Tuesday, 31 August 2010


... 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. :)


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).

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

rumor has it

So apparently Starcraft II is "drmed" through battle.net - you cannot play a singleplayer game without logging in.

And then, of course, the EU servers went down and nobody could play the games they'd bought.


(I should point out that I don't play Starcraft nor know anyone directly who's playing it, this is the story I heard coming through the chat mode in an entirely different game. Details may vary.)

things i hate about bioware rpgs

WADING through enormous fortresses filled with room after room of the same monsters doing the same shit, met with an infinite number of big fancy chests, each of which turns out to contain one boot.

Does it not occur to them that this is mind-numbingly boring?

Once in a rare while something actually happens, either plotwise or an actually interesting fight. But the rest of the game is so horrendously painful that I would gladly use an 'all enemies die on spawn' cheat code to get past it.

... i don't suppose there is such a cheat code, is there?

Stupidly I think I'd forgive a lot more if there were more interesting loot.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

generic fantasy plots

Y'know, instead of being Innocent Farm Lad sired by a Passing Stranger Who Might Be Royal, whose Home Village is Doomed, forcing him to his Destiny...

Are there any games where your starting character is a member of the army, who's just had the unfortunate realisation that eir boss is actually the Big Bad?

You know the villain's plans. You have decent equipment and an easy way to get through the lines... you were just a mook anyway, even if the army figures out you're a traitor you can STILL probably pass yourself off as a loyal soldier half the time because people won't remember exactly who you are or what you look like. Those are your advantages. Disadvantages, you're really not a destined hero or half-dragon or anything and you don't have amazing powers. Also any rebels you can find might shoot you on sight for being a member of the eeevil army, or for things you personally took part in that weren't as justified as you thought they were at the time. And defeating the Big Bad is going to require fighting a lot of people who were your friends and brothers in arms. Good luck!

Monday, 2 August 2010

dragon age

Having a bit of trouble grabbing a good screenshot of my PC but here's a try:

In general, she's serious-looking. Restrained anger, staring at you. Neither gorgeous nor ugly (at least, I'm trying not to make her too pretty, that's part of what the silly faint facial marks are for. Also, they emphasize sadness.)

As for the game so far, I have certain expectations of Bioware plots and they fall into line nicely. "Look, the cowardly guy did something cowardly! The blatantly evil guy did something blatantly evil!" I'm sure the concept of hidden depths has occurred to them and the only character who's actually going to stay in my party as opposed to show up and die will turn out to have some, but... :)

Things that would have made the intro scenario (female city elf) more entertaining - The ability to use the fact that I'm a rogue to get me and the other girls out of that mess instead of having to do the typical "wade through fortress killing everything" routine. Also, the option to make out with my cousin. (... Only if I actually rescued her in time!)


A magical school needs magical teachers.

But since the game is mostly about interacting with your classmates, it is a Two Teacher School. (Helpful handwave - there are other teachers dealing with the students who aren't freshmen, you're a freshman, so you don't see them.)

In this corner, we have the perky Professor Potsdam.

She's... Colorful.

And in this corner, we have the grumpy Professor Grabiner.

He's... not so colorful.

Of course, I could be completely lying with those links. Never trust marketing!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Dragon Age

I have finally gotten around to installing it.

Man, this game sure likes the blood-spattering, doesn't it?

(Also, these guys have no idea how to hold a ravishing.)