Monday, 30 June 2008

for science!

(via slashdot)

Longtime proponents of using video games as sources of learning, the
Federation of American Scientists put its money where its mouth is. FAS released Immune Attack, an educational video game designed to teach immunology to AP level high school students and combines the most current research on teaching methodologies with a 3D first-person shooter game.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

limbo of the lost

To save you any urge to 'acquire' it - here you can read a playthrough, with pictures

June's New Games Roundup

well, more like May's new games roundup released in June, probably, but still, it's an overview of a handful of games that you probably haven't played yet. Take a peek and see what interests you.

Game Tunnel Review Roundup

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

more things that aren't 4e

Trail of Cthulhu (or rather, 'Call of Cthulhu except somebody already owns that name') which uses an investigative system that still has rules, risks, and rewards, but avoids the pitfalls of typical skill checks. In many systems, if it comes down to a skill check to find a clue, then the story is a bit screwed up if the player fails. (Which is one reason why many GMs running mystery games don't even bother starting out with a coherent plot, they just offer up random tidbits until the players hypothesize a sufficiently interesting conspiracy theory and then go with that.)

In the single playtest so far, it works well for a strong narrative push and for gently nudging the player in the direction you want them to go, without forcing it.

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Princess Bride... game??

I... Really don't know what to think about that.

Things that aren't 4e

As well as being dragged kicking and screaming through Keep on the Shadowfell (I get brain burnout after a tactical combat session. Seriously. I can't think straight and I feel ill. I am not enjoying this.) we are looking into other, wackier RPG systems.

Check out:

In a Wicked Age
Official Site
RPG net review
Narrative-focused gaming with no pre-game prep time. You start off by randomly generating suggestive phrases and then work together to assemble a set of characters (PC and NPC) out of them, set simple stats and cross-purpose goals for all the characters, then start the story and see what happens. Rules exist to affect the outcome of conflicts, but they are kept as simple as possible. Mostly, this is about storytelling and weaving threads into a whole.

Haven't had a chance to play it yet, but it sounds more up my alley than all this tactical wargame nonsense. :)

Sunday, 22 June 2008

sadly, people are idiots

and are indeed spending well over what it would have cost at retail to buy the stupid plagiarism game. *eyeroll*

And what do you get in exchange for your money? This.

rpg without the angst

I continue to be surprised by the number of times the writing in this little Mario RPG can make me laugh. I wonder if it's an enormous relief to the writers to get to work on a project that isn't about an Angsty Teenager Saving The World From Utter Doom.

... Okay, the Mario Bros are still *kinda* saving the world (from evil mushroom aliens). But there's plenty of room for lots of silly moments and adorable details.

Also, an interesting touch in combat in the way that the babies will try to protect their unconscious sibling if one is knocked down in battle - and that this affects them (it's harder to dodge attacks if you're carrying your brother around). Quite different from the way most RPG characters are just left to splat!

Friday, 20 June 2008

Bioshock removes installation limits

as seen on Shacknews. It still has SecuROM on it though, but I'm not sure what it does, exactly. Game is now to be considered as a possible birthday present for someone...


I appear to be completely unable to get the timing right for the Smash Egg and am getting slaughtered by Pidgits. Argh.

Also, the inability to speed through cutscenes that you're seeing for the second time because you were slaughtered by Pidgits is REALLY ANNOYING.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

babies with hats

I have just collected (and lost) the second star shard.

The writing is surprisingly amusing.

It's my first real encounter with nonsense-babbling Mario. What do Italians think of this?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

just received in the mail

Mario&Luigi Partners in Time.

It may drive me bonkers (console RPGs often grind me down, and I can't imagine a Mario rpg is going to have much in the way of plot)

edit: CUUUUUUUTE! (Not stylus-based, but it thinks about what's comfortable and instinctive to do with the buttons, and is much less annoying to control than rune factor was. However, it does tire my hands out after a half-hour or so.)

Dragon Hunters - an 80s classic!

the first RPG my husband ever wrote!

download here

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

and again on the mass effect drm

from ./ - "There was some discussion last month about the proposed DRM for Mass Effect and Spore that required the game to phone home every ten days. They backed down from that, but have left in that a user is only allowed 3 activations per license key. A license key is burned up when the O/S is reinstalled, when certain hardware is upgraded (EA refuses to disclose specifics of what), and possibly when a new user is set up in Windows. Only in its first month, some users are already locked out of their games from trying troubleshooting techniques to get the game running."


According to this story, it sounds like a bastard lovechild of DDR and GunBound.

Much like GunBound, it sounds like it would be a lot more fun if I could get a private version to play on my own rather than be faced with hordes of faceless players who are all much much better than I am. I liked gb but I only played a few times and hated being laughed at for my ineptitude.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

King's Bounty - The Legend

Interesting-looking game coming up. According to the gamespot preview it's a sort of RPG/TBS cross, where you lead small squads to their glory or doom rather than risk the life of your hero. Which is sort of cruel - poor cannon-fodder peasants! - but it also helps the gameflow in that you can more believably lose a battle and continue playing, rather than having to have either stupid amounts of Raise Dead or lots and lots of reloading. Not that reloading is always bad, but, well, sometimes you do want to plow ahead without worrying so much. :)

Listed for US release in September, dunno about Europe.

Friday, 13 June 2008

a japanese game I won't be getting

Well, obviously, as I can't read Japanese, therefore a game designed entirely to tell me stories that make me cry won't be much use to me.

... I mean really, if I just want to bawl, I'll play Narcissu again.

Life inside an adventure game

What happens when you're very rich and you let someone remodel your home to be a bit unusual?

Thursday, 12 June 2008

What do you do when you don't have enough budget for AAA?

Apparently, if you're some people, you rip off all the games you own and hope nobody notices.


Apparently it is all the fault of three drinking buddies from Maidstone. Who also annoyed the entire adventure-game community by pretending to be fans of their own product to drum up attention last year long before release.

Will the copies that made it into players hands become collectors items? Or will they just be quietly shipped to the secret landfill?

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

bards in fourth edition D&D

As you may know, they're not there. Yet.

Now, various people are tossing around ideas for 4e bards as an arcane leader type and will probably eventually write up the sort of drum-pounding buffbot that the class has been slowly morphing towards.

However, the new focus of 4e on combat stunts/powers means that it's entirely possible for someone to create the sort of charming rogue I'd like a bard to be. I'm not going to try and seriously craft a custom class at the moment because I don't want to worry about getting the math right to be sure the class is fairly balanced.

My bard is a cheerleader/buffer to an extent, but also a trickster. Not well suited to doing direct damage, but great for screwing up the enemy's attacks and setting them up for someone else to hit them.

Some possible powers:

Good Timing (class feature)
If an enemy misses a bard on an attack and there is another enemy adjacent to that enemy or the bard, the attack must be rolled against that target (possibly at a penalty). So if you swing and the bard ducks, you may hit someone else.

Quick Step (at-will)
Bard slides to any unoccupied square adjacent to the target and rolls (Dex or Cha? vs Will). On a success, the enemy is Dazed until the bard's next turn.
(Picture a halfling darting between an ogre's legs, and the ogre turning around in confusion trying to reorient.)

Circle Dance (encounter)
Bard rearranges the positions of all characters within (close burst 2?). Enemies resist on Charisma vs Reflex. Characters can only be moved to open squares, you can't use this to put someone over a cliff or into a fire, but you can set them up so that someone else can knock them in.
(With fancy footwork and dodging, the bard leads everyone around in a circle and they all end up somewhere else)

Uplifting Song (encounter)
All allies within burst 5 may spend a Healing Surge and add the bard's Charisma bonus + 1/2 level to the HP regained.
(A stirring anthem to recharge a flagging spirit!)

Bang the Drum (daily)
Choose a target (range 5). All allies adjacent to that target make a basic melee attack against it.

Anyway, these are just some ideas... if I were better at this sort of tactical combat I'm sure I'd have more. The point is that none of these actually allow the bard to attack, and yet they're all quite useful...

UPDATE: Apparently bards are due out in the upcoming PHB2, aimed at March 2009

Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ

Do I really need to say anything more?

(via kotaku)

Monday, 9 June 2008

4e quickstart

So, we've started off a game. Most players thought it was great. My reactions were mixed.

Combat is certainly "more interesting", you have more to choose from and once you manage to get the hang of all the power lists you can generally think of something fun to do in a round. Nobody sucks like baby thieves and mages used to in the olden days. Fighting is very map/miniatures reliant (we use MapTool).

We spent seven hours playing and 95% of that was combat; two encounters.

Part of this was apparently because our players are unusually bright and went straight from fighting things to 'who's behind this?' rather than slaughtering them all and proceeding to the nearest bar. Still, the entire 'role playing' content of our session was a few minutes interrogating our prisoner before a player whined that this was taking all day and couldn't we just plan tactics OOC and get back to the fighting?

Friday, 6 June 2008

also, about alignments

Shamefully lifted directly from a slashdot thread:

New alignment system: Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, Chaotic Evil.

um, no.

I would have respected the choice to get rid of alignment, but this is a boneheaded move. The problem with alignment (with bad role players anyway) is that it reinforces trite stereotypes. This just gives you fewer trite stereotypes to choose from.

There are so many possible changes to alignment that could have been improvements on the old system (not that I minded the old system, but once in a while it led to stupid arguments). This is not one of them. Even to 'simplify' things, this is stupid. If you want to make things simple, why not just say GOOD and EVIL and leave it at that?

Even the originalD&D set of 'Lawful' 'Neutral' and 'Chaotic' was better than this... since it explained that 'Chaotic' was probably but not necessarily evil and mostly just untrustworthy. Making it far simpler to have a Chaotic party member. Does anyone really want to have someone labeled CE in the party? But with 'Chaotic', lots of people could be just a bit dodgy. Almost any rogue would be.

D&D 4e

We're planning to go through the quickstart at some point. I am already dismayed by the high focus on combat stunts and the downplay of anything resembling character (says I, based on the abomination of moving the stat scores off their prominent position on the character sheet).

I admit, my opinion is somewhat flavored by all the negative "It's just WoW on tabletop!" rumors I've heard. But the character sheets do seem to play out the 'it's a videogame really' idea...

Look. I love tabletop. Really I do. And if a whole session can go by without us actually having to get into a fight, I am THRILLED. I am willing to take on characters who have the Complete Pacifist, Death Before Fighting disadvantage. What I really want to do is explore stuff, poke at things, talk to people, and find shiny treasures. I don't mind a little fighting as long as it's quick, but my least favorite gaming memories involve actually falling asleep during a combat (that my character had sensibly withdrawn from), because it was taking hours and hours to accomplish nothing...

Therefore, character sheets which appear to be full of nothing but ways to deal damage to the enemy fill me with dismay.

However, I have not read the rulebooks, nor have we yet played the adventure. So this is all cranky stick-waving, not a real review.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

figure skating games on the DS

Now I'm confused - there appear to be two different but VERY similar games out.

One is called Princess on Ice:

The other is called Imagine Figure Skater:

Because these 'girly' games tend to fall under the radar of game review sites, I can't find any information to indicate if there's a relationship between them (both ported from the same Japanese company or anything) or any direct comparison of which is better.

From watching youtube, the Imagine one has REALLY annoying voiceovers, and the Princess one has prettier symbols for the rhythm-based parts... Also, the Princess one may only be available in Europe? However, it sounds like the Imagine one is still generally a better game.

Review links:

Imagine Figure Skater

Princess on Ice

Links to more figure skating games here.

mass effect

So, I hear it's out for PC.

But when I hear reminders of the limited installations, the long serial codes, the online validations, the technical requirements...

... and I compare to buying a game for my DS and being able to just stick it in and make it work...

... I find myself feeling not terribly desirous of buying a mainstream retail PC game.

(I haven't bought a new DS game in a while. I keep looking at interesting ones and then losing interest when I read the reviews. Doesn't help that the last couple of games I've bought were big letdowns. I hear the upcoming Sonic RPG is going to be using Elite Beat Agent style combat systems, though. Cool.)

sometimes I hate people

So, checking out the trailer for Venetica, the comments are full of endless whining about how the graphics aren't next-gen enough so the game must without question suck.

The graphics are stylised, morons. Which means they can last longer than using the latest greatest 'realistic' bloomy shiny tech which looks outdated in about three months when someone invents a new doohickey...

Now I admit, it does give off a ps2 vibe but that's mostly because the gameplay as shown looks consoley... I don't quite see how that's going to work and be fun with PC controls.

But Venice is cool.