Monday, December 21, 2009

If it isn't one thing...

Well, my computer is back up and running. I meant to log-on and talk about its hard drive breaking, but then I realized that wouldn't work too well. Between that and a few other things in the past couple months that I'm sure you'd be bored to hear about, I haven't really thought to get around to updating the blog, but I'm back.

Humm... so what's happened in the past couple months? Dragon Age came out, it's a really fun game, though I admittedly haven't vested much time into it. It's a weird scenario where I love the game, but I never want to actually play it. It's like... I'm glad its there, but I'd rather it not bother me. I dunno. I spent a lot of time playing Left 4 Dead 2 during the brief week before my Hard Drive failed me. I really looked forward to getting back into it once I got back up and running, but so far that's also a no go. I also got Borderlands when it came out and a little fun with it, but between losing my characters to the hard drive demons and all the bull that Gearbox/Take 2 have been giving the PC players, I'll likely never touch the game again. A shame because it really is a great game, but I'm sick of giving my money to a company that makes me feel like a second-rate citizen.

So what HAVE I been playing? Well, with the Team Fortress 2 War Update, I've been spending a lot of time in there. Being more of a Soldier player (compared to Demo) I was happy to hear that they won the war, but the prize is a little lackluster. Boots that reduce Rocket Jump damage are nice, but they aren't worth giving-up the Shotgun. At least the Banner gives you a buff to make-up for losing the Shotgun, and Rocket Jumping really doesn't do THAT much damage. So hooray, we won... whatever I guess.

I also recently purchased Torchlight since Steam was running a 50% sale on it this weekend. Think Diablo with more cartoony graphics and you're on the right course. Over-all it's a really fun and solid game for only $20 (or $10 if you got it on sale). Apparently it isn't really meant to be a full-on title so-much as a precursor to an MMO that the team is developing that's due in a couple years or so. Makes it sound like a demo that you have to pay for, but it's definitely a demo that's worth the money. I might look into that, if it's nearly as fun as the single-player game then it just might stand a chance to wrench me away from WoW.

Haven't seen Avatar just yet, I'll probably go and see that on the 23rd. So far I've heard nothing but good from people who have seen it. District 9 is coming out on DVD tomorrow, so I'll definitely be picking-up that one before work.

And with that I say Merry Christmas to all, and all... I'm off to play some TF2.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

[Insert Title Here]

Bleh, so here I am saying that I'm going to start posting more often, and it's been two weeks since I've done anything on here. x_x

So I got the Tetris DS issue about half-resolved. I purchased a new copy and made sure it was real this time, though eBay seems to be slow in their "investigation" of my pirated copy, I'll have to shake them down to see if they'll refund my cash. If not, I guess $15 isn't the biggest loss I could take, but still. Cash is cash. That's about half a tank of gas right there.

My mood on Majesty 2 is slightly soured lately, mostly caused by the fact that the Rogues are sickeningly over-powered, and a couple of missions in the game are randomly impossible without an over-abundance of them. It goes back to my design philosophy posts (which I do hope to continue with). Rule 1 was broken by making one class noticeably more powerful than the other classes, and Rule 2 was broken by the game seemingly being balanced around this fact. It's an interesting synergy between the rules that I hadn't noticed until Majesty 2, in fact. By breaking the first rule, people who don't use the over-powered element find the game to also be breaking the second rule in that the game isn't the fun kind of hard.

It's a pseudo-difficulty caused by the player not being notified by the game that there's this one over-powered element that they could have access to, so the game feels harder than it really is. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's a Strategy game, so you should know about the power of the different units you can command. The problem with this though is that the game tricks the player into thinking that the other 12 classes in the game are worthwhile, when really it's mostly about how many Rogues you use.

So I pre-ordered Left 4 Dead 2. I got a 10% discount on the game, and if that wasn't enough I also get into the beta/demo so I can check the game out a little bit before its official release. Of course, this has me playing a lot of Left 4 Dead recently. I really want to finish-out as many achievements as I possibly can, because I honestly don't know if Left 4 Dead achievements will be unlocked through actions taken in Left 4 Dead 2. On the one hand, they're two different games, so why would they share achievements? But on the other hand, they're two different games that play in the exact same way, just that one game has a few other options thrown into the mix. It definitely won't be possible on the 360, but maybe on the PC Valve is going to have some way that L4D2 will unlock achievements from the first game. Doubtful though, so I wanna get all the achievements I can. If nothing else, I want to at least get Zombie Genocidest.

Other than that, not much to report. Mostly just playing L4D, Tetris, and of course WoW. Oh right, and Zombieland was awesome.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Review: Majesty 2

Nine years ago a lesser-known title was released called Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim. It was a unique strategy title released amongst a sea of Star Craft clones. It was a different kind of game that was less about micro-managing a large army by directly telling them what to do, and more about building your city and making effective use of your gold to ensure that your heroes were as strong as possible. Motivating them was done via reward flags that gave them gold for completing certain tasks. You could build them a blacksmith to upgrade their gear, a market place so they could buy health potions, and there were even rival heroes of whom you had to pick. If you wanted Dwarves then you would have to give-up the ability to bring Elves or Gnomes into your city. There were also rival temples, allowing you to either recruit healing priests, or skeleton-summoning necromancers among other priest types. The game was a cult hit with it's uniqueness being one of the favored things by its fans, but it seems that Majesty did copy one aspect of Star Craft, and that's its sequel release. After nearly a decade's wait, we finally have Majesty 2.

Majesty 2 plays virtually identically to its predecessor, but with a few noticeable changes. Where in the first Majesty you could micro your tax collector's route by removing certain buildings from his collection path, in this game you can only modify how much gold is needed before your tax collector sets out. The game also removed your ability to manually destroy one of your own buildings, a move to counter players from making cheaper buildings at the edge of their exploration zone and destroying them to creep along the map as an exploration method. Also gone is the rival dynamic of the races and temples. You can bring both Elves and Dwarves into your kingdom (Gnomes are strangely missing), and you can build any combination of Temples you want. The game still makes it a point to tell you who doesn't like who, but there seems to be no penalty for ignoring those warnings.

There are certainly some refreshing changes though. For one, you can now assign a defense flag to a friendly hero or building. This counters having to put attack flags on multiple enemies who are all attacking a single target. Instead, you can assign that target to be defended and your heroes will react by attacking anything threatening the defend target. Another nice change is that Rogues are no longer a redundant third arrow-shooting class, instead being tooled as dagger-wielding melee combatants who can stun their opponent. Temple classes have had their power balanced a little by restricting where they can be build, now you need to track down some hallowed ground before you can recruit the powerful Paladins or vicious Blade Masters. Majesty 2 also seems to have brought its own quirky sense of humor, mostly delivered through your adviser who gives the mission briefings with an uncanny Sean Connery impersonation, but it isn't such an over-bearing humor that you feel forced to laugh at it if you'd rather ignore it.

The game isn't without it's flaws, however. The game's balance seems a little off, in that some missions will be a cake walk, and then the next one will be hair-pullingly frustrating. Part of this is a lack of balance in the heroes, in that using certain heroes will make the game a lot easier, meanwhile all the other heroes can be easily ignored. It's a unique synergy between my first two philosophies behind game design, the first faltered, and it snagged the other while it tumbled down. The lack of a freeplay option means your restricted to either the campaign missions or the few single maps available. Another lacking feature from the first game is the presence of borders when placing a new building to help you see where you can and cannot place your new building, instead you just have waver around the area you want to build and wait for the red highlight to go away as you seek the ideal spot.

Over-all though, Majesty 2 is an enjoyable game, especially for those RTS fans who are seeking something outside of the norm. This isn't just another Star Craft clone claiming to do something, this is a completely different kind of Strategy title that almost plays closer to Sim City than to most other common RTS titles.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still Alive

After a brief hiatus, I think it's time I get back to posting on here. I'll probably be doing less of the themed posts, but I'll be trying to do more of the random little updates here and there; talking about games I've been playing lately or maybe a movie I caught and talk about what I think of them. You know, journal-type stuff.

So what's all happened in the past month... Well, I got Scribblenauts. It's an interesting enough game, though after a while the puzzle-solving aspect of the game runs a little thin when you learn that a lot of puzzles have the same basic themes and can be solved in mostly the same ways. The game starts out feeling very interesting and unique, but it quickly fades. The free-play mode still maintains a little entertainment value. It's actually kind of a good idea in that the title screen doubles as the free-play mode. You just start-up your DS, wait about 30 seconds, and there you go, create stuff and mess around, no menus to deal with unless you want to jump into the actual game. Over-all I'd say it's not a bad game, but it's definitely not something you'd play on any hardcore level. A fun little time waster on the side. Also, the game includes a lot of internet memes, so you gotta tip your hat at the developers' sense of humor. They weren't kidding when they said they wanted to include everything they could.

Majesty 2 was released this month as well, which came as a nice surprise to me because I didn't hear about them making a sequel to the game until it was put on Steam with a package that would give me Majesty and the Expansion for free if I pre-ordered the game. Sure I already have the first game, but it's a free package with a game I was already gonna get, and now I don't need to worry about losing track of the discs because I can just download it on Steam now. I'll probably do a review for Majesty 2 to a little more into depth, but as a quick preview: I'm happy with the purchase despite a few drawbacks.

I also finally got around to re-buying Tetris DS after losing my cart for it a few years back. Funny thing, turns out I got a bootleg copy. It's a good thing I still have a regular DS (Lite), because apparently the bootlegs don't run on the DSi. Still deciding on what I wanna do about the situation. On the one hand, I could easily get the seller in a lot of trouble since selling bootlegs over eBay is illegal, but on the other hand the game does work just fine for me, so it's not like I have an obligation to screw him over for giving me something faulty. I'm also not sure if I want to go through the effort of getting a legit cart... cause after all, if it works it works.

Still playing WoW a lot, lately the guild's been getting into ToC, but unfortuneately our current raid group isn't serious enough to do the harder content that's available to us. Creates a wierd situation where I want to cut-down on my WoW time, but I'm torn between the 10-man run with my friends and the 25-man group with the guild. The 10-man is more successful because it's made-up the more serious raiders from the other, but at the same time I feel obligated to stick with the 25-man since it's the guild raid. Regardless of which group I were to cut I'd be letting my friends down since they're in both runs, so it's kind of a matter of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to cut-down on the amount of time I'm playing WoW, but at the same time I don't fully want to step out of either raid group.

I went to see Pandorum the other day, it was pretty good. Not fantastic, but good. One of my friends warned me that the ending was terrible, and without giving anything away I'll say this: His argument is fair. He's right about his gripes with the ending to the movie, but his points are (for a lack of a better term) nerd gripes. They're the really technical kind of thing such that when he was telling me about them, I couldn't help but picture the stereotypical cartoon nerd ranting them off in my head. To each their own I suppose, he didn't care for the movie, I thought it was good. The plot was fully explained, and everything gets wrapped-up. Outside of those few technical things that don't really make sense, the story is actually a little bit better than I would have expected out of a horror film.

Whelp... I think that'll about do it for this post.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Good Game Design Rule II: The Balance Between Challenge and Fun

Last time I talked about the theory behind how I feel a game should be designed, I went over how anything that is included into the game should be something that's worthwhile for the player to use if he so chooses. Otherwise it was a waste of development time to include it. Today I'll be talking about Rule #2, which covers the difference between a game that's fun and challenging, and a game which uses what I've come to call "pseudo-difficulty".

Now, a game doesn't automatically need to be hard, that isn't quite what this rule is about. If you want the game to be very simple and easy to play, that's great, you can mostly ignore this rule then. It's when you decide that you do in fact want your game to be hard, or have sections which are challenging to get through. Making a game challenging is a thing of finesse. Anyone can make a game difficult by just pumping everything upto the max, but without careful attention to the details of what you're doing, then it can be very easy to cross the line from making the game challenging and fun, to making it simply difficult and frustrating.

The first thing any developer should ask himself when making his game hard is this: What's fun about this game? After-all, if the challenge in your game is focused around one of the less entertaining aspects of the game, then it's no fun to over-come the barriers and just leaves the player annoyed when it's finally over. Once you've figured-out what aspect of gameplay is the most entertaining, and thus what you want to focus on, you need to look at how that method of gameplay is played. What weaknesses should the player have to over-come about this gameplay? How can it be made challenging, but still interesting?

As an example of one game in particular that got this wrong, I'm going to cite Prototype (or Protoshyte as I've come to call it). The first half of Prototype was amazing. It was fun learning your new powers and experimenting with how they work, leaping around the city all willy-nilly, doing the mini-missions. The problem comes at around the half-way point when your character is (literally) stabbed in the back. At that point, the missions become more and more tedious, and the bosses a complete disaster.

This is where we get back to that Pseudo-difficulty I was mentioning earlier (and note the difference between my uses of the words "challenge" and "difficult", as I consider them two different things in gaming). See, when Prototype wants to get hard, it basically just floods the area with enemies. Battles against the military involve you having to dodge salvo after salvo of explosive weaponry. You never really get more than a couple seconds to stand still and actually attack enemies, which basically breaks the second question from a couple paragraphs up. Using your powers was the funnest part of Prototype, yet the difficulty revolves around forcing you to dodge and weave around attacks that knock you around like a bowling pin if they connect.

The bosses are just as bad, if not worse. The first bad one involves a boss which attacks by either spitting rocks at you with pin-point accuraccy (even if you're dodging to the side as they launch), or spitting-out a bunch of slow-moving globules that track with flawless accuraccy. If you get in close enough to punch and kick, the boss has tenticles that it can flail about to knock you away. On top of all this, the boss has a massive attack it can use with NO WARNING (another boss no-no) that will deal roughly 75% of your health in damage, so if you've taken any hits, it will just kill you flat-out.

The only way to fight the boss is to basically run around the corner absorbing a bunch of minor enemies, then running to the boss to unleash a couple super attacks quick (IF the tenticles don't knock you away and deplete your meter, forcing you to run away and re-recharge without doing any damage to the boss), and then it's back around the corner to recharge. It took me nearly an hour to kill this boss, and about 10 minutes of that was spent actually engaged with the boss itself.

The other boss was basically the same way, except that he actively charges you, so there really aren't any corners to hide behind. The fight is a little quicker than the other boss, but it was still terribly designed because I spent over 90% of the time in the fight dodging and evading the boss trying to absorb health from random enemies around the area. Now, I'm not saying it's bad when you fight a boss without actually being engaged with him. Plenty of games have done that (especially Platform titles). The difference is that while you're dodging around the boss, you can still do something fun. In Prototype though, there's really nothing fun to do while dodging enemies, it's a necessary evil, but should be kept to a minimum.

In the end, Prototype is never truly "hard". The game is pseudo-difficult. It makes you think a particular segment of the game was hard, but the reality is that it was really very easy, it was just annoying to do. You want to have fun while playing the game, so when you try playing the game in a way that's fun, you die over and over because that segment was designed in such a way that you have to play the game in a way that's less fun. In Prototype's case, it's pseudo-difficulty comes from the fact that the challenge in the game is designed so that you have to spend a lot of time dodging around enemy attacks. This means either the developer didn't know what was fun about his own game, or that while he was dodging to the side he was having WAY too much fun with it.

Rather, the challenge in Prototype should have been balanced around your powers. Which arm weapon is most effective for this boss? Which combos work the best? At what times does he have an opening so I can do the biggest combo, and when should I do smaller combos or even single hits? The first boss in the game was like this. He would counter-hit you if you got too close, so I quickly switched to the long-range Whipfist and pegged at him from a distance. Dodge an attack, launch one of my own. Eventually I learned how to read him and what he was doing so I'd know when to charge for a bigger hit. The fight was fun, but sadly the fight also marked the start of the downhill slope for the rest of the game. The game might as well have said "Congratulations, you just beat the game as far as the developers had ideas for, but we still have a lot of story to cover to brace yourself."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Building a Better Fallout: Tag! You're it!

Another problem with Fallout 3's stat system is that the Skills are very bland. Part of this is a very lacking participation from the SPECIAL stats, and another part is that tagging skills does nothing more than add 15 points to those skills. So for picking three "specialties", you don't get anything that you couldn't have gotten from gaining a few levels. It's boring, it's bland, and it makes you wonder why the game bothers you with it. Below, I'll list what could have been done when tagging any given skill to make the system seem more worthwhile.

Barter - 10% bonus to prices when buying/selling
Kinda boring, and still arguably useless, but lowering the amount of caps that can be found randomly about would make it more worthwhile to consider. Anytime you're running low on caps you'd be thinking to yourself, "If only I'd tagged that Barter." Another possibility would be modifying any Speech Challenge that involves talking about a price. After-all, your guy is supposed to be good at bartering prices, so why shouldn't he be good at convincing someone that he should pay you more caps to do a job?

Lockpick - Less stress on Bobbypins, and a 10% bigger "sweet spot"
So picking that lock becomes slightly easier, and your nimble fingers means that when putting torque on the lock in the wrong area, you aren't putting as much pressure on the Bobbypin, giving it about double the durability before it snaps.

Medicine - Added effect for most Aid Items
This would primarily effect chems, but also Rad-X, Rad Away, and of course Stimpacs. Tagging Medicine would of course be an option mostly for a player who plans on popping chems frequently. It would be a static addition per item, like +10% Health from Stimpacs and an extra 5 DR when using Med-X, rather than a blanketed percentile increase for all effected items.

Repair - More flexible repair options
Basically, this would enable the Repair ability that should have been there from the start. Without tagging Repair, it would work as-is where you need an exact dublicate to repair an item. When tagged though, you would have the ability to repair a gun using another gun that's of a similar class. You could tear apart a Laser Pistol to get a part needed for your Laser Rifle, and so forth.

Science - ?????
You know, I'll be honest. I'm completely stumped on how tagging could influence the Science skill. The only idea I can think of is going back to the bonus I proposed that Int could give to Science where it highlights options that would match the the chosen words.

Sneak - Enables silent running.
Simply put, it feels a little off that a stealth-based character needs to wait until Level 12 until he can do what his character is meant to do: Sneak. Even at 100 Sneak skill, your character will make too much noise and be easily detected unless he's moving too slow for it to matter that you're hidden. Thus, I'd propose to get rid of the Silent Running perk and simply make it the bonus for tagging Sneak.

Speech - Adds 10% success rate, and increases rewards for succeeding.
This one took me a while, and I'm not completely satisfied with it, but it's at least something. So when tagging Speech, it's easier to convince people you're right, and they'll give you more money for pointing it out. Say with Megaton, disarming the bomb rewards either 100 caps, or 500 if you win a Speech challenge, OR 600 caps if you win a Speech challenge with Speech tagged.

Weapons Skills - Adds 10% Damage when using weapons of that category, and...

Small/Energy Guns - Increases accuracy in VATS.
These two weapons types are similar in that they're great VATS weapons. Many of them have fairly low costs in VATS, so how else can they be improved but to make them a little more accurate? Something subtle enough that it isn't game-breaking to not have it, but noticeable enough that it can edge-out that low hit rate into something a little bit better. 10% sounds about good, makes that 75% chance to hit into about 82%. On top of the aforementioned damage increase with all weapon skills (and a few Perks that further increase accuracy), and you've got some good VATS damage coming.

Big Guns - Reduces the reload times by half.
The big problem with the big guns is that many of them are single-fire with a lengthy reload. A character who's going to focus on Big Guns though will be able to deal a lot more damage with his Missile Launcher than a character who didn't Tag the skill simply because he'll be able to put missiles into the air more frequently, with each one hitting slightly harder as well.

Melee/Unarmed - Enables a dashing attack that deals extra damage.
This one almost needs no explanation. As a melee-focused character, you'll want to close the gap with your opponent. Not to mention that the enemies already have these attacks, so it would have been easy to program-in the ability for the player to do them as well. To show when you can do the dash, perhaps an indicator would appear on your cross-hair. You would have to be far enough back that specifically backing-up to dash in would not increase your damage, but when dealing with enemies that are running away a lot, you'd be able to close the distance more easily with a hard hit.

Explosives - Allows for better throws when using Grenades.
I always did feel that Grenade-type weapons had a very short range in this game. Tagging Explosives would allow you to throw Grenades further, and at the same time would increase your accuracy in VATS when using them.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review: BlazBlue

Another day, another fighter. That's what I think about most Fighting Game releases. Seems that Fighting Games these days basically fall under one of two categories: The Streetfighter "everyone's move is down-to-toward punch" styled fighters that feature a generic charge meter for your super moves, and the occasional game that wants to be Soul Calibur. BlazBlue falls under the former category. The majority of characters have the same "down-towards" input commands, and the characters all have a Heat Gauge that they can charge in order to unleash they're special attacks. I don't think I could yawn long enough to emphasize how many fighting games use that same style.

But enough with first impressions of the game. Unlike most fighters of the Street Fighter model, BlazBlue has an amazing amount of depth. The first of which is the "Drive" attacks you can use. Doing away with the boring (and clunky on a 4-button-faced controller) system of having 3 varying strengths for punches and kicks, BlazBlue simply gives you 4 buttons to worry about. Weak, Medium, Strong, and Drive. The Drive button works like any other attack button, except that it has a completely different property for every character. One character can use health-draining attacks, one can magnetize his opponents to grab them from across the screen, and one character's Drive is an ability that my friends and I have dubbed "Push the green Skittle, get a combo".

Unlike most fighters where how fast and how hard your character hits are just about the only variance between two characters, the Drive attacks in BlazBlue essentially mean that both players are effectively playing two completely different games with the only common ground being that the goal in both games is "deplete your opponent's health bar". So you'll have a match where one player is controlling the wind to assist with attacks (or deter the other's), and the other is more focused on controlling the screen by filling it with bugs and other obsticals that need to be dodged around in order to attack him.

If there was any reason for someone to not buy this game, I would have to say that it has very fast-paced combat that might be unfriendly towards someone new to the fighting genre. If you're new to fighting games and playing this against people more familiar with the genre, you're likely to have a much harder time figuring-out how everything works. So if you want more of a "Fighting Games 101" course, there are better options out there, but you'll definately want to come back and pick this one up once you have the hang of things.

My only other gripe with the game is the Story Mode. Now, unlike most fighters, this game actually has a fairly interesting story, but that isn't the gripe. The way the story mode is set-up is you pick a character and then play through his/her side of the story. You get in a few fights, you pick a few branching paths, and of course there's different endings depending on your choices. To complete each story, you need to work your way through having done 100% of that character's story. This means viewing all of the sequences... including the losing ones. So if you aren't careful, it tends to lead to situations where you have 2% left to go, and you could swear you've already lost to everyone, but now you have to play it through multiple times to lose to everyone again just to make sure. It comes-off as pointless busy-work when you consider that there's rarely anything of interest to be seen in the losing sequences.

To sum it all up though, BlazBlue is a very fun, and very well-balanced fighting game. There are probably about a dozen other things that I could rant about that attribute to the game's greatness, but at the same time I feel the review is long enough as-is. If you're a fan of the fighting genre (especially 2D fighters), then there's no excuse for not playing this game. If you've never played fighters but are looking to get into them, don't forget to come back and pick this one up once you think you can keep-up with more fast-paced combat. BlazBlue is not a game to be missed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Good Game Design Rule I: Everything has a Purpose

It's one of my pet peeves when I'm playing a game, is when I see something that I would really like to use (be it a stat or a weapon), but it was implemented into the game (or something else was implemented into the game that renders it useless) in such a way that you have to bend-over backwards to find a use for it, and even then it's very weak at serving it's purpose. So why did the developers take the time adding that item when they could have spent a little more time on other aspects of the game? I'm all for things being included for the sake of novelty, but sometimes it's less obvious that the thing you're aiming for is a novelty, so before you know it you're at a really high level in an RPG, and you find-out you've been pouring your points into a stat that is completely useless or has a much lesser effect later in the game than you'd think it would.

A lot of times I chalk this up to a lack of play testing. Many times when playing a game that lets you allot stats to your (mostly RPGs of course), there will be that one stat that looks very tempting. Upon putting points into the stat, you find that you like the effects given by this stat, say Magic as an example. So you spend your time playing this game putting all of your points into Magic (most of them anyway), but then you run into a problem. Closer to the end of the game you're having a much harder time playing the game, possibly even finding it impossible. So you decide to research it, you find some forums that discuss the game, and low and behold, everyone giving advice says to stay away from Magic because it becomes highly useless at the end of the game due to a large number of enemies that have a high resistance to Magic.

This is actually a true story, to some extent. Diablo II. In this game there are 8 classes to choose from, and each class has 3 skill trees you can work down. In theory, this leads to 24 possible character builds to choose from. In reality, you have roughly 20 potential builds that are great for the first stretch of the game, and a handful of builds that can continue to be as useful when playing in the higher-level content. So why bother with those 20-some other character builds? Why put them into the game? For flavor? Well, that's great, but now I have to start a new character because I've hit a sudden road block where my current character just struggles too much to get even one enemy down, and he spawned with 10 friends all right next to him that I still have to deal with.

Don't get me wrong, I love Diablo 2, and I even play a couple of those 20-some builds that are near-useless in the later game. The problem is though, I have to really dance around to make kills on those characters, meanwhile someone else will come along with one of those 5 builds and rips the enemies apart in mere seconds. If it's even a plural number of seconds. It's good to know that I'm skilled enough to play one of the lesser builds at a higher-level dungeon, but it's disheartening to be spending a good 10 minutes working on clearing my way through one hallway of a dungeon, then someone joins the game and they basically just walk through the place, barely breaking stride as the enemies seemingly drop to their knees in awe of his damage potential.

Which is basically what Rule 1 of my Design Philosophy is about. It asks the question when something is included into the game: "Who would want to use this, for what purpose, and is it a viable answer to that purpose to the same degree as other available answers?" If any of those questions cannot be answered properly, then it's back to the drawing board. Novelty is nice, but it should be saved for situations where it's more obviously a novelty.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Building a Better Fallout: You're SPECIAL Finale

Well, I've just gone-off on a big tangent about what effects I feel different stats should have had in Fallout 3 in order to make them feel like they have some more substance, but what does it all mean? Basically, it means that choosing the SPECIAL stats at the beginning of the game feels more substantial. As the game currently works, no matter how you modify your SPECIAL at the beginning, nothing really changes. There's little penalty for lowering a stat except for Intellect and Luck (and even Luck is debatable), and little bonus for maxing-out any stat besides having a nice and shiny "10" to look at.

Below is a little run-down of the more common builds of characters, the stats they'd like want to opt for, and what they would lose if they sacrificed other SPECIAL points to get those stats.

Stealth/Thief Build
As the game currently works, a Stealth-based character basically plays the exact same way no matter how you build his SPECIAL. A little more carry weight here, maybe a little more health, but nothing actually changes what the character can do. With the listed changes however, a Stealth-based character would have a little thinking to do towards how he plans to play the game, and what he's willing to sacrifice to get the points he wants.

As a Stealth-based character, Agility would be
hands down your favored stat. When crouched-down to sneak, your movement is slowed slightly, and having a higher Agility would compensate that a little. A melee-based sneaker wouldn't want to sacrfice anymore in Strength than he has to, though that's already the case. Most likely he'd tap into Charisma to gain access to a few more points that he can spread about unless he wanted to be a "Jack Sparrow" style of character, sneaky and suave. Perception would gel nicely with the theme of stealing anything he can find, especially if Perception were to play a roll in Lockpicking.

With less Int, hacking computers wouldn't be as easy, and they'd be able to repair their gear just shy of perfect. Without much Endurance, there would be more risk in popping Chems, especially if the addiction penalty was made worse. Luck would be a matter of personal choice, you get free crits anyway when making a Sneak Attack, but you might want the higher Crit chance when things get less sneaky, and you might find that slight bonus towards everything done to be attractive as well.

Heavy Weapons Guy
TF2 references aside, Big Guns in Fallout 3 are severely gimped beyond the repair of just modifying the SPECIAL stats. Simply put, the big guns don't hit much harder than the small guns despite having a lot of penalties tacked onto them. But that's a topic for a later BaBF. As a Big Guns focused character, your choices would come with similar drawbacks to what's listed in the Sneak character. The difference being that you would favor Strength and Endurance.

Now, granted that a character focused on Big Guns will already do that to some extent, however a high endurance would only be taken for that slight boost in the starting Skill Points, after that it doesn't actually do anything to help the character use his bigger guns. In Fallout 3, carrying a big gun comes with a movement speed penalty, so obviously you're going to want to change this if you're focus will be on Big Guns, thus you'll favor Endurance for lowering that penalty, perhaps even eliminating it completely when Endurance is maxed.

Strength is currently nice for a character of this build because it increases your weight allowance, but careful planning would probably make it just as possible to play an effective Big Guns character with a Strength of 1. That is, of course, unless Strength played a role in effecting the accuraccy of the weapons. Not to mention that as a big guns user, you'll probably want heavier armor, which under the assumed changes comes with a required level of Strength.

Melee Build
This build would make similar choices to the previous build, but for different reasons, and with one key difference. They would opt for Strength for harder hits, and a little Endurance for the sake of a more effective block, but unlike the big guns user, Agility would be more important for a melee-focused brawler. This is both because it would give him a better chance to dodge other melee-based characters, and because it would add to his movement speed, allowing him to close the gap on ranged enemies a little more quickly.

He would likely end-up sacrificing a lot in the other stats to get this, most likely Int and Charisma, possibly a little into Perception as well, especially if he wanted to sneak a little crit into his hits with higher Luck. This would probably be the most varied style of character build from player to player simply because there are 4 really good SPECIAL stats for a Melee-based character to take under my changes, but not enough points to get them all really high without a lot of sacrifice.

Some people would focus on Strength and Luck, giving them the hardest hits in the game, others would probably favor more Agility or Endurance to give them a little more survivability, not to mention allowing them to pop chems more effectively.

High Perception for better accuraccy would be the first must with a Sniper-focused character. Beyond that, there's a lot of breathing room to make this another flexible build where different players would favor different things. A full-on Stealth/Sniper who plans to kill as many enemies unseen, close-up or long-range, would favor more towards Agility. If you want to pop some chems when things get thick, you'll want more Endurance to tough those situations out. Maybe you want high Strength so you can swing your melee weapons harder to make your character like the TF2 Sniper.

And thus, with a few changes to how the SPECIAL stats effect different things in gameplay, suddenly it's a bit more interesting to consider your options when planning your character build. Do you sacrifice some accuraccy to make your character a little more sneaky? How important are critical hits going to be for your character? Do you want to repair your gear more effectively, or will you allow NPCs to maintain them more? Do you like to use Chems, or are they mostly just a source of extra caps? Every answer modifies how you might want your character to be built.

As the SPECIAL is currently set-up though, there's little change from character to character. You can carry more, or you have more health, but really the SPECIAL stats do little to change how any given character is played. Even Agility, arguably a good stat for a VATS-focused character, feels bland when you consider how little it adds for AP. Meanwhile stats like Int and Luck feel a little over-powered as stats since the former gives access to Skill Points which actually matter, and the latter gives Crit which can't be gotten anywhere else.

Still on the schedule for Building a Better Fallout: Tag! You're it!, Undynamic World, and A Little Off-Balance.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Oh yes, there will be bees.

Just got back from chilling with some friends. Lately we've been playing a lot of BlazBlue, the latest 2D fighting game from the same team that made the Guilty Gear series. I never played any of their earlier works, though I must say that if BlazBlue is any indication, then I will have to add that to my list of regrets as a gamer. BlazBlue is just such a well-designed fighter. It deviates from the basic formula that most fighting game fans would probably be familiar with to the point where picking a new character renders him almost completely alien until you've had some time to practice him, and the Drive System is great in that everyone who plays as a different character is essentially playing a different mini-game to deal damage to their opponent.

I play as Arakune, with "BEES!!" being my battle cry (ala the flowchart on how to play as him). One of my friends plays as Jin, so naturally the phrase "Freeze the bees" arose, and is the counter-slogan to my battle cries whenever I fight him. I don't own the game personally, so I'm at something of a handicap when playing against my friends. Thankfully though, I manage to keep-up for the most part. My win/lose ratio could certainly be better, but one on-looker during one of my better matches questioned whether or not I own the game in secret (though not owning a 360 or PS3, there's no way I could). This is owed mostly to my natural reflexes, adaptability, and fast learning.

I'm far from the best Arakune player out there, but with that I'm capable of when playing as him as-is, people should worry what will happen if the day should come that I do own the game. And hey, Street Fighter 4 was released on PC, so who's to say that BlazBlue won't be. Well... you know, besides the people who made the game of course. :x

Friday, August 7, 2009

Building a Better Fallout: You're SPECIAL Part II

Perhaps I need to work on how my posts can come-off as being long-winded. In either case, here's the second part of how I feel the SPECIAL stats should have worked. Now, as people might notice from the first post, I have a few theories when it comes to designing a game: The first is that everything should have a purpose (this is indicated by my wanting Strength to be needed for more than just Melee-based characters).

I could go into more detail on it, but it'd probably turn into a tangent when you're here to read about Fallout 3 theorycrafting (though I'll make some posts explaining my different rules and theories for what makes a good game in the future), so I'll just jump right into it with the last 4 SPECIAL stats.

Hoo-boy... Charisma is a painful stat in that a lot of changes would likely have to be made to the workings of the game in order to make it feel like a really viable choice. The only difference that Charisma makes as a stat is that it modifies your Speech challenges (I've tested this personally, using the console command to test the success chance with the same amount of Speech skill with 1 and with 10 Charisma). This is well and good, but it feels very bland when people still generally treat you the same.

The most basic thing I would have done that wouldn't have been too painful, would be to modify the random things that un-named NPCs say when you try to talk to them. Seems that regardless of the fact that I'm running around with 10 Charisma, high Karma, and that I disarmed the bomb, people in Megaton still regard me as a total stranger. It's a little thing, but it makes the world feel less dynamic when I've done so much for this little town, yet the random locals still blow me off when I talk to them. Yeah sure there's that one chick who gives me stuff, but she does that regardless of Charisma.

Beyond that there are other changes that could be made, mostly in the range of different things that characters say to you. Maybe even the possiblitity of some quests only being accessible if you have a set amount of Charisma. If the character who gives the quest doesn't see you as "likable" enough, they won't give you the quest. However, I wouldn't do that for more than one or two quests to avoid it feeling like a cheap gimmick to make Charisma "useful".

Admittedly though, Charisma basically requires that the entire game be made so that you can talk your way through it to be viable, and even in that situation, only a Speach-based character would really care. Even in Fallout 1 they had to specifically design the last boss of the game so that you have the option to talk him down rather than gun him down just to make speach a more viable thing to aim for. So I don't fault Charisma's short-comings as much as I do the other stats.

This stat probably got stripped-down the most since the earlier days of the Fallout series. Like with Strength, I have to go back to the roots for the first thing I feel Intellect should have effected: Speech choices. In Fallouts 1 and 2, you had more or less speech options based on how smart your character was, and his charisma effected how the characters reacted to those options. The two thus worked hand-in-hand if you wanted to build a "Speech Character", as you'd need high Int to get the options, and high Charisma to increase the chances the NPCs would care about what you're saying.

Expanding on that, I also feel that Int should play a roll in some of the Skills it's claimed to modify. As an example, when repairing gear, a higher Int should play a roll in how much you can repair. Let's just say that you maxed your Repair to 100. If you had low Int, you'd still only be able to repair upto, say, 90% of the weapons durability (as it is now, 100 Repair lets you repair upto 100% durability). It's a random number I pulled at the top of my head, but a general idea of how Int could become a more viable stat when wanting to repair gear to a higher level.

For Science, it would work something like this for hacking (I'm going to assume you know how the hacking works so I don't have to go into detail). At 6 Int, when you pick a word from the list, the game would highlight all other options that could match based on the number of similar letters. At 8 Int, it would also look at the second word and further eliminate options. Then, only at 10 Int would the game further narrow it down when you've selected a third letter. This would make Int a valuable stat for anyone who wants to focus on hacking computers by making it less of a squint-athon to compare letters.

With Medicine, it could factor into healing your limbs. First, I'd reduce the default amount you're able to heal the limbs to about 60% of the current amount. From there, Int would give a 5% bonus (multiplicitively) per point, upto a max of 50% when maxed, allowing for roughly 90% of the current limb healing amount (which is still really high mind you). This would make healing limbs a little more punishing for anyone who decided to slack on their Int.

Oh, and I would get rid of the Skill Points modifier, and just set everyone to gain 15 Skill Points per level. As the game is right now, Int is a little too powerful early-game when it can be used to get a lot of Skill Points, and completely useless the instant you reach max level since it doesn't modify anything beyond giving more Skill Points when you don't level up.

In the current game, Agility only modifies the number of Action Points you can use during VATS. This is phenominal for Xbox players, and ho-hum for PC players. One idea is to create a "Dodge" stat. Every point of Agility gives gives +2% chance for a melee-based attack to completely miss you, maybe even make it so using a ranged weapon cuts your dodge chance by some percentage. Perhaps a little less if gear or perks were to be added that can also increase dodging. Another thought is to have Agility modify your run speed slightly. At 5 Agility (considered average), you would be at the current normal running speed, and every point of Agility could add or subtract 2% running speed, putting you at 110% running speed when maxed, and 92% when lowered to minimum.

Honestly, I would leave Luck as it is. In the current game, people already usually try and get their Luck maxed for the Crit modifier, mostly due to a lack of anything interesting from maxing the other stats in the current game. So were the aforementioned changes put through, then Luck would be about on par. People would still want points in it, but at the same time they'd actually be sacrificing something to get that extra crit.

Perhaps one thing I would alter is that I would have every point of Luck give a 1% added effectiveness to everything else that every other stat can effect. This would make it so that a max of 10 Luck would be like having one extra point in each other SPECIAL stat, even if that stat is already maxed, kind of like the stat having a hidden 11/10 value.

That will do for now. Next week I'm going to wrap this up with something of a run-down on different types of common character builds, and how the changes I proposed would make for more interesting choices when choosing your SPECIAL stats at the beginning of the game.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Building a Better Fallout: You're SPECIAL

I've been playing a lot of Fallout 3 lately, and while it's a great game, I can't help but wonder if they put any thought into the mechanics of the game, or if they spent the whole development time almost purely on designing the maps. As such, I've discovered a blinding number of things in the mechanics of the game that, had more thought been put into the systems, could have been changed and given the game so much more depth. And what better place to start than on the very place where you always start when playing Fallout: The stats and skills.

For those who don't know, Fallout as a series builds its stats on the SPECIAL system. That is:


These 7 stats, alongside your skills, determine your effectiveness in most everything you do in the game, from having a friendly conversation with the local city folk, all the way to launching a Mini Nuke at the local Super Mutant Behemoth (though you admittedly don't need high skill for the Mini Nuke to be powerful). The problem though is that the SPECIAL stats don't really do much in Fallout 3, and tagging certain skills doesn't do anything outside of a bonus 45 Skill Points. So, without further delay, let's go over the first batch of SPECIAL stats and how they could have been more concrete.

The Strength stat in Fallout 3 is mostly fine, but it feels bland. Ok, so you can carry more. So what? By the time you beat the game you're swimming in caps and ammo even on the hardest difficulty, so why is it important that you're able to carry more junk to sell to vendors? Outside of the occasional Melee-oriented build, Strength isn't really a needed stat for any character. It's easy to ignore while leveling, and when you hit Level 30 you get 9 Strength anyway through the Almost Perfect Perk. At this point either you've already had a lot of Strength through the whole game, or you've learned to cope with having a smaller weight limit.

To flesh it out a bit, the stat should have been kept closer to its roots in the older games, in that a higher Strength is required to effectively use heavier weapons. If your character has a lower Strength stat, he'll have a hard time aiming that Minigun you really want to use. To take it a step further, certain pieces of gear (especially Power Armor) should have required a certain amount of Strength to wear. As it is, you could create a character who can barely lift his head without getting winded, but he's able to stomp around in heavy Power Armor all day long without problem. Perhaps a higher Strength could have diminished the run speed reduction when wearing heavier armors, where a lower strength would make the reduction even worse.

Thus, you have more than just Melee characters who feel the need to take Strength. Now just about any player who wants to use anything heavy (be it a weapon or armor) will need to think twice about lowering their Strength. As it is right now though, a character with a decent load-out of armor and weapons can easily make due with the 160 weight limit set by a Strength of 1.

So you got your Perception to 10 (the max, for those who don't know), congratulations. It now does nothing for you. Well, next to nothing. All that Perception does is effect how close you need to be before the blips on your compass show-up, telling you that there's something ahead. Despite that, even with maxed-out Perception you still practically have to trip over the enemy before their blip is seen. Certainly well within their listening range, so by the time you see the red blip and duck down to hide, they're already on their way to investigate that noise they heard.

Rather, Perception should have been used as an accuracy and "scrounging" stat. Perception would work along-side your weapon skills to help boost your accuracy during VATS mode. Adding to that, when digging through Medical Cases and Metal Boxes, a character with low perception might miss that handy Stimpac, where a character with high Perception would not only find that Stimpac, but the Rad X behind it. Oh, and are those Bottle Caps? Nice! See, now it feels worthwhile to have that higher Perception stat.

Furthermore, Perception could play a roll in the three skills it modifies. At the very least, it should play a roll in lockpicking. Something like a sound queue (such as a particular type of scraping) could be heard when you're nowhere near the "sweet spot" to open the lock. The higher your Perception, the louder that scraping is played, and the easier it is to know when you're wiggling the Bobbypin in a complete dead-zone. Mind you that the half-sweet spots wouldn't make the grinding either, so you'd still have to do a little trial and error to find the perfect spot once you're outside of the scraping.

This would make Perception a useful stat for Marksmen (especially Small Guns users), Thief-style characters, and it'd be a good early-game stat for people who want to find that extra Stimpac or stash of ammo in those cases. As it is right now, you could leave Perception at 1 and hardly feel punished.

Here's another stat that can be mostly ignored. Ok, so you have more health. Meh... and the effects on Rad Resistance are mostly negligable since Radiation (ironically) isn't much of a problem in this game anyway (I'll go more into that later). But at the same time, there honestly isn't a whole lot else the stat could have done. Maybe some damage resistance, but that would be negligible as well since either your enemies are barely pricking your health bar, or they're taking it off in chunks, even at high damage resistances. Not to mention that you can get the max 85% pretty easily later in the game anyway, so nevermind that idea.

One thought is that Endurance could play a factor in the drugs in the game. A character with higher Endurance can take more drugs without becoming addicted to them. This would make Endurance a tasty stat for people who like to pop their chems when they get into a tussle, but don't want to risk dealing with the withdrawals of getting addicted too often. It isn't much, but at least when asking the question of "Who wants this stat?" You can give an answer. Perhaps as an add-on to that idea, Withdrawal effects can be made better or worse based on your Endurance, so with a low Endurance, you'd better stay away from Chems or get used to visiting the doctor a lot to get rid of the withdrawal that actually feels hindering (as it is, Withdrawals just lower your SPECIAL stats, which as I stated earlier, don't really seem to do much anyway).

Another idea is that since Endurance is used to modify the Big Guns stat, perhaps a higher Endurance would allow you to more easily carry bigger weapons without being slowed down (not to be mistaken with Strength making it easier to aim). And with Endurance effecting the Unarmed skill, perhaps it could make your blocks with melee weapons more effective. So now we have Melee characters, Big Gun users, and Chem-poppers who would be attracted to this stat because their desired play-style would be hindered without it.

In Closing
That will do for this post. I'll try and get Part II of this posted-up soon as I can and wrap-up the SPECIAL stats section of this, and maybe follow it up with a run-down of different styles of builds and talk about the stats they'd probably opt for, and what they'd be losing in order to get those stats were the above changes applied to the game. Does it suck having to give something up? Sure, but that's the point of creating a character in an RPG. You're good at some things, but there are other things your character might struggle with.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shiro's Brief WoW History

My main character is a Blood Elf Mage named Balthior. I started-up a guild there named "Silence the Discord" - a quote from the hybrid enemies of System Shock 2 - shortly after Burning Crusade was released. Having started the guild when I was around Level 30, it started as a leveling guild. After some waffling about (PvP vs PvE), I decided I wanted to take the guild into raiding, and given the hours I play games most often, a late-night raiding guild.

We started in Karazhan as most guilds did in the day. Actually no. We started in 5-man content, working to gear-up our freshly-leveled players, while also trying to recruit whom we could. From there we finally worked-up 10 decently geared people, and on a whim we decided to head into Karazhan for the first time to take a shot at the first boss and see how things went. From there, we slowly worked our way from barely being able to kill some of the bosses after a full night's worth of attempting, to eventually cleaning the instance out in a single night, with two groups of 10 people going at it.

The next step was the rough one. We had to work our way from Karazhan which required 10 people, upto the other raid instances that required 25. This is when we teamed-up with another guild, who's name unfortuneately escapes me at the moment. One of our recruits was friends with the leader of the guild (and in fact, came directly from that guild because he couldn't make their raid times). We set-up a date and time when we'd pool our resources together to tackle the first 25-man raid, Gruul's Lair. It was a semi-success.

After a number of raids together, the other guild started wanting to merge with us to make it easier to coordinate the raids. After some thought, I agreed to the matter, but things didn't turn-out quite so well as we would have hoped. Shortly after the merger, we tried to integrate them into the guild community, but they just seemed distant, as-if they didn't care that they were in the guild despite having been so adamant about wanting to merge. Slowly but surely, everyone from the guild funneled-out one by one, followed by one big purge as the last half-dozen or so of them left all at once.

It was a slight hit, but since they'd been slacking on attending raids anyway, we'd mostly been working to recruit anyway, so recovery was fairly quick. After their departure, we finally broke into the 25-man content, finally killing Gruul and eventually moving into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep. From there the guild had it's highs and lows, I'm sure I could right a whole novel on our Level 70 raiding history. Our Level 70 achievements, to keep it short, include killing such bosses as Magtheridon and Lady Vashj before they were nerfed into obselescence, and making good progress into Black Temple.

Unfortunately for the guild though, progress was dragged to a hault. See, pretty much right from the start of the guild, I always had a hard time nailing-down officers. I'd promote some, of course, and they'd do their job for a while, but seldom stuck around for long. They never left the guild mind you, just vanished, stopped playing the game. For the most part we'd eventually regain contact with them and find out what happened with them, but it still left the guild with basically one leader through it's entire Level 70 endgame process. So what happened was... I took a vacation.

Despite having left an Officer specifically in charge of leading the raids during the week I'd be out of town, raids apparently screeched to a halt the instant I was gone (despite them having done raids just fine in the past during nights I was unable to be online, with that same officer leading in my stead). So I return, and the guild is in shambles. I tried to get raids back on the calendar, but no one showed for the raids anymore, and one by one, everyone except for a tightly-knit group of friends all trickled out. Were it not for the fact that Wrath of the Lich King was around the corner, I'd have probably just recruited to rebuild the raid, but pre-Expansion season is hell to recruit for if you don't already have a static group.

So that was that. The raid group had all but fallen apart, and the next Expansion that would raise the level cap to 80 was just a few months away. Around this time, one of the guild members had invited his friend who plays as a Warrior into the guild (a guild member who was in this group of friends who stuck around). He was green as hell, having not played the game at all in a year or so, so he quickly got a knack for how things worked at Level 70. Before long I decided he would make a good officer for the guild, and currently him and one other officer are the only two to stick around for more than a week without dropping off the face of the Earth.

So here we are now, at Level 80 and raiding Ulduar with something of a council in charge of the raids. Instead of just me trying to keep everyone coordinated, we have the afformentioned Warrior leading the tanks, the other officer leading the healers, and myself trying to keep the DPS and Crowd Control coordinated. It's been a slow climb (partially caused by a surge of apathy on my part), but our new raid group is starting to gel and reach the same level of performance that I was proud to say our old Level 70 raid group had. A lot of it due to the fact that we have fewer raiders leaving. High turn-over and successful raids just don't go hand-in-hand unless you're lucky enough to be recruiting natural pros with said turn-over.

Lately I've been putting a lot of thought into World of Warcraft. Still waffling-about on whether or not I want to pass-on the mantle of leadership to someone else, if I want to continue raiding, or if I want to even continue playing the game even on a casual basis. Were it a single-player game I'd probably just stop playing it for a while, but when you meet and bond with other people while playing a game, it can be hard to just stop.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Idle Thinking: Day One

Greetings all, and welcome to Idle Thinking, my new blog. Posted here will be my random musings, mostly things that pass through my mind while I'm working. My current job being pizza delievery, I tend to have a lot of time to think as I from Point A to Point B, then back to Point A again, hence the name of my blog. My goals for this blog are to work on my writing skills, hopefully to the point where I can maybe make a job of it. I will talk about various things from what I've been playing lately, news bits that I've read about recently, and probably a rant or two... or three or four.

As for me, I am WhiteTigerShiro as many people know me, Shiro or WTS for short. I play World of Warcraft (but who doesn't play it these days?) on the Mal'Ganis server. Outside of WoW, I play a variety of games. I often referred to myself as being a "wandering gamer" (or The Wandering Sage when I joined a community called the RPG Elite) in that I seldom would play a game for more than a few weeks before deciding to move-on and play something else. It's part of why my favorite quote is from Tolkien: Not all who wander are lost. I was never looking for a "favorite" game to nestle into, I just enjoyed such a variety of games that I could never tie myself down to just one.

The result is that I met with a lot of communities, most of them localized on the GameFAQs forums, though perhaps my favorite was the Samus.Co.Uk forums, or SCU as we quickly came to call it. As the name would imply, it was a Metroid community, a nice and tightly-knit group of Metroid fans, but we talked about everything from here to there on those forums. I made a lot of friends there, maybe a couple enemies. The community sadly dissolved when the web host grew disillusioned with a series of sub-par Metrioid releases and decided to move onto greener pastures. It's unfortunate that he was unable to keep the site up for the sake of the community, but such is life.

So here I am now, rambling-on to (hopefully) a bunch of strangers. I suppose that will do for one day, honestly it's more than I thought I'd write, but that's part of what I wanted with this blog, someplace where I can just wind-up and be set-down to see what interesting trick I do while the dial turns. No saying how frequently I'll be updating the blog, but I'll certainly try and keep it updated more often than VG Cats. Hm... no, that doesn't narrow it down enough. I'll try and keep her updated at least once a week though. ;)


PS: This is a blog that I want for people to read, and enjoy reading. So I welcome any input anyone has for me. Be it how the blog appears, things I talk about (or should talk about), etc. No guarantees that I'll do everything everyone sends, but it's good to see what people are thinking so that I can take it into consideration.

Edit: I cropped my tangent on my history on Mal'Ganis and made it into a new post.