Archive for October, 2009

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Dragon*Con City of Heroes Panel — Courtesy CoH Podcast!

October 18, 2009

So Chooch and Viv from the CoH Podcast have gotten their audio of the City of Heroes panel at Dragon*Con up on their website!  It’s pretty epic, as I got to chair the discussion because I was apparently the most knowledgeable one there about the game.  But, it was an honor to be in a room with so many great people.  The City of Heroes fanbase is TREMENDOUSLY AWESOME, and I can’t stress that enough.

But, before I go any further, I need to get some stuff out of the way:

First of all, GIGANTIC THANKS to Douglas Allan from the Paragonian Knights and Mark Brinkman from Central Nexus.  Without those two helping with the panel, I would have been screwed.  They came on at the last minute, unprepared, and did a killer job with answering everyone’s questions and offering insightful commentary on the fly.  THANKS SO MUCH!!!!! ❤

Second of all, big thanks to Chooch and Viv for coming by the City of Heroes panel at Dragon*Con 2009 and recording it.  It was an awesome idea as there was some seriously great discussion during that panel.

So, without further ado, if you want to listen to the panel and pretend you’re at Dragon*Con, go jump over to CoH Podcast’s site and listen in on their latest podcast!

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Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

October 16, 2009
Squak!

Squak!

So I jumped into the MAG pre-order beta today.  I can’t say anything about the game thanks to an NDA agreement that’s in place right now, but I can certainly still bitch about the community — an aspect of the game that has really nothing to do with the game.

Raven Corporation.  They’re idiots.  No, really, they are.

Now, normally I don’t believe forumfallout.  People say silly things, like “Raven Corporation really sucks.”  (For those of you who don’t know, when you start up MAG, you have three factions to choose from — VALOR, Raven Corporation, and Seryi Volk Executive Response (S.V.E.R.).  Raven is the technologically correct European faction, VALOR is made up of ex-US Military who are looking for work in the private sector as mercs, and S.V.E.R. is the biggest bunch of rag tag Russians with guns you can get in one place outside of Moscow.)

I heard them decrying the faction I was interested in, but I really didn’t care.  Raven looks crazy awesome technological, they wear all black, and plus you can make so many awesome bird names for your clan.  Steel Talon Company, Razor Wing Division, Blackbeak Company — those names sound awesome.

So I kept reading the forums, like the silly person I am.  I began reading the threads that said things like, “S.V.E.R. stands for Super Vicious, Eats Raven.”  Or how VALOR made sure that Raven remembered they were French.  It was a hardcore hate on Raven fest.  Geesh, why bag on Raven so bad, right?

Well, I’ll tell you why bag on Raven so bad.   Holy. Shit.  Dumb.

Of a squad of 8 people tonight, 3 of us were actively TRYING TO DO THINGS.  The other 5 were picking their noses at the spawn point.  S.V.E.R. didn’t win two matches in a row because they were good — they won because it’s really easy to overwhelm a team when half of their people are AFK.  Crap, I was holding S.V.E.R. off of our position during one match using a sniper rifle at close range, unscoped, while running.  I got five kills doing that.  Five.

This is, of course, not counting the lovely way people would drift in front of our APC when we were driving into the battlefield.  The ones who had headsets would then bitch when we ran them over, and our squad leader would say the same thing every time — “Here’s an idea, DON’T WALK IN FRONT OF THE APC.”  This wasn’t rocket science.  When you hear the loud engine behind you and you hear the horn, you get off the road.  Ta daa.

I would forgive them if they got run over once or twice.  Or if the APC was moving really fast and they couldn’t get out of the way in time.  Nope.  It wasn’t either of those things.  The APC was moving very slowly, sometimes turning, and they would walk right in front of it.  Duh.  Duh duh duh.

So, to be honest, I’m not making this post to scare people away from Raven Corporation.  No.  Not at all.  I’m making this post because I would like SMART TEAMMATES.  So if you think you’re halfway decent at FPSes and you promise not to be a complete tool… PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF CAKE JOIN RAVEN.

That’s about it.

(Also… if anyone wants to make a clan… let me know.  I’d like to make a group of intelligent Raven Corporation players. :D)

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Why I’m excited for Huxley

October 9, 2009
SHOOOOT HER!!!!! SHOOOOT HER!!!

SHOOOOT HER!!!!! SHOOOOT HER!!!

So I’d post this over on Massively, but it would be met with so much Hux-hate that it would probably burn in flames the second it was released on the website.  People are really bitter over Huxley, and I’m guessing it’s coming from the fact that the title has gone from a boxed release to a free-to-play game on ijji.com.  Everyone wanted this big Xbox 360 release (which is pretty much dead in the water at this point, unless they release it as a downloadable title, which would be awesome) and everyone wanted this big game that would kill Planetside.

Well, after getting my hands on Huxley, let me be the first to say that this game probably won’t be killing Planetside.  But let me also say the following: Who the hell cares?

People really need to stop playing rock, paper, scissors with their damn video games.  I’m sick and tired about hearing the phrase “WoW-Killer” or “Halo-Killer” or “Hello Kitty Online-Killer.”  I really am.  Games need to stand on their own merits, and not those assigned to them by another game in the genre.  If they didn’t and every game attempted to one up a prior game using the same systems, then we’d have a bunch of games that were veritable clones of one another.  And if you think I’m making that up, take a look at the MMO genre right now and tell me you don’t see 20 different types of World of Warcraft clones out there.  It’s silly to the point of being ludicrous, and we just keep pushing the developers into these corners by not giving credit to games that break the mold in the right ways.

Ok… that was a rant… sorry about that, but let’s get back to Huxley.  I was in the closed beta test — I can say that because there’s a tag on my forum handle on ijji.com that says “Huxley Beta Tester.”  What I can’t say, however, is anything about Huxley‘s gameplay beyond the information that’s already known.  So I’m going to be a little limited here, but I think I can still give everyone a good perspective.

Huxley is a lot like Unreal Tournament.  I mean, A LOT like Unreal Tournament.  This game cooks.  Everyone’s heard about the freeform deathmatching that you can do at any time in the game, and that mode is pretty much UT3 with your tricked out character.  The only difference is that Huxley characters have unique abilities that you can choose and level up while you play.  For example, Phantoms (the snipers) have stealth.  You could be shooting at the Phantom at one minute, and then bam, she’s gone for long enough to get around behind you and school you.

Then you get into the battlegrounds, which are like Battlefield style matches.  They’re large, they’re full of people, and they give you vehicles.  I can’t say much more about this mode because it’s not really out there, but I can say that I like it.

Then, finally, the mode I really can’t talk about is the questing.  What I can say is that the game provides quests from the city that require you to go out into areas all over the map and perform objectives.  You can do it alone or you can do it in a team.  I can’t say more than “it’s exactly what it sounds like” but I really enjoyed this mode too.  I could see this as being fun for a group of friends who want to hone their skills by fighting side by side.  It’s a great difference from having to go out and get blown up by other people.  Cooperative shooting is always a good plan, especially when it plays like a dungeon crawl.

Oh, and the game has an auction house, and item purchases in-game, and crafting, and weapon/armor modifications.  It’s a full item system with a crafting system.  Take that, other online FPS games.

What’s the best part about this game?  It’s the part that people hate — it’s free.  It looks nice, it plays nice, it’s not too grindy (but there are elements of grind, trust me), but it’s free.  Just to give you an idea how much that blew me away, let me tell you a story.

I threw a Rock Band party one night and just as everyone was arriving I was playing Huxley.  My first friend came in, looked at my monitor, and went, “Dude, what game is this?  Looks nice.”  I told him it was Huxley, and it was in beta.  He never heard of it, but he was shocked to see a FPS that played like an MMO.  He sat down and watched me play for a bit before my next friend came in.  Once again, another person who had never heard of Huxley who was now interested just by watching me play.  He too sat down, and eventually I offered them a chance to try the game out.

Before long, two more people showed up, walked into my room, asked what was being played, and then they sat down as well.  I now had 5 people stuffed into my tiny room, all watching Huxley.  Finally, after doing a couple deathmatches and giving everyone the chance to try the game, someone asked me, “So 15 bucks a month, right?”

It was then when I went, “Nah, it’s free.”  Everyone was like, “Oh sweet!  Good deal!  I have to grab this from GameStop when it comes out!”  Another friend went, “Yeah, I’ll pre-order this.”  Then I laughed and got to say, “Nah, you guys don’t understand.  This game is free-free.  Like free-to-play item shop free.”

It was then when everyone turned to me and said the following, “WHY WOULD WE NOT PLAY THIS?  HOLY CRAP?  WE’RE ALL GETTING TOGETHER AND WE’RE GOING TO OWN THIS GAME.  CRAZY STATIC PARTY TIME!”

And that’s how I got a static party for Huxley with the game not even being out.  That’s why I’m excited for Huxley.  As for you, you should be excited because it’s a solid free game.  It looks nice, it plays nice, and it will certainly be worth your time.  Why?  Because it’s free and running on the Unreal 3 engine, that’s why.

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The gaming update

October 6, 2009

So, I should make a post to you guys about the status of the two games I’m currently spearheading.  Yes, I said two.  Most of you have probably guessed at this point that I’m going to make Wildfire Industries, thanks mostly due to the comments on my last post being so undeniably positive.  Thanks you guys for being honest, and I’m working on making this game work.

Black Clover, my first love and major Pen and Paper Roleplaying Project, is currently sitting in a ditch and going back and forth to get itself out.  The problem is that if this game was a car, then the outside would look awesome while the engine would be a complete complex unworking joke.  Simply put — the lore and world is fantastic.  Everyone I talk to regarding this project has nothing but happy smiles, raised eyebrows, and a wish to know more.  I’m really excited to be putting all of these thoughts and concepts down on to paper and make a gothic steampunk game.  If this game could be completely lore driven, it would be great, but sadly that’s not the case.  The game is a game first and a world second, which leads me to saying…

The system sucks.

Perhaps it’s me, the author, just being overly critical but I don’t think I am.  Every time I try to sit down and work the kinks out of combat or work with the system, I either feel I’m cutting off roleplay by being too strict or not putting enough meat on the bones of the combat system to make it unique and original.  I feel as if combat should be a good portion of this game, especially as each “class” is limited to one “mythic weapon.” (Oh snap, I just revealed something, oh well.)  That weapon should provide a really wonderful and multi-talented use, as it’s the only weapon the heroes will get.  Why did I make that decision?  Well, it simply seems to fit another system in the game, which some people could potentially guess at but I’m going to leave out of this conversation for now.

Skill checks seem to work well in the context, but those too seem to be too reliant on the branching pathways of the classes.  Plus, I don’t want to put things out of order and make something too strong or too weak.  I need to bite the bullet and get cracking on at least getting things together in some working order so I can test for these types of power issues, but every time I start working on it I feel uncomfortable.  Perhaps I just need a break.

To make up for the problems with Black Clover, I have an awesome wallpaper to give out to you guys here on mah blog.  The art is done by my good friend Melissa, who is spearheading most (if not all) of the game’s artwork.  All in her spare time.  Throw your kudos to here on here, please, and let her feel some love for all of the work she is doing — especially if you use the wallpaper below.

Widescreen Version

Widescreen Version (1600x900)

Fullscreen Wallpaper (1200x1024)

Fullscreen Version (1200x1024)

Now, as for Wildfire Industries… well… things went together damn easy.  The system is insanely modular, and in the span of 2 hours I figured out a way to play the game as a traditional RPG, a cutthroat game of roleplaying where one person is declared the winner in one session and, interestingly enough, an expandable version that can hold up to 5 teams all playing against one another in either a one shot mission or a running campaign.  Now, you need one hell of a team of GMs for the 5 teams version, but it’s possible — especially if you can play it together on the internet.

This is thanks mostly due to the fact that skill checks are easily variable and not dependent on item use, simply on stat use.  If you want to be better at X skill check, spend points on it.  Or, you could spend the company’s money, which is a discussion for another time.  Checks are easily modifiable to either accomidate one player or a team of players working together (as some checks force players to team up to make them, which depending on the game type they may or may not want to do, resulting in hilarity.)  The game also supports secretive undermining right in the checks system, and that’s not even adding in the “traits” system which are the character’s publicly known and secretly hidden abilities.

Either way, the rules are done.  The game is simple, and I think it’s better for it because it leaves oh-so-much-room for sheer insanity on the parts of the players, much like Paranoia does. (Although I think Paranoia is much more complicated when it’s put next to my system.)  Now all I have to do is complete writing up the abilities that each character type has.  Then, it’s going out for a test run with my gaming group.  If it succeeds there, it goes for a test run at the local gaming club at the University of Pittsburgh.  Hopefully all of this will allow me to refine the rules and abilities, and then I’ll ask for testers here on line.

Then, with luck, I’ll get some inspiration and move forward on Black Clover.  Mmmm… Black Clover… *drools*

Anyway, sorry for the HUGE post, but I hope you guys enjoyed it!

~Sera

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Doing business, badly. Yey or nay?

October 1, 2009

So I need to poll the audience here, hence why I’m writing this post tonight.    I had one of those brain explosions that I rarely get, and I decided to act on this one.  It was the concept for a RPG/game-ish systems where players would effectively play a roleplaying game while simultaneously screwing one another over at the table, but in order to benefit the whole table.  It sounds fun (in concept, of course, as I haven’t exactly tried to test this yet) and it also sounds like a perfect system to plug into a game world that I’ve been working on for a long time now — Wildfire Industries.

WI was always built around the concept of pulling the stick out of the ass of business before shoving it violently into the head of business.  In short — it’s horrible corporate satire.  It’s the office politics you dread taken to a level of insanity and murder.  It was always a fun world for me to write/picture, and it even did quite well as a alternate reality game.

But just because it works well in one setting doesn’t mean it can translate to other settings, so here’s my question.  Would you play a pen-and-paper roleplaying game that centered on something like business?  Now, granted, it’s insane business, but it’s still business.  It’s still making contracts, securing funding, solving problems in the workplace, and things like that.  Sure the answer to all of these things might be having sex with the person you want to make the contract with, robbing a bank to secure funding, and killing everyone in a department to make sure there’s no more problems in the workplace, but it doesn’t work unless players want it to work.

So, would you want it to work?  Would you play a pen and paper roleplaying game centered around something as mundane as modern business?  Or would you believe that this system should be put to use in another type of game?