Sorry for being incommunicado of late. Game season has taken hold and it often refuses to relent.
Let’s see. Gamma World. Civilization 5. And now Fallout: New Vegas.
Oh and working out and staying healthy.
So, let’s start this off with an Elemental note.
So.. did you hear that Elemental hired the guy who created that fantastic Civ 4 Mod, called Fall from Heaven. Yeah, now that is some great news. Why you ask?
Well, let’s see.. someone with a grand vision and passion, while making 0 money on it. Came up with something they were in love with. So double that bad boy up and stick in a guy who’s got project skills, and a strong fantasy vision. That’s a very good thing.
See I really like Frogboy. He’s a man of his word. And they’ll go out of their way to make up for their disaster of a game they put out called Elemental: War of Magic. And it was a disaster. As I’ve written about in the past. (And it’s not just cause they didn’t use the tropes and coverings on the skeleton of the game, that are familiar to everyone.)
So, now they’ve got a visionary on the team. And that’s going to be very important, to the overall identity of Elemental. Though I do find myself wondering if Elemental is an extremely damaged brand or if it will need a new identity to really make up for the failure it represented. (As expressed by the guys over at Penny Arcade.) And really, I know they’ll make the game something good down the road. Just have to wait for it is all. My guess is irony will bring a great game to us in February.
So… that’s my thoughts on Elemental right now. (In truth, I would love to give them an idea where they can turn it into a real game. But I’m willing to see if what they put together long term is something I’m willing to be interested in.)
So … now..
Okay this game is full of win. It uses the 4th edition mechanical structure. And then adds some zany aspects to an alternate universe reality. And it can be incredibly funny and entertaining. Though this is much deadlier than the standardized version of 4th edition. As the PC’s could be one shot by some of their normal opponents. Which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. As it’s easy to just get right back into another character in the next encounter.
I also happened to put all the creatures in the book into the Adventure Tool: Monster Builder program, that we use for 4th edition D&D.
And then made power cards for all the powers from the origins. And then I found myself at Kinko’s printing them off and character sheets, and card sleeves, and new d20’s.
And then I realized fully what it represents to me.
The 4th edition architecture for the mechanics are extremely portable and easy to adapt to ANY genre. Super Heroes, and say Battletech, or horror, or Modern, or hard Sci-Fi, etcetera.
And that is what excites me about it. Anything that creates some fun and is easily playable. While being effectively compatible with each other. While also then being easily familiar to the players is a good thing. No spending days learning a new system. Just a little bit of the variables and voila. Fun.
Now for those who already are familiar with this idea, many would say Rifts, or Gurps. And while I like those systems. They aren’t elegant and fun. 4th edition is elegant in it’s structure, and reducing extra workloads for the DM’s. And that is what is quite important to me, in an RPG.
Genre, and setting are merely the tapestry that is laid over the skeleton. To give it flesh and sinew, that will draw your players into a good time.
So.. Gamma World is a nice diversion from the typical 4th edition D&D session. Which is a great setting to get your hands on.
Now.. some folks have complained about the collectible cards that DM’s and players can buy to enhance their gameplay. And the only argument that actually belongs at all in that conversation is the price point. $4 for 8 cards is bull shit. Who was the moron who came up with that great idea? Cause to you sir or madam, suck. No niche game just starting out should have such an expensive cost point. $3 for 10 I would of been fine with, and realistically 15 for $2.50 is where they belong in the cost point chart. But the $3 for 10 is where it goes, right now it should be $2 for 8. It actually pisses me off as a customer. And that shows you that a customer who just bought the damn game is aggravated. Well you know, that’s a poor business decision. Simple as that. That and the commons in the booster packs are too common. Which leads to purely lost sales from people who would of spent money on the product.
Hence the idea of a Free To Play system that is currently becoming all the rage. Because you reduce the price points down to an easily affordable level and you get more sales across the board. Seriously.. how do these companies not learn from their tangential environment.
Hence games like oh.. I don’t know.. Lord of the Rings Online, DOUBLING their money, after having gone to free to play. Let that sink in. Take a look at DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online), it’s fully sustainable now that it’s free.
Wizards could learn from this field. Right now.. they are failing in figuring out how to monetize their games in this modern world.
… okay enough about poor business models for fun games.
Let’s look at.. Civ 5.
I’ve not played it since the last time I won. And that’s because I’m still pissed about the lack of an ending that pays off. The game itself is great. Really, top notch, lots of fun. And I see myself looking at the game thinking, WHEN will someone listen and get us a REAL Fantasy version of Civilization?
Which leads me to think that some days, I wish I had a real voice or outlet somewhere that would turn my ideas into the goldmine that they are. One of these days I’ll get that chance.
But back to Civ 5. Great game. Absolutely shitty ending. There is no excuse for that type of ending, in a triple A game. Simply none. The end of a game should be a review of key moments during gameplay. Flashback to big battles, or starts of wars, or ending of wars, great stories, and new things that were key to winning. But Civ 5, felt like a great game that just gives out at the end. Like hey we ran out of money, and couldn’t afford the tech to track what happens in the game to give you an overview of how awesome you were or how close you came to losing.
But I’m gonna let it go for now.
And onwards to the new game that has grabbed my cerebral cortex and won’t let go.
Fallout: New Vegas.
Alright, I avoided all the hype about this game for the last whatever length of time. And since I’ve played all the real incarnations of this game from it’s inception, I wasn’t going to avoid another full blown new game.
So, I got a little worried at first when I saw Obsidian was the developer of this one. See Obsidian is a good company that releases tons of bugs along with their games, due to whatever their philosophy is there. See I know they’ve got good stories most of the time. And usually their technical knowledge is strong, and they can present you a good game most of the time. But usually, along the way, you have to put up with some heinous bugs. Stuff that just doesn’t make sense, crashes, or quick saves that only ever remember the first quick save you do, when you start the game up again.
So knowing that.. I started playing the game at 2:05am. And went to bed around 11:30am or so. And found I was having genuine fun. And that the story was compelling and the world was fun and dark and scary, but not so oppresively bleak that I felt like just giving up.. (the atmosphere in Fallout 3 was just exactly what it’s supposed to be.. Seattle like.. totally depressing.)
So I’ve been playing and having a LOT of fun. I’m especially enjoying the greater stories going on, with the conflict between the two big dogs on the block.
So far, the game is a blast. Though one thing I’ve found that is annoying.. crafting ammo should be much easier. But it’s not. Which just ends up frustrating me in all honesty. Even when I get the level up, I find that I don’t have some primer or other bullshit and it’s like? Really? Where is this mystical primer that it requires? No one is dropping it anywhere. So WTF?
Beyond that failing of logic, which feels very Obsidian like. I’m still digging the game quite a bit. Just finally made my way up to New Vegas, after having been doing the southern quadrant and a bit to the east along the way up there.
Though so far, my one favorite moment was when I saw a predator talking about something so I fired where I figured it’s head was.. and critted and killed it. And was like.. Whoa. Then saw it wasn’t a real predator, but something else, was like.. Dang.. but funny!
Though that leads me to another complaint about the series in general. Heads popping off cleanly all the time. I’ve either got some surgical fucking shooting going on to only blow my opponents necks and heads up.. or the game just thinks it’s funny.
Like I shoot a guy in the eye, repeatedly, and suddenly it crit’s and POP head goes flying in the air. And I’m like.. look out.. and Whoa.. I didn’t know the head explodes cleanly from the neck if you shoot someone repeatedly in the eye.
I’m not letting it diminish my enjoyment, and I am enjoying the heck out of the game. Though it’s funny I’m like Yay.. I’ve got 5k bottle caps.. then I stopped up at the Gun Runners, and they want to sell me stuff for like 3-4K.. and I’m just like.. uhm whoa.. will just have to kill some guys with the guns I want. But then in those games I’m super frugal. Very rarely do I spend money on stuff there, just in case something awesome comes up.
Anyway’s.. the game is a LOT of fun. And I can recommend it. Right now I would give it an 4 out of 5. And something that is worth owning.
Now that rating scale again is a hard bell curve style. 3 being average, and 2.5-3.5 being the normal deviation but a 4 is something special and worth owning, a 5 is usually reserved for awesomesauce. 2 is something that just doesn’t meet the requirements for owning or seeing more than once.
Dragon Age was a 4.5 out of 5. Elemental, right now.. having left the glow of past games go by.. and getting some time and letting it settle in. And I can’t give it a real score.. cause it feels like a 1.5-2. But that if they just put some fantasy in that game and turn it on for it being fun, that it could be just that. A good game. And I know it needs some time in the kitchen to fix properly. Kinda like someone brought it out from the kitchen to early, and didn’t realize it until it was too late, but the customer is in a good mood since they are talking with their friends, and the delay is alright, because it gives them more time to be in each other’s presence. But that’s a bit of a stretch. Just hope they pull it together and make it awesome.