Thursday, 30 December 2010

999

phew! okay, done, and boy do my fingers hurt. It does get very Ever 17 there by the end of it. Alas, some of my cool theories had to be discarded along the way (and it's tempting to try and make games out of some of those cool theories, but tricky to do so without the result looking too much like either the early parts of this game, or Battle Royale...)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

999 - Weird Passing References

I'm not giving plot spoilers here and I haven't completed the game yet, I'm just going to talk about a few weird tangential things that have popped up so far.

First off, 'Lotus'.



Has large breasts (really, they're bigger than that in-game!) and is wearing a skimpy belly-dancer outfit. We have no idea why - the characters are choosing not to talk much about themselves in case the killer is listening. It doesn't surprise me that people occasionally question her unusual appearance.

However, what isn't apparent from that image is that she's a lot older than the main character. I don't know her age exactly so far, maybe 40? But while this is a surprise to the player, it's supposedly evident to the other characters, some of whom call her 'Grandma' and complain about having to look at her "wrinkly raisin" body. This seems... strange, compared to the visual that's being shoved at the player. Are we supposed to assume that the characters making these complaints are being ridiculous? Is this intended as commentary on the 'christmas cake' phenomenon, to suggest that a woman over 25, no matter how conventionally attractive, is over the hill and unwanted? Are we supposed to assume that she looks extremely different from the depiction on-screen, and that the Giant Shiny Breasts are just for the player's entertainment? That has weird implications of its own... And are we then meant to agree that looking at cleavage which is not excessively youthful and perky is a horrific experience?

Another thing that made me blink in confusion was that, while examining one of the rooms and encountering a vanity table, one of the characters suddenly went off on a rant about the derivation of the term and how "women every day sit and stare at their own conceited natures" or something along those lines. Which, well, whoa, there's a lot to unpack there. It's possible that this is meant as a sign that the character speaking is a jerk, as I have yet to unravel the central mystery and I strongly distrust that particular character. If it's just an out-of-the-blue tidbit by the author along the lines of the rambling about telepathy and crystals, it's... creepy.

Monday, 27 December 2010

999

My fingers hurt... :(

I have two endings so far. Not surprisingly they've involved EVERYONE'S DEAD DAVE. (Well, okay, in both cases the person that killed me was still alive when I kicked it, but I don't know if they survived past that or blew up. Nor do I yet have any evidence about the veracity of the off-camera deaths.)

I am mildly annoyed that only a crazed killer has so far thought to do the really obvious thing that I am never allowed to do in-game. (collecting stray bracelets)

Sunday, 26 December 2010

eeeeewwww (999)

Some author is having too much fun describing bloody pulp in detail.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

So, my Christmas games haul is the copy of 999 that I've started but haven't gotten too far in, the copy of Remember 11 that I bought myself but just arrived, and the autographed Fighting Fantasy that we got at a charity auction earlier in the month but again only just arrived (with bonus card game from Ian Livingstone who is a sweetheart).

Also my sister sent me Amazon UK credit that I don't actually know what to do with. I suppose I could pick up the Witcher, maybe? except I have TOO MANY GAMES TO PLAY already. It's been on my 'eh, maybe' list ever since it was first released and I'm clearly not in much of a hurry. I'm just too busy!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

ye old ball and chain

A cute article on the pros and cons of playing MMORPGs with your significant other.

(Which I'm not doing at the moment, but might again sometime.)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

not cool, guys

So, I quit WoW after my account was hacked, but I still know people who play.

My husband, for one, just got back into the game with the new expansions. Unfortunately he ran smack into a big problem with the goblin quests.

Apparently to play game as a goblin you are required to murder your girlfriend/boyfriend for being a slut ("cheating on you"). You are required to literally rip his/her heart out. You cannot leave the starting zones without doing this. ("required" in the sense that the game makes you do it, not that your character is forced to do it against his/her will. It's a But Thou Must situation. Your only option, afaik, is to quit and not play the goblin race. Which, for the moment, is what he's doing. Because this is fucked up.)

Yes, it's just a game, but... what the hell?

Imagine how disturbing that would be for anyone who's actually suffered from domestic violence, or known someone who has.

It should be obvious that this COULD really upset someone, and for that reason it should not be mandatory. (Again, I'm not arguing that this should be expunged from the game and the goblins should be made into squeaky-clean nice people. But this questline should not be mandatory.)

Monday, 20 December 2010

false dichotomy

So, this dude made a post about certain things he liked in RPGs. Another blog (not me) took mild offense at some of the implications and snarked about them, and he snarked back and then locked his post so people wouldn't comment further. (Which is completely within his rights to do of course!) Just another day on the internets.

Well, this is my blog so I'm still going to muse.

One thing he said is:


I liked The Witcher because the setting was authentic: it didn't mix pseudo-Medieval oppression of the peasantry with modern-day values on gender quality or empowerment; commoner NPCs used appropriate syntax and vocabulary (including curses) rather than spouting out like thesauruses; the art direction was stunning and stunningly detailed; and Geralt was an anti-hero with a believable character rather than a shining paragon/monstrous fiend, who dealt with the problems the world threw at him the best he could. He's a womanizer, but such a flaw is in keeping entirely with his experiences and lifestyle. The game doesn't foist 21st-century relationship protocol upon a wandering monster-slayer because that would be silly and disingenuous.


Caveat: I have not yet played The Witcher, so my discussion is based solely on the impressions I've gotten from a couple of reviews and the references he makes here.

In the post, he gives the impression that he thinks Dragon Age lacks artistic integrity because it contains more gender equality than The Witcher. And he seems confused as to why anyone should take offense to that statement.

First off - The idea that there is perfect modern gender equality in Dragon Age is completely false. (For one thing, the idea that there is perfect gender equality in the modern age is ALSO completely false.) Yes, the position of women in DA is better than it is in a lot of 'traditional' fantasy. They clearly can take up arms and hold leadership positions. On the other hand, there's still within the setting a general assumption of women being made for sex and home-making, and if you're playing a female character (especially if you're a female city elf, as I was first!) you will definitely get the point made to you early on that you're an unusual woman. Power balance may vary between cultures within the setting, as well; I got the impression dwarven women were 'more equal' than Dalish women, for example. But neutered and dulled and homogenised to avoid offending anyone? Take another look at the fates female characters are threatened with that the male characters are not. (Also, some players WERE offended by the existence of gay characters or the handling of some of the options at the brothel. Not that that's important to the overall point, just a reminder that the game wasn't, and wasn't trying to be, blandly inoffensive.)

Second - There's something quite disturbing about the notion that it cannot be artistic to be inclusive. No, art is not and should not be ALWAYS perfectly inclusive to everyone, that would greatly limit what stories you could tell. But suggesting that anything that isn't smack full of racism/sexism/whatever lacks is not proper art is ALSO stupidly limiting.

Third - People in general are quite stupid about 'authenticity'. They know that in modern times we're generally trying to lower the amount of racism/sexism/etc. Therefore in past times there must have been a lot more of it. Okay. But then they extend that to thinking that NO individual in past times EVER was anything more than a leering caricature of evil. Just because women weren't allowed to do X in public doesn't mean absolutely everybody thought women were mindless beasts who should never be spoken to outside of the kitchen or the bedroom. Just because there weren't an awful lot of black people wandering around Elizabethan England doesn't mean that every single Englishman, upon meeting one, would be obliged to set him on fire. Outspoken women did exist in the past. Men who thought women deserved more respect did exist in the past. People of other races did exist in the past. Gay people did exist in the past, despite more-modern history's attempt to gloss over that! Including these things does not magically make your setting hollow.

From what I understand, the main character of the Witcher is kinda a jerk and chases everything with a skirt. Fine! That's who he is. I don't object to there being such characters. I think it's good to see characters with a variety of views. And in general it's interesting when the views don't all coincide with what's expected - heroes have what we see as terrible flaws, villains are actually quite progressive in certain ways while being horrible in others.

However, I do object to the idea that it's better to be horrible, and to create worlds where people (lesser people, not the hero, oh no) are oppressed and miserable, and that anything else would lack artistic integrity. He claims that by promoting these negative games he's promoting variety. But if you promote ONLY these negative games and protest that games for other people are mush and shouldn't be made, you're not exactly espousing variety...

999

9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

Played a little bit last night, all text, just enough to get to the first major decision (and first grisly death. Or is it?). Enough to confirm that this game really is what Fatal Hearts was: a fully branching multiple ending adventure/visual novel. And also like Fatal Hearts, it includes bad guys in gas masks, BECAUSE GAS MASKS ARE REALLY CREEPY LOOKING.

Which is not to suggest that the author has ever even heard of my game, of course. :) Still, I take a bit of amusement in my (afaik) legitimate first, especially since so many marketing people LOVE to boast about something being the first of its kind when it absolutely isn't.

So, I'm clearly going to have to play this many times. Annoyingly, there is no text speed control in the options, and progressing through the text is a lot of tap-tap-tap-tap. However, the game manual does list buttons to hold down to fast-skip through text you've seen before, so hopefully it would work all right on replay.



One interface tidbit: There's a large cast, but (so far) no voices. However, when each character speaks, there's that little typewriter noise made as the letters appear (a sound effect which doesn't happen for the narration segments on the bottom screen). Each character's typewriter noise is set to a different pitch, so you can still get the effect of different people talking when they have conversations.

999

Sorry, I've been so busy grinding through development lately that I've only barely booted up my new DS game. I breezed through the opening puzzles because I'd already solved them in the flash demo, but I haven't had time to play past that...

brutal legend would be improved by...

... health bars. Or at least damage numbers.

The last few stage battles are pretty rough if you've been steamrolling happily through the game until that point. Consulting all kinds of online guides provides strategy advice, but a lot of the things I'm finding out is stuff that would be a lot easier to work out on your own if you could SEE the difference in using different attacks on different targets. As it is, unless the difference is HUGE and the monster goes down in a couple of hits, it's hard to tell what works best. And this leads to a lot of floundering around.

More crunchy data plz!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Brutal Legend

I'm not playing it - I don't do modern consoles - but it's amusing to sit and watch someone else play. The storytelling is generally well-integrated to the gameplay and there's enough shiny things on a big screen that a second person watching and just occasionally pointing 'Over there!' or 'Try X instead!' isn't completely useless. Missions are short and clear and it's easy to carve up into chunks so we can play a little now, stop when I get restless, and come back later.

So it's a share-y thing, unlike most of the games a certain someone has for his PS3 here, which I peer at for only a moment to note the graphics and then get bored.

... I still don't do modern consoles. I haven't appreciated these post-SNES enormous controllers!

(I should note that we're not that far into it now, because I have a limited attention span for sitting on the couch watching someone else do stuff. It may get more grindy and less funny later.)

Saturday, 11 December 2010

IGN are useless and hate men (and women)

So, according to their gift guide, male gamers are unsocialised weirdoes who have trouble making decisions and loathe shopping so much that they have to be placated with images of random models in lingerie while supposedly buying things for their girlfriends.

And, according to them, an 'ultra geeky' woman (sorry, "girl", they don't believe in women) is one who wants lots and lots of clothing vaguely related to gaming and a few pink accessories. Not a single game on the list.

The most lolsob moment of all? One of the comments claims that this list is useless - because these gifts are WAAAAAAY too 'hardcore' to be given to a female.

(Okay, yes, this guide is not helpful if you're shopping for a casual gamer. But they're not helpful if you're shopping for a hardcore gamer either!)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

i can has!

A christmas present of 999 arrived. I am too stupid to play it today. :)

zzz

The past two nights my net connection has gone out for over an hour at a time. (See? I'm not making the problems up!)

I got no sleep last night for other reasons.

So I'm a zombie today, so what am I doing? Hacking the graphics files for Avernum 4 to look more like Avernum 6. Thankfully it's easy to do even when braindead.



If you've played it, you can tell that I've been messing with it. Even if you haven't, you can probably see graphics mismatches everywhere to clue you where I've been cutting and pasting. The only problems I have with it now are that it can't match the widescreen of this monitor and that there's a very noticeable lag every time I bring up the file menu, which seems ridiculous for an old game on a fast computer. And since I'm early in the game and my characters have the longevity of a sneeze, I have that menu up a lot.

Orgel of Orpheus

The ongoing frustration of finding cool-looking Japanese games I can't understand at all!



It has something to do with Orpheus's harp and music boxes. Beyond that, no idea.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I shouldn't mock, but...

upon reading this news story, my husband's comment was "He must have just saved and was mucking about before turning the console off."

well, they have to produce the zombies from somewhere

Apparently the new Bejeweled game contains some slightly creepy elements.

Sure, it's all optional, and I would never turn it on even if I were playing the game which is unlikely because Bejeweled is a bit dull for me...

Sunday, 5 December 2010

gaze upon temptation


Okay, so, just so you know the story goes on, I'm dumping a bunch of screenshots in here. I don't think there are any real spoilers amongst them, but if you're one who wants absolutely everything to be a surprise, look away now!







Also, we're past 50,000 words now...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

an amusing anti-piracy mechanic

vuvuzelas!

the stars shine bright

I don't know much about it - I really don't pay that much attention to Japanese otome games because most of them will not hit Englishness ever - but apparently there is now a translation patch out for Starry☆Sky ~In Spring~

The game can (probably) be purchased from here - the listing says it contains both game and drama CD.

A slightly silly review can be found here - I'm not vouching for the reviewer, it's just one I could find! (warning, language!)

Friday, 3 December 2010

this is not news, this is a blog!

An article on how games 'journalism' tends to be even worse than regular journalism.

Most clear conclusion - Kotaku is a long way from a serious and reliable site. Hopefully that's not news to anyone either.

The comments seem really sulky. If you're approaching your games sites from the viewpoint of entertainment rather than information, you have plenty of reason not to mind that they're sensationalised and editorialised. But in that case, why get upset about someone pointing it out?

Unfortunately, the mention of sexism also derailed the comments into a shouting war. I say unfortunate because it IS an issue worth exploring in the space of games reporting, and it is a particular problem with Kotaku. However, throwing one particularly controversial element into your post tends to skew people's ability to read and understand the rest of your data, and without shared definitions of sexism there's no real way to reply to the people angrily yelling 'How DARE you call us that!' Like - is an article flagged as sexist if it is about a game which is in itself sexist? Or only if it adds EXTRA sexism on top of that? What about articles which assume the reader is a heterosexual male? I find that sexist but some het males reading it won't even see that unless it's pointed out.... If you're going to measure things it really helps if people know what you're measuring them by.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Ghost Trick

Upcoming DS adventure game (well, already out in Japan, upcoming in English iirc) which now has a playable English flash demo here.

It's not a game I'm expecting to be a MUST GET for me, but it's interesting.

Key to the Kingdom

... is really not a very good board game. If you're a boardgamegeek reader you already knew that.

I'd been wanting to play that forever. It LOOKS pretty, and the world-changing mechanic is cool. But the gameplay is badly broken. A lot of things that happen are random, the randomness can combine in extremely unfortunate ways, and it can go on far too long. I believe it can also become unwinnable! And a lot of the 'bad' things that can happen are just huge dull delays.

I enjoy a heaping helping of randomness in a game, because I find strategizing to be stressful. This was not the right helping, though. There came a point where it was blatantly obvious I was going to lose, but the game was still going to have to go on for a very long time...

Temple of Elemental Evil

I hear they have more mods. Am I eager enough for things to blow up to go back to that game? Probably not, really...

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

witch hunt = suck

Well, I was kinda warned, but still. Meh. A very brief quest with no forks, a few cryptic statements from your new party members which never go anywhere, and an equally cryptic conversation with Morrigan that didn't address my actual character's goal at all. I have no idea if the conversation is any better if you're a male romancing her, but I doubt it.

Also, the whole quest was largely revolving around elvishness while never seeming to acknowledge the fact that I was an elf. (Not Dalish, admittedly, but.)

Waste of money.

[The version of my character I took along for this adventure is, of course, a +ritual Alistair-romancing one. But she doesn't want the baby and she doesn't want to kill Morrigan. She just wants to know where Morrigan is and what she's up to, in case she needs to kill her/baby in the future.]

Monday, 29 November 2010

phew

Finally managed to reach the ending of Avernum 6. (Didn't solve all quests, but not sure I care enough to back up.) Phew! That took some time. :)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

yes, AGAIN

... back from another small gaming con, where I was mostly mingling (Ian Livingstone was there!) and playing a game of Betrayal At House On The Hill, a Cthulhu boardgame I've been wanting to try out for a while. (It's much better than Arkham Horror. Really. For one, it doesn't take ten hours to play.)

We did have most of the PCs dead by the end but we technically won, as the eight-year-old girl PC assembled the necessary huge heavy armor and shield and stumbled towards the dragon until she could poke it to death.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Magical Diary

Now starting the month of November in-game, which means that Thanksgiving will be approaching, along with the Fall Play.

The Drama Club is only a peripheral mention in this game, as the Horse Hall girls aren't really involved with it, so the play hasn't been mentioned to this point. I'm not sure precisely what they should be staging. Something where magic could be used for special effects and NOT Shakespeare. Alice in Wonderland has potential but I think that's usually done by younger students... Suggestions welcome!

Again, it's only a very minor detail at the moment, but if the series progresses far enough to cover the characters who are in the Drama Club, it will become more important in the future.

Current word count: 45,754

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Lylian

(Been gone last week at a gaming convention, thus lack of posts! But there's not much I can post about short LARPs - you reading this can't play them, and if you could, anything I said might be a spoiler anyway...)

so, instead, video for a project that's been in dev for a while... (not mine obviously) a weird little platformer-type thing about a girl in an asylum getting loose...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

the inability to see yourself

It weirds me out sometimes when I realise that I know a whole bunch of wacky artsy people who seem to my eyes to be SO much cooler than me, who dress in frilly floaty clothes and pal around with eighteen cats and a tangle of romantic relationships that make mine look simple and sing songs and write books and.... have to hold day jobs.

And I don't.

Naturally, this cannot mean that I am actually successful... it must just be that I'm incredibly cheap. (No smokes, nearly-no alcohol, no pets, no kids, no car... no health insurance because I'm in the UK and it's not necessary... no beach vacations... buy my clothes used...)

Sunday, 14 November 2010

dungeons dungeons dungeons

Not final (is anything ever final?) but here's how the freeform dungeon section is shaping up:



And from there you can bring up your list of spells and sort them by name, color, or casting cost to find what you want:



Wordcount currently sits at 40,932 as we near the end of October (in the game school year). Halloween is imminent, but witches and wizards don't celebrate it like nonmagical people do...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

alas

With vague disappointment I picked up the game again and finished all the normal levels of Super Scribblenauts, feeling very much that I was playing an educational game for kids rather than anything exciting to explore.

The only time it actually surprised me was when I made a 'fishy' tank that turned blue and scaly and wandered around on its own.

avernum weaknesses

After a while, combat gets dull (Common RPG problem.)

Unfortunate solution - setpiece battles with weird rules. Why unfortunate? Because they feel stupidly unfair, especially when they behave according to rules you can't actually SEE that are unlike the rest of the game.

The one I'm stuck on at the moment and am probably going to just give up on involves a large area with crystals around it. There's a central foe who is invincible. You have to wait through endless rounds of combat for the trap to eventually tick down and the invincibility to wear off. All the while huge fireblasts (one of the most damaging attacks in the game) are going off. One crystal at a time is actually damageable and one crystal is booby-trapped and going to blow up with a really huge probably instakill explosion.

But it's extremely unclear whether damaging the one vulnerable crystal does ANYTHING AT ALL. You can't destroy it (really - it has infinite health, the health goes down to one and stays there), and the crystals cycle occasionally whether the vulnerable crystal has been reduced to 1 or not. Should you even be hitting it? No way to know.

The MOST irritating thing about it, though, is that the central baddie casts Fear. And if he succeeds in hitting the one party member whose turn in the turn order comes between him and the cleric who can remove fear, that party member will run away. And if ANY party member takes more than a few steps away from the trap, it RESETS. (Possibly back to complete health. Not that we can tell, since there's zero feedback about progress in wearing this whole thing down.)

grumble grumble I suppose I can try standing soemwhere else to try and TRAP my party so they can't run...

Edit: FORTY FIVE MINUTES REALTIME. That's how long it took to wear that trap down. WHAT THE HELL.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I'm still not going to play it, but...

... it's kinda a cute ad.



Actually inviting everyone to play your game and like it instead of trying to build your reputation by mocking certain people as not good enough for your game? Awesome.

dungeons

So, I have this set of dungeon graphics I bought ages ago that I've been dying to use and have kept trying to come up with crazy schemes just to work them into a game.

The problem is, of course, that they're someone else's dungeon graphics, and therefore tend to include tiles I'll never need, but fail to include tiles I WILL need to do any of my wacky ideas.

... you may be aware there's a dungeon in Magical Diary. Yes, these dungeon tiles are finally (I hope) getting some air. I'm still having to futz around in paint shop trying to bang together important missing pieces of the tileset (what were they thinking?) but I think I've covered the most important missing bits and should be able to build at least basic maps to walk around in.

In the long run we're likely to wish we'd just built the whole dungeon from scratch using individual elements (like Cute Knight) or 3d (which spiky is working on ANYWAY) instead of static 2d backdrops, but darnit, I have these dungeon bits and I'm going to get them into a game somehow!

Can't show screenshots at the moment because since this is finally a freeform walk-around-and-cast-spells dungeon section (the second exam; the first exam is under strict limits) we have all new interfaces to design and they're not done yet. We DO have a very simple test layout up and running that the player can walk around in (turn left, turn right, go forward), a scribbled minimap, and a spell list you can select from, but the spells don't DO anything yet, and it all looks quite messy right now.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

run away! run away!

So, still playing through Avernum 6. Had some interesting experiences lately, both of which involved having to make a run for it, and not just because I'd challenged something stupidly big but because the plot was actually set up to make this a specific need.

In one situation, you're in an area that's going to blow up, but while you're trying to reach the exit, baddies who clearly lack any sense of self-preservation keep getting in your way. So you have to fight them, but you have to fight them fast, and if you want to loot them or any location you pass on the way, you'd better do it on your feet.

I've seen countdowns in "bigger" games, but usually the level stays the same throughout the countdown, other than perhaps some camera jittering, alarm sounds, and flashy lights. With this particular collapse, bits of the cave collapse in sequence, so rooms a little ways behind you are consistently blowing up and you can see that on the map. You know the countdown is real and that you are going to get BOOMed if you don't get out of here, it's not just some scripted event that will wait for you to get out so it can show a pretty cutscene of you leaping away from the explosion.

However, it wasn't actually difficult, at least at the level I had my characters at; there was plenty of time.

A trickier running battle involved a mission deep in enemy territory with no fallback points. When you get to your mission goal, you trigger a huge swarm of enemies to come after you (possibly infinite, I don't know). Also, you've just completed a huge mission so you may well be very low on supplies. There is a way out of this - you have to run a certain distance to a teleporter. But the enemies are coming from all sides, and if you stop to fight you may very well get overwhelmed.

My successful run involved sending my mage to go play "YOU SHALL NOT PASS" over a bridge to distract a large number of enemies so that the rest of the party would only be attacked from one side. This wasn't entirely intentional; a pathfinding quirk sent my mage off in a different direction from the rest of the party, but once she was there it seemed like the thing to do. The others still hit opposition, but since there weren't THAT many of them, were able to punch a hole through so that the fighter could leap for the teleporter, and once one person touches it, the whole party is outta here, even though the mage is now very 'dead' AND very far away from the rest of the group.

I suppose there's some logic to it when you're using a teleporter; since clearly only one person has to activate it to bring the party along, one party member being in a slightly different location shouldn't prevent them from dragging her body back for revival. It makes a bit less sense in cases where you similarly sacrificed one party member in a cave to hold back the approaching hordes while the rest ran for the exit with no teleportation involved; we clearly DIDN'T drag our friend's body back to town to be revived, but s/he'll wake up fine there anyway. (It wouldn't seem entirely unreasonable to me to make you have to pay some kind of retrieval fee in cases where you OBVIOUSLY abandoned somebody, so that it's still a viable strategy but one you can feel a bit bad about, but then, greater simulation doesn't always equal greater fun.)

brand spanking new

I've put up a webpage with information about getting a CD copy of Date Warp. There is a discount if you already own the game, otherwise it's $20 plus shipping (mostly from the US, but I have a couple in the UK so I can give cheap shipping on one or two)

Also, I'm now fooling around with a classic fanfiction scenario... getting spanked in detention. I definitely want to include this because it's a very popular fantasy, but at the same time I don't want to upset anyone for whom spankings by authority figures might bring up bad memories, so the spanking will have to be strictly optional... the mean old professor cannot grab you and force you to be spanked.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Guy of my Dreams

A weird little flash game about trying to find your 'perfect' mate... although you don't find out their real personalities until you've been together with them for a while, so you may end up needing to dump them in search of something better.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Making Mr Right

An amusing review touching on some of the pitfalls of poorly applying theme to gameplay - that is, trying to make a game about romance within the constraints of time-management and match-3.

Yes, I'm applying that tag to a game that's primarily sexist against men this time. (Although really, as in most cases, any sort of sexism is damaging to everyone. Claiming that men are stupid children that women need to 'fix up' like damaged toys doesn't say good things about women either.)

bad writer, no biscuit

I have far too much fun writing events that will only occur to a miniscule fraction of players without a walkthrough.

In order to reach some of the dialog I'm writing at the moment, you need to:

1 - Have figured out how to clear your demerits so you're eligible to run for office
2 - Run for Treasurer
3 - Choose a particular assistant for your campaign
4 - Have managed to spend all your money so that you need a loan
5 - Actually win the campaign
6 - Spend all your money AGAIN so that you can't pay back the loan

But then, most ways to seriously annoy the teachers involve an unlikely series of actions. Wouldn't want players getting themselves unexpectedly expelled... So most of the time, earning demerits requires exploring off the beaten path and then making choices that you probably should have realised were a bad idea.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

hello england

Back at my proper computer. Must now decide whether to try and pick up that Dragon Age tidbit I haven't been able to play for the past few months or keep on trucking through Avernum 6, which I was playing all last month but still haven't finished yet. Haven't even installed 4 or 5 anywhere...

(Well, for that matter, haven't installed any of them on THIS machine, but I *think* I packed my saved games properly...)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Monday, 1 November 2010

siiiiigh

Why, in 2010, does a cute-sounding downloadable puzzly game which has ABSOLUTELY no need for a plot WHATSOEVER, decide it needs to rely on the old "Your girlfriend has been kidnapped! Save your girlfriend!"

OH CRAP moments

Having a customer open the case of the game she'd just bought to find - no disc inside!

THank goodness it was a customer who DID open the box and not someone going home with it. (Somehow the case we'd opened to test the discs to be sure they read correctly ended up back in the box of games and therefore got put on our display rack - we didn't opt for shrinkwrap so the problem wasn't obvious. Found the disc in a computer back home afterwards.)

We certainly sold enough to cover con fees. Having two of us makes the costs a LOT higher, but it also makes selling much more fun and much easier. There's the obvious stuff, like having someone to cover the table while you run to the bathroom or to a panel you REALLY want to go see (I had to get Lynn Flewelling to sign my book) but it's also helpful for calling people over to your booth, especially if you're slightly socially phobic. Taking turns to try and get people's attention feels less awkward. Having a boy willing to dress up in wacky costumes that get girls to want to stop and take his picture, also a bonus. Usually he would drag people to the table, then if they looked vaguely interested (that is, stuck around for more than a few seconds instead of hrming and moving on) I could start telling them stuff.

All the business cards I'd brought were gone by the end of the first day so we had to print out little paper strips. Hopefully some people will visit.

I know I've heard that it's important at an Artist's Alley to try and have things in different price ranges, and that wasn't really possible for us here. I'm not sure what would fall into the category between free and $10 really... we could sell demo discs for a buck but that feels awkward, surely demo discs should be free?

Anyway, don't know if/when I'll be doing such a thing again, but it was fun while it lasted. Discs will be made available for sale eventually but far too busy right now.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

hordes underfooT!

Met several people at Yaoi-Con who wanted to (or were working on) make their own games, most of whom already knew about RenPy, some of whom I pointed that direction.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Monday, 25 October 2010

grumpypants

... why are there BATTLES in my music game?

... why is the cheat code to unlock all songs (so i don't have to deal with the above) SO LONG?

Friday, 22 October 2010

ow, fingers

Hey, look, someone threw out a PS2!

And two guitar controllers!

And a copy of Guitar Hero 3!

And they all work!

Strangely enough, this is true.

Not so strangely - Picking up new game and immediately playing a few songs (on medium) has resulted in my pinky going "OW!"

That being the case, I'm not going to play it any more until we find a memory card so that I don't have to start from scratch every time...

it comes in boxes

So, our little print run of Date Warp discs arrived!





(And I am terrible at marketing speak and had an awful time trying to make these up and figure out what to say on them. I think they look pretty good, but it's still embarassing to think about, I hate trying to sell myself. There is also an image on the disc and the inside cover but I'm not scanning that, you'll just have to get one yourself.)

These are intended to be sold at Yaoi-Con. The leftovers (and I'm sure there will be plenty; it's not like we have experience at selling hard copies!) I will offer up after the event (or pass on to a Certain Someone Else to resell, depending on how many there are).

Thursday, 21 October 2010

RAIN OF SHARKS!!!!

Have you ever had an idea so stupid that you had to immediately drop everything and prototype it?

This is one of those.



There is a (somewhat) playable demo but there's not much to it at the moment. If I get that far before getting too bored to keep going, play will quickly unlock multiple turrets ala Missile Command, and there will be different enemies and possibly different projectiles. However, I should get back to proper projects...

sigh

So, yeah, Blizzard apparently officially evil. No Starcraft II for my husband for Christmas then. (Not that he's shown that much interest in it anyway.)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

shrinkproof??

... after I carefully created a witch and gave her a shrink gun, it turns out the PC is now IMMUNE to shrinking??? Why???

Dustforce

Cool-looking platformer, winner of the latest IndiePub contest:


Sophie's Witch Game

A potentially interesting action-RPG in development - buying now at super-cheap gets you beta access to ongoing releases.

scribbling

Super Scribblenauts seems awfully easy... I'm not really being drawn into it as much as I'd like. I'm afraid I'm going to run out of levels within a week of getting it.

pop star love

Quite late on posting this, but noticed this discussion elsewhere of a "real life" dating sim - licensed games about actual famous idols and the like.

If marketed at squealing thirteen-year-olds, it's... potentially cute, I guess, and not all that unlike normal fanclub activities.

But it also triggers some thoughts about very creepy stalker types who already have this bizarre tendency to decide that they're In A Relationship With a famous person, and break into their house or get angry with them for failing to turn up to "dates" or the like.

Of course, anyone not batshit shouldn't think that the existence of the game entitles them to real-life romance... right?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Quit school, start your own business

Although I doubt that any video game developer will be chosen for this program.

Slate is appalled by the notion, I'm not. What has my university education done for me, exactly? Not much that I can think of, directly anyway. I had a good time there, I'm not saying I definitely shouldn't have gone, but it wouldn't really have been a great loss if I hadn't. University didn't teach me the skills I use now to make a living, and it didn't get me a great job either. It made me someone who was most comfortable IN a university and just wanted to stay there forever!

Of course, if the huge cost of my university education had just been handed to me as a bulk sum seed money to get started in the world, I wouldn't have had a clue what to do with it at the age of 18. But if I'd been *expected* to take that seed money and get out there, maybe I would have thought more about it ahead of time and had some sort of plan?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Magical Diary characters

Introducing some the major characters for the first game:



Ellen is one of your roommates in Horse Hall. A sweet girl, slightly shy, and as new to magic as you are.



Virginia, your other roommate. Exuberant, athletic, and born into a magical family.



Donald, one of Virginia's two brothers (Donald is the middle child, Virginia is the youngest). He's a troublemaker in Wolf Hall.



... And this is Damien, a senior in Falcon Hall, and he's trouble of a different sort...

---

Plotwise, the election has finally been held in-text, moving on to the next week! Also, I'm starting to put together a Magical Diary webpage but it's pretty much placeholder at the moment.

scribblenauts 2 words of fail

whelk (mentioned earlier)
skein
It acknowledges 'honeysuckle' as a word, but it creates a featureless lump instead of what it should be.

On the bright side, cesium now explodes when it hits water.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Metro



This isn't entirely a 'game', since as I understand it, it's going to be a pure graphic novel in computer format, no decisions or gameplay elements. But cool still. :)

super scribblenauts get

i've only barely begun, but so far my most irritated complaint about a word not in the dictionary: whelk

Thursday, 14 October 2010

behind the times

Just caught up on the new changes to the IGF judging system.

On the surface, I like them a lot. I have long been opposed to numerical rating systems as any sort of judge of quality (People who knew me Back In The Day on the GMC may remember me going into huge rants on the subject when people were all so eager to give or receive feedback in terms of X/10) and it's especially meaningless when spread across multiple judges who have different tastes and are not playing the same games, so they can't even establish a baseline.

Results should be MUCH more consistent if it instead becomes a matter of the initial mass of randomly-assigned judges simply doing a make-the-cut pass to look for games they think might be competitive in the various categories, and then having a category jury play all the games that make that cut so they can be properly compared against each other.

At least, that's the theory. Will it work out? We'll see! Systems rarely function perfectly as designed when you throw people at them...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Mary Sue For President

You can set your campaign slogan to be "Lady Lampshade Head".

There are about 40 people in the world who know why this is funny, and none of them are reading this blog. :)

(Okay, everyone else will hopefully think it's funny because it's absurd. But someone at my school DID run for student council as Lampshade Head - I think because she lost a bet or something. She won, too.)

Monday, 11 October 2010

insanely overcontrolling jerks

Apparently Blizzard is now disabling the games of people found to be cheating... in single-player.

WTF?

And of course this starts up the insistent yells of "THIS IS WHY I ONLY EVER PIRATE GAMES" which is, well, still crazy - Not every game behaves like this. SUPPORT GAMES THAT DON'T DO EVIL THINGS TO YOU rather than refusing to buy anything ever.

There's a proud commenter there claiming that e only pirates games and if games became unpiratable e'd just stop playing them. Guess what? That threat is REALLY not going to bother a company who's investing time and effort into DRM. They would rather have you not play than pirate. That's kinda the point.

Take time to research games.
Support companies who aren't evil.
Why so difficult?

read 'em and weep

Magical Diary
current numbers: 32,305 words, 58 menus. plot progress: Midway through week 6.

I'm currently working on Class Officer Elections, a subplot that most players will probably miss entirely their first time through, because you have to be a student in good standing on to be eligible to run: no demerits. And many people won't have worked out how to gain merits yet that early in the game.

Being a class officer will affect events throughout the year, but it probably won't open up HUGE amounts of officer-only content, partly because it's easy to not even realise this is here, and partly because I was never a class officer myself so I don't have quite as many good ideas for it. :)

.... This would be going faster if I didn't keep playing Avernum. Oops.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

casual days

as seen on the rampant coyote:

Okay, the site is like TOTALLY slammed right now with people right now, but until 10:10 PM Tonight Pacific time, Bejeweled 2 is FREE at popcap.com to celebrate the 10th birthday of Bejeweled!

something for your cultural diversity

The Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

not that I have one

Apparently you can now play Zork on a Kindle.

If they could get all of Inform (or TADS but probably Inform) working, that'd be quite nice.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

well, on the bright side...

... at least anyone choosing to wear a 'Dickwolves' shirt is helpfully labeling themselves to be a bit of an ass so you know to avoid them?

Sigh.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Deathspank

is apparently headed to PC.

Since it wasn't a PC game originally I don't actually know much about it yet, other than having vaguely heard positive things and snickering at the name.

ow, there's a wall there!

Well, I seem to have run out of available demo content in Avernum 6.

Since it took me a while to get there, and I've contentedly played that far, I probably ought to buy the thing.

Now I just have to figure out whether I buy one game or a pack of them.

because I'm never going to make this myself

Wizard Fortress - Sort of like Dwarf Fortress, except you build UP. Find rocks. Make a tower. Recruit and train apprentices. Survive earthquakes, windstorms, and attacks from OTHER wizard towers. And the tendency of apprentices to blow themselves up in ridiculous ways.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Galgun

... apparently in this game, you have to shoot schoolgirls. with love bullets. so that they collapse in swooning heaps before they can get close enough to kiss you.

WTF?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Nyxquest

Cool-looking platformer that's made its way from WiiWare to Mac/PC. I haven't tried it yet (I expect my current computer may not be able to run it) but worth peeking at:

Monday, 4 October 2010

Avernum

Still in the demo, still poking at it. Had an entertaining time tonight having gotten myself into a "trap" (well, I knew it was, but) and having to slowly fight my way out, and even use up some of my limited-use items (especially when my mage got eaten by a hellhound.)

planescape mods

If you've just picked up the game, you might be interested in various enhancements and bugfixes which can be found over here. (Not personally tested.)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Avernum 6

So I figured I may as well try it. While I still have some issues with the clunky interface and occasional hard-to-distinguish graphics, the FLOW of this game is much better than I dimly remember from my having tried one of these titles in the past. I know what to do and where to go and I'm happily following my trail of breadcrumbs along... but then I had to stop or neither I nor the person watching over my shoulder would get anything done tonight.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Automatic Updates

I'm really quite dubious about the idea of games automatically updating themselves to the latest version. I understand that it's necessary in MMORPGs (which I don't play much anyway) but in single-player... Even for a bug fix, I would generally rather know what's buggy and have the choice to fix it myself.

There is, after all, the possibility that a "game rebalancing" issue means "disabling the method I've found to win really effectively and have been having fun with".

And while it's somewhat rare, there HAVE been cases of official game updates being completely broken and ending up making the game unplayable or worse until a fix is released. Even when they aren't actually breaking stuff, the console linux removal demonstrates that companies will happily take features away from users.

So I'm kinda unenthusiastic on the idea of the 3DS silently automatically updating itself without your permission, and possibly when you'd tried to turn the machine OFF.

I've never pirated a DS game or even been tempted - I can't run google ads on this blog because I *know* those bastards are all over the feed and i've had limited results from trying to report them all. If the updates only check for cracks I'm not too bothered. But I don't *trust* companies to do what's best... and remember, it was the "anti-piracy" (region locking) features that prevented me from buying a DSi.

I'm in no rush for a 3DS anyway... 3d and me, not the best of buddies.

video games will RUIN YOUR LIFE!!!!

The Daily Mail is now apparently suggesting that playing Nintendogs will make animals attack you.

Spiderweb Sale

So they're celebrating an anniversary and a bunch of things are on sale, especially game compilations.

I suppose someday I ought to actually play the games. I tried one once and couldn't really get into it up-front, shrugged, and moved on. On the other hand, a lot of RPGs that I've loved were equally hard to get into on first try. So maybe sometime...

Cookie Domination?

Apparently, it's Risk. But with gangs of schoolgirls. O-kay.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Magical Diary

... the new GL stuff in RenPy causes all kinds of funhorrible bugs, and development lately has been mostly tied up in effects that work in software but not in GL, and work in GL but not in software, and work on decent computers but are horrifically broken on the outdated Win2K box I use for baseline tests...

So while I have written some plot in recent weeks (I'm embroiled in Student Council Election subplots) things haven't moved forward as much as they otherwise might.



But at least some individual spells are now learnable.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Planescape Torment

is now available on GoG. So I guess we have to slightly forgive them for being jerks. Or at least, chastise them while GETTING THE GAME OH COME ON JUST GET THE GAME YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT.

(I have a retail copy, but I may be badgering someone else I know into this.)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Dot



This is just a video, but it reminds me a lot of certain little adventure games...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

.... psyche?

So, Good Old Games has a 'we're closed' sign hanging on the front door.

i've not actually PLAYED the games I bought from them, mind, but I still liked having them there...

And I'm baffled, too, because I got the latest promo emails from them this week. So... huh?

Even more odd - there was literally ONE DAY between them eagerly exhorting people to buy their newest game and a vague farewell message.

# Thanks for the support everyone. Hopefully everything works out for the best! 9:38 AM Sep 17th via web

# Sometimes it's really hard being DRM-free... hard to keep things the way they are and keep management and publishers happy :( 9:25 AM Sep 17th via web

# So how you like us now? :) Age of Wonders and Codemasters Pack promo (Cannon Fodder, Perimeter...60% off) announced today http://www.gog.com 8:55 AM Sep 16th via web

# That's not all! We went crazy and we're launching a great Codemasters Pack 60% off promo today!!! http://bit.ly/9UTZiM 4:24 AM Sep 16th via web

# Wonderful News as Age of Wonders Wanders to GOG.com http://gog.com/y8p 4:11 AM Sep 16th via web


There are rumors that this is some kind of crazy marketing stunt to intentionally get people upset so that they can ride a press buzz onto a relaunch.... but it's just rumor.

As expected, it really was just a PR stunt. I am not linking their stupid video because I'm too annoyed to watch even a silly video with monks in it.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Astounding levels of stupid

(Warning - astounding-stupidity-induced swearing)

From discussion of the upcoming title, The Last Guardian:

Early in development, the main character in The Last Guardian was female, but the team ended up going with a boy. The reason: they thought it would be more realistic that he would have enough grip strength to be able to climb around, and because they wouldn't have to worry about camera angles with a girl who wears a skirt.


... What the hell is wrong with you?

"Oh gee, if we had a giiiiiirl character, we'd have to put a tiny skimpy outfit on her and then people would look at her inappropriately so we'd better not have girls at all!" Hey, how about DRESSING THE CHARACTER APPROPRIATELY? Amazingly enough, women are capable of WEARING PANTS. It's only batshit insane game art designers who think that this is reasonable clothing for a female character.

And as for 'realism', a) The only person I personally know who rock-climbs as a hobby is female, b) Kids climb onto things they're not supposed to regardless of gender. Even I climbed onto roofs and I'm the poster child of anti-athleticism c) There's a fucking griffin in this game. WHAT realism?

Naturally, the comments to this stupid shit are even worse, containing stupid sterotypes about women, comments about "butch lesbians" and their "dildo grip" powers, and suggestions that a female hero would "ruin" the game because then "fans" would draw endless piles of girl/griffin porn, and insistence that only MEN make video games so women should just shut up and be grateful for... something.

Some days I want to stab people in the eyes.

Y'know, I don't care if someone makes a game with a male protagonist. But going out of their way to throw in a "girls aren't good enough" like this? FUCK YOU.

Magical Diary

I haven't been talking much because I want to get properly exciting screenshots ready to display. I've been doing a lot of dialog (and a lot of comedy) lately, but naturally a single line from a funny event tends to make no sense out of context.

We're trying to quickly bang together a demo of the character generation tool for Hyper-Con, a little-bitty con this weekend in SF. People will probably be more interested in playing actual games than using the dollmaker for a game that's not done yet though :)

Should soon be implementing spell acquisition, so a screenshot of that might turn up shortly.

At five weeks into the school year's worth of plot, we're at about 30,000 words.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

fourth word on the third line of page 12

According to this joystiq preview, the upcoming gorgeous Studio Ghibli RPG on the DS is falling back on an old method of copy protection - clues in the feelies! In this case, the big magic spellbook that comes with the game. It is, at least, large and fancy enough that you're not too likely to lose it.

However, needing to cart a big book around might affect the portability of the game a bit? While I usually don't, I can jam my DS into my purse, even though it's one of the old big silver ones. I couldn't fit it and that book. (Most of the time, though, if I'm carrying my DS, it's in my backpack, and then I'd have room for a book.)

As the preview points out, this copy protection will also mean this is not a good game to import if you're not fluent enough to understand the prompts for spellbook research. But surely there will be English eventually...

(some) Starcraft 2 Players are Assholes

... that's probably not news to most people.

But this story of the frustration apparently faced by anyone daring to post on the forum that she's female and would like to find some other women to play with is still very siiiiigh.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

999

The DS horror adventure game I've been talking about isn't quite released yet (due in November I think), but the free flash webdemo has also been translated into English, and is playable at the aksys website.

At least in the demo version, it appears to suffer from one of my pet VN peeves... super-short sentences requiring constant clicking! (But I say this after, like, ten seconds of playing, so.)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

design a starship

For EVE Online. The winner gets their ship into the game (and some other stuff besides)

games for good

While I shamefully haven't thought of it in a long time, freerice is still around and apparently now hooking into facebook.

silly marketing thoughts

I ponder whether I should make adjustments to the title "Magical Diary" to make it more obvious to the clueless outside what the point of this is. On the one hand, that sounds patronising to those already in the know. On the other, getting the attention of people who weren't already following the game enough to know about it is useful. I would like to be able to get the point into people's minds quickly that "there's this dating sim where you get to be a wizard and cast spells and romance your classmates".

So...


Magical Diary
Wizard Dating

clear but a bit blunt. also you're not only dating wizards, there are witches too!

Magical Diary
~ Love Lives of the Young And Wizardly ~

kinda longwinded that, although some japanese games DO have pretty long sub-titles. also, while I'd like to get the romance aspect across, there IS more to the game than just that.

Hrm, many Japanese games have Engrish subtitles because foreign languages always make you look cooler...

Magical Diary
~├ętudions la magie d'amour~

My French is a bit rusty but that should get the right effect across in both French and English. However, while it lets anyone looking at a page for the game get the idea that there is Spells and Romance here, most casual browsers probably wouldn't be able to remember and repeat it, so it wouldn't quickly spread the idea of "Hey there's a dating sim where you can be a wizard!" which is what I'm aiming for.

Also, French isn't entirely thematically appropriate. Vermont may not be all that far from Quebec but the setting is not french-flavored.

Maybe I should stick with the Young and the Wizardly. It does sound a bit soap opera...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Mayflight

Interesting article on a randomly-generated platformer thing.

The Making of Mages - Magical School Sim

No, this is not the one I'm working on, but it is something that Cute Knight fans should find interesting!


Academagia


You're a young student (either male or female) just starting out at a fancy magical school. That much is certain. EVERYTHING ELSE is up in the air. Are you from a poor family or a rich one? Born under a lucky star? Been clumsy all your life? Have a cat for a familiar? Make friends easily? Tend to accidentally get into trouble all the time?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

You can set ALL these details for your background before you've even started your first day at school. Then once school starts, you'll have multiple events to schedule for every single day, eighty other students to interact with, and literally HUNDREDS of random events that you might encounter and which might go well or badly.



Skip class? You might find your way to a magical artifact hidden in a cave on the school grounds, or you might just annoy the teachers and end up in detention for the rest of your life. It is astoundingly complicated and no two playthroughs will be alike. (There's a wiki being built by players to share the secrets they've encoutnered so far!)



If you enjoy building different characters in Cute Knight this should keep you busy for a loooong time. :) You can order the game here (Windows Only).

(This is not a 'traditional' visual novel - no anime characters, no standup talking sprites. It is mostly text, but there are some pictures. If you do not like reading this is not a game for you.)

live action layton?

There's apparently some kind of Professor Layton promo event in SF next week. I wish it didn't involve a random Gender War though....

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Zevran

... isn't quite as compelling a plotline as Alistair, but he is adorable in his own way, and *his* opening-dialogue line at max affection makes me go all shivery. :)

Friday, 27 August 2010

so, new neverwinter

and I kinda-sorta know someone working on it, although only vaguely and I certainly haven't asked for any info.

But anyone a fan of the series (or non-MMORPG PC RPGs in general) is looking at the details and wondering why this is not Bioware. Or, in the case of some commenters, just slagging Cryptic.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

While I have yet to buy any DLC...

... I have to admit that sounds intriguing.

(However, I may be unable to play it for months owing to computer dislocation at the time that it comes out...)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

other things it would be nice to have

[DragonAge spoilers]

It would be nice if the game allowed for some coverage of the possible (and in fact LIKELY) desire on the dwarf-noble PC's part to get sharp-and-pointy revenge on Bhelen. There are decent reasons why you can't simply murder him; it would kinda throw a spanner into your ally-raising. Harrowmont isn't much for backstabbing and probably would refuse to work with an assassin even if that assassin benefited him. But come on, it's perfectly logical that the dwarf noble PC would work for Bhelen just enough to get access to the guy and then attempt to kill him.

If this were a visual novel, it could give you the option and then explain in HeadText (character thoughts) why that's really a bad idea. Of course, if this were a visual novel, it could just let you DO it and then end the game because you fucked up and got executed... a VN doesn't have the game design principles that insist on pushing the player along paths of the same length towards the same climax. If Bioware weren't so dedicated to same-length-paths, they could just let you assassinate Bhelen, lose the dwarves as allies for the finale, and continue with the game anyway. But that would cut off hours of gameplay from that path because of the Deep Roads! So they won't do it.

But it feels lacking, IMO, to have a good reason to want someone dead, to have guards blocking you from meeting him at first because they're rightfully afraid you'll kill him, and then to not even have the option to express that you WANT to kill him.

It could still be done, even within their constraints. There could be a dialog option upon first getting through to meet him, to choose 'kill him' and then have Bhelen himself catch your hand, point out why that would be a bad idea, but be amused that you'd tried - and plot carries on. Also, there could be slightly different options when a king is finally chosen, to make it more clear that you're backstabbing him at the last minute. Don't we betrayed nobles deserve some personal satisfaction here?

Monday, 23 August 2010

just looking for something to complain about

I was amused by something I noticed in the controversy regarding the new Medal of Honor game...

On Sunday, Dr Fox said that it was "shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers".

"At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands," he said.

"It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product."

An Electronic Arts spokesman said the game "does not allow players to kill British soldiers".

"No British troops feature in the game," he said.


Which is more offensive, allowing players to shoot British troops, or taking such an American-centric view of the situation that you didn't bother putting the British there to begin with? :)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

RPG defense

(DLsite warning - the game I am linking to is not porn but the site I'm linking to contains a lot of it)

A silly flash-exe game I spotted on DLsite. There's a free demo which is enough to get the vague idea across. You appear to be some manner of EVIL WIZARD lurking at the bottom of a dungeon. A variety of adventurers slowly shuffle along the dungeon passages to get to you. You attempt to stop them by summoning monsters and activating traps in their path.



It's a Japanese game but all the text (what little there is) is English...

Game site here.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Playing for high stakes

Spend five years making online roleplaying game and digging yourself into debt.

Discover that world is not set on fire by the brilliance of your creation.

Immediately implode.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Evil Roleplaying, The Restaurant

or something like that.

Seen here.

Penny Arcade Readers are Dicks

... notice, however, that I am not calling out the writers of the comic.

Edit To Add: Well, I wasn't calling them out for the comic, but then there's this.

So, yeah, there's another minor brouhaha going on across the internet between geeks and feminists, who comment that it's like the whole Fat Princess mess all over again. It is, indeed, in many ways!

See, Penny Arcade published a comic that mentioned rape and therefore could be described as a rape joke. However, it was not a joke suggesting rape itself is funny, or suggesting that it should be done to people, or playing up the implied rape for titillation. The joke was about the absurdity of good-deed-doing in MMORPGs, and relied strictly upon rape being an obvious bad thing. This did not arise from hatred.

That doesn't mean that people who are upset are stupid or wrong, it means that they're sensitive. That is not a negative term, MOST people are sensitive, just to different things, often relating to painful life experience. It is NOT POSSIBLE as a creator to avoid upsetting all people, nor is it always possible to apologise for doing so accidentally, since "sorry" is meaningless if you're not willing to retract your art, which isn't always appropriate. (It is possible to avoid compounding the injury by intentionally insulting the people you've upset and blaming them for it.)

So. The original comic did not arise from hatred. However, the "hilarity" of people complaining about rape jokes brings the trolls frothing out of the woodwork, who are eager to say things that DO arise from hatred.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

best ending (just about)

So, backing up far enough to redo everything related to the Landsmeet, I was able to get almost everything I wanted, which included some benefits I hadn't expected.

Huge spoiler time obvs.

Reran Howe's estate to pick up the noble I'd missed and to do the surrender/escape properly. Hardened Alistair and pursued him all the way up to 'Love' (for the alternate version of the sex scene and also because I wanted to be *certain*.) Then went to Anora and promised my support if she'd marry Alistair and accept me as his mistress. She agreed. Then told Alistair to go along with it for political convenience, and he agreed. Talked the lady knight down at the landsmeet. Won the landsmeet vote, accepted Loghain's surrender. Alistair still starts to throw a fit but Anora snaps her fingers at him and he falls into line, unhappily - he agrees to keep his promise to her but refuses to remain a Warden if Loghain is one. Loghain goes through Joining. You then get one last chance to talk to Alistair at Eamon's estate. He's... not pleased.

PC: I want to talk about us.
Alistair: There is no us! There's just me and the woman who forgave the man who killed my brothers.

(or something like that)

So he breaks up with you and vanishes. BUT he's alive and not insane. Go through the rest of the plot and let Loghain sacrifice himself at the end, and then both Anora and Alistair are present for the final celebration. Since he's king, this time my PC swears she's staying around. Talk to Alistair at this point and he finds it fitting that Loghain died, says he's not angry with the PC anymore, and that they'll be seeing a lot of each other in the future.

So, they don't canon get back together, but a fangirl can certainly believe that the possibility is there.

ALSO, Anora+HardenedAlistair appear to make a very good royal couple, the kingdom is pleased. And (possibly because my elf said she was staying? or possibly it was a bug before) the elven epilogue went differently and better. Really, all my PC can regret about the outcome here is that she might have backed the wrong dwarf.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

loose ends

I'm slightly tempted to go back and see if I can pull off the "best" DA ending... the one that would allow me not to violate my own character's principles without losing Alistair completely. It seems like it may be possible, if I back up enough. It requires a lot of compromises on a lot of parts... but isn't that a good thing?

(heavy spoiler)
That being - Harden Alistair on his personal quest. Make him marry Anora. Make Loghain a Grey Warden and convince Alistair not to flip out (which is apparently possible if you've married him to Anora, although he still leaves the party). Possibly still be his bit on the side, which is possible if you've married him to Anora but I'm not completely sure if it's possible if you did that AND Loghain. Then get Loghain to sacrifice himself in the end. End result: my character still alive to carry on her political goals and NOT having executed a surrendered enemy, no lurking demon-baby in the future (although *my* character doesn't actually care about that, Morrigan's request was NOT the moral dilemma that gave her pause), Loghain feeling like he's accomplished something, Alistair having learned to grow up, and the country enjoying what it probably thinks is the most stable ruling outcome.

To the game's credit, I think it offers a better experience for the female player. I haven't *played* as a man romancing Morrigan, but it seems that a woman involved with Alistair has a more complex plot with more possible outcomes. This is worth commending, since certain games of the past have had a tendency to balance the content much more in favor of the male player. (While it would be nice for the paths to be EQUAL, it's still better to have some games better-male and some better-female than all better-male.)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

If the plot took Leliana seriously

So here it is, my spoilerish ramble for how to actually fit her into the storyline in a way that makes her more than a cute accessory. This doesn't happen, of course, but understanding it requires having played so it's still a spoiler.

When you return to Denerim with Arl Eamon and Loghain shows up to glower at you, if Leliana is in the party (at all, not just the adventuring party) Loghain arrives with a troop of guards, and declares that the entire party is obviously a pawn of the Orlesians - after all, a known Orlesian spy is right there! And Loghain has proof that she is on assignment. He has come to arrest her, and mockingly asks whether or not the "heroic" Grey Warden knew what she was up to. Player options are complete shock, asking Leliana if this is true (If you're not in a romance, she'll just deny it. If you are, she'll be upset that you would even ask her that.) or declaring that you suspected her all along (approval loss whether romanced or not).

As Loghain has what appears to be legitimate proof of Leliana's treachery, Arl Eamon turns on her and insists you hand her over, to show that he's not an Orlesian sympathsier. Leliana is dragged away, with Loghain hinting that he intends to torture her for information to use against you. This sets up a mission for you to either rescue her or silence her permanently.

When you find her, you can kill her, set her free and tell her to run, or bring her back to the party. (You may need to use some persuasion to get her to forgive you for letting her be captured in the first place, particularly if you acted like you distrusted her. A hardened Leliana will understand if you claim the need to dissemble.) If you tell her to flee the city, she'll point out that it must have been Marjolaine who gave Loghain her identity and the false proof of her current assignment, and you may be able to use this against him. Then she'll leave and you'll never see her again. If you bring her back to the party, Loghain will bring her up at the Landsmeet and it will count strongly against you.

Makes perfect sense within the story and provides for some meaningful decisions.

... Really, I thought it was odd that he talked about the Orlesians in his ingame speech and never mentioned that you had one of their spies with you. :)

*grumble*

Am I the only one who has ridiculously long loading times on this stupid game? Between levels, I mean. I had to play the game in a window so I could go back to reading for the 5+ minutes it takes to load some scenes. And then, of course, when it finally loads it DOES NOT PAUSE and wait for me to switch back to the window, so I miss the beginnings of some scenes.

(Also, bugs, but I didn't patch so they have a little leeway. Sometimes it takes a ridiculously long time for an after-battle event to trigger, and not being sure if I'm supposed to wait or supposed to speak to the nearby NPC means I occasionally get stuck in event loops. And the dialog near the ending referred to the wrong character being chosen as ruler.)

I'd *like* to go back and test more options but the godawful load times sort of make that unappealing even with cheats.

EDIT: This was a bug, patching fixed it, so I went back and ran the cheats and got the alternate outcomes I wanted. ALISTAIR IS MAI WAIFU.

very minor spoiler

thus trying to make this a bit hard to read:

For all that the game claims to be a more mature dark fantasy, everyone seems to miss the really obvious solution to the succession crisis. If the queen were found to be pregnant.... And especially if the new heir looked rather a lot like the dead king... Okay, so none of the players involved would actually AGREE to this solution, but c'mon, surely someone should suggest it instead of all these niceties about marriage...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

I am a terrible person

... I am attempting to cheat on my RPG girlfriend. BUT HE'S ADORKABLE!

Well, and as I said before, him being so tied into the plot means that I do see him as much more of a person than Leliana, who only exists when I pay attention to her. I want to talk to him about the things that are happening to him [again no spoilers plz] (and shake him and scold him and comfort him and... oops).

Many people other than myself have commented on the limitations of "buy affection with presents" so I don't really need to get into it here. As a visual novel fan I obviously like being able to state my choices in dialog, but affection could be recorded in other ways through RPG gameplay mechanics. Companions look pleased when selected and sulky when left behind; keeping someone in your party could earn you a trickle of points over time. Upgrading someone's equipment to better stats also shows you care! And getting them KOed in combat could lose you points... surely you should protect the ones you love?

Friday, 6 August 2010

downloadable content

As expected, I do find the prompts for "Pay more! Download this!" in my full game that I already bought to be obnoxious. But not just because they're intruding into what should be a finished product, and not just because they may not warn you until you're well into a conversation that you can't finish this without paying money, but also because they seem so completely pointless that I can't imagine why anyone would pay extra for them other than an overabundance of money and time.

They may be more interesting when you're inside them, but the sales pitch from within the game (that is, the conversation leading up to it) does not at all make me want to find out what they're about, it just makes me want to slap the NPC for wasting my time.

On the positive side for the game, it is giving me enough leeway with character choices (and with not penalising me for passing up a large number of sidequests) that I feel able to roleplay my character concept most of the time. And the real way to sell me personally on DLC, of course, would be to offer me quests more personal to my character's motivations. How about a sidequest to carry out a clever and well-deserved revenge on that snotty elf-abusing bitch in the Denerim market? (As it is, she's the ONLY person I've pickpocketed in the game, because she deserved it.)

(Also - Bann Teagan romance mod! I guess you can sum me up in general with "the kinds of things people are likely to add as fanmods")

Such addons would appeal to smaller sections of the audience but they'd also be much smaller to make... they'd also need to be cheap. Dunno.

(I haven't attempted to access the DLC that's supposed to come with the retail copy I bought, because it claims the codes expired in April, which was before I'd even bought it.)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Dragon Age Romance

So it probably won't surprise readers that I'm pursuing Leliana as a romance. It may surprise you more to know that she's not who I actually want to be romancing, even though I think our characters are cute together.

I would rather be pursuing Alistair. (PLEASE NO SPOILERS) I'm not doing that because I screwed it up with him early on and decided to play the ball where it lay rather than try to fix that. But I feel much more connected to him as a character, partly because his story is actually woven into the game (and therefore into my own PC's story). You can't avoid having him around at least a bit and sharing certain experiences with him, and a big chunk of his story is likely to come out naturally while you're going about your business. His backstory involves people you will be interacting with as part of the main plot. It all feels connected. You have opinions on these players other than just what he's told you, and other people have their own opinions about him.

Leliana... I'm fairly sure she's a completely optional character and you can go the whole game without even meeting her. Learning anything about her requires KNOWING that the game has romance mechanics and then intentionally bombarding her with gifts and questions, until eventually you meet some people from "her past" that only show up if you're pursuing this, and then immediately vanish to never be seen again. Her story is not, so far, important to ANYTHING. It's hard to have much of an opinion about her, because she never really does anything other than a bit of chatter about religion, clothing, or generally supporting good. It doesn't look likely that the plot is going to move to a location where her past would be relevant, either. She certainly has potential to be a full character... if we were going to Orlais. But I don't think we are. I'm pursuing her in order to have a romance, not because I'm actually interested in her as a person.

Maybe I should have just dug in and gone questing for stupid trinkets to make Alistair forget the thing I did (A mechanic which sounds dumber the more you think about it).