those already...
 

I believe your points, there, really support the underlying contention of my last couple of posts. 

We longtime players of UA may be keenly aware of its engine's limitations.  Therefore, when play begins to feel tiresome and repetitious, we may ascribe that malaise to the engine, itself, rather than to fault the mods.  Yet, the basic GoldBox is engine is arguably one of most popular ever created (certainly of its era).  The GoldBoxes are classics, and are still being replayed, and discovered by new fans, today.  (Perhaps, then, it's not actually ironic that Manikus' conversion of POR for DC is garnering such interest and anticipation.) 

If we conclude that UA's engine itself is a plus, and not a minus in attracting players, then we must acknowledge problems elsewhere.  Apart from the question of ease of use and modern compatibilities, the bottom line is:  Do players find our mods worth playing...? 

Naturally, new authors should have fun with UA, and be able to make what they like, but if they want to create something that others will want to play, then there are logically some strategies to consider, and some sage advice we UA graybeards may offer. 

One piece of advice too often ignored by newbie authors is:  Get playtesters

I pointed out some things, a few posts back, that SSI regularly did to keep their successive GoldBox releases fresh and interesting. 

I wish both DC and Iceblink every success.  But it will ultimately come down to the same thing for them, of course, will players find the games made with their engines worth playing? 

So, restating my contention in paraphrase:  "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars construction kit, but in ourselves."

« Last Edit: October 28, 2013, 08:21:16 PM by hans »

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2013, 03:38:38 AM »
Hm that is true but kit is also important if it can do good things. Anyway i think it is not so easy to make a good module and yeah creativity is needed :).

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2013, 06:43:36 AM »
If we conclude that UA's engine itself is a plus, and not a minus in attracting players, then we must acknowledge problems elsewhere.  Apart from the question of ease of use and modern compatibilities, the bottom line is:  Do players find our mods worth playing...? 

People who enjoy those kinds of games and who have a huge interest in making their own will always find our mods worth playing.  I have no doubt that there will be new people who discover the wonders of UA each year.  But, I've noticed a few trends.

The first is players who are only interested in playing classic D&D modules.  I see them on CRPG forums everywhere I go.  While that sets up Ray Dyer quite nicely, these people don't usually explore anything else the community has to offer.  While I understand the nostalgic appeal of those classic modules, I feel these players are missing out by not dipping their toes into the remaining module pool. (And, I assume that you know that this is not a criticism of Ray's work in any way).

The second is people who want to build their own modules.  We get new blood once in a while.  They play a couple of the top-rated modules and really like them.  But then, they start to feel overwhelmed by how good they are and believe they could never create something as good.  They don't realize that those modules likely aren't the first modules made by those authors and that we all went through the painful learning curve a long time ago.  They aren't willing to invest the time it takes to learn and give up...or talk endlessly about the grand module they will someday make if only they ever get around to it.  In the meantime, they lose interest in playing other modules and fade away.

The third is people who love the gold-box games.  They want to continue that enjoyment, so they come and play a few modules.  But, if they are unlucky enough to pick from the low-grade modules a few times in a row, this quickly destroys their enthusiasm.  I remember when I first found the community back in 199X (don't remember the exact year) and I couldn't wait to play some other modules after having built some of my own for friends.  So, I downloaded and started going through them.  Boy, was I ever disappointed.  I picked some real "winners" to start with.  It was only my love of UA and the community that kept me around.  So, I can imagine what happens when someone finds UA, doesn't join the forums and just starts downloading modules randomly, only to find something sub-par made back in days of yore.  Or, they download a hacked module without realizing that they need UAShell, so everything is wonky.

So, no...the fault isn't with us...

It's hard to say that fault lies anywhere, actually.

« Last Edit: October 29, 2013, 06:45:43 AM by ProphetSword »
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Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Are you playing UA or not? (Please participate)
« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2013, 06:54:14 AM »
Or maybe the fault is with the various license owners who prevent UA from being legally available again and therefor open to a wider audience (including all categories of players mentioned above and several others) ... :P

Additionally, and probably more so though, I think the issue is just related to the times, to UA's old age, the comparatively old age of most of its supporters who might have less free time nowadays than they did back in the days.

Also, I'm guessing, a supposed majority's reluctance to try anything unofficial and custom-made (or "amateurish" in their book). Personally I love UA for the fact that there's a wide variety of designs available including the experimental and unusual (which I think is UA's strong point), but let's face it, they're catering to a niche taste. Even among the people who don't mind UA's old age I bet there are many who are only looking for the familiar Goldbox style and have little interest in designs that differ too much from it (and like Ben said, the truly great Goldbox style designs are only few and far between).
« Last Edit: October 29, 2013, 07:25:22 AM by Olivier Leroux »