Thursday, 28 July 2011

latest - ubisoft still assholes

Not like I was ever going to buy a Driver game, but their ridiculous "paying customers shouldn't be allowed to play the game" stance really should have more consequences than it has been...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Also, they're having a 'contest' for people to pick their favorite design for default FemShep for ME3. Except they're ALL way too young and wearing too much makeup for their position. Sure, I strongly doubt anyone looking like my Shepard would win out over looks-like-a-final-fantasy-blondie but...

I don't get it. FemHawke was a striking design, I was tempted to play as her.

Why does Mass Effect feel like it's made by totally different people... and skeevy ones? Stop bombarding me with female-only strippers and drugged women kept as sex slaves and NPCs suggesting my character is a whore! Stop dressing all my female team members in skimpy/tight clothes and all my male ones in bulky armor! Stop feeding me a universe where most of the alien species keep their women locked in cages on the homeworld!

I'm a boob-loving sci-fi fan and *I* feel repeatedly creeped out by this game.

Naturally looking for anyone else's opinions leads me to bioware forum threads full of 'fans' whose response to any criticism is "THIS IS WHY NO ONE TAKES FEMINISTS SERIOUSLY" and "LOL U SHOULD BE GLAD YOU CAN PLAY A FEMALE AT ALL NOW MAKE ME A SANDWICH". Siiiiiiigh.

marketing is first up against the wall

So after the massive disappointment of witch hunt Iam extremely unlikely to buy DLC. That said I at least try to look to see what the DLC is about. There's this RockPaperShotgun article talking about how they're trying to respond to some of the unhappy customer feedback from the game. And then we get THIS.

“For sure there are certain people who probably wanted Origins 2 with Dragon Age 2; we did not go in that direction,” Melo adds. “This DLC is not going to solve that for them.”

I don't object to every change in direction. But to smugly brush off claims that it wasn't what people expected by claiming it wasn't called FirstGame2? It WAS called FirstGame2!! Are you listening to yourselves???

mass effect

What is with the ridiculous outfit on Samara?

Look, I don't object to skimpy outfits on people who have reason to wear them. But unless she's secretly got machine-gun nipples that she needs to be able to whip out at a minute's notice, that outfit seems totally nonsensical.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


No, not the one with the magical school (popular name eh?) This is a free flash scifi adventure game. I'm still playing it myself but it seems worth checking out.

taking aim at your foot

'Preventing' misogyny... by banning women! Good job, gamers!

rapid prototyping

So I woke up with a silly idea in my head and have spent the day frantically hacking it together. While it plays - and at least for us, is already sort of weirdly addictive - it's nowhere near done. There's no win/lose yet. But my finger is getting tired from steering so I thought I should take a break.

No, this is NOT a serious project.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

origin, still trying to annoy me

"An update is available. Would you like to install it now?"

  1. Install
  2. Quit the program, thus being unable to play any games connected with this stupid tool

... Not exactly giving you a choice, are they?

Yes, I'm sure some people are used to auto-update. Especially for online games. Except I'm not PLAYING an online game, and I don't want any of their online features at all, I find them creepy.

Also, THEIR updater doesn't work EITHER - had to ctrl-alt-del and manually kill bits of it in order for it to proceed, and who knows if even that worked?

Would I buy any future game from the Origin Store? NO.

... Speaking of the stupid game, along with the tutorial bug, now that I've turned on godmode to keep playing in spite of my shit skills, I quickly managed the popular "stuck in air" bug and had to restart another mission.

Is the downloadable version of the game not bugpatched at all? Or is this just how bad it is even with years of fixes?

modern times

I would grouse about not being able to play my new game while the net was down for a few hours (making me unproductive) except, well, it was free.

I don't know who these people are who think everyone has a flawless 24/7 net connection! I'm in the Bay and paying extra for special features and I STILL don't have perfect net access.

Friday, 22 July 2011

me2 doesn't love me

Reloaded my save from last night. Promptly ran into a tutorial bug where the door to the next area refused to open (because a group of monsters refused to spawn). Luckily autosave was at the point before entering that area so I could run it again.

Also I hate shooters and really just want everything to automatically die so I can play the story. :(

Thursday, 21 July 2011

mass effect 2, the unboxing

or rather, the "finally being able to install and run"

My first impressions are rather cranky. For all that people were calling DA2 "Dragon Effect"? They were totally wrong, thank goodness. DA2 still felt like a computer game. ME2 is constantly feeling like it's designed for something else. (This could be partly because I never play shooters, so perhaps the way you have to use WASD for interface navigation at times rather than the obvious mouse is not that unusual?)

Also, I have no idea what I'm doing. I never played the first game and I don't have a manual. The tutorial is generally pretty helpful at shepherding (lol) me along, but getting to the tutorial was less straightforward than I expected. Where's the minimap? IS there one? Where am I going? Argh!

Irritations - Unskippable movies. Lots of them. Unskippable movies leading up to the character creator, which you are not allowed to save before using. A character creator which is profoundly unhelpful, especially since the obvious click-and-drag to view from different angles DOES NOT WORK. (You can, once you know how, click and drag a much longer distance to get the head to shift to once of its preset poses. You cannot rotate freely, and if you were expecting free rotation, it will look like it doesn't work at all.) My first attempt at character creation, I ended up with someone whose face looked fine straight-on, but actually had a deformed alien face with cheekbones exploding out her ears. After several failed attempts at hacking the save file I had to start over and watch half an hour of cutscene again in order to be able to create someone who wasn't a complete mutant.

Trying to design someone a bit older than their perky pretty default Jane, someone who I could believe had command experience.

The tutorial gameplay, with the exception of the hackable pad I tripped over, has been pretty good about giving helpful commands for a total newbie and getting me onto my feet. We'll see how it goes.

Also, the game will only RUN if I have the download manager running as well. If you try to launch it separately, it says "Game misconfigured. Please try REINSTALLING." Luckily, I guessed what the problem really was, and therefore did not take a crowbar to my computer and the entire Origin management team.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

siiiiigh (warning, swearing)

So now for the second time, my completely legal download of Mass Effect 2 via the official Origins game downloader has self-destructed and deleted itself, requiring that I attempt to start over, AGAIN. I have downloaded 20 GB over the past week and still not gotten an actual game installer.

If I were downloading a pirated copy I would have the damned thing working by now.

To be fair, this isn't exactly a DRM issue. This is them trying to be helpful. And failing. They really need to reprogram this nonsense.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

da2 (slight spoilers)

Things that did not work for me in the writing: The passage of time.

I do not feel it believable that it was supposed to take place over the course of so many years. People didn't change enough. People who should have their own goals to pursue appear to have sat still spinning their wheels for long periods of time only to pick up again during the time that the player is actually in control. As it is, practically the ONLY change we see after a time-jump is Hawke moving into the mansion. Other than that, all you get is the codex telling you "Character X is becoming more and more (whatever Character X was already)."

Nobody makes any other friends when you're not looking. No new organisations form and become established in those timeframes - they'll only just try to start up when you get to a new time period. The world doesn't alter.

(Okay, correction. The very first timejump, where you've spent a year in the city working for someone? That one does try to give the suggestion that you've met people and things have happened. Which is a lot more than any other timejump does.)

How long is Isabela supposed to sit at the bar staring into the same mug of terrible beer and apparently doing *absolutely nothing* to solve her problem other than possibly ask the underground to keep an eye out? As I mentioned in another post, if she wanted a ship surely she could have found someone to sail for who would hire an experienced captain. It would take time, but she supposedly had YEARS. She could have come up with a mad scheme to hijack a vessel. If she really cared that much about Castillon and had no idea where his particular relic was, she could have set off on a venture to find some OTHER valuable relic to buy him off with (and for that reason should likely have DEMANDED to be in the deep roads party!) Years on her ass? It doesn't add up. Seven years is a pretty big chunk out of a medieval human's active adventuring lifespan. How many years was she sailing before the shipwreck? Can she in any way still call herself a sailor if she's been retired so long? What exactly is she doing to earn a living?

Merril is fixated on her little project. Or so they tell us, since we don't actually see signs of her doing anything about it. Finding wizards to consult with, or rare tomes of knowledge? That would be logical, but no, apparently she just stares at it blankly for years on end. And it's not like she's busy socialising with the neighbors, either, because if you suggest she help the alienage folk at the end of her plot she's amazed that she never thought of it. Oh, and she occasionally makes vague jokes about how she's lived in her slum house for years but never bothered to clean or repair it. Seven years staring at a blank screen and never growing out of her Innocently Clueless Demeanor. If you think about it, it becomes rather creepy.

Meh, I could go on, but you get my point I think...

Saturday, 16 July 2011

da2 spoilers

So, yeah. Isabela.

I don't hate her, but the idea of a romance with her makes me uncomfortable. It's not exactly because of her complete carelessness during Act 2 which leads to so many deaths without her suffering any real consequence or even feeling regret for it (unlike anders. I can't say that Anders is 'sorry', other than maybe on the full rival path, but he's at least 'slightly sad'.) It's because of the way the whole set of shenanigans reveals how little she trusts 'me', and especially because of what happens if you 'betray' her.

Huge spoiler time - Isabela is supposedly searching for an artifact that she promised to give some dude as recompense for having freed his 'slaves' (captives), because otherwise he'll kill her. This is a really stupid plot to begin with - is he actually going to forgive and forget when you hand over a valuable thingie? Surely she should realise that if she caves to threats and demands he'll make MORE threats and demands. Also, he's one guy. She could easily put a dagger in his ribs. She could more easily have US put a dagger in his ribs. (Which *is* one of the eventual options at the end of this plotline *anyway*.) It is baffling to a player to understand why she's even bothering to try and find this thing for this dude.

We understand HonorBeforeReason characters pursuing stupid things. We understand why the people who this item belongs to (getting to that) will not change their minds ever. But why is Isabela so intent on this? It makes no sense. Maybe we were supposed to get more explanation of her relationship with Castillon somewhere, and why it mattered to her to keep his approval? Even if she wanted him to get her a new ship, SURELY there are other people she could hire on with. Sigh. Anyway. So, her plotline doesn't make sense to me from the start.

The item she's supposedly looking for - which she had briefly and then lost - is a sacred relic of the Qunari. Who *are* HonorBeforeReason types and are not leaving this city without it, no matter how many years it takes. Their presence ramps up tensions. Many of them get killed. Many citizens get killed. The Qunari eventually get fed up with the whole thing and attack the city, killing a whole lot of people including the city's ruler... Only after that, maybe, IF you've built a relationship with her, will Isabela show up and go 'Oops. Here, have that relic of yours back.'

Now, to be fair, during most of those years she didn't know where it was either. However, she certainly knew what was going on with the Qunari and opted not to tell us. Okay, fine, she doesn't trust us much. But then if you try to hand her over to the Qunari - the only way to make them leave without any more bloodshed - she gets all upset about it. Even though they're not going to kill her, and you could quite reasonably expect her to escape (as it's rumored that she does). In fact, in a later quest, handing her over to someone who wants her and then rescuing her is EXACTLY THE PLAN. That could have been done here. Or, if she'd trusted Hawke at all, they could have worked something out ahead of time, faked Isabela's death or something.

Even the way it was done here, with Isabela being hauled off and then (probably) escaping, she could have come back to have it out with Hawke. Instead she leaves forever. Well, fine, then. I can treat her as a casual acquaintance, someone fun to hang out with. But she certainly doesn't love me and I'm not going to pretend to love her.

Friday, 15 July 2011

da2 spoilers

Hopefully that title was enough warning. I'm mostly going to talk about romances, but that requires discussing some major plot events. Also swearing. It's memetic.

So, I've done Anders (friend), Fenris (rival), Merrill (first half friends, complete rival). I'm skipping Isabela completely. Sure, I've slept with her, but I can't bring myself to pursue a solo relationship with her.

Playing multiple paths means by necessity seeing characters from multiple angles, and that can really change how you feel about them. I'm glad I did Anders' romance first, because after what went down, I can barely bring myself to speak to him on further playthroughs, much less flirt with the guy.

First playthrough, I was totally on Anders' side. The Circle is an injustice! I let Bethany go to the circle, fulling expecting that we were going to stage a breakout and rescue her later. I fell hard and fast for the man who seemed to want me so desperately and was happily planning a revolution with him. I thought giving him the key to the underground passages seemed like a good idea. I would have been willing to start a war my way. I still don't see why that wasn't an option.

I got worried when he started being secretive. I suspected that he intended to blow himself up publicly - probably in front of the grand cleric, after asking for her help and not getting it - to bring attention to the plight of the mages, and was angry that he wouldn't tell me, but if that was his plan I could kinda understand why he wouldn't, and I couldn't entirely deny him the right to do it, even if it was obviously going to suck for me.

... So I was pretty pissed when it turned that instead he decided to murder innocent people, and had made me an unknowing accomplice. Goddammit Anders! I was willing to give you everything and this is how you treat me? But... it couldn't be fixed, and I'd come this far on a romance path, so shock and cognitive dissonance made my poor Hawke agree that everything was a-okay, she'd forgive him, they'd go on together.

I don't think she meant it.

Combined with defending Orsino only to find out what he'd done, and have him turn into a Harvester on her? I suspect my first Hawke completely snapped after the end of the game and strangled Anders in his sleep. At LEAST.

And it turns out that at least to me, when you're playing through and not romancing Anders? He's incredibly annoying. He whines constantly. That's all he is, just a scruffy shaggy pile of WHAT ABOUT THE MAGES? Yes, there are reasons, and he's aware that he's turning into nothing but the cause, but it's still pretty obnoxious to have around. (Also, I'm annoyed that if he kills someone in Act 2 and you throw him out of the party, the text gives the impression that he left town, but he's apparently still hanging around being buddy-buddy with Varric. I really think that cutscene should be altered if you've told him to get lost.)

Every subsequent ending, I've stabbed Anders, and felt like that fate was too good for him. I find it crazily unebelievable that other NPCs simply walk away and leave him to me, too.

Compare this to Fenris. I took a hands-off approach with him the first time, earning rivalry points, obviously, but being respectful enough to him that I never hit full rivalry. He killed his sister (on later plays I stopped him but the first time I left him to it), and turned on me in the final battle, and I had to kill him. But that didn't make me lose respect for him, especially considering how guilty I felt about the side I'd ended up on. Also, he was always polite about Bethany, and while he did have a bone to pick with Merrill and Anders, he was right. The rivalmance is hot, and very squee at the end (he has the best pre-final-battle romance dialog of anyone afaik).

And on subsequent playthroughs, spending time with him without Anders around to piss him off, he turns out to actually have a sense of humor and to be quite willing to accept a mage Hawke, even though his reasons for being paranoid are better than Anders'. He gets more lovable as I spend more time with him, not less.

Merrill... sigh. I got the impression she had the hots for Hawke even when I wasn't romancing her, but I can't see that relationship ever working out. I don't think she plans ahead well (no surprise!) She jumps in because she's got a crush, then declares love and forces you to either say you'll do anything for her or dump her completely. But what would she do then? Especially on a rivalmance path? I can buy her friendship romance, sort of. Rivalmance M looks like she'd be utterly miserable with Hawke and I can't imagine they'd stay together. It's not just her people she's giving up, since a rival Hawke would logically try to stop her doing more magic. Little Merrill with nothing to do but sit uncomfortably in a rich house with hard floors? Especially if Hawke's ruling the city and everyone's staring at the freaky elf? Eventually she'd run, or do something crazy.

This is getting super-long so I should probably split Isabela into the next post.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Sandy Hawke

My mage build.

After the super-butch look forced by the equipment at the start of the game:

I then eventually had to go to the trouble of hacking my save file to create equipment for her later, because this character does not want the slinky dress-robes that make up 90% of the mage equipment! (Not to mention it's crazy for roleplaying purposes to be running around in magerobes with a huge staff, considering the plot.)

So here I am in all my androgynous glory.

... yes, I do intend to do the f/f romances with this character but that's a coincidence honest!

Disappointed that being blond did not alter my starting family... that feature doesn't seem to be nearly as well-implemented as they'd suggested. Oh well.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom

I have no idea what this is.

In the cruel kingdoms north of the Viraxian Empire, a barbarian seeks treasure - and vengeance! Having escaped the clutches of the Slaver King, he has vowed to pillage the wealth of the kingdom ... then bring it to its knees. YOU are this barbarian.

I have no idea what this Encounter Critical thing is about.

... this is Encounter Critical, which means it's designed to be a very good game while providing a thrill-ride simulation of a very, very bad one. If that sounds like a stupid idea, well, yes. Yes it is. And if that sounds great: welcome, friend, to the world of EC.

... But it sounds like it could be fun, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

so how much do indies earn? part 2

According to this ars technica article, average earnings on Xbox Live Indie Games is less than $4000. Total.

Now, average can mean a lot of things... if a few people are doing hugely well and most people do terribly, the average number is largely meaningless. Also, as usual, how good or bad that money is depends on what time and money you put into writing the game in the first place. Some people are absolutely thrilled to earn a few hundred dollars.

Now that I have to pay rent and feed people, though, a few hundred wouldn't really do me much good. Luckily my projects do generally pull in rather more than $4000 each. :)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Hoodoo Blues

Was in a gaming shop in Berkeley yesterday and spotted this Dark Southern Folk Magic setting book, was curious but didn't really need another book to tote around right now... but it turns out the PDF version is a measly five bucks.

Haven't read it yet though, so I don't have anything much to say yet.

My own Southernness is tenuous. I'm from there, but my parents weren't - and we lived in a big city, too. I think there's more there that I can and should draw from for stories, but it's largely mysterious to me at the moment.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

it will only end in ruin

Despite still feeling that the game isn't handling the romances nearly well enough, I have transferred my allegiances to Fenris.

Even though I had to put him down in my first playthrough.

G@#$mmit Anders.