Category Archives: LGBT Related

Weekly Wyrm ~ Kiss This, Blizzard. Pulitzer Prize For PoE.

pillars of eternity dialog imagePillars of Eternity released a week ago and received strong reviews online with a Metascore of 91%, handily slaying Dragon Age: Inquisition, which stands at a respectable 85%.

I just now purchased PoE, and I’m looking forward to playing it tonight. Obsidian released the first patch for PoE, 1.03 on Steam this morning.

The game is built on the Baldur’s Gate isometric Infinity Engine. The writing is supposedly brilliant. A reviewer on Steam said the writing team of Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer, Feargus Urquhart et. al. should win a Pulitzer Prize.

I watched Cohh stream PoE for a few hours last weekend. I was impressed by PoE, even if the game looks a little too familiar at times.

PoE uses a text/voice combo to convey the story, setting, and characters. Since the arrival of full voice-overs (ESO and SWTOR), I’ve really been a defender of text. I hope game history will show that a combo like PoE is better than full voice-overs.

PoE uses a writing style that includes a lot more action and emotes in the text than ‘normal’, which is very interesting. I personally use a lot of action tags (or beats), in my fiction.

pillars of eternity dialog imageAction conveyed through text may also offer a cheap substitute for facial animations in a game where you can’t see the faces well.

I remember facial animations being a part of marketing for Fallout 2, a game made way back in 1998 by the same developers as PoE, when Avellone and Urquhart were helming Black Isle Studios.

PoE is going on the cheap, replacing the animated faces with text descriptions (and probably an animator with a writer, which doesn’t happen often enough). PoE was kickstarted for 4 million. I wonder how that budget compares to Fallout 2.


Torment: Tides of Numenera


If you like PoE or this genre, don’t forget that Torment: Tides of Numenera is also scheduled to release this year, and it’s also a Chris Avellone (and others) writing production.

Torment is supposed to be “primarily story-driven, giving greater emphasis on interaction with the world and characters, with combat and item accumulation taking a secondary role.”

Tides also has an award-winning erotica writer on its staff, while PoE offers no scripted, evolving character romances. For me, this is a strike against PoE, and this issue literally pulled my paw back from the buy button at one point last weekend.

It’s fantastic to see this classic genre making a comeback. I’m worried that PoE has lots of strategic combat. Wave after wave of enemies were the reason I quit playing Wasteland 2 and Baldur’s Gate Enhanced, and also the reason I didn’t buy Diablo 3 on a 50% off sale last weekend.

Thankfully PoE offers an “easy” mode. So, we’ll see.

Escapist dropped an article this week on eight amazing isometric RPGs. I’ve played them all except Divinity. Torment should be on the list instead of Icewind Dale, in my opinion.


Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain


So what made me buy PoE today? Hearthstone’s Blackrock Mountain released yesterday.

I logged in ready to play what I’d paid for, but only one wing released. Why would I want to play just 20% of an 8-hour (or whatever) expansion, once per week, for the next month and a half?

I asked in the forums why Blizzard is releasing Blackrock strung out in little weekly pieces like a TV serial, and my legitimate question was insulted and buried in immature negativity.

Blizzard also put a new daily quest in Hearthstone this week – a quest that makes you watch a friend win a game to complete your quest. This quest isn’t a special one-timer.

It’s implemented on purpose to fill up one of your three slots – annoying you, hindering your questing, re-appearing if you reroll it, and most importantly – getting you to invite your friends.

Blizzard is also sweetening their expansion by advertising a “free” card back, while calling the card back a “limited edition” in their advertising. New card backs come out all the time. They have no real value.

I borrowed some ‘friends’ off of the forums, but this whole scene just feels really manipulative suddenly. Hearthstone is Free-To-Play, but I’ve been paying. For some reason I expected more class from Blizzard.


Elder Scrolls: Online


So I’m done with Hearthstone. I’ve just downloaded 14GB of Pillars of Eternity, and I’m also back playing Elder Scrolls Online.

I was happy to see a revamped starting sequence in Elder Scrolls that helps you establish a friend in Lyris and connect with real emotion. It’s working much better. The story is still a little opaque, but hardly more so than Rift, and it’s more personal.

In this week of headline news about Indiana’s new laws allowing religious discrimination against LGBTQ people, I’m also pleased to support Elder Scrolls because Zenimax/Bethesda supports the LGBT community. So happy gaming, whatever you’re playing.


More Reading on Pillars of Eternity:


Overview Video of Pillars of Eternity on MMORPG


Elder Scrolls: A Hearty Alchemy

shrooms

I’m two weeks into Elder Scrolls online, and I’m having fun. Some of my opinions haven’t changed since beta: beautiful scenery, average story, and profitable, although they’ve postponed console releases until next winter.

The public verdict on ESO seems to be that it does nothing better than any other MMO, but it’s a solid, enjoyable package. I agree, and all of the bugs I saw in beta are gone.

My beta report said caveat emptor, but now it’s two kitty thumbs up. Jump in at a discount. I want to talk a little about the game writing, combat, Fallout, Dragon Age, and this and that.


ESO: Combat Is Better When–


You play a Templar. Why? Because with spells and a weapon, you have two resource pools to strategize and use (stamina with weapon, magicka with spells.)

I can’t imagine playing ESO as a one-pool class after playing my Templar. There’s no going back. The game is also a perfect challenge for me so far. Mages and Dragon Knights look like they have it too easy.

I’m trying to play my Templar like a LotRO Captain. Support, off tanking and healing. We’ll see how that goes. I was happy to find out there are oodles of theoretical skill points. You aren’t as restricted as I’d feared.

You can craft like a gnome on crack if that’s your brand of gaming hat.


Elder Scrolls: Writing Weaknesses


I often harp about my Smiling Jack concept (borrowed from Vampire: Bloodlines, maybe the best example I’ve ever seen). When you get into the game, you have a smiling, sympathetic friend who shows you the ropes, not just pop-up tutorials to follow.

Elder Scrolls Online doubles up and gives you two interesting friends: the Prophet and Lyris Titanborn, notably voiced by Michael Gambon and Jennifer Hale.

The problem is that you find no emotional connection or camaraderie with them. It’s very cold, and the story isn’t about your character. Neither one of these people give the impression of caring about me, although the stakes are high and dramatic. I can say that.

In fact, the last mini-dungeon story episode was about Lyris Titanborn and her experiences and past. Well, what about my past? Where is my soul and all that? It’s off track.

And then, on a particular low-level questline in Morrowind, the NPCs make a big deal about you being a great hero, a saviour. It just seemed off-key and unbelievable to me at level 8 or 9.

The issue with limited writing is the voice-overs. There just isn’t enough forested real estate (dialogue “trees”) to say everything or have a real dialogue with real conversational choices like in Vampire: Bloodlines, and meanwhile the voices of Hale and Gambon aren’t empathetic. So.


Idea: Make Two Versions Of MMOs!


MMO devs of the world, here’s an idea for you: write your MMO in text first, and then boil down the text into voice over synopses, and give players a choice.

Players can play the unedited director’s cut, or they can play the Hollywood version.

Why not? The writers write a long version in the first place. It’s called the second draft. Then everything is edited and cut several times over for voice. Just delineate a boundary where everything goes into the text.

The effort will half pay for itself in saved bandwidth if you offer separate downloads. Writers will be happy dancing if they are worth their salt. Players will exchange lore back and forth, lore that will seem special.


Elder Scrolls: So What’s Next?


I have no idea. Due to a ridiculous persisting bug, beta players are denied forum write access. That includes this kitty, so here is my furry finger. (Yes, you can file a ticket, whatever.) I’ll say this.

The game needs more classes desperately, more than Neverwinter did. Four classes is not enough.

A better auction solution is still needed. Everyone agrees the guild stores are horrible. It can’t even be a girly bargain-bin delving game without properly functioning search features. Geez.


Fallout Online?


Where is Fallout at the moment? Bethesda gained the rights to a Fallout MMO from Interplay a few years ago. After all of the resources and investment Zenimax (Bethesda’s parent company) is putting into Elder Scrolls on PC and the next gen consoles, it would seem foolish not to use that experience to push forward and leverage a post-apocalyptic Fallout campaign.

I’m hoping to hear something about this at next year’s E3. What about this year’s E3? Oh, was there one? I almost didn’t notice.


Class Dependency In MMOs


Mark Kern wrote an article last week for MMORPG, and I thought it was horrible. The thesis is that MMO classes are being homogenized and class dependencies are being quashed for soloability, but really for profit.

The author argues that “it’s worth it to invest R&D in this area.”

Really? R&D? He talks about MMOs being effectively single player these days. This is an example of vaguely false exaggerations made for the sake of writing out a controversial article.

What’s killing class dependencies isn’t soloability and homogenization per se through self-heals, aggro management, personal CC, and general survivability. It’s dumbing down, reducing the need for skill, and giving players only 6 skills to use at a time. That forces all of the other stuff out the window.

It isn’t necessary to “strip away a lot of the identity and customization and role that the class used to offer.” You can have both like in LotRO, except no. Apparently we can’t handle that, certainly not on our couches with console controllers.

Unless you want to argue ESO has class dependencies because tanks and healers are needed, then dumbing down is my final answer. You say chicken, I claim egg.


Dragon Age: Inquisition Angry Joe Interview


Angry Joe posted an interview today with the producer of DA:Inquisition. I’m excited for this game.

The game will give you a combat choice this time. Choices are the future, we players can only hope. You can play top-down tactical like in DA:Origins with better camera controls, or go with actiony combat like in DA2.

DA:Inquisition will have an epic story, but also a big breach in the sky with demons pouring out. You take the good with the bad when it comes to sky rifts and cliches.

You’ll be managing the resources of your organization, which I’ve never been into in a single player RPG. It’s hard to feel like any of that gathering and building makes any difference when the game is going to end in a few hours.

Managing a keep-like housing facility in an MMO? Purr. Now that’s something I’d like to see, and I’m keeping my eye on Blizzard’s Draenor expansion for that.

Leliana plays a big part in Dragon Age:Inquisition! Yay. I’m not super thrilled with her new look, but we can ease into that topic later in our relationship. You know how it goes.

In related news, David Gaider, lead writer for Dragon Age, last month affirmed Bioware’s commitment to supporting LGBTQ characters and romances.

So duck and roll, I might vomit a rainbow. I’m feeling better. I think. Thanks for reading. Have a cookie and five gold kitty stars if you got this far. Happy gaming.

gold stars


Tumblr Gaming Blog Of The Week

I don’t know what else to call these posts, but Fereldanwench‘s gaming-related Tumblr blog is pretty awesome. It’s also labeled NSFW (Not Safe For Work 18+). I’ll flop that up front.

In fact, this blog taught me the word “apostitute“, which is the most startling, remarkable, and rich neologism I’ve cognized in a while, a fusion of the Dragon Age term “apostate” and the obvious.

And Ferelden (with an ‘e’) is of course a geographical kingdom in Dragon Age. I liked the author’s post below. The original link to her enthusiastic caption is here.

Ferelden Wench is also a cosplayer, with some Saint’s Row and some DA2 Isabela to her credit.

It’s nice to see someone re-appropriating the word “wench”. If bitch and **** can get done, it will be a triumph.

dragon age 2 lesbian screenshot


Something Coveted, Something Queer

I haven’t gamed much in recent days. Rift is going slow. I’m giving up dual-boxing. Too time-consuming. Round two of Summer Festival quests were also too time-consuming, so I gave up on the festival too.

Back to leveling.

I was reading Syp’s blog tonight (Biobreak) and noticed he made a few lists: 10 most wanted games and 30 weird things he has in his office (an impressive list–the “life-size” Beaker made me do a double-take).

I’m inspired to write a blog post, having noticed Syp left off at least one important RPG. I’ll shoot for only four things though. My office/studio is minimalist.


Top 4 Kitty-Coveted Upcomers:

  1. The Elder Scrolls Online. It’s everything I don’t want in a blockbuster AAA fantasy MMO title (PvP focus, console, dumbed-down few skills, no mini-map, active block and dodge), but it’s still Elder Scrolls. The good news: low expectations are the best way to enjoy a new MMO, and gone are the days when I play an MMO as a major life commitment, anyway.
  2. Torment: Tides of Numenera. It’s featured on the cover of this month’s PC Gamer, which is great. It raised a cool 4.2 million on Kickstarter, which was like a nuclear bomb of RPG fan-power going off. The non-D&D IP (setting) is concerning, but it still looks interesting. I’ll give it a chance. Excited by this title.
  3. Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls. (Expected title.) The first expansion to Diablo 3 is in the news currently, and after listening to the Diablo 2 soundtrack almost daily on my playlist at work, I’m starting to feel a burn to take the battle to Hell. I haven’t played D3 at all. I pledged to play it because Blizzard incorporated all classes as female-playable. Technically, the only reason I haven’t bought it yet is because it isn’t on Steam, and I’m lazy.
  4. Dragon Age 3. I found out not long ago (the video clip Bioware/EA released in June) that my estimated release date was a year off. Bummer dude! The good news: you can play more races than just human. I like the idea of your character becoming the leader of a faction/cult. So you’re still important, but you’re not saving the world. You can also choose the way your organization develops, just like your character. It’s a fabulous idea to add this second level of choice and roleplay. I hope it works.

Top 4 Queer Kitty Office Decor:

  1. A styled mannequin head wearing white bunny ears with pink satin lining. She’s cute. She never ages a day. She always has an enigmatic smile on her face.
  2. A Wooden Clothes Pin Inked To Look Like A Dragon. This was inked by an actual queer person who I love very much, except she unfriended me on Facebook, so now I sort of hate her despite the chocolate chip cookies she baked for me. It’s my fault. That’s all I can be sure of.
  3. Psych DVD Box Set (Complete Season Three). Two guys. One should be gay, but apparently he is in denial. These DVDs are from the library. I’m not a huge fan of this silly show, but I could use a laugh or two. I would rather be watching Dexter, Lost Girl, or True Blood, but I’ve seen all episodes of all seasons and do not pay for cable.
  4. A Box Full Of Earring Parts Labeled “Earrings” With Sparkle Silver Lettering. Ok, that’s really the best I can do unless you count the paintings on the walls, but this blog is PG-rated. I also have an easel, a cherry wood easel chair from Vermont, and some cabinets that store art supplies and trophies from my victims. Psych! Ok, back to watching.


Kick-Ass Female Characters

AfterEllen.com posted a list of the top 65 female fantasy characters today. This follows a previous list of the top 40 female sci-fi characters.

I’m fine with neglecting Selene from Underworld (Kate Beckinsdale), but it’s silly to leave Hit Girl (from the actual movie Kick-Ass) off the kick-ass list.

As Angry Joe noted last Saturday, Chloe Moretz will reprise her role as Hit Girl this week as Kick-Ass 2 releases on Aug. 16th.

I really hope this movie is, well, good. I loved the first one. It’s one of the few superhero movie franchises I follow, along with X-Men, which has still more kick-ass women not on the lists. Toby MacGuire is boring. Hulk who?

Iron Man and those Norse god guys were ok and entertaining for a once-through, but I haven’t been back yet for the sequels. I do need to dial up the new Superman movie since Joe says an evil superwoman kicks Superman’s ass. I have to see that.

So Molly Weasley and Mary Poppins are listed but not Phoenix or Kitty Pryde? Since when did the lesbian establishment stop drooling over Ellen Page? Don’t forget her performance as the superheroine Boltie in Super, another good movie that threw a bone to Kick-Ass fans who were waiting forever for this sequel.

I was thinking just today at work about doing a review column that includes movies and discusses kick-ass female characters. I’m watching a movie tonight called Cat Run which features an assassin who cuts off noses and fingers, among other things, and leveled her sniper rifle skill to the max.

It’s rare to see a movie with such a wide variety of interesting characters of both sexes. Yes, the movie could be better. but Cat Run starring Paz Vega still wins a 8/10 review with a BAD KITTY STAMP OF APPROVAL.

I haven’t watched the end of Cat Run yet because I keep starting over, but that’s how everyone reviews MMOs these days, so why not movies too.