Posts Tagged ‘ youtube ’

Countdown to New Vegas

If you been hiding under a rock somewhere, you might not know that Fallout: New Vegas comes out tomorrow.

Fallout 3 exceeded all my expectations and this installment promises to be better.

See you on the wasteland!

Gaming: The Power of a Good Story

Games, games are changing.

Yes the graphics are always improving and the physics engines both imitate and subvert reality in many outstanding ways but now we have something more….

Story.

At the dawn of video games, there wasn’t much space in cartridges or floppy disks for stories.  Most developers didn’t bother, but as the first decade of gaming progressed (that’s the 80’s for you youngsters, yeah the ones wearing the John Hughes’ movie wardrobe), RPGs crossed over to home computers and PCs, which meant stretching the hardware to accommodate story beyond “here be aliens, shoot them!” explanation of the earlier frantic gaming mechanic.

Most of said story remained buried in the manuals with the game itself providing more shooting, spells swinging and sword bashing than complicated plot points.

Not anymore.

Somewhere around the turn of the century a combination of more powerful machines and graphic cards, game worlds could be rendered in glorious 3D (as opposed to the chunky polygons of the century before) and with plenty of space in both hard drives and disks (CDs, then DVDs and now Blu-Ray) they could inject great soundtracks, thousands of lines of spoken dialogue by dozens of highly skilled voice actors (and not a few celebrity cameos).

Which still leaves one thing….

Story!

The best games in the last few years, specially in the Console/PC RPG market, not only have stunning visuals and fast paced action but powerful story lines.  You don’t simply want to blast your enemies into pink (or green or blue, whatever) mist, but you want to known what your father was working on, who is behind the abduction of of human colonies and why your family was slaughtered while you were spared.

Story matters.

Story makes the difference.

The age of true interactive entertainment is here.

——-

And to show you what I mean, here is a bit of epic writing that turns the Mass Effect franchise into something more than alien fodder blasting or Space Opera Light:

Trust Me, I’m The Doctor

Okay, I am not the Doctor.

David Tennant was the Doctor.

Now Matt Smith is the Doctor.

Doctor Who that is!

Watched the first four episodes and Matt is a hit, and so it’s Karen Gillian who plays the latest in a long line of companions, Amy Pond. The inevitable comparisons to David are clear to see, but there is one thing that makes Matt stand out, confidence. He plays the role like he owns it, every word, even when he is acting out the confusion post regeneration screams “this is my role, this is my doctor, their have been 10 other doctors before, but this one is mine”. And that is exactly what the role needs. Over time people will adapt to his face wearing the suit, bow tie and boots, and hope for that the evident UST between him and his costar pays off.

Good luck on your journey Doctor, see you in the 51st Century.

——-

And now the theme from the show by Orbital:

Back in the saddle again

Yep, I’m back inside the electronic womb of Azeroth, the land of electronic milk and megabyte honey. One of million slaying beasts, exploring dungeons and collecting bear asses (I kid you not!)  Still, the environments are enriching, the world is huge and colorful and the designers are always upgrading the experience which leads to a lot of complaints about nerfing, that is that which was once powerful (abilities) or hard to get (mount, special pets, etc) now it’s easy or underpowered. But I understand that you need to change things constantly, otherwise the game becomes stale. And even after five years you don’t need to invest in a AlienWare(tm) gaming rig to play the game.

Still, after awhile it becomes more of the same; the same quests, the same locations, the same objectives. I done the guild thing and the encounter thing. No high level dungeons, but then again, each expansion wipes out the thrill of legendary dungeons with more, over the top locations. Still pretty to look at, but as someone who enjoys solo play (and was once had a severe addiction to WoW), it has run its course. Now I’m back to visit, the way Scrooge visited his childhood home. Nice memories revisited, but I doubt I would pay to return.

Time to move on.

And talking about WoW based memories, here is an old one from days gone by:

My Game Review: Munchkin The Card Game

The online Urban Dictionary defines Munchkin as:

3) The most annoying roleplayers you’ll ever have to deal with, who characteristically max out their stats, mostly without reprecations (sp?), play to mindlessly kill anything in their paths and boss the rest of your players around, and get as many dots or levels as possible. Most don’t really develop their characters’ personalities.

It also defines the theme of the game of the same name. The goal of the game is to reach level 10 by any means (both foul and fair), as befits its namesake. The game comes with two stacks of cards: Doors and Treasures. The players start with four cards (two of each) and play in a clockwise sequence from whomever rolled the highest number. Then game starts:

1. Pick a Door Card: If it’s a monster you must fight it or run away. You win if your total score (Level + Item bonuses) exceeds the creatures level. If you loose or choose not to fight the monster then you must run away. You successfully run away on a roll of 5-6 on a d6.  Failure means that Bad Stuff happens to you (each monster has a short description on the bottom telling you what that is). Success means you gain a level (or more if the monster says so) and you take it’s treasure.

2. Look for Trouble: If there was no monster, but you have a monster you can play it then, so you can fight it and try to gain levels and treasure.

3. Loot the room: If you successfully defeated a monster then you get to draw a number of treasure card from the Treasure card pile. You can play then right there or save them.

Fighting monsters is not the only way to gain levels. For every 1,000gp worth of equipment you sell (discard) you gain a level, and other cards give you level raises. The thing is that you can only win (reach level 10) by killing a monster or (if they are clerics) by a card called Divine Intervention.

Races and Classes come from the Door pack, and players can choose to be any class or race (and even have more than one with the right card). It may seem like winning this game is easy, but other players can ruin your game by boosting enemies, throwing down curses, stealing treasures or backstabing (last two abilities belong to the thief). Also you can draw curses from the stack which can wipe out your items or even take you down back to the lowest average level among the players. Cooperation is also encourage by the promise of sharing loot (only the player that drew a monster can gain a level) and in the case of Elves, by assisting other players in combat (only one player can assist another, but everyone else can dump on them if they want).

The cards are illustrated by John Kovalic (of Dork Tower fame, well fame among the RPG playing set that is) and are rife with gamer humor such as: Duck of Doom (curse), Lawyer (monster, won’t attack thieves out of professional courtesy), Gazebo (monster), Sex Change (curse), Pantyhose Of Power (+3 item not usable by Fighters) and many others. It is a fast paced game for 2-6 players and with a galaxy of expansions and sets (Munkchin in Space, Superheroes, Horror and Pirates) it won’t get boring anytime soon.

——

And no for some more gamer induced humor I present The Gamers:

Hardening Sci-Fi without turning it into a fossil

Sci-fi is all the rage these days. Made a sneaky comeback (or not) with Star Trek: NextGen and grew in popularity during the 90s until today. However, it is, by enlarge, on the soft side of the scale (downright mushy if you ask me). In the beginning (somewhere in the middle of of the 19th century) science fiction was truly speculative  fiction. New scientific discoveries accelerated the pace of technological advancement. They in turn opened up a universe of possibilities for adventure in far away places, like Venus, Mars, or the moons of Saturn. When man managed to reach earth orbit, hard science fiction became popular and distinct from the softer fluff of pulp fiction, which came to be known as space opera (as in soap opera).

The authors like Arthur C. Clarke took a hard look at the science in front of them and extrapolated entire universes bound by the laws of physics.  Overtime the science became a straight jacket to story telling and confined sci-fi to a sub-class of hardcore fans. Meanwhile franchises like Start Trek and Star Wars (who turned the concept of space opera upside down) went the other way and opened up the genre to millions of fans worldwide. Yet even after they encouraged a new generation of scientist and technologist to go farther in their fields, they still scratched their heads, “But that doesn’t work that way!

Hollywood sci-fi has gotten so fluffy that all it takes to call something sci-fi is for the producers to declare,  “X IN SPACE” or “Y IN THE FUTURE“. Now not all shows or movies trend that way (recent SW and ST movies not withstanding). A few examples show that you can have a enough science to spice up your narrative without being strap down to a table for a extended session of electroshock therapy at the hands of astrophysicist screaming “THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE!”

Examples include: Firefly (no sound in space, not FTL), BSG/B5 (Newtonian Physics which makes for some cool space dogfights) and a few others (feel free to insert your own examples). By adding a few bits of real science you can break the mold and make your show cool again. Doesn’t mean you have to jettison all the softer parts (artificial gravity, FTL, space dogfights),  especially if you need them to make the story work for you. Just be careful that you keep it consistent and don’t abuse the applied phlebotinum.

In other words, you can still use science to wow your audience without pretending you care for the actual science.

By way of example, look at this short video. If that is not a gorgeous sight perfect for any sci-fi (or even fantasy) story, I don’t know what is:

Web Tools for Your RPG Campaing- Obsidian Portal

I found (via the Penny Arcade news page) a new web based site for tracking and keeping notes about pencil-and-paper RPG campaigns. Its called Obsidian Portal. According to their home page:

Obsidian Portal allows you to create Dungeons and Dragons campaign websites and other tabletop role-playing games. Rather than trying to automate the playing of the game, Obsidian Portal provides tools to help facilitate the storytelling. Every campaign gets a shared blog/wiki to showcase their story, as well as integrated tools to help track NPCs, locations, treasure, and all the other minutae that makes up an RPG. Check out this video for more details.

Basically you can upload background information, maps (in jpeg format) and all the minutia of your current campaign. It need not be a D&D campaign or for that matter an RPG at all (great for fantasy/sci-fi world building) and the service is free (although if you want to use the full features you need to “upgrade”). So far I found it useful if nothing else a backup for my own files in case the worse happens. For example, I uploaded this map of one of the locations for my upcoming campaign (made with the Neverwinter Nights 1 Aurora engine, however my copy of NVW went kaput, so I lost the ability to create more 3D maps!). Feel free check out my campaign page here.

 

And now for some over the top anime action!