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Happy Holidays 2021

Well, this has been a dumpster fire of a year, unless you were holding a lot of stocks and crypto, or maybe if you were an Olympic athlete. We were trying to sail forward on the blue seas, but then we had the delta and now the omicron, and it’s a bit much.

I got my booster shot this last week, and had a bad reaction. It sucked. I resubbed to WoW TBC: Classic recently, but my finger pain is keeping me from playing. Feral druid is maybe the worst thing you can do to sore fingers.

I want to play Druid in WoW. I want to play Warden on Treebeard in LotRO. These are both LOL finger tendon killers.

It turns out it’s hard to find a good single-player shooter in 2021, much less one with a playable female protagonist. I don’t vibe with Borderlands cartoon style. Saint’s Row 2 graphics are horrible. I want to shoot things, so I installed and played Fallout 4, but it’s a bit slow. (These were my candidates looking for games last night.) Maybe I need to try Control again.

The Saint’s Row reboot and Vampire Bloodlines 2 keep getting delayed, and I’m not ready for a second playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077, which I finished with a Corpo backstory and ending choice. Great game! I wish there was more.

I’m still working diligently on oil paintings, and I’m also very depressed. So at least my inner elf-ness is a solid mess. I just received the book Middle English Romances, a Norton Critical Edition. I’m hoping to do some literature reading/research over the holidays.

The medieval knight and damsel/princess is the beloved genre of Connor, a main companion in my RPG project. I thought I’d read the genre more so I can write him better.

Tonight I’ve uploaded a new update for Elven Academy. This includes completed, translated, and playtested versions of module B1: Down The Rabbit Hole, and D2: The Geomancer’s Deathtrap.

These two modules took me most of 2021 to create. They contain my best writing yet in Down The Rabbit Hole, and my best coding in Geomancer, which features two levels of a 3D wireframe maze.

In Rabbit Hole, the first module of Book 2, you return for more deliveries as a rabbit in the Peacock Queen’s domain.

This time you actually get to play through several deliveries, meeting various guests of the Queen. My favorite might be the pair of elves who call themselves “sages of the fifth grade” from Avalon, who actually test your wits using standard questions at the level of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.”

You can also sleep with a succubus or two, or an incubus if you are female, although I’ve decided to just not do any explicit sex or nudity. It’s honestly more fun to find random things to obscure nipples with.

I’m also making better use of save flags now, so any wanton, lusty choices in B1 may come back to haunt you a bit in chapter B2: The Queen’s Gambit, which I am currently working on. This is a more lighthearted holiday/Yule-themed module.

I’m starting to make better use of my character templates in B2 to provide a good array of choices for the character. I’m also trying harder to present more ethical/moral decisions. I hope to go back to earlier modules to add more ethical/moral decisions. This really isn’t as easy as it looks. It looks easy from an armchair, I guess.

As a reminder, my roleplay templates are Charming Good Mage/Bard, Neutral Ranger/Druid, and Cunning/Jaded Sorc/Necromancer. Each of these templates has a set of favored attributes that are used for saving rolls for respective choices as well.

Here are the full patch notes for this game update. I playtested the update just a bit on the live server and filled in some missing graphics files. There seems to be some server caching issues now on the JS files that I had to tweak, but hoping they will be cleared up tomorrow.

Patch Notes General:

Uploaded finished/updated versions of B1: Down The Rabbit Hole, and D2: The Geomancer’s Deathtrap. They still probably need more playtesting, especially in Spanish. But they should be playable to the end. D2 is a more difficult dungeon involving a number of combats, and might be quite a challenge for a weak new witch or wizard.

It appears the Spanish text still has a lot of typos and incorrect grammar throughout the game modules due to the fact that I test in English for speed and expediency. I spent some time reading through the Spanish translations and making corrections.

Restored health cost to casting spells, and enabled checks to disallow a spellcast that will zero your health pool.

Added a skip button to the intermezzo/aside/scene timeskip splash page. Skipping past skips … who has time to sit through time passage in 2021.

A1: Spanish playthrough, fixed so many embarrassing grammar errors and typos. Improved attribute telegraphing, improved dark side dialogue.

A2: Spanish playthrough, more cuts to bloated paragraphs, improved dark side dialogue.
The Divination spells are now based on Fortune attribute for Divination school, not Enchantment.
Added some poetry for Connor.
Added some roleplay coded options.
Added sound to Baralto’s Garden
Fix bug enabling becoming Connor’s girlfriend/boyfriend.

A3: Glumskayah is back to being a she-devil instead of prior change to a succubus. She will take a lower profile in Book 2 and be replaced by a succubus. Needs to attend trial for her executions of army incubi, which is seen as possibly overreaching her power by the patriarchal Hell’s Court. Her mission on the island was to set everything up, deal with all legal issues, and eliminate any opposition. With that mission accomplished, she will allow someone else to be the face of Hell’s Court.
Added some poetry for Connor.
Added references to a buried treasure on the island.

A5: Fixed various Glumskayah graphics to show an antique backpiece that silhouettes her head.

A7: Added ambient sounds to Glumskayah’s dungeon, added some module save flags. The fact that I can’t find much in this module to save as a flag for later reveals some weakness.
Added some options to flirt, to be kind, and to be rebellious.
Added some choices and fixed bugs to companion affection gains (and losses.)
Generally more work to make the module more fun and less passive.
Explained why Glumskayah trips when chasing you out of her dungeon.
Bug fixes.

B1: Additional options, Spanish edits, new music, new quest.
Fixed filepath bug preventing module completion and exit.
Fixed a few dialog inconsistencies.

D1: fixed several issues with death checking while taking damage, updated death screen.
D2: Completed the module. This is the largest and best module yet. Translated (2.5 days of work in itself.) Added new scenarios, completed the story satisfactorily. Playtested.


The New World MMO: Un-Masked

new-world

The past couple of days have delivered quite some drama from the New World development team. New World released cash shop plans, which included pay-to-win boosts. These boosts included leveling and crafting XP boosts.

The devs followed up yesterday with a clarification that the XP boosts were intended to be a trial only, and will not be in the game at launch. They would focus instead (initially) on quality of life items, cosmetics, and dyes.

(Most people won’t even notice the dyes, but what do they really mean? They mean crafting gameplay is cut or watered down so crafted items can be sold instead in the cash shop at launch.)

Kripparian on Twitter gives a concise summary of how much of a joke this is:

So they are creating a game on purpose with low quality of life, and they will then sell you extras in the store to alleviate the pain! This is nothing new, but it’s so barefaced and early that people are rightfully up in arms even after the clarification.

If you’re actually interested in delving into this drama, I would recommend watching Asmongold’s video on Youtube, at least minutes 2:30 to 6:30.

As an aside, Asmongold is a surprising voice for classic values in MMO’s. It’s odd to me, as a liberal, to be on the same side as people with ‘conservative values’ in this instance. Of course, we’ve been going down this degenerate cash shop road for several years now, so it’s interesting to see some major voices getting traction after all this time.

I played several hours of the New World beta and leveled to 20-something. It showed a lot of potential. It looked nice. So far I believe they’ve released info on one real dungeon, one new region, and some new weapons. Nonetheless, based on my knowledge, it’s almost impossible for this game to be as good or as large as either Rift or LotRO at launch.

Realistically, it can’t even be close, right?

The game is overrated due to everyone’s desperate hopes for a new great western-style MMO. Is it still worth playing if you don’t care about the cash shop in lieu of a subscription model? Sure. It might be worth the box price for a lot of people, but my memory of the beta is still pretty vivid.

In other news, Blizzard greatly slashed the absurdly greedy price of their Classic character copy service due to similar player outcry. I plan to play Burning Crusade pre-patch in the next week or so. I quit Hearthstone for good last fall when they introduced the Hearthstone Battle Pass.

New World is actually launching with a Battle Pass. Yeah. And then comes the slippery slope.  They will slowly add pay to win back in.  Then come the sales. Leveling is too tough? Buy a boost. Boost is too expensive? It’s 10% off today only. Still too expensive? It’s 20% off this week, 40% off if you buy a bundle. Etc. etc.  Such fun gameplay.

Good goddess, think of the children.  I’ve been saying that since LotRO went F2P years ago.

And Blizzard just had to go full greed in Classic with the deluxe collector’s edition and the expensive level boost. Blizzard claims the boost is to help people catch up to their friends, it’s good for the game, etc. etc. which we all know is B.S.. We have suspected or known about Burning Crusade for several months, plenty of time to level.

This is a sellout of a game people are playing because it isn’t sold out. But Blizzard couldn’t resist those modern-day opportunities to allow dollars.  If someone couldn’t make it to 60 the old fashioned way, they don’t deserve to continue. That’s my opinion.

Elder Scrolls – Oblivion looks enticing this year. Their companion system is releasing only two companions up front,  however, which seems very odd. It indicates better companions will be in the cash shop soon, like Neverwinter Nights.

l almost re-installed ESO today for the high elf experience, but then I thought about that good old skill bar with only 7 skills on it (or whatever). I’d be doing the same rotation over and over thousands more times. ESO is such a great-looking game, but they sort of ruined Elder Scrolls back in the Oblivion days by dumbing down everything for consoles.

Remember when instant ports all over the Tamriel map didn’t exist? Those were literally the best days. Naturally, the original Morrowind was far, far better than the carefully monetized, watered down expansion pack of the ESO rendition, although there were a few nice quest lines and dungeon areas in ESO: Morrowind to be sure.

So! I guess I’ll see you other old school types in Burning Crusade Classic in the next weeks.


Review of the Book of Erotic Fantasy: Eroticism in Fantasy RPG’s

It’s been six months since I blogged at KittyKittyBoomBoom. I do miss writing on this blog, but I really don’t have much to say about recent games. We haven’t had any big releases that I’ve been interested in.  Some will be coming soon. Here is a game writing post that I’m cross-posting from my new main blog.

I used to be fascinated by romance in fantasy RPG’s. I played through Baldur’s Gate 2 multiple times to experience the different romance arcs with Aerie, Jaheira, and Viconia. I’m happy that the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3 is continuing in that tradition.

I was very disappointed when SWTOR pulled some romance out of their game at launch. I was disappointed more recently that Planescape: Tides offered no romance arcs, especially since the lead writer was an erotica writer.

Recently I’ve considered taking my game project in a more R-rated direction, so I researched the Book of Erotic Fantasy. It is a very old D&D supplement under the OGL v1.0a. Here are my notes and reactions from the reading. Another, more exhaustive treatment is found here.

Basically, much of this text doesn’t merit a deep analysis, so let’s look mostly at the gems.

Review of the Book of Erotic Fantasy

The BoEF is broken into seven chapters: Love, Sex, and Roleplaying, Rules, Skills, and Feats, Base and Prestige Classes, Magic, Items, and Adventures and Organizations.

Most of the book consists of lists of spells, classes, creatures, and magical items for your adventure campaign. There is a list of 100 “Adventure Ideas”, but a lot of these ideas boil down to just “something happened”. The something is often: “it happened, good to know”, or “someone is raping and must be stopped.”

A few ideas were cute and doable, however, like the band of halflings that challenge the adventurers to a game of sexual endurance.

Humor was one of the main takeaways from this elder tome. Sex has always gone hand in hand with humor, and therein lies its most valuable asset, since we do play these games to have fun. So why isn’t sex more prominent in RPG’s? Here is my take on the problems.

  • Sex and romance offer poor gameplay. (Roll dice to see whether you have an orgasm, etc. is just lame.)
  • It doesn’t advance the main story.
  • It often doesn’t develop character unless done very well.
  • If used as a final reward to a story arc, it loses its ability to advance a story arc.

If we don’t boil sex down to just a reward, like banging the prince after you save him, then there are good reasons to have it: develop a character (NPC or PC), and advance a plot. Romantic titillation and roleplay in themselves are also valid, but not as powerful.

The BoEF touches on these issues in a few actually insightful paragraphs sprinkled into the text. Plot, character, and humor. I was disappointed in the “adventure ideas”, so I wrote some of my own, broken down into the categories where sex can actually be best used. Here are my starter lists that I brainstormed in an hour.

Ideas to develop a non-player character. The NPC:

  • Reveals something about the racial sexual customs in an interracial experience, possibly amusing.
  • Reveals poor character, i.e. implies it’s free, but now wants money, has a boss to threaten the PC with.
  • Reveals they are surprisingly the opposite personality in bed.
  • Reveals they are deeply vulnerable in some way, emotionally needy for some reason.
  • Reveals they have secrets on the pillow, i.e. this was the point of seducing the PC.
  • Reveals tattoos that tell a story about past deeds, exploits, beliefs, mottos.
  • Reveals tattoos or marks that indicate of a gang, a cult, physical abuse, sex work.
  • Reveals a prosthetic limb, an implant, a welded cuff or a collar suggesting wounds or an owner.
  • Reveals deformities, fur, or other evidence of non-human crossbreeding in family.
  • Reveals they are a shapeshifter or have an enchanted form, i.e. a dragon or someone really hideous.
  • Reveals they have a husband/wife/someone else really jealous.
  • Reveals they have a fetish, must have something specific to become aroused.
  • Reveals they have an STD. Sexual transmitted diseases are just not fun, unless you’re using them just to whimsically punish a player for fun. It could be used as a consequence of a failed saving roll, however.
  • Reveals they are conflicted about sex, they were trying to be chaste, etc.
  • Reveals they were a virgin, and now you’re in big trouble with someone or something.

Ideas to develop the player character. The PC:

  • Is allowed an actual love romance that leads to a long term relationship.
  • Is then allowed to recruit a henchman or henchwoman that provides perks in a relationship, or even bring them along on adventures.
  • Is allowed to feel powerful.
  • Is allowed to feel powerful by submitting.
  • Is allowed to be a prostitute for money, themselves.
  • Is allowed to use character skills in new and creative ways, if the sex scene is gameplayed.
  • In forming a relationship, creates conflict in terms of faithfulness, promises, and infidelity.
  • Offers a roleplay path to retiring a character to the married life in a castle, and possibly children which can form a new adventuring party.

Ideas to advance a plot through the NPC. The NPC:

  • Sleeps with the PC, but then falls more for another member of the party.
  • Is trying to use sex because they want something from the PC.
  • Is using the PC as an alibi for something.
  • Actually dies in the PC’s arms, leading to accusations of murder, or demonic possession.
  • Incapacitates the PC to steal a map, a book, treasure, horse, sword, etc.
  • Reveals a quest on the pillow. PC can offer help, or can try to get to the treasure first.
  • Insists that according to their cultural laws, they are now married to the PC (Firefly, etc.)
  • Reveals a life-threatening situation they are in, and their desperation for help.
  • Is trying to persuade the PC to join a cult, sex club, etc.. This leads to quests.

In many of these cases, the primary question becomes: what does the NPC want? If you establish powerful wants on the part of the NPC who the PC is having sex with, good writing naturally flows from it. This is hard though, and I’ve failed at this to some extent.

It may also help to ask, if the NPC is a possible romantic interest, then who or what are the attracted to, and why? This can also reveal a lot of character.

A big sticking point to incorporating all of these ideas is the gender-locked nature of the gameplay. To incorporate romantic encounters at important points in your plot, you would almost need to have a gender locked protagonist.

Or you would have to “cheat” and change the gender of the NPC to the opposite of your PC, and then assume the PC is straight. What a mess. Maybe that in itself is a big reason why romance isn’t used much in a meaningful way in RPG’s, and why the Witcher franchise seems to stand so tall in this capacity. (I haven’t played the Witcher games personally due to not liking to play male protagonists.)

The BoEF also touched on the idea of “ratings”. I’ve been grappling with that lately myself. Here are the proposed ratings, which are the American scale of course:

PG-13 – Deals with mature subjects including sex, but without explicit scenes or descriptions. Love, flirting, and seduction are all acceptable, but the actual sex occurs offstage.

R – Nudity and sexual situations are common, although level of detail stops at gratuitous details that could be described as pornographic.

Other useful points from the Book of Erotic Fantasy:

BDSM is now mainstream, not a fetish or taboo. Clubs have BDSM nights, it’s a fixture in the fashion industry. Love between Human and non-human (Vampires and Werewolves) is also mainstream.

Assigning an alignment to a type of lover is interesting to help a player to play their character.

Assigning an alignment to an entire society is also useful. The alignment becomes a sort of shorthand for thinking about sex norms in different societies and regions of the game setting.

Not so useful points:

Some things in the book are just silly. A “masterwork” condom, for example.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the photos, but they’re OK. Consistent, quality artwork throughout would have been very expensive and time-consuming most likely.

Tantrist, Kundalini. I strongly disagree with using real-world Earth terms like this in a D&D setting. These come from Hindu and Tibetan religions. Maybe the authors were trying to be non-specific in terms of campaign setting, but this is just worse.

I skimmed the ‘bestiary’ in the BoEF, which did not really interest me, as my campaign setting is well-developed, for better or worse. Some interesting entries, however, were the half-devil, half-giant, and pleasure golem.

That’s about all for my reactions and notes on this thick, lengthy tome of erotic treasures. It’s well-worth a perusal, and I find myself curious about trying to design some erotic gameplay. The sections of the book dedicated to gameplay, like the mini-scenario at the end, seemed very short of practical examples.

The book lists play-testers in the credits page. I’d like to hear their feedback. Because honestly a lot of this could boil down to the vanilla D&D rules, but spiced up with adventures in brothels. And how do you ‘succeed’ at a sexual encounter? How would this work?

1. Simply getting the NPC naked and/or into a compromising situation is enough to complete many character developments or plot advancements.

2. Physical success (Agility, Toughness, Romance (techniques), Engineering (toys, ropes, who knows)): pleased your lover X times, resulting in advancement or quest success.

3. Emotional success: (Empathy, Psychic) need to achieve some kind of intimacy to solve the puzzle and advance. Physical skills don’t matter.

4. The opposite of #1, the NPC getting the PC naked and into a compromising situation is enough to slip the PC a pill or wake up tied to the bed, etc. and move the plot forward.

If your plot hinges on this encounter, the design concept of “Failure with Consequences” might be useful. You moved the plot and achieved your goals, but failure on your rolls means the success is only partial, or you received no extra reward or treasure, or something bad happened, but you still moved forward on a technicality.

That’s all for my reactions to this book. Good luck, and happy gaming.


Hearthstone: Darkmoon Faire – World’s Greediest Video Game

Video Game Prices Are Going Up

The standard price for video games is increasing to $70 for the PlayStation 5 and next-gen Xbox consoles, ending 15 years of $60 games.

I assume this will also be for PC games, but it’s also misleading. When the industry shifted to digital delivery, saving maybe 25% of the cost of delivering a game (at the time), the game companies took all of the cost savings as profits instead of sharing the cost savings as reduced prices for games.

They started the slow death of the resale market at the same time. So in totality, I would call that a price increase. You no longer ‘own’ copies of your games. In any case, let’s look now at the world’s new #1 greediest video game, according to elves everywhere.

Hearthstone Darkmoon Faire: Now Quad-Wielding Pure Greed

Blizzard rolls out a new expansion with a new card set, plus a new mode, plus a long-awaited achievement system. Great! Wrong.

New system for questing and gold: The whole progression game is now a scheme to sell Tavern Passes. Pay $20 to lessen the pain from your arm being twisted for months. The total possible gain is meant to be the same, but the rewards are end-loaded to punish casuals and push the paid XP bonus.

This is on top of the usual $50 to $70 to buy each thrice-annual expansion, which doesn’t even come close to giving you most of the cards, and that’s already more than an annual MMO sub.

But Wait: New Mini-Sets: Hearthstone is getting mini-expansions in between main $60 expansions. Per this article breaking down Hearthstone costs, a full mini-set costs around $60 or 5000 gold. That in itself doubles the costs of Hearthstone, beyond the Tavern Pass and the card collection arm-twisting in the new game mode and in the achievements system.

Hearthstone Mini-Sets Will Refresh the Meta, but at What Cost?

New achievement system: We’ve waited for this for years. But there are no real rewards for your loyalty and efforts except a point total! No titles! No pets! No perks! No skins! And you have card collection achievements thrown up in your face constantly, reminding you to collect x cards of y class for z expansion. And on and on. What a joke.

New game mode: you need to complete card collections in order to unlock powers in the new Duel mode. Since you can’t possibly do this F2P anymore, you are paying to win.

This isn’t an avalanche of greed. This is a cataclysmic volcano of dollar sucking parasitic vacuum cleaner monsters raining down on players of all ages and financial means. (“During a pandemic”? Sure! Let’s tack that on.)

The eye-opening power creep this year can also be mentioned. We can’t forget either the insane power of the Demon Hunter class as it was released last spring, pushing everyone and their uncle into crafting all of those cards, only to have them rolled back all summer until they were eventually reasonable. The aggressive mini-sets will just accelerate the power creep.

All of this is not fixable except by rolling all of this back. This is a legitimate clown fiesta, except the clowns are you. You should not play Hearthstone unless you are a whale, not a clown.

LotRO

LotRO put up a “huge” list of question answers from the devs this week. The list was entirely unsurprising in its disappointing-ness. It was a lot of non-answers and vague promises that will never be fulfilled.

I’m surprised Justin Olivetti seemed to eat it up, but he was very harsh in his previous critical articles on LotRO.  At some point you have to stop stabbing a dead horse.

This comes after the recent scam of releasing a quest pack as a full expansion. This looks a lot like barebones studio just milking players to stay alive. At what point do you draw the line and preserve your ethics and  integrity?

Cyberpunk 2077

Coming soon on Dec. 10th, from one of the few studios still making great games with integrity.  The ongoing super mega hype is a bit concerning, but we’ll have to see.

Note that multiplayer is not being released with the main game, for example. “Projekt Red have revealed that the multiplayer component of Cyberpunk 2077 is its own AAA release.” So it’s time to pay for two games to get one? Here we go, boys. Let the games for your credit card begin.

Vampire: Masquerade

A battle royale game is being made in the Vampire setting. This game has been almost univerally criticized. It’s a game that no one wants. Meanwhile, a new overpriced mini-RPG has been released on Steam to further profit off of Vampire fans. I bought the first one and played it a bit.  I’m over it.

This cheese has been evolving for a long time, and it’s invading even the most sacred, die-hard fan spaces in video games.  No sacred stone will be left un-despoiled in the quest for the most and cheapest profit.

Wow Classic

I continue to be interested in a long-term investment in WoW Classic, or more precisely a proper trip through the world of WoW spanning my years until retirement.

I quit and never kept up with WoW over the last 15 years, so I would be somewhat psyched to go back to this less spoiled, pure land of old.  Leave the current greed and insanity behind. No cash shop. No arm twisting to pay cash money to win.

The problem right now is Blizzard’s lack of public plans and communication.

I would be leveling a Priest right now if I knew the current servers would become progression servers, for example. I just don’t know what they are doing, so I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I haven’t given them any money for months after hitting level 60 with my mage. I haven’t finished leveling my crafts.

SWTOR

I’m currently level 60ish in SWTOR with my Sith Inquisitor. It’s a goal for the holidays to hit 70 and finish a lot more of the main story. I finally got a companion that is romanceable. The talk-kill-collect is getting very repetitive as I near the end of the original vanilla content, however.

ESO

I’d also like to cap out the Champ levels in Elder Scrolls Online. I think I’m like 150-200. The max is now 810. This would require weeks of grinding, if not months. Probably not going to happen, but who knows. The last time I installed ESO, it was a huge download and I had some kind of unfixable errors with my 2060 video card. Maybe that is patched out.

Personal Projects

I’m still working on the second dungeon for Elven Academy – “The Geomancer’s Deathtrap.” I’m trying to wind up the free content in the coming months, so I can work on a paid expansion module, so I can at least offer a download and a way to get money.

The game also needs to have a sense of gaining in power as a mage, and also of security in your save code.  This is a big issue.

I’ve been greatly distracted by oil painting. I’ve sunk a few hundred hours into my painting lately instead of gaming or developing game content. The oil painting is going very well, or I would have dropped it again already. I dream of putting a few paintings in a gallery at some point.

I’m also still wanting to practice my violin, but the violin I purchased is too loud for my apartment. I made a mistake not buying an electric violin.

I wanted an acoustic violin to make game music at some point, but it’s silly trying to learn as a total novice in my apartment with neighbors. My best idea is to take the violin and practice in my car or in some forlorn parking lot somewhere.

If I can attain a basic level of competency, that’s good enough to make MP3’s for my game scenes and modules – dungeon music, romantic music, etc., and that’s a lot of motivation. I absolutely loved the violin music in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.

I’ve been watching a lot of Spanish movies and series to improve my Spanish listening comprehension. I’m making some progress on this, enough to feel some reward for the effort. I’ve also been playing chess as a sort of cracker box game experience, since I don’t have a current MMO.

I’ve also been streaming some art and video game development on Twitch, but the novelty of that has sort of worn off. That’s about it for now. I’ll probably think of revisions to this post over the weekend. Happy Friday and happy gaming!


September Update: Philosophy of ‘Goodness’, Thoughts on New World MMO Preview, Game Design

I had a birthday recently. As with many birthdays, this was an occasion to communicate with family members. As a consquence, I found members of my family who are still Trump voters.

There is no excuse to be a Trump voter anymore. Your own ignorance, or your acceptance of thousands of lies and several of Trump’s associates now convicted felons and/or in prison, are not excuses. As someone said on Twitter:

If Reagan was the great communicator and Obama the great orator then Trump is the great deceiver. Never in American history has one man stood in front of millions and spout lie after lie while his legion believes it. It’s scary. Like biblical scary. Jim Mitchem @jmitchem Aug 27

The list of Trump’s horribleness would fill an entire book. Thankfully people close to Trump are publishing more books now.

After reflecting on how unthinkable it is to still support Trump, I’ve impetuously decided to remove “dark game” from my game project. I’m going to edit out opportunities to be unethical, selfish, abusive, ‘evil’, or to ever side with the Dark Lord’s people.


Game Writing And Goodness


The point of my game is to improve oneself as a person, generally by learning from the elves. So yes, I’m putting the elves up on a pedestal. Betraying them will no longer be an option.

My rationale in implementing dark choices was to allow human free will. And to have fun and be naughty, i.e. be human.

As it turns out, the nuances between different good actions are actually much more interesting than offering one good choice and one morally degenerate, or ‘dark’ choice. Perhaps I fell into the trap of good and evil choices because it was easiest path, the path of least resistance.

The easiest path is not often the good, correct path.

We could consider different ways of being good. For example, humans usually consider good to be whatever end is good for humans, an Aristotelian good. A Platonic goodness might mean something more like perfection: a perfect urn, a perfect body, a perfect gentleman.

In the context of fantasy fiction and games, our first thought is to consider the distinction between the classic Lawful Good and Chaotic Good.

The lawful good character will promote weal throughout society through increased legislation or a more powerful government. They will work to provide laws and procedures to protect the population against every foreseeable ill in society. They will advocate … the most benefit for the population as a whole. Lawful good characters will provide equality of result.

The chaotic good character will promote happiness in society by increasing freedom and allowing its citizens to decide the best way to increase prosperity for all. They will promote systems which give maximum freedom and opportunity… They will ensure that the population is protected against every possible abuse by the governing system.

(from http://easydamus.com/chaoticgood.html).

Since my game is called Elven Academy (unless someone comes along and TM’s it, which is quite possible since it’s a good name), let’s go to the elves on this topic next.


Elves, Good, Evil, And Alignment


The elves in fairy tales, and the elves as originally conceived in Dungeons and Dragons, for example, were considered to be chaotic. They were the ranger and the rogue in the strictest and oldest fantasy game tropes, i.e. from the earliest editions of Dungeons and Dragons.

(See a discussion of elves as chaotic.)

The Fey have evolved in modern fiction into strong traditions and representations of light fey and dark fey, the Summer Court and the Winter Court, more often called the Seelie and Unseelie, such as in the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

The TV series Lost Girl did a fantastic job of presenting these two types of Fey, Seelie and Unseelie, who have powers and live in modern society.

We also have Tolkien elves in our cultural lexicon, however. These are perhaps the closest elves to Lawful Good, and these are the elves I’m approaching as a model for paragon behavior. (Let’s just forget about certain evil rings those elves mistakenly forged.)

As opposed to the tradition of very whatever-goes chaotic elves, Tolkien elves are seen as superior, snooty, and looking down on lesser races. So we could say they are intolerant. And intolerance for anything or anyone scuffed brings us back up to the definition of lawful good characters.

So my new goal is to try to provide ample opportunity for meaningful, satisfying choice between lawful and chaotic approaches to being good, to reflect on the entire spectrum of what might be good, maybe even all the way to neutral.

The moral of this short exploration tonight is that bad choices are more fun and rewarding, but evil choices are easy to write. It’s easier to paint in black and white than in more complicated nuances of color. I would imagine most fantasy RPG players aren’t going to appreciate any subtlety, other than which choice puts more coins in their pocket, or which choice gets them into bed with the companion of their choice.

So let’s work on that, shall we? Let’s at least try to explore and improve.


New World Beta: Reactions


I’ve played the New World beta for about 13 hours. It’s great, and it’s not so great. It’s a mixed bag, as they say in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

MassivelyOP wrote the perfect article on the New World Beta/Preview, which has been going since last week, and will end in a couple days. So I don’t even need to write the article, because it’s already written. As I noted in the article comments:

  • Agree with everything said here. After a few days of playing, it feels like the paper thin NPC’s, forgettable repetitive quests, and the nearly non-existent story are just a shell that is/was supposed to lead to PvP “content”. The NPC dialog writing is very wordy and decently written, but it doesn’t convey a strong sense of the world the NPC’s are living in.
  • The character creator for female characters was also pretty meager. None of the faces or figures seem to look very feminine. Tons of potential though, hope it comes together. Will probably play when it comes out regardless of what they end up with.

I would probably recommend checking out the game, but I’m calling this early as one of those MMO’s that you hit it, maybe hit level cap, and then you quit it. I would love to be proved wrong.

Asmongold, one of the biggest streamers on Twitch, is playing this beta hard. He could swing things a bit in New World because of his enormous following in World of Warcraft. A huge influx of popularity and money up front might go a long way to sustaining this game.

At this point, I am expecting an ultimately underwhelming western performance similar to Archeage or Aeon, but with scaled up hype and scaled up numbers of people playing games these days.

New World MMO Update – Sep. 3

After I wrote this post, the New World devs posted an update that addresses the main concerns of the testers as a whole. That is the good news. The bad news is that this stuff is apparently not developed yet, disappointing hopes and speculation that it was. The summary from https://newworldfans.com/:

Today, New World posted an official thank you to the community and all of the time they spend in Aeternum during the Preview Event! … They announced that the next phase of testing would be in November of this year, stating that this would be your chance continue helping test and develop New World. Prior to this phase of testing, they noted that they would be working on “adding more in the areas of game modes, land mass, AI variety, additional weapon types, quest variety, and more.” They also stated in this article that they would “continue pushing in this direction until we feel we have the right amount of content and polish for the great launch our players deserve.” staying away from any hints of a potential launch date.


Elven Academy Update


I’m currently working on the second dungeon. It involves entering a mathematical dimension represented by a retro 3D maze. The wireframe maze display ‘engine’ has been coded in the space of a weekend, with a mini-map and movement around in the maze levels.

I’m working now on the story, which involves an imprisoned old gnome. The gnome got in trouble from his own inventions, which have run amok. At least the gnome isn’t a princess? So yeah. That’s not a trope in this dungeon, I tell ya.

I was thinking having the combat involve solving the equations of the monsters, but maybe I’ll leave the equation-solving for puzzles. It’s hard to Arcano-scan things for equation study while the things are attacking you.

In two months and counting we will hopefully have Cyberpunk 2077. We are still waiting for Vampire: Bloodlines 2, which mysteriously fired one of their lead writers recently for some reason.

That doesn’t seem like a good sign. In any case, happy September, and happy gaming. And please vote democrat because the Republicans are the party of evil. Do not believe their endless lies. All they care about is power, and the wealth and privilege that goes with it.