Thursday, 30 December 2010


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


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...


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.


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. :)


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


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...