Saturday, May 1, 2010

Freespace 2, other games

I've bought a couple of games from Good Old Games fairly recently, the latest of which was due to one of their sales. As a member of the site, I don't mind getting notices of their promotions, since they're often pretty good deals. This time they had space sim "all-stars" for 30% off. I looked through the screenshots and videos where available, and found the graphics a bit too primitive for my tastes as far as action space combat goes, but a little searching revealed that Freespace 2 has had quite a lot of fan modding development over the years, especially since the source code was officially released, and with the graphical improvement mods it now looks and plays like a modern game.

There are also additional campaign/mission mods, and several total conversions that turn it into a Battlestar Galactica, Wing Commander, or Babylon 5 space combat game.

I have a nice Logitech dual-action analog game controller, which I use whenever I play Trackmania (the steering really needs analog control), and I've been experimenting with which setup is better for Freespace 2. For instance, the mouse sensitivity settings don't seem to help make the view change faster. In cases where an enemy ship is on my tail, and I try to rotate my ship around to face it, I can't rotate the ship fast enough with the mouse. The keyboard control and the analog stick on the gamepad both work fine for this task. However, the mouse is superior for fine aiming control, keeping the enemy ships in my sights, which is very important in a game like this, where you're trying to hit a small fighter far off in the distance (assuming you don't want to rely on the aspect-seeking missiles). I'm trying different sensitivity settings for the gamepad's stick. I think the mouse will always be superior in that regard, but the different settings seem to be improving it to the point where I can aim well enough with the pad, and still rotate at top speed.

The only other thing I had to do was invert the y-axis, because by default, this game rotates the ship downwards when I push upwards, which I understand is common in flight sims. Perhaps if I were used to a flight sim joystick I'd want it the other way, but I prefer up to be up, not down.

Other games coming up

Other games I've bought this year which I plan to review eventually are Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 (with TuTu), Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, The Witcher, and various mods for Freespace 2. But my most recent game purchase is Torchlight, thanks to Carolina's recommendation, so I'll probably be talking about that first.


  1. That made me remember "Novastorm"! Old airship shooting game with cool soundtrack. Originally for console, but I played it on my very first Pentium PC. Had good Sundays playing that :)

    And I still like this song... I have the wierdest music combinations...

  2. I don't believe I ever played Novastorm, but I've played some other games of that sort. It looks to me like an inward-perspective version of the great 2D side-scrolling shooter Salamander!

  3. Of the games you mention I have played Baldur's Gate 1 and The Witcher.

    Baldur's Gate is based on second edition AD&D so the basic rule of the thumb is that at low levels fighters are the best and at high levels mages are the best. Knowing you, you probably went for a mage so your character will only really shine once you import her to BG2. From a power perspective the best thing to do would have been to start with a Human Fighter with 15 Strength and 18 Intelligence, play through BG1 with her and then dual class her into a Mage in BG2. Because early levels require much less EXP than high ones this dual classed mage would eventually reach level 31, just like your pure mage will, but she'd also have the abilities of a level 7 fighter (most notably proficiency with weapons and armor).

    The Witcher is a pretty good game for a single playthrough, but has very little replay value. You can finetune the details but the game only ever allows you to play a womanising spellsword.

    Bronze talents are plentiful and while you won't be able to get all the bronze abilities you will still be able to get all the ones you could possibly want. Silver talents are already limited, but you still get enough to upgrade all basic attributes, all sword styles, and your chosen spell to level 4. Golden talent points are really limited though and you'll want to spend them carefully.

    Of all the sword styles group combat is the most common so it will probably be the first one you'll want to upgrade. Strong style is the second most common and fast style is the least coomon, but you'll still want to upgrade them all to level 4 (out of 5). Level 5 is pretty much optional, even for group combat.

    Of the 5 spells the only two I'd bother developing are the fire spell and the knockdown wind spell. Fire is useful against groups of enemies (most common type of fight), especially if you upgrade it to cause fear. Knockdown wind on the other hand is useful against powerful single opponents.

    - Dragatus

  4. Regarding BG, I may have made a bit of a mistake in my character. I've been playing it with TuTu, and it allowed me to start out straight-off as a dual-classed character. I picked mage/thief. So as far as I understand, I'll never be able to advance the skills of one of those classes, and in fact despite the length of time I've been playing (I'm in chapter 2 or 3), I don't think I've leveled up at all.

    I'm not fond of the spell rules from that edition of D&D, the "memorise spells in advance, use once, then rest" method, though I've been getting along fine with it anyway.

    I've seen teasers of The Witcher 2 already, and it looks like it'll be an improvement on the interactivity of the first one. It looks like they took a cue from Oblivion with the characters each having daily schedules, and reacting more to things that happen around them.

  5. Not sure about the dual class thing. Are you sure you're dual class mage/thief (only available to humans) and not multiclass mage/thief (only available to elves and half-elves)? Dual classing means you develop one class to a point and then you stop and start over in a second class. Multiclassing is when you're developing two classes simultaneously.

    I just googled what TuTu is and I think you may want to restart BG and play a Sorceror. Compared to a mage you'd know a lot less different spells, but you would get more spell slots and you wouldn't need to memorize spells in advance. You also wouldn't need Intelligence, but you should put points into Wisdom instead (I hear it helps a lot in BG2 when you're casting Wish spells).

    You can still have Dynaheir (sp?) on the team as a mage to cast Indetify and other utility spells that your main character won't have.

    - Dragatus

  6. You're right, I checked, and I see I'm a multi-class elven mage/thief. It shows that I'm a level 6 mage with 49153/60000 xp, and a level 7 thief with 49153/70000 xp.

    I don't think I've met Dynaheir yet. My current party is made of Khalid, Jaheira, Xan, Viconia, and Edwin. I just picked up Xan, and had to tell Imoen to go wait back at the inn for a while to fit him in, but now that I have a neutral-aligned mage, I can probably dump Edwin, although his haughty attitude is a lot of fun, watching the bickering in the party dialogue. I think Xan's depressed moaning is more likely to get on my nerves than Edwin's snarking.

    Viconia's working very well as a priest, despite technically being evil.

    I'll consider starting over as a sorcerer. In fact I think I'll definitely try it out and see if the leveling feels any different.

  7. Xan is a relatively weak mage. He is an enchanter and that means he can't cast evocation spells, such as fireball and magic missile.

    Dynaheir is the mage that Edwin wants you to kill. In the town where you picked up Edwin there should be a guy called Minsc that will ask you to save Dynaheir. You obviously won't be able to make both parties happy.

    Edwin is the best mage in BG1, but he's evil so you have to watch out that you don't get your fame to 19+ or he'll leave you (and so will Viconia and other evil characters). Dynaheir is the second best mage, but she is good aligned so no fuss with your reputation. And she comes paired with Minsc, the best melee warrior in the game (he has 18/93 Strength). And he's also a good guy.

    I agree about Viconia, she is a great character, though her alignment is problematic and she'll leave you if you do too many good deeds.

    A bit of trivia: the canonical BG1 party (the one you sort of start with in BG2) is Imoen, Khalid, Jaheira, Minsc, and Dynaheir.


  8. Actually it is possible to end up with both Dynaheir and Edwin in your party. But for that you have to pick up Dynaheir before you pick up Edwin. Edwin will then offer to come along so he can keep an eye on her.

    There will however be a chance that Edwin will start combat with Minsc and Dynaheir. You can the either stand aside or interfere but either way one of the mages is going to die. So if you do have both it's best to save VERY often.