Cinderella Story– with horse archery!

Mount and Blade: Warbands released today, continues onward from humble beginnings into a major release that hopefully has the Elder Scrolls/Dragon Age/Gothic/Fable creators a little nervous as this tiny indy developer has shown HOW TO PROPERLY DO THIRD PERSON WEAPON COMBAT.  Need we say more?  Demo to level 7 but you know deep in your heart that you need the full version.

This is what it’s all about people:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V30tyaXv6EI

More replacements for HOMM 3

Anytime anything even remotely resembling Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is a whisper out the gas-bag of the game industry I pester my brother, let’s call him Mat and my other friend, let’s call him Steve, and embarrassingly enough, yet another friend, let’s deem him John, to TRY SOMETHING NEW as they have been playing HOMM3 whenever the mood hits them for countless years now.  While I see the kitsch value the graphics are far worse than HOMM2 and the gameplay is so tired it’s rumplestilskin’s ileus.  It’s impossible for me to believe that someone hasn’t done it better.  As the years go by and my recommendations are thoroughly ignored by all but John who briefly dabbled with Dominions 3 (granted it was still for probably over 100 hours), I start to think– fuck I still love Master of Orion 1 the best– is it possible that no one has captured whatever shit-magic these fallen friends see in HOMM3?  But I digress as this post is to chronicle yet another HOMM-like recommendation that will be completely ignored: Disciples 3: Renaissance.  On or near July 15th here is the conversation that will happen regarding this blog post:

Steve: remember that post Mute made about that Homm game? The one with the weird art?

John: mraak

Mat: No.

Steve: I thought about trying it but I just forgot and then when he asked about it we laughed at him.

Matt: yeah.

Some d&d..er Pathfinder

Not without some trepidation after a disasterous D&D session at a bachelor party in 2005 did I agree to a day long Pathfinder session for a buddy’s birthday.  Having only had the chance to play an RPG a few times, and with my majority exposure to version 3.0 being the excellent CRPG Temple of Elemental Evil, I said yes.   Since it was in the company of friends, food and beer, there was no question at all that it was fun, so I want to focus on a few things in the system that irked me a bit.  While the session was entertaining, it ratified some of my previous feelings that the D20 system has a very odd abstraction of combat that really isn’t very good when you get right down to it.

First is initiative.  Pathfinder’s initiative system makes zero changes from 3rd edition, 2nd edition and as far as I can remember uses the same initiative system as basic D&D.  Each character rolls a D20, adds some modifiers and take their attack turns in that order.  Regardless of the type of action the character takes, their initiative order does not change at any point during combat, regardless of ‘wounds’ and regardless of the action they took until a character or enemy is incapacitated.  Essentially, characters have 6 seconds to act in and order based on an arbitrary role at the beginning of combat.  That said, I failed to see the real advantage of going first.  Compared to other systems (I’m tempted to say ‘more modern systems’ here but will abstain) the initiative system has a frustrating lack of tactical depth.  In most RPG’s I’ve played or GM’ed since playing D&D as a kid,  a character’s speed and actions taken during their turn effect the next time they can act, how they are able to defend, etc.   While the initiative system in this version of D&D works, it has a distinct lack of allowing the player to make interesting choices.

Second beef is the single, massive spread of pips die roll to attack–i.e.: the basis for the entire D20 system.  In combat you make a couple choices, for example: whether to move attack/ attack move whether or not to use a feat, etc.  What it really boils down to are modifiers on a single die roll where each pip represents +/-5%.  If you roll high enough, you get to roll another die for damage.  If you roll low, your turn is over.  There are no attack rerolls, no way to expend power points or whatnotall to enhance your attack, and while the choice of feats to use can be somewhat interesting, it typically only increases or decreases the attack roll by 5-10%.  What’s more, your attack roll has nothing to do with anything your opponent did previously, and your opponent cannot react at all to your attack, whether it’s an (abstracted) flurry of fists or a massive haymaker with a halberd.

Third, and this is the big one for me, is the lack of narrative combat options: i.e.: stunting. During the session I kept wanting to blurt out some heroic, stylish, wuxia-infused description of a clever use of the scenery, my weapon or the opponent’s position to not only spice up the proceedings, but to gain some extra dice/pips to hit, etc. I realized during the session that I hadn’t played a game without some form of stunting, whether it was Werewolf, Exalted, Amber diceless or Feng Shui for a decade or so. I’ve been exposed so much to players always stunting everything that I had forgotten just how like a dry wind through a soulless city (like, say, Houston) narrative roleplaying combat was without it.

Years ago during a session of Feng Shui, an old school D&D player (who we will call Steve to protect the innocent) had real problems wrapping his head around the stunting system while fighting some mooks inside a fully stocked kitchen no less. After some frustrating attempts at stunting and goading from the other players he would simply say “Medium punch to no specific location.”    He eventually picked up the torch and can now stunt to consistently help other players to roll on the floor in laughter or state the softly spoken ‘badass’ compliment.  Yet, this phrase is the essence of my issue with the D20 system. Combat becomes an exercise of moving miniatures, adding up the bonuses and rolling one die representing an abstracted set of combat actions that take exactly six seconds. If you roll high you get to roll another die– and that’s it. While miniature-based, Pathfinder/D&D is just not good miniature combat (like say Confrontation), nor does it capture the narrative possibilities that exist for pen and paper RPGs. For me personally, stunting in combat is sine qua non. Without it, my Confrontation/Warhammer/Blood Bowl miniature game player brain takes over and it’s all about abusing scenery, wishing I had a lot more than just one little plastic figure to control and little quirks in the rules rather than a flowing narrative.

Amazon Diablo 3

Without even a published release date YEAR announced (I’ve heard from 2011 to 2013), Amazon has started selling pre-orders of Diablo 3 for ~60$.  Is that even the final price?  Is that the final box art?  Are you giving a giant company a chance to invest your money for up to 3 years and gain interest on it for a pre-order that has only imagined value and from the price is not any type of deal at all, especially since electronic delivery methods may be the only way the game files are actually delivered to the user by the time it comes out?

Mass Effect 2 x360 quick PUNCH

(SPOILERS AHEAD YOU BASTARDS)

My initial impression of ME2 after 4 hours of play.

– Character import – AHHAHAHAH you die and they bring you back to life to justify taking your lv’s away. GAY. Why even let me import shit. I like playing the “same” character but it just feels very forced and uncreative.

– Freedom’s Progress – It’s the first non-tutorial location you go. It’s a Alien’s(the movie) rip off for music and visual feel, very borrowed. Feels good, but it’s a rip off non the less.

– Sound – The cut scene sound is WEAK. Something just not right about it, it does not feel EPIC. just watch some space scenes from the original star wars triligy to see what i’m talking about when you compare the two.

– Graphics in the space cut scenes – The scale of ships seems off, but this was a weakness carried over from the first mass effect, the sci-fi space visuals are just average in my opinion.

– Sci-Fi – Science failure, talk of wireless networks with firewalls etc that Edi hacks? super gay FAIL. Complete 20th century earth tech/terminology just to make it “easy” for the audience to understand, or maybe the writers are the uncreative and lazy.

– Sci-Fi – SUCCESS – the data logs.  listening to the stuff the writers came up with the flesh out the ME2 universe is a great touch. It’s not Dune level awesome, but it’s the best thing out there sci-fi rpg wise on the x360

– AH hits of hot lesbian sex – Choose a female character, chat up your female crew, insinuate same sex loving. Catholics beware, it’s WONDERFUL STUFF!

Torchlight mods and mini review

The first wave of mods have begun hitting the net for Torchlight and while searching it’s going to be a long wait before some ardent fans start tackling an undertaking as huge as an equivalent to Diablo 2’s PENULTIMATE Zyel Mod, but here’s a couple goodies.

First off is Torchleech – a mod manager extraordinare.

Second is really the first mod that has piqued my interest (I’m not very interested in the ‘little tweak’ type mods at all) and that’s Starch the Monster Hunter— a new NPC with a new set of maps and a handful of new monsters, all surrounding the post-main storyline gameplay in the infinite dungeon.

My review of Torchlight is really pointless as I have 100% recommend it to everyone I know and love.  In short, they nailed the look and feel, nailed the feel and flow of the combat but they missed the boat on the crafting/enchanting.  I expected more out of the game in terms of crafting items.  Since Diablo 1, we have picked up thousands of items that were largely useless to us except to lug around and sell, and Torchlight is no different over a decade later.  Later Diablo-clones have created a way for the crap items to be harvested to make better stuff or a visual cue that you should ignore them when they are lying on the ground.   For example, if you have 3 normal swords of the same type, you can craft those into a low level magical sword, and with three of those, you can get to the next tier, and so on.  While there are sockets in Torchlight, and Enchanting, you end up piling your pet with rubbish to sell for a pittance most of the time.  Granted, the pet running off to town is a brilliant idea, which , guaranteed, will be stolen by Blizzard if D3 ever comes out.

What’s more, any discussion of the game needs to mention that Torchlight not being multiplayer.  Except for a few visual glitches here and there and the fact that they seem to still have a model’s shadow displaying through ceilings like Hellgate London, that’s about the only complaints I have.  That said, I heartily endorse Torchlight and think it’s got a great future as a brand.  I’m only on my second play through and while I loved my Alchemist in my first play through, I absolutely adore the Destroyer class.   It’s one of those games like Dominons 3, Strange Adventures in Infinite Space and especially Mount & Blade that will probably never leave my hard drive.

Achieve in Torchlight

Just tell me what they are OK?
Tell me woman, is the Modpocalypse acheivement really safe?

Runic and Steam got together and had an baby over the weekend and it was acheivements in Torchlight.  With my new Destroyer, I’ve only gotten 2, so here we go– yet more reason to be addicted to this mighty fine RPG.

(Also, 10$ on Steam currently, so if you haven’t grab it up)