Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WoT MMO: Character types I hope are playable

Everyonehoping for thew WoT MMO likely has their very own list of hopeful character classes and options. Here are mine.

Darkfriend: Yes, you guessed it. How could I think of a WoT MMO and not think of the potential for playable Darkfriends? In theory this type of playable character would be a secret option; as revealing oneself to be a Friend of the Dark would be a very bad idea in most circumstances. Would make for some really interesting PvP scenarios I would wager; though this type of issue would be a hot topic I would wager, as many folk would not like getting betrayed by their teammates at some point. Tricky, no?

Spying aside, I would really love the chance to work ones way up (through politicking and murder of course) to the coveted rank of Dreadlord. Heck, given the option I would pull down the Chosen themselves and strive for Nae'blis. Where do I sign to get access to the True Power?

Children of the Light: No I am not kidding. One of my all-time favorite characters in the Wheel of Time series is one who died off in the second book. Geofram Bornhald (and later Galad) are excellent examples of what the Children should be like. Would be a heck of a lot of fun to play IMO, rooting out Darkfriends, dealing with political and civil unrest... as well as outright militant forces of the Shadow as well. I think, given the option, I would choose a more normal Child of the Light as opposed to one of the Hand of the Light. Naturally being an Inquisitor has its appeal at times, but not always.

Shadowspawn: In an ideal situation a WoT MMO would be designed as a massive RvR game, with plenty of PvE and PvP opportunities. In such a situation certain types of Shadowspawn, namely Trollocs and Myrddraal. After all, as PvE opponents these entities would fill a role... mostly well enough. But it would be darn hard to script up Myrddraal; that is a job I think could be better handled by actual players.

* * *

One tricky spot of class development does come to mind: Aes Sedai and Warders. Should Aes Sedai be playable, would you want a Warder pet, or playable PC Warders? The advantage to a NPC pet is that they would be available whenever the Aes Sedai was actually playing. The advantage of player-characters Warders... well is that people would get to play as Warders naturally.

NPC companions are not unthinkable IMO. Depending on how SW:TOR does when it comes out, folk may grow to like the idea of companion NPCs more in MMO environments. Personally I have always enjoyed 'pet classes' when they are done well, but if they are mishandled they are a pain in the ass.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Playable Khornates: Blood for the Blood God!

Sometimes I wish there were more video and computer games in which one could play a Khornate-style of character. One of the big disappointments I had with WAR (Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning) was that the playable Chaos faction was Tzeentch only. It was especially annoying once we were able to see how cool the Khornate mobs and areas in-game were. Ahh well.

At least it looks like the playable Chaos characters in Dark Millennium will be Khornates. Old news in theory, but still very exciting. Outside of the Dawn of War series of games and the occasional game like Darksiders, there is not too much out there IMO.

Age of Conan can come close at times, save for how petty the questing and such could feel at times. Great combat system in that game, a shame it suffered from various other problems. WoW, alas, has never really felt like it had a comparable option; perhaps the Death Knight Hero class, but I have never played one. The basic Warrior class certainly doesn't feel right.

Certain styles of action brawlers sometimes can capture part of this feel. The upcoming one where you play as a Space Marine looks pretty cool IMO, even if the playable option looks to be Ultramarines. Heh. Perhaps the PC version (if there really ends up being one) could end up with some mods that allows one to change their appearance to other chapters.

The recent Fallout games (3 and NV) were pretty darn good in this regard. There were a ton of fun Warhammer-themed mods for Fallout 3, a number of which got ported to NV pretty swiftly. Easy to do for just the textures and graphical mods of course. Slightly harder to do something like Enclave Commander naturally.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dwarf Fortress: Beware the Necronphesh

After tinkering around for a while (and testing many things out) I have ended up creating an evil human-variant civilization known as the Necronphesh. Some of my inspiration for this civ entity comes from Warhammer fantasy, specifically the Nehekhara. This is a rather bad variation of humans; in world generation they typically start of at-war with just about everyone. Thank you ethics tags! Makes the game so much more fun.

As a part of this mod I have created my own building and custom reactions for it, to allow the Necronphesh to craft a much wider assortment of objects out of bone. Walls, doors, blocks, beds, etc. I am halfway tempted to do a serious play of this civ (after some more testing) with something along the lines of Reveredtour, built out over an ocean or lake for kicks. Internet Kraken's Diverse Creatures Mod would certainly make such a site more interesting.

Still tinkering with the best way to handle the slave caste of the Necronphesh, divided between making them their own creature type or having them as a subcaste of the civ entity. Will try out both to see how it turns out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Minecraft: Needs Biome/Terrain generation options

I love Minecraft. Ever since I first gave it a whirl, I have thoroughly enjoyed goofing off with it. Thus far I have really liked just about every aspect of Minecraft, save for some of the oddness of the Biome inclusions. In terms of bugs my biggest complaint right now is the lack of falling snow to refresh Ice and Snow ion the colder biome types.

Being a fond of themed maps & areas, my favorite Minecraft mod is the BiomeTerrain Mod by Bucyruss. I absolutely loved the ability to get on-demand desert biomes (one of my favorites) as well as all the other freaky stuff one could do with the terrain generation parameters. If there was a single fan-made mod that I would like to see included in Minecraft, it would be this one.

Ideally such options would have some kind of in-client interface to adjust the settings; though for an expert user using the text configuration files would not be a real hassle. I hope Bucyruss comes back and works on this mod again at some point. While some other fellow has picked it up (being paid to do it basically) I really liked the direction the original author was going in. Hopefully nothing bad happened to them.

Hooray for Sandstone! Now making sand castles will be even more fun.

Green Hornet: Good movie, needs a sequel

Caught a showing of the Green Hornet today. As there seemed to be no real point to the 3D version of the movie to justify the increased cost, I chose to see the 2D version. Having now seen the film, I cannot think it would be much improved by having any part of it in 3D.

Very humorous. I quite liked seeing a masked vigilante character story that embedded so much humor, as well as having a good bit of darkness as well. A very quirky movie, but one well worth seeing IMO.

The villain in this movie was very interesting, well portrayed by Christoph Waltz. Not my favorite type of villain mind you, but the oddness of the character fit the overall theme of the movie very nicely. If there is a sequel any villain should be either just as quirky as this fellow (or more) or, to contrast with the heroes better, more straight-laced.

Lovely action sequences. Jay Chou handled his parts well, seems like a good actor. I have not seen any of his other movies (been a bit lax on imported cinema of late) but I would like to see him in some more roles. Performs well as the strong quiet type.

Good buddy picture, fun to watch. I may see it again if I can convince a few folks I know to go see it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

DCUO: Not worth my time

It is a real shame that there has been such great difficulty in implementing a good superpowered MMO. City of Heroes/Villains (CoH/CoV/CoX) was decent enough, and can still be fun now and again to trip back to. Alas while Champions Online and DC Universe Online have made great improvements in some areas, they have been miserable failures in others.

I had great hopes for DCUO... hopes that were dashed upon the sharp jagged rocks of reality once I played the game. Some elements of DCUO were spectacular: The travel powers, the large open city zones, how instancing & zoning are handled. Great stuff. The very basic combat mechanics are also decent enough and the graphics are alright. For myself the major failing of DCUO is how 'powers' and combat itself are handled all in all.

I particularly found the combo system incredibly annoying, cumbersome and... well just not in the least bit fun. The way powers work in the game also kind of boggles the mind. Take a Speedster character as an example. With Electricity/Lightning powers not being available initially, ones choices are reduced to melee brawling or the game-recommended Fire powerset.

Fireball. Alas if Elec/Lightning were in I would expect an actual lightning bolt to be the equivalent early damaging power from that set. In their attempt to achieve the zen of balance across all characters, the system of powers and abilities has been rendered down into something far to base and simplistic. There are certainly folk out there who would love to throw fireballs with their superheroes; but would everyone who want fire-based powers wish for such an ability? I have doubts.

Vote with your wallet. Good advice. Once I realized what the game was going to be like I canceled my pre-order. Very glad there was the opportunity to try before you buy.

While DCUO is not the game for me, there are folk I know who may well enjoy it. Make your own decision; try it if you can before you pay for it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dwarf Fortress: Fun with Ethics

One of the very first tests of Dwarf Fortress modding I tried, was playing around with the Ethics parameters for civilization entities. Naturally I wanted to see if it would be possible to tinker up a civilization that would be able to kill (and then butcher, use the materials, etc.) of other sentient races. A big success.

For purposes of testing these proto evil dwarves embarked with some Elven slaves. Said slaves were then commanded to be butchered successfully. Soon I will have to conduct a test to make sure the materials created via this process are actually usable. To be especially horrific, I will need to find a way for one of my dwarves to have an accident of some sort, to see if they can be similarly... reclaimed.

 Good times. The df wiki has been especially helpful here of course. Interestingly enough one of the examples on the wiki is for a Dark Dwarf civ+race. Good to know I am not the only one with this great idea. Most of the mods I have seen from the community have been focused on other non-dwarf races; Illithid, Drow and the like for the most part.

I must say though, that I may get inspired to create an Evil World mod here; filled with all kinds of nasty fun creatures. I had originally thought of a Warhammer Fantasy mod, but someone else is already working on one. One of my fun ideas for such a mod was to actually write up some unique megabeasts to represent the 4 Chaos Gods themselves. Pity thus the poor fortress that has Khorne wander on in.

Being such a Warhammer fan, may still work on some of these ideas anyway. No wish to compete with another mod project but I can always use them myself or share them with a few friends. Warhammer-themed DF mods may work well to hook a few more folk on this game.

Politics: The Forbidden Topic

Most of the time I consider politics to be a forbidden topic when it comes to discussing things online. Flame wars are all to common.

Today is no different. Grrr.

Perhaps we need a TV show called "Stupid Political Tricks" in which various politicos get roasted over the foolish, wasteful and other hairbrained things they happen to be doing. It is particularly egregious when the people who are making the decisions do not even understand the issues. Don't get me started on the folks who utilize outright falsehoods to get their way.

Rant over, on to more interesting topics.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Early Hopes for a WoT MMORPG

The Wheel of Time turns... and we are a little bit closer to a WoT MMO.

There has been next to no news out of Red Eagle Games since the very first announcement of a WoT MMO being in-development back in 2008. Based on the standard development life-cycle of MMOs however, it is perhaps not wise to expect too much news about the game any earlier than later this year or early 2012 perhaps.

One of the preeminent things I am hoping for out of a Wheel of Time MMO is that there will be diverse playable options and affiliations. Ideally it would be possible to create and play as many different types of characters: Whitecloaks, Seanchanm Darkfriends, Aes Sedai, Asha'man, Aiel and so forth. It would be a real shame indeed if the playable options were only limited to a narrow heroic range.

The biggest problem I can think of with developing a WoT MMO is that of the story of the game itself versus that of the novels. If the MMO were set in the central world (Randland as I have long called it) then the players would be subject to the whims of the book characters in many extents; an issue that also brings up the matter of chronology in that when would a MMO of this nature be set in the timeline?

One option would be to set the game universe itself in one of the mirror universes, one that is sufficiently close to the main canonical time-line and setting; but which can then diverge and go its own direction. Thus instead of a linear progression of development that follows the narrative as a guiding (like LotRO) the novels would serve as a foundation of what is and what was... but who knows what may yet be?

Dwarf Fortress: Losing is Fun

A while back last year I started playing Minecraft. Great game that, but it was thanks to Minecraft (and its community mostly) that I became exposed to Dwarf Fortress. Naturally my opinion of Dwarf Fortress is horribly, terribly biased. Why? Simply put I am fond of Dwarves as a fantasy species, I like sandbox-style games as well as games that have elements of procedural generation.

My first experience with Dwarf Fortress was a terrible one. I could not work my way around the interface properly and I had no idea at all what was being displayed on-screen due to a lack of familiarity with what all the ASCII symbols represented. Sure I did try my hand at a few of the graphical packs, but I did not feel that they added much to the game.

In order to get a better grasp of how Dwarf Fortress was supposed to work, I did a little more research. 1d4chan was crucial at first in my efforts to comprehend just how cool this game was. From there I went on to read Boatmurdered (and am eagerly awaiting the animation) and am currently reading Internet Kraken's DF Let's Play of Reveredtour. Good stuff.

Since then I have been able to wrap my head around the ASCII symbology... and I actually like it a heck of a lot more than the currently available graphical packs. There is a place for graphical visualizers for Dwarf Fortress of course, but more things like Stonesense IMO that can overlay the basic client.

Naturally, being fond of Evil in gaming, I have started tinkering around with modding Dwarf Fortress. My first major attempt shall be a Dark/Evil Dwarven civilization of some sort. After all, what good is it to kill those darn annoying Elves (for complaining I cut down all the trees, the hippies) if I can't at least make some nice elf-bone objects to trade with the next group that wanders into my territory?

Modding aside, learning to play Dwarf Fortress has been a lot of fun. Flooded fortresses, errors in calculation on magma flow... massacred whole communities when someone goes nuts after not finding the materials they needed and butchering all their friends and family. What's not to love?

If you are trying to get into Dwarf Fortress, I highly recommend you read Boatmurdered, Reveredtour or some of the other Fun bits O' Dwarven Legend that are laying about.

Hmmm. Perhaps if Penguins get added in the next update I will create Prinnies, or even some other Disgaea species too Dood!