Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dragon Age 3

Since I haven't been following the news, I'm a bit late to comment on Dragon Age 3.  Firstly, that it will exist, which is a surprise enough in itself.

After that, the announcements that state that it will not only continue to involve a voiced protagonist, but also another "I said what?!" inaccurate-paraphrase dialogue wheel were enough to make me stop reading right there.  Those two things alone are symptoms enough to make a diagnosis.  I predict, based on those elements, that it will also include loads and loads of non-interactive cutscenes.  It's baffling, but I'm glad at least that they're bold enough to come out and admit that they're just plowing on ahead in that direction that their metrics interpretations have chosen for them.  It saves me a lot of time and trouble to know in advance that Dragon Age 3 does not concern me at all.

At the early planning stages of Dragon Age 2, after having enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins, I was very interested in the news, and vocal about my concerns about their direction, but that turned out to be a waste of my time in light of all the good it did.  I myself don't need a weathervane to know which way the wind blows.

Dragon Age 3 will come out at some point, but I expect I'll be busy having fun with games that are actually made in a style that I like, such as Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity, and the more recent Spiderweb Software games.  I'm finished hoping that games that have become something else will get back to what attracted me to them in the first place.  What happens in Thedas will stay in Thedas, and it's quite likely that it won't be happening to me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Humble Indie Bundle 6

The most recent Humble Indie Bundle is one of the better ones. Several of the games included are ones that caught my eye on Steam when they were first released. It includes Rochard, a physics-based puzzle-platformer with a gravity gun, Vessel, a physics-based puzzle-platformer with Lemmings-like minions, Shatter, a block-breaking game, SPAZ (Space Pirates And Zombies), a real-time strategy game (I think), Dustforce, a sort of momentum-based puzzle-platformer, and Torchlight, a Diablo-like action RPG.

I think this bundle has the highest ratio of games that I want versus ones I already have, since this time, the only one I already had was Torchlight. But even with Torchlight, the Humble Bundle DRM-free version was attractive to me because Runic Games never delivered on their promised patch to remove the irritating DRM they had on the game, after three bloody years. Shame, shame, shame.

Being what really is a fantastic implementation of the honour system for buying games, allowing you to set your own price, the last few Humble Bundles have been using a slightly modified strategy. They pick a single game to hold back as incentive to pay more than the average price, and this time that game is Dustforce. It seems like a reasonable strategy.

I appreciate puzzle-platformers and block-breaking games as the light, casual entertainment they are, while I use RPGs to give me a good challenge. Realtime strategy games like SPAZ, though, are a bit beyond me, I think. It's attractive, and looks to have a great amount of depth and interest, but I've never found myself able to get into that genre when I've tried it in the past. Turn-based strategy is a different story.

So, I can see myself playing almost all of these games at some point. A great deal, I think.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Obsidian, Kickstarter, and the bright future of gaming

I'm very happy.

At the time I'm writing this on the 15th of September, less than 24 hours since it was unveiled, Obsidian's new Kickstarter-funded game called Project Eternity has not yet reached the $1.1 million of pledges that it requires to receive its funding. But it will. There's no doubt about that. It has raised 87% of that goal so far, in less than a day.

The game will be an isometric, realtime-with-pause RPG in a similar style as the Infinity Engine games, such as the Baldur's Gate series, the Icewind Dale series, and Planescape: Torment. This is exactly what I foresaw in my bright future when I saw the Wasteland 2 project, and why I was so happy to see it happening. The genre is being reborn!

I'm also pleased by what I hear in their pitch video. Free from the restrictions of the publishers and IP holders, which they say is the reason they could not include mature themes and content, they're looking forward to making an M-rated game (aka PEGI-18). I wholeheartedly approve. It will be extremely refreshing to see more games in a fantasy setting that aren't restricted to child-friendly content.

I have only two concerns. One is that since it will be a new, original IP, it might not have the amount of depth, detail, and variety as licensed properties. I saw that in Bioware's move from D&D to their original Dragon Age setting. I really want a complex, detailed, and difficult game. Obsidian has good, creative people, though. Some of the best in the genre, in fact! So I think there's reason to be optimistic that they can create not only a solid, detailed fantasy world, but also a solid ruleset that'll satisfy fans of those Infinity Engine games.

And with their emphasis on mature content, I'd like to think they won't treat us gamers like the fragile-egoed children that publishers seem to think we are, making games so easy they've become hardly worth playing. A casualty of the crass pursuit of the mass market. Not so with a project like this, where they can focus on a hardcore niche audience.

The other thing is not so much a concern, but a small disappointment. I wish it would be turn-based rather than realtime-with-pause. RWP has always been a compromise -- better than nothing, but with its own problems and annoyances (wizards having to "lead" their AoE spells, for instance, or trying to wrangle the actions of a full party of characters who are all acting at the same time).

Still, it's better than pure realtime. I'd guess that decision was made to ensure that all the Infinity Engine fans were strongly on board, but with the phenomenally fast funding (it's gone up to 88% in the short time I've been writing this), they probably could have taken the chance. I notice that they list the Temple of Elemental Evil in the credits of the works of some of their members, which has the most detailed turn-based RPG engine I've ever seen.

At least Wasteland 2 will be turn-based. And with the assured success of this game, I look forward to a future project -- a party-based, fantasy-themed, turn-based, isometric RPG. So far we've gotten two games with 3 out of 4 of those elements each! Not bad at all! The future is bright for gaming!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Path of Exile

Earlier this year, I signed up for a weekend stress-test of the upcoming game Path of Exile, a hack & slash game in the tradition of games like Diablo and Torchlight. I played it for the full weekend, and enjoyed it. It has good gameplay, fun loot, a nice visual style, and an extremely large skill bush (the view that you see there is not the full image. Drag it around to see the rest of it). The quests had a good amount of flavour, as well. I played as the Witch.

I mention it because I just got an email that says they're having another free stress test this coming weekend, from the 14th to the 16th, so if you want to try it out, that would be a good time. I won't be participating in the second stress test, since I don't want to repeat the early content at this time, and I'm low on hard drive space, and also busy with my modding and other playing, but I thought others might like to know, if they weren't aware of it.