Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tabletop Withdrawals

You know you're going through withdrawals when you outfit your console game adventuring party to look like an order of adventurers in a tabletop RPG.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Evils of Video Gaming

I haven't been putting much work into my game. My thoughts have been distracted by video games of late. In particular Dragon's Dogma. Hopefully I will get back into it soon, but in the meantime, here's a shot from the game.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finding a Path to Earthdawn

I have not been active in the Earthdawn community of late, but I still get the occasional update to happenings at Redbrick. I got a message today that ED has been released for pathfinder. I am torn on this news even more than release in the Savage Worlds system. I can go back many years when I attempted to port Earthdawn into 3.5 in order to make it more digestable to D&D players. I am an old school D&D player, having settled on prefer AD&D 2nd edition above all others and falling in love with the Earthdawn setting when I first discovered it. Some of my old players remember that short lived debacle in what they call "DungeonDawn".

The main downfall of the attempt is that the 3.5 setting, while easily ported to, lost all the charm and nuances of the Earthdawn mechanics. We had players raise one talent above all others so it vastly outweighed others of the same circle, this lead to some unique exchanges in social situations that was quite enjoyable. Another example is karma; karma was often a deciding factor in combat situations and not easily reproduced in D&D. We attempted to implement a D6 karma rule in 'DungeonDawn' seemed unbalancing due to the fixed nature of the D20. Finally there was some difficulty with social interaction in the D20 system. In D&D it is a contested roll between two skills where the higher roll wins. In Earthdawn, you have a social defense that comes into play and you have more of combat-like social interaction. While not the most elegant method, overall the effects were more enjoyable the than D&D <winning smile to prove my point>.

All in all, I am happy that Earthdawn is available to all players, but disheartened that those players will not experience Earthdawn in what I feel is a better experience in its own sake.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Writing Update

Greetings Wastelanders,

I made some good progress on the rules this last month. Unfortunately, I’m not as far along as I had hoped and the rules themselves seem to expand as I write them. That being said, I have a good outline on the rules.

The good news is that I have already finished much of what is planned for June so I should be able to focus
some time on completing the rules.

I will endeavor to keep the updates at least weekly, but I make no guarantees.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning™ Review

I have recently completed 38 Studios' premier fantasy console RPG 'Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning™' and I am quite disappointed in the turn of events that has befallen 38 Studios. To qualify this review, I should state that I do not normally buy my games new. This was an exception as I had been waiting for it since I heard about it on Obsidian Portal's interview with R.A. Salvatore. So my wife picked it up for me the first Friday after the game released and I played it quite extensively, much to my wife's chagrin.

The main thing that drew me to the game was R.A. Salvatore writing for the game. Salvatore has been one of my favorite authors since the Icewind Dale Trilogy and world of Amalur did not disappoint. They were multiple storyline interwoven with the main character's story line that it was difficult to keep everything straight. Amalur is probably one of the richest and compelling worlds that I have found in  a while. The only down side was that you could only be a human or elf (called the dokkalfar and ljosafar). The use of Norse terminology was also very well done in the game. Gnomes are very prevalent in game, but are not a playable race.

The scenery in the game was amazing and I contribute this to Todd McFarlane the art director. Many said that McFarlane had been too removed from artwork to be very innovative, but the sweeping landscapes from forests to swamps to deserts and even the alien looking landscape if the Tuatha (winter Fae) are all awe inspiring. My favorite being Webwood, a forest inhabited by giant spiders. Seeing horse carts suspended twenty feet in the air by webs while the sun shone through the trees' canopies another hundred feet up was extremely satisfying.

The final name I would drop is Ken Rolston; he was the lead designer for Morrowind and Oblivion. This also and mixed result to a lot of people, but I feel it added to the grandness of the game. I truly feel as if the I started in a remote section of the world and slowly made my way into the epic fight between the mortal races and the immortal fae. The world is not as open as skyrim or fallout, meaning you can't just pick a direction and walk till you hit the end of the map. The areas are funneled in to each other. I found that annoying at first, but the areas themselves are well thought out and I may have missed it all together if they didn't display it on the mini-map.

The disappointment at the end of the game was in the finality of the game. While you are still allowed to continue and complete any side quests you may have missed; the game just feels over. If you have been following 38 Studios, they were planning on putting out an MMO based in Amalur. If you look at the world map, the game Reckoning was set in a little sliver of the world of Amalur.


Alas, it does not seem so and 38 Studios may close their doors for good. If you would like to read about what has happened there is a good article called '38 Studios' Downfall' at Gamasutra. So not only is the game finished, but future projects as well.

IGN gave the game a 9 while Game Informer rate the game in the '7's because it did not bring anything new to the industry. I have to side with IGN, Reckoning was just the tip of an Iceberg and I think that if I run a fantasy game again, I will base it in the world of Amalur.