Tag Archives: Game Design

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.


E3 Impressions: Bloodlines, Cyberpunk 2077, Etc.

rpg gameplay
It’s been forever since my last post. Maintenance mode? Mainly I’ve been playing Division 2, with a little co-op. It’s a high quality shooter with female character options, a high degree of realism, and minimally intrusive upselling influences.

I’m impressed by Ubisoft’s quality and class, so far, as a game developer and company. It’s been a while since I played an Ubisoft game. I might look for more opportunities to give money to Ubisoft in the future.

The major flaws so far are very poor character development, and sketchy story writing.

The main feature of E3 was streaming game services. I don’t want to stream my games. How far can game companies go to get players into their ecosystem? Well, apparently the goal is to have all game content literally in their ecosystem, and you are only playing a picture of it!

Hooray. I guess if it’s effectively a big boon for PC gaming and better games, then I have to accept it.

Honestly, the EA Origin monthly service seems like a great deal. There are some games on there I’d like to play. But I have never used it. I just resist the concept for some reason. I like owning my games, and running them on a platform hub that lets me select which one I want to play tonight. So, there is that.


Vampire: Bloodlines 2


Bloodlines 2 released a new gameplay video for E3. It’s “pre-alpha”, but it’s still underwhelming. Weak graphics, very sketchy combat sequences. The writing seems decent. There are the usual challenges/skill usages in the dialog options.

Three class trees. Not sure how I feel. Ideally I’d rather have an experience resembling the tabletop RPG.

It looks somewhere between a professional and indie effort. Overall, I’ve decided I agree with Paradox’s decision to put out the video. It will take a lot of criticism, but on the balance I think it’s a positive.

Bloodlines 2 is currently scheduled to release in Q1 of 2020.


Cyberpunk 2077


Cyberpunk 2077 is the other game I’m mainly looking forward to playing. They also put out a new video at E3. This video was even more dumb, flashy, and mass-audience oriented than the previous installments.

Keanu Reeves was revealed as a character in the game at the end of the video. This video didn’t do all that much for me, since it didn’t offer any real gameplay or things to excite an RPG fan.

Cyberpunk 2077 is currently scheduled for a release date in April of 2020. My new PC is ready.


Chivalry 2 and Mordhau


My #1 interest in Chivalry 2 was whether I could play as a female knight. If so, yay! I’m playing!

The actual answer, like in Mordhau, is apparently NO. So, like Mordhau, the answer of whether I am interested is also NO. Maybe someday girls can be knights too.


Jedi: Fallen Order


This game is not just male-only, it’s a fixed young male character. I actually enjoyed and completed Jedi Outcast back in the day with Kyle Katarn. The padawan in Fallen Order is about as far away as possible from a character I’m interested in playing.

Is it really so hard to create an alternate playable character? No, this is an example of the decision makers agreeing on their own lens, and since young male only protagonists are the norm, it’s ok with them.

It’s conceivable I could give this game a try because of the excellent light saber combat shown off in the E3 demo video, however, as well as the very high quality production.

Also, I agree with Angry Joe’s analysis that we should send positive signals to EA and support the direction they are taking with the franchise.

Joe also mentions the intense light saber battles of Jedi Academy, etc., that I also enjoyed back in the day, and this would be part of a formula to pull me in.


Hearthstone


Let’s continue the male dominated video games theme. After Hearthstone released a new female hero, but locked it behind an $80 pay wall, and made it an ugly, unlikeable character, these devs are certified idiots.

And then they put out a $20 pack with yet another male hero, this one an arrogant, egotistical blowhard that should appeal to Blizzard’s caveman player-base. And we still have no female shaman and no female warrior.

Completely pathetic. The only good news is that Blizzard’s players are draining away, and they feel forced to be less disgustingly greedy with card packs. I hate myself when I give Blizzard money.


Stock Market


I was looking to buy AMD in my last post, on a pullback this summer.

Well, AMD has been a monster in the first half of the year. Their P/E ratio is now around 45, 30 based on 60% higher projected next year earnings. AMD might be just unbuyable now. It’s an opportunity missed, it’s headed for NVidia levels of overinflation. When Jim Cramer gives two thumbs up on AMD (last week), you’re looking pretty toppy on the stock.

This illustrates the concept that if I think AMD should have a big year next year, Wall Street already knows this also, and I’m not getting the jump on anyone.

My investment strategy has boiled down to buying when the Fear and Greed index is at an “Extreme Fear” level.

The Fear/Greed was at the lowest level I’ve ever seen (approximately 5) on Christmas eve. I bought. I’m winning. The market touched extreme fear again on 6/3. I added. Again, winning.

The corollary, which I only realized some months ago by selling way too soon into the monster rally in the first three months of the year, is to also sell only at greed or extreme greed levels.

My only new position is a full position in silver metal (SLV), which I will double to a giant position if it drops. $13 is approximately the cost required to mine silver without a loss. That’s why it doesn’t go below that level.

So the plan is to buy, patiently wait for an inevitable spike, and then sell. The idea came from a spot on CNBC where they mentioned that gold’s relative outperformance of silver was at ten-year levels. They were saying to buy gold, but for me that means the opposite. Silver is a catch up trade, expecting a reversion to the mean. It’s also my online handle, of course.

I am watching the ROBO ETF. The world is in an economic slowdown. If this deepens and the U.S. follows, industrial stocks are expected to suffer the worst. This means the future world full of robots is on sale as an investment. I could be adding.

Otherwise, I remain in Tencent as my main diversified gaming stock investment. I’m happy with my portfolio, except I would also like to be in chips. I just don’t know how to do that. Chips stocks have extreme volatility. They are best for trades only.

If the market as a whole does get obliterated for some reason still this summer or fall, it’s still possible AMD could be a viable trade.

Ironically, I refuse to buy another AMD video card. My Razer keyboard and mouse have also been having serious problems. My Blackwidow Ultimate now double-types a number of its keys, regardless of what PC that I connect it to. My Razer mouse sometimes decides to cease functioning completely, even if I completely uninstall all Razer software.

I never wanted my keyboard and mouse dependent on a stupid Razer cloud anyway! So no more Razer either.


Personal Game Project


It’s going. I’m doing more debugging on the live servers, so the online game is less totally broken and unplayable than normal.

I’ve got some vision now for the climactic ending of the first chapter of the main story.

Last week I started adding music tracks. I’m remixing some music from a fellow Lotro player on Landroval, Fred Bertram. If anyone reading this has a line on some nice purely instrumental, or maybe with some fairy-like vocals, then I’m interested.

My inspiration for the music is the Arcanum OST.

Baldur’s Gate is also an influence. I’ll probably do the iconic footsteps of the party in places? I’ve never spent much effort thinking about game sound. All of the sound also needs to play on a standard webpage.

I’ve mixed some music tracks for my game! The background music is available to listen on Youtube. The first track is sad village music, which is taken over by soldiers. The second track is the bar room. The third track is for the rougher soldier bar. Thanks for uploading the video, Fred.

The image for this post is a screenshot from the Peacock Queen’s palace, which is the most recent game module.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


Kobold’s Corner: Luck As An RPG Stat – Good Or Bad

meadowToday I painted a cursed wizard school, where every time you miss a quiz question, your life force is drained a bit more until you pass out and awake in the infirmary.

Why does the headmaster allow this awful thing to happen? Well, there’s a vampire curse, you see, and maybe some Snape-ish professors actually like the curse.

It weeds out the weak.

I was also looking today at more Tunnels and Trolls stuff (for my browser-based game project). I downloaded and played Crusaders of Khazan, a T&T CRPG from 1990, on a PC emulator from Emuparadise.

They’re calling this “abandonware”, so it was free. The kitty likes free, but I couldn’t handle navigating that little low-resolution tile world for long. My eyes glazed over. Bleep. Bloop. Bloop. Bleep.

Saving rolls are an interesting part of T&T for me. I want to do lots of rolls, but I’m skeptical about Luck as a stat. Like someone commented in a game forum, Luck is already a real part of the game.

You as a player want to be lucky – with dice rolls.

Ken St. Andre pared D&D down to the barest essentials to make T&T back in the 1970s. When Ken explains why he took out Wisdom and added Luck, I agree with his reasoning. You need Luck to survive a dungeon. If you were wise, you wouldn’t set foot in that infested hole in the first place. Thinking it over though, I wonder if he added an almost-as-worthless stat.

I perused one of St. Andre’s dungeons today in the new deluxe T&T rulebook (“Chambers of the Mad Dwarf“). He is recommending IQ or Luck saving rolls to spot hidden doors and secrets in a few places. So you can be Sherlock Holmes to spot something, or just thrust your sword accidentally into the exact tree knot to open the door.

Which admittedly is fun – the best counter-argument for using Luck. On the other hand, novelist sages say fiction has to be even more real than reality to be believable. If a character wins the big lottery out of the blue in a book of fiction and then lives happily ever after, the reader will feel cheated. That’s no story.

Using the same logic as Luck, I also wonder about Intelligence. Intelligence is how you as the player win the game, whether solving the puzzle or orchestrating combat cleverly. Perception seems like a better stat to put on characters, since you as a player can’t perceive what the GM didn’t tell you?

Perception can also be used as a attribute for dialog option checks, while Luck can’t. (Perceiving whether someone is lying to you, or wants something a lot more than they are letting on.) So my thought is to get rid of INT and LK. I could use Perception instead of LK, and Talents/Subject Knowledge instead of INT.

So to quote a scientific formula, build and use a cannon, or tap philosophical principles, maybe you’d need Science, Military, and Philosophy subject knowledge (talents) instead of INT. While it’s much more work for less resource usage than using a catch-all INT stat, it’s more characterizing.

I’m not doing Charisma either. Here is my current list:

Willpower :: spell power, intimidate
Agility :: defense, avoid danger
Toughness :: health, resistances

Perception :: find hidden, diplomacy
Cunning :: diplomacy, persuasion
Allure :: persuasion, intimidate

It seems like I’m missing something, but I don’t have a Strength stat because the setting is the Dream World, the amorphous, illusory connective tissue between the emotional world (Hell), the mental world (Heaven), and Earth, where vampires, succubi, witches, shifters, and shamans roam.

I also looked at some review articles from Chester at CRPG Addict on T&T’s vintage Crusaders of Khazan. His idea of a perfect RPG happens to be the same as mine, and basically the low-budget game I’m trying to make:

I guess my idea of a perfect RPG has always been something along the lines of a CYOA book with all the other RPG mechanics surrounding it.

Chester suggests Crusaders approaches this ideal relatively well for an old game, offering a lot of dialogue-based encounters. There are also the usual sudden forced scenarios though. In another article, Chester consequently creates a hierarchy of encounter types.

Level 0: Completely random, a surprise forced encounter.
Level 1: Encounter with context. There is some sort of lead-in or build up, with a chance to make a plan and decide whether to engage or retreat. I.e. you know there is an ambush just ahead.
Level 2: Encounter with conversation and/or choice. There are some sort of options or choices allowing roleplay, but you’re still ending up with a pre-determined continuation of some kind(?).
Level 3: Consummate encounter. Roleplay dictates an entire gamut of violent or non-violent outcomes, blending context, conversation, and choice.

Chester notes that in his experience, many players in discussion forums would rather stick to puzzles, gear, gold, and gushing arteries however, and challenges his readers to think of their own best “encounter” experiences. So.

Some Of My Favorite/Most Memorable Encounters:

  • The Vampire Bodhi in Baldur’s Gate – deciding whether to join or kill the vampires. I played through both ways.
  • The werewolf lair in Dragon Age: Origins – deciding whether to join or kill the Lady of the Forest. Played through both ways. The decisions at the ending of the game were good too, but somehow I cared less about those people.
  • Philosophy with Dak’kon – A lot of players go gaga over Fall-From-Grace, but I really enjoyed talking with this Gith in Planescape Torment. It was just really exotic, religious, and left my head spinning.
  • Children of the Cathedral in Fallout. Again, this was sort of a situation where I had to wipe out a church.
  • Mages and demons, the mage tower tryst, and continuing story of Jowan in Dragon Age: Origins.
  • Skyrim: the dragon cult. I wanted to join the cult to worship the dragons, not fight against them. So I literally quit the game two or three times, and never got far, because I didn’t want to become the anointed dragonslayer, and the main story had no choice.
  • Tribunal vs. Imperial. The religious conflict in Morrowind was fascinating. I’m using a Tribunal-like situation of three founding demigods in my dark wizard school, which is similar.

There are so many characters and situations, and I still haven’t completed DA2 or Pillars, or played DA3 or Divinity:Original Sin. Strangely all of the favorites coming to mind are in single player RPGs and not MMOs. That suggests the importance of affecting meaningful change to the people and factions in the story.

I need to go to sleep, but the favorite recurring themes are starting to be clear: major moral choices involving good vs. evil and attitude towards entire factions, and exotic philosophical people and factions. If you read this far, what are your favorite/most memorable encounters in RPGs?


Guild Wars 2 Revisited: Defying Classic Conventions

guild wars 2 combat
So I’m super-enjoying my gentle return to the beautiful, yet (of course) corrupted and war-ravaged lands of Guild Wars 2. Some things I’ve noticed by virtue of a “beginner’s mind” are:

Tons of tones in character creation. I’ve puzzled in recent months why Elder Scrolls, Rift, and Pillars of Eternity don’t give you more choices. What’s wrong with smoky purple thighs?

Auto-level matching in an area. It’s so nice get matched up to the content. Less worry about this meta-issue.

Auction House. I gave up on auctions in Elder Scrolls at the end, and was just vendoring everything. The GW2 trading post is a web app spliced into the game UI, and there are so many bids that you can sell everything almost instantly, plus get all proceeds in one lump instead of opening twenty mail items. It’s almost overly easy, but still a relief.

Megaserver And Maps. I was worried a few years ago that megaserver architecture would ruin immersion, but the benefits of the many outweigh the friendship of the few. The dynamic GW2 maps are also brilliant and surely the envy of other MMOs.

Community. I’ve been really impressed by the GW2 forums and community, especially when the game should be in low ebb before an expansion launch.


A Game World Unplugged


I seem to be going down the same old road of disconnection from the Guild Wars “world”, though. The main design goal of GW2 is to throw MMO design conventions on their head, that is–to kill the traditional quest hub and move all quests out into the roads, ruins, and hills, increasing the world immersion, ironically.

Some of these random quests are fabulous, like using a cow-launcher to get to an overlook, or failing to save a traveling caravan from a bandit attack, leading to a new dynamic quest to strike back and retrieve the stolen goods from those bandits.

The exploration in Guild Wars 2 is also a joy, and I’ve spent oodles of hours working on map completion.

The primate mind works on the principle of dominance, which is why this principle has been golden in art and design for thousands of years. This principle works for all art, novels, and the zones and NPC quest givers in World of Warcraft. I haven’t found a Goldshire in Guild Wars 2 yet, nor a Gandalf.

In Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci used his sfumato technique to render a beautiful backdrop of hills, woods, and bridges. I wonder how many people care about that landscape.

Would six million people visit the Mona Lisa each year if we removed the Mona Lisa completely, leaving only a beautiful, intriguing landscape, ripe for the plundering? No. You get the picture.

The result is lots of well-made and voiced NPCs, but they are still generic (to this kitty).

After completing quests from these NPCs, you’ll also get personal letters and notes from them via the mail. The notes are brilliantly written, and the writers have done their jobs well. The problem is that after you get twenty mails, they all start to look the same, and you know you’ll never see these pixels again. There is no point in remembering those names.

So it’s the principle of dominance. The human brain (or at least this kitty’s) needs a few solid lifelines to focus on. I remembered that I originally quit Guild Wars 2 because I’d completed the level 30 story quests. I was grinding at level 35, and my next story quest was level 40.

I just lost the lifeline at that point. What happens if you tell your ten-year-old kid he can’t read another chapter of his favorite book until ten weeks from now. He’s going to go read another book, and that’s exactly what happened with me.

This time I plan to keep going. Removing the Mona Lisa from the picture is better than removing the Mona Lisa’s nose and flashing notices in the middle of my screen letting me know the feature is now on sale in the game store.

Plus, I love my guardian’s quirky swooping Owl Attack. Hoo hoo.


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