Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lothering Heights

I've arrived at a town called Lothering as a pit stop for supplies before venturing out to some major cities. I really have no idea where I am at this point as far as the story goes, so I can't tell if things are progressing slowly or quickly. If this were a book, I could tell just by looking at the difference between the number of pages on the left side and right side, or if I were watching a movie at home, I could tell by glancing at the elapsed time vs. total running time. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, because I certainly don't want it to end any time soon, and I'm taking things at a leisurely pace. It's just that the game still seems to be in tutorial mode, getting me used to different party combinations/abilities and different numbers of people in my party.

I only wonder because the battles are still pretty easy, even the "boss" battle that was shown in the game previews, so either it's still easing me into the combat mechanics and will increase in difficulty with time, or I just need to switch to "hard" mode. This is why I haven't yet installed patch 1.01: it makes both Easy and Normal modes easier, so I wanted to get a feel for how hard "normal" was before the patch. After having been playing for a while, I can say that I definitely don't want it easier than this. I'll try it out in Hard mode and see how it feels.

The game continues to surprise me with its plot twists and its "anyone can die" approach to storytelling, which I will not spoil here (at least not without a spoiler block warning about it). It's as if the more obvious plot elements that it goes out of its way to foreshadow are just there so that you're not expecting the real plot twist later.

Dialogue options

It's hard to please everyone when writing dialogue choices for the player to use in conversations with NPCs, especially given the 3-5 (maybe up to 6?) slots to which they seem to be restricting themselves, as well as the expense and space requirements of recording responses to every choice with the NPC voice actors (my #2 reason why I don't want voice acting in my games). It may not be as consistent as this, but it seems that they try to give options for various attitudes, so that you can play whatever character alignment you have in mind. Something like "polite/trusting, friendly/compassionate, neutral/uninformed, cynical/rude/possibly evil" on average.

This can cause some problems, of course, since sometimes you can tell someone's lying to you, but the "good" attitude would have you just blunder into their ruse, while you come off as a cynical bastard if you approach the matter with due skepticism. Also, sometimes an option may appear to be meant as a friendly joke, but the NPC may react badly to it, as if you meant to insult them.

But, it's hard to complain about such a thing, as I know from personal experience how hard it is to write branching dialogue.

Texture mod

In a previous post, I had referred to an issue with some low-resolution textures in the game, which I expected would be taken care of quickly enough. I've found one mod called HD Textures that makes an attempt to improve these particular textures, by blowing them up and then adding detail overlays to hide the blurriness -- details like scratches, wood grain, grime, etc. There are about 28 of these in the package (not counting material mapping on the same textures). I've seen the revision of the infamous wagon in-game, but I'm afraid it needs more work, especially on the edges where different materials meet, which are still obviously blurry, and on diagonal lines where jagged artifacts from the low resolution are evident, but it's a good start.

I also installed a "Less Blood" mod, as I had done for Oblivion, to get rid of the ridiculously excessive blood spatters that cover your character after a fight, which take forever to fade away (if they ever do). Come on, carry a rag and wipe off your faces, people! I realise blood is a major theme of this game, but my sense of aesthetics prevails in this case.

Leliana's new face (and Morrigan's too)

I have been using Eshaye's cosmetic mod for Leliana's face, which is very nice, and I see Eshaye has made several additional versions of Morrigan's face as well. I haven't tried those, but first I need to make some tweaks on my own version. Some things about it are bothering me in the game, now. I won't delete the old version, of course. I'll put them both up in the same place.


  1. Haha, I don't play this game but got curious to it... and laughing at the "less blood" mod. It only bothered me on the shocking first time in Oblivion when I killed a crab... was yucky.

    And once again, I'm with you on not liking voice acting. It's cool and pretty, but I'd rather have the game paused and text for me, so I can read nicelly, on my speed, and not have to miss something if the cat jumps on my laptop or if the phone rings and I need to pick it up.

    This week I'll download the Torchlight demo and give it a try!

  2. Torchlight, you say? I hadn't heard of it, but I was looking forward to Diablo 3, and from the screenshots I now see of Torchlight, it looks similar to Diablo 3, so I might like to try it.

    I have indeed been interrupted more than once during one of the cutscenes. Someone coming to talk to me, or a popup window from another program, and there's no way to pause the movies except to wait for it to give you some dialogue options. Luckily, I was not interrupted during a long and very beautiful scene from my play last night, which I'll write about next. :)

  3. Update on Torchlight! They now have a free demo! Gives you 120 minutes to play the game, which is nice since you can test everything within that time frame.

    The game is nice, if you can stand the fact they have done a copy of diablo with improvements and cuter graphics... which, to me, is fine. I am not very picky with graphics, I still find Diablo 1 pretty... whatever looks nice and runs without making my computer want to cry is considered perfect around here ;P

    They also allow for the use of Mods, but I didn't search further on it. Although the game is cool and pretty, I'll have to pass buying it for now, got enough games to fill my time here!

    ...not to mention I've been playing silly Facebook games. If you have a farm or a fish tank there, you'd better tell me!

  4. I certainly wouldn't complain if they've copied a game that I'd like, since that means more things I like! And they say they were part of the team that made Diablo 2 anyway, so...

    No Facebook games for me, sorry. I've seen someone playing them, though!