dorchadas: (JCDenton)
I was thinking of posting this a few days ago, but I'm glad I waited because something else came up.

The Saturday before last was the 20th anniversary of Fallout, as I was reminded of by this RPS article. I heard of it the way I heard of most new computer games, through PC Gamer and its demo discs. After playing the demo, set in a town called Scrapheap and dealing with conflict between warring gangs, I was hooked. I got the game not long after it came out and played it three or four times before the sequel came out, which I played another half-dozen times. Both of these would foreshadow the thousand hours I spent in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.

I remember poring over the character creation screen, picking the Gifted perk because of the bonus to stats, and tagging Speech, Science, and Energy Weapons, thus setting the template of being playing a cerebral sniper/wizard in basically every RPG I ever played. The early part of the game was brutal, but I persevered, found a laser gun, talked my way into people's good graces, and eventually made my way into the cathedral where I engaged the final boss in a duel of wits, demonstrated to him the impossibility of his plan, and in his despair, he set off the self-destruct sequence. I beat a boss without firing a shot.

That stuck with me, though mostly nowadays in how rarely games allow it.

I have a half-finished Fallout game on my PC now, where I tried to go through with an unarmed build but gave up because I couldn't find any unarmed weapons. Maybe I should go back to it and try to finish it off. I still remember everything.

Last week Monday was the American release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which I was reminded about by this Retronauts article. When it came out I had no idea it existed--the most recent Castlevania game I had played in 1997 was Dracula's Curse--but [ profile] uriany bought it and we played it together. He already knew how to access the inverted castle, and where everything was, so he guided me through the game.

Symphony of the Night is my favorite platformer ever because of the sheer degree of options and the chaos they unleash. It's not hard, but who cares? There are boots that "discretely increases height" that make Alucard's sprite one pixel taller. There's "Alucart" knock-off gear that increases his luck. There's armor that turns Alucard into an Axelord. There's an accessory that shoots lightning. And we killed Dracula with all of them. Balance is worthwhile, but it's not always the most important part of a game and it's possible to have fun without it. The fun in Symphony of the Night is in the variety of possibilities and the sense of discovery.

There's a dodo that drops a sword that spells out VERBOTEN when Alucard swings it. What more do you want? Emoji La

And yesterday was the original release of The Orange Box (RPS link), quite possibly the most dollar value I've ever gotten from a gaming product since Master of Magic. 2007 was when I was heavily into World of Warcraft and my gaming was mostly $15 a month plus the occasional other game--from summer 2007 to summer 2008 is the year I played Xenogears and Ōkami for the first time too--and then the Orange Box came out with Half-Life 2 plus Episodes 1+2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.

It's funny to think that Half-Life 2 is probably the least consequential of those games, because at the time it felt monumental. That's before Valve stopped making games and before we understood how amazing Portal was. Team Fortress 2 may have since descended into a military-themed haberdashery, but as someone who played a ton of original HL Team Fortress at university, I got hundreds of hours out of it. It was especially fun playing while I was living in Japan. There were two servers I would habitually join. One downloaded roughly 200 sound clips when I first joined and the game was a aural assault of anime quotes spammed by people typing in text commands. The other was silent, organized, and everyone typed "otu" (otu -> お疲れ -> "thanks for your hard work") at the end of every match. It's Japan in microcosm, right in those two servers.

Portal memes were annoying, but the game deserved every bit of mind-share it got in popular culture. It was a complete experience in three hours, funny and charming and a little poignant all at once. I still have the companion cube plushy that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd snagged during one of its rare periods of availability. I remember friends being envious of it.

Portal II was too long, but Portal is nearly a perfect game.

("Gaming Made Me" comes from a similar feature that RPS does. Links here)
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
This is the first thing I ever kickstarted, back in the heady days of 2012 when Double Fine Adventure blew up on kickstarter and revealed the wonders of crowdfunding. I had only ever played the original Wasteland for maybe an hour, but I had read multiple let's plays of it and, more importantly, I'm a huge fan of the Fallout games which were its spiritual successors. So I kicked in for a physical copy of the game (with cloth map!) and waited. And then when it came out, I heard there were some bugs so I waited for them to be fixed. And then I heard there would be a director's cut with new mechanics, so I waited for that. And then I was playing other games. But now, five years later, I finally sat down and decided that this would be the next game I would play so I could taste the fruit of that kickstarter long ago.

It's okay.

All in a day's work.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Equal time for Slime)
Working more on that post-magical apocalypse Pathfinder setting and finalizing the playable groups. So far, this is what I have:

  • Humans: I probably don't have to explain these, and I haven't changed them much.
  • Elves: Faerie nobles. I wrote about my take on them here.
  • Fey-Blooded: Either the descendants of faeries or the children of people affected by faerie magic. I included these for people who wanted more traditional "elves are humans but arrogant and pretty and live longer"-style characters.
  • Dwarves: Marooned space aliens. I wrote about my take on them here.
  • Gnomes: Former servants of the elves, now split into two cultures. The sky gnomes live among the humans and dwarves in the traditional D&D halfling niche, and the mist gnomes are Fremen crossed with the forest people from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind with creepy living technology who frighten everyone because they actually live in the Mist.
  • Dhampirs: Children of the rulers of the Nations of the Night, included again here. What can I say? I really like vampires as open rulers. I also added them because I wanted to use the material from Liber Vampyr.
  • Dragonkin: Humans who were taken and changed by the Dragon Kings, those dragons who openly rule lands around their lairs.
  • Grippli: Cute frog people. These are the odd ones out, for reasons I'll explain in one moment.
I want a couple more, but I'm having a hard time deciding what else to include, or if I should just stop here.

The reason I say grippli are the odds ones out is that all the others are either from somewhere else, like how elves and gnomes are from Faerie and dwarves are aliens, or they're humans or human-descendants who have been changed, like dhampirs or dragonkin. Grippli are frog-people and don't fit into either group, and while there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it doesn't quite fit with the theming. They occupy a similar place as the sky gnomes, but on the other hand, at least they don't have as much overlap as gnomes and halflings usually do, so I might as well leave them in.

While I was writing this, I realized that I should include Gamma World-style mutants as playable, since they fit into the "humans who have been changed" portion and also help play up how dangerous the Mist is supposed to be. I plan to have the Mist be like Gamma World radiation, where too much exposure leads to mutation, and it makes sense that some people wouldn't have escaped it unscathed in the initial chaos. So there's any easy ninth option.

I've got a couple thoughts of a tenth option:
  • More Animal People: Maybe bird people, maybe insect people, maybe lizard people. Something so the grippli aren't alone in their thematic space.
  • Robots: Basically warforged with the serial numbers filed off. Say humans and dwarves cooperated to make electrotech golems for defense against the creatures in the Mist, some of them gain sapience, and now they decided that going into holes in the ground and trying to steal the treasure therein is a worthwhile life goal.
  • Aasimar and Tieflings: This fits with the "descendants of humans," but I already have alien terraforming and faeries as the main sources of antagonists. I'm not sure I want to add angels and demons as well, as it could end up feeling too crowded. On the other hand, I'm a sucker for the war between heaven and hell trope, and there's plenty of material already written about these two, so I may end up going for that.
I'm currently leaning toward mutants and robots, because I love science fantasy and weird settings and turning this into Final Fantasy Legend sounds like a great idea to me, but I'm not quite sure. I'll need to think on it a bit.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
I love me some airship pirates, as my Flight of the Phoenix game writeups probably gave away. And poking around the Giants in the Playground forum today, I found reference to a kickstarter for Skybourne, which has airship pirates, some kind of death forest that took over the planetary surface, and is by the same company who did Spheres of Power, which I bought during the last DriveThruRPG sale and which isn't a perfect replacement for Vancian magic, but is way better than grab-bag spell lists.

I love post-apocalyptic fiction and it's especially nice to see one with a non-standard apocalypse. I mean:
When the great forest grew, it destroyed everything that had come before it.
really makes me wonder what's going on. I'm sad I missed the kickstarter now, but I'll keep an eye on this.

I guess I can't say I hate class/level systems anymore, can I? It's not the concept that annoyed me, just the implementation.

Edit: Looking through the link on the kickstarter update about religion leads to a Google doc filled with fantasy mush, which is true to D&D but a bit disappointing. And there's some info about the forest here. With the kaiju enforcing the will of the forest mentioned there, it seems like it'd be pretty easy to rip out the religious parts entirely and have an animistic world of capricious spirits, with the planetary spirit antagonistic to the civilized races. Just the kind of thing I love.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
I've mentioned it before, but I'm running an ORE Fallout game for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and [ profile] aaron.hosek. I've run a Fallout game before briefly, where I took [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd through part of the plot of Fallout 1 (which she's never played), but this time I was determined to break a bit out of my GMing rut. I'm typically one of those people who plots things out and has games with story arcs and dramatic revelations and conspiratorial machinations and so on, but right now I'm getting all my plot-based gaming urges out of my system with my mystery-focused DELTA GREEN game. For Fallout I wanted something different, so I laid down the goal for myself that I would make this the sandboxiest of sandboxes.

I read a lot of Old School Renaissance blogs even though most of the specific RPGs they play are way too rules-light for my liking because there's a lot of good ideas and play resources out there. And while it's not universal, a lot of them are focused on sandbox play as well and have some discussion of the best way to go about it. One agreed-on aspect of sandbox gaming is that while the game requires less pre-game prep, it does require plenty of resources for creative inspiration during the game. Fortunately, Reign, the basis for my Fallout ORE hack, already has randomness provided for in both the small-scale character rules and the large-scale Company rules, so I had a good place to start. I just had to adapt the Company rules to the Fallout setting.

I'm not usually one for random generation of anything, but reading this Grognardia post about the benefits of randomness for guiding the flow of a game convinced me to give it a try. After I wrote up the random Fallout Company rules, I grabbed some dice and populated the area around post-apocalyptic Chicago with organizations. The Elohim, who maintain the old rail network. Bartertown, the caravanserai for the Heartland region. Wrigleyville, the fortress town at 1060 W. Addison. The Brotherhood of Steel (of course). And several other groups that I never would have thought of if all I had was a blank sheet of paper, but given some dice and a little beginning inspiration, it was easy. And the more groups I made, the easier it became to fit new groups into the existing fabric of the area.

A couple sessions ago, I had an epiphany about the random Company table: it's easy to use it to generate random important events, too. Just adapt the benefits that each number gives to a company into an event. 1x is news from another organization, 2x is something the Company did having further effects, 3x is economic events, 4x is technological events, 5x is military events, 6x is attacks, and so on. Choose dice, the more dice and more severe the event is likely to be, roll them, and interpret.

Here's an example from my last session: Read more... )

Honestly, the ease with which this all works out makes me want to use Dragon Reign and a tweaked random Company set for my next fantasy game, or at the least develop a random Company generator for whatever other game I do next. Even in a more plot-heavy game, it's a great source of inspiration.
dorchadas: (Gendowned)
I finished reading Nausicaa last night. The ending was a bit odd in comparison to the rest of it ("Killing is bad, except those guys. They all need to die so we can live." What?), but overall it was quite well done.

I also recently found the Japanese edition of the old NES RPG Crystalis, titled "Godslayer: Haruka no Tenkū no Sonata" ("Godslayer, Sonata of Distant Heaven"). It's even more based on Nausicaa than I remembered. I mean, I knew it had the direct homage in the poisonous fungal forest filled with insects, and the remnants of the old pre-destruction world who are working to save the new world from behind the scenes. But, for example, in Crystalis, the first little girl you talk to says, "Welcome to Leaf, the Village of Wind." In Godslayer, she says, "ここはかぜのたにのむら" ("This place is the Village of the Valley of the Wind") to you. That's a bit more direct. I wonder what other things I find as I go through the game?

The hilarious part is that the save system didn't work, so when I hit "Continue" I started from the beginning without going through the intro, so I never picked a name, so everyone is calling me "データーなし," which is pretty much the equivalent of saying, "Hello, [insert name here]." I giggle every time one of the NPCs addresses me.
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
There's some images available from the next Fallout game. With the change in setting, they won't need to worry much about what happened on the West Coast. It's shaping up to be a good game, from the minimal information we have. Have to wait until Fall 2008 for it, though...

I got to play Ultimate Frisbee today. I haven't played that in...six years, I think? And I haven't played frisbee at all in three years, but I was still not bad. Better than I (and some of the other people) expected, anyway, though I need to work on throwing. I made some pretty crappy throws. We're planning on doing it the first and third Sundays of the month, at Engstrom Park in Batavia, for anyone who is free and available to come.

Oh--this is another shout out. Rachel and I will be moving into our apartment on the 7th. For anyone who wants to help, we'll feed you a home-cooked meal at the end of the day. ^_^


dorchadas: (Default)

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