This is Halloween!

Sorry for the delay folks! I recently came into possession, thanks to a contest at work, of a free XBox 360 Arcade bundle. No Harddrive or anything, but hey, it works and gets me started with a new system.

Anyway, today I wish to share something with you that has been haunting my nightmares. I found it thanks once again to Treasure Tables, and I just had to share it. I like to call it the Man Squid…or the beginnings of the Mind Flayer threat!

I give you….the MAN SQUID!

Freaky ain’t it! So today’s GM tip / advice deals with using things like this from real life as inspiration. For example, I could see this as being a god to Mind Flayers for example, or perhaps an evolutionary dead end…its mouth speaking in draconic tounges.

Disturbing. So look around in life, and you can find all sorts of inspiration. Like the Man Squid!

And yes, its real – http://tolweb.org/Promachoteuthis_sulcus/19531/2007.05.30

Sorcery and Steam, Oh My!

Today is Tuesday! Know what that means? Its time for a PC Game review! Today we will be dealing with an oldie, but goodie, and a cult classic to some. Today’s review focuses on Arcanum: of Magick and Steamworks Obscura. What is Arcanum you ask? It is a 3rd person Isometric view RPG by Trokia Games, and published by Sierra.

The setting is the world of Arcanum, which has recently come out of an industrial revolution. Think England at the turn of the century, with victorian dress and steam engines and locomotives and firearms. With this, Magic still exists, and there is a shaky peace between the two disciplines.

Now, the game starts with your character being on the ISS Zephyr, a transport blimp. The Zephyr is attacking by what appear to be orcs in flying machines that resamble the Wright Brothers flying machine. The blimp crashes, and you are left alive. A voice calls out to you and you find what appears to be a gnome who begs you to “find the boy” and gives you a ring.

And thus begins your adventure.

The game’s story is amazing, although the graphics are REALLY dated. There isn’t much in the way of detail on your character sprite, nor any of your party members. The voice acting however is really decent, and the character portraits add to the setting and mood.

Now on the game system itself. You first must go through character creation, which has a ton of options. You can choose your race, your name, and of course your sex. Females for some reason have -1 strength and +1 constitution. There are also backgrounds, which give your character strange effects such as Poison resistance for the Snake Handler background. I tend to stick with Hyperactive which grants a bonus to speed, but a penalty to charisma.

Once you have your race and background and name, you move on to stat placement.

There are no classes in Arcanum. You can set your character up in any way you wish. Its really nice. You can play a pure melee fighter, which is the easiest way to play the game in fact. Once you reach a certain skill level there is not much you cannot hit and kill in a single turn. I like to add a dash of magic personally, but that is just me.

The stat system and skill system is interesting and a wee bit complicated for those just starting out. There are 8 stats, 4 physical and 4 mental. The physical ones are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Beauty. The mental ones are Intelligence, Willpower, Perception, and Charisma.

Each stat is connected to one or more skills, and you cannot raise your skills past a rank without a certain level of a stat. Generally, Dexterity is the most important stat as it controlls how fast your character is and is connected to a large number of skills, most notably Dodge and Melee (the two main melee combat skills).

A 20 dex is generally the first thing a player goes for. I know I do. Its crazy not to.

Beyond that, Intellect and Willpower and prime for Mages, as Willpower is connected to the schools of magic.

Now, the fun part. Beyond Magic you also have Technology tree’s, like Firearms, and Repair. If you have a large amount of points in your magic skills, you will be horrid with Tech, and vice versa. Also, the higher your magic or tech aptitude (which is based on how many skill points spent in those areas), the higher the chance of failure for something of the opposite type to work. IE, if you have a really high tech apptitude, most spells will not function on you, and magic items will be worthless. Of course, the higher your apptitude, the better things will work from that type. IE, a high magic apptitude means spells work better and more effectivly, and magic items become really high powered.

You can balance this out by putting points in both aspects of course. I myself played the game as a fighter mage for example, and pretty much surrounded myself with mage party members for max effectivness. Cept for a dwarf. Every party needs a dwarf mechanic man!

Next up, Combat! Combat in Arcanum can either be turn based or real time. Real time is a stupid way to play, trust me, as its too hard to react to the NPcs. Turn based is the best option. You basically switch between the two by hitting the space bar. Beyond that, its pretty much point and click.

Now, there are a few flaws for this game. One, the movement system. Instead of the screen moving with your character, you have to move the screen manually. This is a pain in the rear when trying to move around unexplored area’s. Also, on newer machines I have had issues were the screen clips and acts strange. Beyond that, there are not many issues that I have run into.

All in all, Arcanum is an amazing game. I give it a 5/5.

Headlines in Gaming News

Just some brief headlines today –

Radical Entertainment has created their first original video game. These are the people behind Simpsons Hit and Run, and The Hulk games. Apparently the new game is called Prototype and features a shape shifting anti hero. Whats with all the anti-heroes man?

The online game The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective is teaching children good habits. This is always a plus. Using a game to teach shows that games are more then just BLAM BLAM I KEEL JOO. Hopefully more interesting developments will occur.

Finally, a man is killed in a shooting involving a game. Now whats stupid is its cause one of the guys lost, and they got into an argument. What kind of nonsense is that?! Apparently the shoot claims he did it to protect him and his family…but thats a bit extreme dontcha think?

Doh!

I just realized that I didn’t post anything for surprise Sunday! 0_0

I was busy today actually and I am sorry, my readers.

I picked up Guitar Hero 3. No, you can’t have it. Yes, I rock. Thats all there is to it. Expect a review on GH 3 on Thursday, and the news as normal.

Technically this could be your surprise!

Surprise! No post!

Its not about who you are…

Its about who you want to be. Thats the slogan of The RP Site, a site dedicated to forum RP, and today’s website that is up for a review. The RP Site is an interesting place, headed up by a man known as Egonboy, aka Steve Burkland. Its a nice place, and is home a large community of gamers. Today I am going to focus on 3 aspects of the site itself: Community, Setting/Plot, and Character Creation.

First up is the Setting and Plot. There is ALOT of work put into this aspect of the site. Its been around for about 4 years now, and I myself have known about it for about two and a half. The basic setting is a world where it merged partially with a realm of demons, and a creature called The Lord of the Flies has invaded with his demon army. Beyond that, the plot changes each year. They actually do a total reset each year, reseting the board back to a new incarnation and making everyone start over. The reason for this? To keep things fresh I suppose. Each time they do a reset, Egon changes how the plot and world interact. As far as world is concerned, they have split the board up into sections, each part representing a different area of the world. There are 22 different boards, representing different area’s and countries. Each of those boards has 1-10 subboards, which are area’s within that area or country. They even have a World Map where you can click on an area and get taken to its boards.

I give its setting and plot a 4/5 rating.

Next is the Community. Most of the people on this forum are great, and its one of the few reasons I come back after I leave (more on that in a bit). The people are generally friendly, accepting of all sorts, and are made up of the strangest bunch of people I have met. THere are a few assholes, and retards, but its a forum and you have to deal with that.

I give the community a 3.5/5

Finally, the biggest aspect next to the setting and plot is Character Creation. This is where The RP Site fails in my opinion. The main man behind the rules for character creation, and the head reviewer of the bios is a man named Craer. Now Craer is an ok guy, as long as you arent making a character. The basic way character generation works is as follows:

Make a character, post a topic in the Bio’s board, and wait for your reviewer to pop up. Generally they will have an issue with your character and ask that something be changed. You change it, wait, and it keeps happening until you are finally left with a character that the bio review likes, and then you are approved for roleplaying. They are very much into the system of “Strengths and Weaknesses must be the same number.” IE you have 5 strengths you need 5 weaknesses.

Now why is this a big deal or a big failing? Its the way they handle it. Most of the reviewers are nice to start, but if you disagree with them, they get downright nasty. Insults, condescending tones, and other various derogatory comments appear. Craer himself has stated he likes to open Bio Reviews up with an insult. In fact, in some of the reviewers cases, the first post they make will be insulting and condescending, as if you are an idioit.

This link – Character – is a perfect example of this. Comically enough, this is a character my roomate made on her own volition, to test the site out. She wanted to see if the site was as cool as I said. Needless to say, she did not stick around as they demanded weaknesses when her character had no ability in combat.

This goes to show ya just how distrusting the Bio Reviewers are, until they get to know ya.

NOw, funnyily enough, if you are known well on the site, you can get away with more. For example: I am nearly famous for some strange reason on that site for a character whose name was Bruiser. Bruiser was a Hulk Knockoff. Truely, I got the idea watching the Hulk movie. Just made him smarter and not green. He could lift 3 tons one handed, and if the weapons were magical they had little to no chance to really hurt him. The only weakness he really had was he was slightly slower at a walk/run then a human, and took double magic damage.

That doesnt really stop a guy who can fling a car at you and then using his really powerful legs launch himself like a rocket at ya. I also made sure he was designed to take a beating. I didn’t dodge attacks, I just ignored most of the damage they caused.

Basically, this character should NEVER have gotten past their system…but he did. And I was allowed to play him because they trusted me to not God Mode. (For those who dont know, God Modding is basically acting like nothing can beat you and RPin that way, dont do it, you would just be a dick).

I give the Character Creation system a 1/5

So what does this all mean? Basically, if you can make it through the Character Creation system (which my roomate likens to pulling all your teeth then jamming them back in randomly, but without novicane), you will find a place that florishes with RP, and a group of general players who are really friendly and helpful.

I give the The RP Site a grand total average score of 2.8/5

Yoyoyo its E-Thug! The Internet Gangsta!

Today’s rant is something a little close to home for me. Its about what I like to call Gamer Thugs or Gamer Bullies, or the infamous Internet Gangsta. What are these you ask? These are the people who berate, torment, mock, torture, and belittle other gamers who they feel aren’t as awesome as they are. Forum trolls are a good example of this breed of person.

I hate these people. They do nothing good for the gamer community and in fact just reinforce negative stereotypes. In some cases, these people even go beyond in game attacks and actually start harressing people in public. Arcade Bullies are an example of this. A good thread was recently started on the 8 Bit Theater forums regarding DDR Players who harress others. That thread, and the reason below, is why I am posting this.

The reason I mention this is close to home? For the last 3 months I have had a guy harress me via World of Warcraft, repeatedly. Recently I quit WoW thanks to this retard. He went so far as to try to find out my personal information, and address for some wierd reason. Talk about creepy stalkery behavior. And I will be happy to say, if I ever got my hands on that little creep I would inflict so much pain upon his tender flesh that his grandchildren would feel it. I cannot stand these little e-thug’s and retards who do nothing but make the game a pain to play for others. Any of these, from the CS Freaks who call anyone just starting a stupid noob to the DDR retards who think that being able to step really fast is awesome.

So yea, dont be an E-Thug, or a Gamer Bully. Its sad, annoying, and does nothing but make other people think gamers are retarded.

The King of the Underworld Welcomes You

Ahh Odin Sphere. I had such high hopes for it. I first heard about it on the gaming comic Penny Arcade and thought it sounded interesting. I looked it up online, and saw a bunch of various screenshots of the game, and thought “WOW! This game is nice looking!”

Sadly, beautiful graphics cannot help a (in my opinion) flawed battle system and repeatative gameplay.

The game is based on the concept of 5 character’s and their interlocking stories. Basically you play through one characters story, and then the next, and the next, and see how the events unfold through the eyes of each person. My problem with this however is you are stuck playing characters you may not like just to get to the interesting ones.

For example: The first character you must play as is the Valkyrie Princess Gwendolyn. You are stuck using her until you beat her story, and then you unlock Prince Cornelius. This continues on throughout the game.

The combat system is super simple, and I think thats a problem. Its literally one button to attack, one button to defend, one to jump, one to spellcast. Thats it. And that bothers me, because unless you are casting a spell (which is dangerous as they can hurt you too), you are stuck just mashing your attack button. And you cannot stop your attacks midswing, so if the enemy hits you midswing, well your attack stops and generally you take HUGE amounts of damage.

The map system is another strange and annoying point. Basically, you select the area you wish to go to. You then are in a “stage”, and you must kill all the enemies that spawn before the exits appear. Once the exits appear, you select the exit you wish to use, and repeat the process. Sometimes you fight minibosses, and those are worse in my opinion then the actual level bosses. I myself will freely admit I got stuck fighting 2 minibosses called Unicorn Knights at the same time, and just could not beat them.

Even when fighting the minibosses you have to deal with constantly spawning normal enemies as well. Its annoying. A good point is that if you die you can just start over right there at the start of the fight.

The magic system is useless. All the characters get the same spells, and the only decent one is Cyclone, but that can kill you if you accidentaly jump into it or use a special attack that lands you in it. I have done it more times then I care to count.

The good points of the game are the art and the music. I loved both, and had no complaints. The game is for lack of a better term, beautiful. The music is fitting and does not detract and generally helps set the mood.

All in all, I would rent this game. But buy it? Unless you are a collector I wouldnt bother. Its problems far outweight its good points.

I give Odin Sphere a 2/5.