Archive for February, 2008

How I get by without a PC.

February 20, 2008

So I was without a computer more-or-less for the first 5 days or so. I was keeping myself busy with Zelda: Wind Waker for the most part; I challenged myself to beat the game with 3 hearts and the 1 bottle they force you to take – a minimalist challenge. The game wasn’t really challenging me much, I was only killed once but that was because I was distracted but my bottled fairy brought be back – so it doesn’t count. I last saved just before a series of Phantom Ganon monsters near the end of the game. It passed some time.

I made a couple of purchases the night after my rig went, and wound up spending about $200. I bought three Dungeons & Dragons v3 core rulebooks: Player’s Manual, Dungeon Master’s Manual, and Monster Manual. Now I haven’t read them all through yet – it feels way too much like studying and not enough like fun. I’m more surprised that it took me until I was 30 to buy any of these! What kind of nerd hasn’t bought the D&D core rulebooks? Well now I’ve got them in my library. I’ve been trying to get around to making up some characters and doing a small “kick in the door” dungeon RP by myself, to practice the basics of combat and char creation. I’m sure I’ll post about that when I get there.

I also wound up buying a theme deck and 75 card addition pack of Magic: The Gathering. I used to play this every once in a while in university, but I found myself preferring the simpler Pokemon card game. While I’ve got a binder of Pokemon cards, (three inches thick with them!) I still decided to take a shot again with MTG. I sat down with the proprietor of the store I purchased them at and we had two games. He apparently had put together an Artifact themed deck. I frustrated him badly in the first game, but apparently my social skills hadn’t rusted badly enough that I couldn’t bring him around for a second game. We had a nice, even match and his deck finally worked out for him. That was good times, and I look forward to it again.

I found myself hanging out with one of my neighbors in the apartment downstairs, and found out that her boyfriend was taking a digital media course in the local community college. He has a couple of books and a copy of Maya. He’s quite a bit better than I am, which makes sense to me because he’s been more focused on it than I’ve been. It’s a different thing to talk to someone in real life about this kind of thing, I just haven’t ever met anyone that was even half as interested in these things as I am. I highly recommend it.

As if to trump that, she and her boyfriend had some friends over on the weekend – and one of them worked at an Animation Studio. We bored our girlfriends something awful, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a friday night than talking about How Bad Anime Is from an animator’s point of view, over some drinks. Actually, if I could shift the topic to things Video Game -related I think that’d probably do me in. My mind couldn’t handle that kind of awesomeness.

Well, I’m back up and running (and backed up!) thanks to someone’s big heart. He probably won’t read this, so I won’t get all mushy and bleary-eyed over it. I owe him a drink. Or two. It turned out that the HDD in the rig I was using went, but I recovered pretty much everything I thought I lost. And then I promptly burned off 4 dvds of the stuff. My records show that the last time I made a backup was back in 2003. I never should have waited that long. I’d like for anyone who is reading this, to leave a note about how they’ve got their backup scheme set-up. Some people I know are happy to rely on their CVS server, some people back up nightly. Please, share your preference. I’m going to cobble together a backup method soon. Also, mention the difference between Code and Assets and how you deal with each. You can’t really CVS a .png, you know?

Though I’ve gotten my stuff backed up and this new box is set to start coding on again, I’m in no rush to jump back into ActionRPG. I’m not sure why that is, actually. Maybe I’m suffering from the winter blues? Probably not. I think I’ve writtten enough for now. Take it easy.

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Back to sharing computers

February 7, 2008

My main dev box finally bit the biscuit. That effectively halts any and all progress I could be making on my stuff – as well as my PC gaming. I’ll probably be installing Fate on this box (gf’s PC) just to try to maintain my sanity. Not sure what’s gonna happen from here, there’s no way I can afford a new one right now. I might have to pump gas for a while until I’ve got enough money to get something more reliable.

I’ll be around.

Planitia Demo released!!

February 4, 2008

Woohoo, now we get to play with Viridian’s work-in-progress, Planitia! I was playing around with it and took this screenshot:

 plantitiass200802042249.png

“Help, we’ve fallen into the water and we can’t get up!”

Hehe. That’ll learn them farmers. Move around and bore your god will you? Only a shot of lightning will entertain him.. and send you flying! Only.. you forgot to go back to your farms for some reason. Oh well. BAZOOMF! Hee hee!

Fate

February 3, 2008

Here’s something interesting that I’ve never seen before, the You Died screen:

 fatess200802031920.png

Also, I love mimics. They’re generally super-hard to kill no matter what game they’re in, but I just freakin love them. Look at this one! Isn’t it just the cutest thing you ever did see? I’d love to have one for a pet sometime in a game.

fatess200802031939.png fatess200802031943.png

Fate

February 2, 2008

The third game I bought was called Fate. I had downloaded a demo before and played it, and thats really what hooked me.. but I just never got around to buying the game. Well now I have it and I don’t want to put it down. You can’t know a game is of this calibre until you find yourself being able to make a character that looks like this:

 fatess200802022045.png

If I could afford a red hat (and have the stats to equip it), I’d be one whoop-ass santaman. I actually started with a girl that looked somewhat like my girlfriend, but she isn’t much to look at right now.

I mean, I don’t even know where to start about how great this game is. Take all of the things that make Diablo great, and then stuff a whole bunch more into it. The game looks great, plays great… MAN! I may be a whore for Fate, but.. well, I don’t have a good ending for that statement.

How about we start by taking a look at the other screenshot I took:

fatess200802022008.png

I’ve got JayCee beating up on a pretty heavily-stacked Level 5 special monster called Nightreaper to complete a quest. The thing is huge and has some sort of double-sized shape that looks like its made of lighting. I had a hard time taking this thing down, until.. See that gryphon there? Yeah. That’s my cat Mittens. Bitch say whaaat?

One of the fun things about this game is the pets. You choose a cat or dog when you create your character (see Spot up there by my steelgolem-ey santaman?). Your pet levels up as it gains exp from things. You can also use it as a pack-mule and equip some jewelry to it if you want. Well any fish you catch (oh yeah, you can fish in this) can be fed to the pet for varying effects. Every fish I’ve caught so far changes pets into another creature. The gryphon above gets +40-+50 for a bunch of stats added on. Mittens pretty much killed the miniboss there in 2 or 3 swipes.

There isn’t any kind of skill tree to walk through in this, just a list of different skills you can improve at any level-up. The game’s “special abilities” come exclusively in the form of spells only, like in Diablo1. But thats fine by me.

I’ll wrap this up now. I want to play some more. Love this game.

Restricted Area

February 2, 2008

I played a little bit with the other three characters. One is a japanese guy specializing in kung-fu and swordplay; I didn’t play with him for very long. One is a girl with a leather bra and miniskirt who uses psychic abilities like psy-bolts and mind control. A little more interesting, but I’ve never been a big fan of the mage classes in these.

The fourth character is a hacker. She’s by far the most interesting character in the game for me, because she can access cyberspace:

 restrictedareass200802021703.png

I’ve got my hacker working at breaking in and getting something. The letters aren’t meaningful at all, it just randomly picks letters each frame and shows them to represent the hacking process. There are a whole bunch of things you can gain by doing this. The only super-useful thing I’ve found so far is that you get your maps completely uncovered for you, which is really great for finding the next stair down. You can also find money this way too, though I haven’t really found a super-good use for money yet. You can’t usually buy decent equipment, you wind up being more likely to find them when you kill monsters.

The only other thing I figured worth mentioning is that this is the first Diablo clone I’ve played that had useful exploding barrels. And are they ever! Check this out:

 restrictedareass200802021704.png restrictedareass200802021705.png

You can aggro a whole bunch of monsters and just run along toward your goal until you pass some barrels. Then you run around the barrels until enough of the monsters are gathered, and BOOM. Easy experience and items, good times for all (except those poor bastards I just killed.)

Restricted Area

February 2, 2008

The second of the three games I bought, Restricted Area, is a game made by a company called Master Creating. I mentioned it in irc.starchat.org/#gamedevelopers and gbgames mentioned that he knew them before they got big, and was talking about a game they made before they got big a long time back. Since I’m reviewing my first impressions of Restricted Area, I’ll stick to that for now – but now I have two more games I want to collect.

restrictedareass200802021258.png

The best way I can explain Restricted Area would be that it’s a mix between Diablo and Shadowrun SNES. It’s set in a future where the 5 Big Companies have pretty much taken over govornment, and the quality of life has fallen through. There are four characters you can choose from, each with their own story. All four play differently enough to be called classes, but I only tried out the shotgun guy so far.

Gameplay is pretty simplistic. You find the guy in the suit at the top of the town map and accept a new mission, then you go to the guy with the transportation at the bottom to fly to the mission location. So far I’ve only had “just kill everything” missions, but I think there’s escort missions too – which tend to be not much more than “kill everything and make sure npc doesn’t die”.

The game has a skill tree you can advance through to specialize your character, much like other modern actionRPG games do. What really makes this game interesting to me though, is the equipment system:

 restrictedareass200802021259.png

Your inventory fills up with equippable body parts! Look at all those arms! I should have started a new character and ran around a little bit – you start off getting very meaty-looking arms and legs. They even make splat noises when they fall to the ground. I don’t know if I want to be wearing an arm that fell off of a mutant into the dirt. And then think of what a bag of said meaty arms and legs would smell like! The flies, oh god THE FLIES

All 5 of the a-fore-mentioned Big Companies produce these cybernetic parts. The Cyber Heart that I have selected is made by the company Life Tec. If you have equipped parts from the same company, you’ll gain stat increases in the same way as multiple Set Items in other actionRPGs. The difference here is that there’s only 5 sets, and all items belong to a set – so you’re bound to gain Set Item Bonuses at a much higher rate. If for nothing else, this game merits reward for being unique in that respect.

Aside from that there isn’t much for me to talk about. It’s a plain vanilla actionRPG. The graphics are pretty nice, but somewhat repetitive. So is the gameplay. They didn’t deviate from the norm much, and in many ways that’s a good thing. When I’ve tried out the other characters a bit, I’ll probably have more to talk (or complain) about.

Dungeon Seige II

February 1, 2008

I installed Dungeon Seige II first, and played it for about 6 hours. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I fucking love this game. I probably won’t find myself saying I love it more than I love Diablo, but I’ll still say its a pretty great game. I’ll comment in the order that topics come into my head.

Sound 

The voice acting isn’t great most of the time, but it’s bearable enough. One (maybe two) of the voice actresses are awesome, though. I’ve found myself clicking on girls and canceling the conversation repeatedly, just to hear their voicing. In the dryad town you start in, for example, one of the guards are named Helpful Dryad Guard or something like that. She asks you if you know where you’re going in this really sweet voice. I love you, Helpful Dryad Guard. I’ll be watching for the voice actresses’ names when the credits roll.

Graphics

The rig I got from dad seems to be holding up fairly well. I think I’m at maximum graphics minus shaders, and I turned the filtering down to bilinear. It looks great to me. Right at the start I realized I wasn’t even paying attention to the graphics and I stopped where I was and took a look around. They had a dead dragon making up part of the wall of the ‘room’ I was in! Cool!

I also appreciate that they’ve got the map transitions (somewhat) seamless. Maybe I’m not used to seamless map transitions yet? Final Fantasy XII and Odin Sphere didn’t do it, and those are probably the newest games I’ve played. Titan Quest does, and it might be newer.. Anyways, I’m still not used to it. And its in this, a 2004 release, which says all sorts of things about games released post-2k4 that still need to do a hard-clear of memory to get the next section of the game loaded up.

Interface

There’s alot to take in when you’re faced with a new UI, but they took quite a few cues from the standard as I understand it. The point-and-click on things interface provides you with nice icons and text telling you what you can do. The stats, inventory, and skill windows are also self-explaining. They provide you with tips, and a journal that tracks all sorts of stuff for you so you always have a place you can go to immediately when you need info.

Learning new key mappings is never fun, but finding out very useful key shortcuts is also rather rewarding. I’m still having trouble with quickly switching between characters, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before I get used to it (or learning more of the shortcut keys).

One of the things that detracts from the experience for me is the fact that there’s just so many things to have to juggle. In Diablo, you have one character and maybe some pets, but you don’t have to give the pets stat points or work on them like you have to with your main character. The most you have to do is manage their equipment, and I really don’t mind that at all. When I play Dungeon Siege, I have to remember what kind of character I’m trying to build multiple times over. I may appreciate later on that I can build two or three characters at a time, but they just dump all of it in your lap right away. It’s overwhelming.

Overall

I’d give this game a 9/10 rating right now. Did I mention I really like some of the voicing? Well, I really do.