Sunday, 25 November 2012
Friday, 2 November 2012
|How about no?|
Before that, though, I've got another problem to sort out. Enri's eldest son is still off fighting the Crusades, and has sworn fealty to a foreign power. For a time it looked like he would be ineligible to take over Connacht, and Enri's second son, Coleman, would be the next duke. However, that's no longer the case, as Emich managed to get himself back in line for the throne. With that I managed to convince him to return to my court, and a few years later Coleman hatched a plot to have his older brother killed. I knew about it and could have had Coleman arrested, but I chose to look the other way because I wanted Emich dead as well.
|Scotland is getting a little too close|
Things haven't been entirely grim, though. I've had another bishop go heretic on me, this time Enri's own brother who decided to embrace Lollardism. I promptly tossed him in prison when he told me this, and after a few years he had the gall to complain that his accommodation weren't up to snuff, and that he wanted something nicer. I told him to stuff it. After a time he died in there since he absolutely refused to convert back to Catholicism. Sad. But on the plus side, his death freed up a landed title which I gave to Coleman since he was still my heir at the time.
So, I've got a lot to work on next time I play. First and foremost is wiping out the last of Emich's family. I don't want Connacht falling under Enri's grandchildren's liege's control. After that it'll be time to deal with Scotland. Thankfully after hopping on the Paradox forums, the people there gave me a bunch of nifty tips for dealing with a larger, aggressive nation that's on your borders. I'm liking the idea of trying to assassinate the King of Scotland, and a few of his successors just after they take the throne. If I can pull that off and create a lot of instability there, I'll be quite happy.
|Enri has also embarked on a quest to improve is intrigue|
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
|It was only a matter of time before Briefne rebelled|
As luck would have it, though, it was a very short war. I marched my troops back into Briefne, and they got down to the business of smacking around enemy soldiers. Moments later I was informed that Arzhel was dead, and that the war was over, so things worked out rather well there. I didn't even need to call in foreign help, which was quite nice.
|The war with Briefne didn't last very|
While idly scanning the map, I also noticed that Scotland has been expanding quite a bit, and has even gained a foothold in Ireland. They seem to be staying put in Ulster right now, and neighboring regions are on guard. It'll be a little while until the Scots are a threat to Connacht, but I'm keeping an eye on them for now. If they try to enter my territory I have a number of alliances at my disposal including Castille, Sweden, Norway, and France. Hopefully the threat of being stomped by some of Europe's greatest powers with give Scotland pause before trying to invade my fair dukedom.
|During the post-war years, Enri's|
wife to a liking to smutty literature
Also, it seems like Enri's heir, Emich, also turned into a complete moron the moment I changed the succession laws. Suddenly he was running around plotting murders left and right. My spymaster discovered these schemes twice before getting bumped off himself by the idiot. It's like he figured he's guaranteed to be duke now, so he can do whatever he wants. After that I'd finally had enough and figured I'd toss the lad in prison for a few years while he takes some time to think about what he's done. Instead he managed to avoid arrest, and buggered off to the Continent. Now he's off fighting in the Crusades.
|One boneheaded son may cost me my entire dynasty|
Monday, 29 October 2012
|Nothing spells fun like having a child on the throne|
|Sometimes you just have to|
bring the hammer down on
Once Heinrich reached 16, things calmed down a bit. A decent number of his nobles were at least tolerating him, and the members of his council seemed to think he was a pretty okay guy. About the only real problem that kept popping up was that one of my courtiers kept assassinating my spymasters, and these guys had pretty good intrigue stats, so it got annoying after a while, and I had to stop it by plotting an assassination attempt of my own on her. It took a little while to find co-conspirators for this because a lot of people had a high opinion of her, but eventually I found a couple, and we got to scheming. It took about a year, but we finally managed to bump her off through poison. Other than that, though, things were quiet in Connacht.
I took advantage of this time to start making political marriages wherever possible, including marrying Heinrich himself. The most important of these has established ties with Castille, one of the more dominant Spanish kingdoms. These sorts of marriages are something that I want to work on now because I'm probably only 100-150 years away from England starting to push hard into Scotland and Ireland, assuming it tries to expand. I want to make sure I know how to swing some powerful connections around so that I can push them out of Connacht, and whatever other regions I conquer when the time comes.
|The assassination was an oldie|
but a goodie
During the early part of his reign, Heinrich was beset with a steady succession of dead bishops. There was nothing sinister about their deaths, they just kept dying of natural causes. Occitan kept freeing up more and more bishops for me to recruit, but I had to wonder about their quality after a while. It got to the point where the only guy available was a certified lunatic. He actually had a trait for lunacy. I hadn't even realized that was a thing in the game until that point. I wound up recruiting him for laughs, though. Figured it would be fun.
Most of my court didn't say anything, but my mayor eventually called out Heinrich on the matter, asking why I had a heretic as a bishop, and why the man was also in his council. First of all, he's not a heretic, Mr. Mayor, he's just crazy. Second, dem learning stats! They're really high. How can I say no to those? Eventually I did capitulate and replace him on my council, but again people in that role kept getting sick and dying, so I had to go and ask the bishop to retake the position. I'm guessing he didn't take the original firing all that well, because when I went to check on him now he had not only the lunatic trait but was now also a drunkard. Great! (Truth be told, I'm half tempted to make him a guardian of someone just to see what happens. Tee hee!)
Oh, and did I mention that I invaded Briefne? Well, I did. The first order of business was to usurp the title of duke back for Enri, which would also return my de jure claim on that region. With that out of the way, I promptly declared war on the county, and marched some 800 troops on it. At first it was a route, as my forces smashed their army, and laid siege to one fortification after the next until finally coming upon the castle of the count himself. This was a much closer battle than I was expecting, as their garrison was quite large, with almost 750 units in it. I only just outnumbered them, and thus was able to win the siege, forcing a surrender from the count.
|Oh, and did I mention that I conquered|
So, now I wait and watch. Maybe I can somehow get the count on side, and we can start having slumber parties and doing each other's hair. If not, maybe it'll mean another war, and if that's the case so be it. I'll just march on Briefne once more, and crush him. Assuming he survives the battle, I'll make sure he spends the remainder of his life rotting in prison.
Sunday, 28 October 2012
|Tadg had a tendency to indulge himself during his reign|
|Just because you're a duke, it|
doesn't mean you don't have to
answer difficult questions
During his reign I'd have to say that Tadg has been the most ennui addled ruler that I've ever played in this game. He would get bored easily, and eventually decided to go and have an affair with his uncle's wife. I didn't even have a say in it. His bad behavior even resulted in a bastard son who I chose not to legitimize, humiliating his mother, infuriating his uncle, and leaving the boy with a deep-rooted hatred of Tadg and his house. Nonetheless, this went on for years, and for reasons I've yet to figure out Tadg's mistress, Helie, just kept on coming back to him no matter how poorly he treated her.
Shortly after this, Ireland was once again facing the threat of a tuberculosis epidemic. I kept my fingers crossed that Connacht would again manage to escape being afflicted by the disease, but I wasn't so lucky this time. At first it trickled into my region, and before long it was tearing through my court, sinking its claws first into Tadg's brother, then hitting several of my nobles. There were a number of deaths at the hands of the illness. As luck would have it, though, it also managed to kill some of Tadg's enemies in his court, including his uncle who was still none too happy about Tadg's affair with his wife. Even my duke was struck by the disease. He managed to pull through, but died a couple of years later due to another illness.
|My first Regency|
If he can hold things together, and bring his nobles in line, he could have an interesting run on things. He still has a de jure claim on Briefne that he can exercise, and his father poured quite a lot of money into castle improvements, so maybe he'll be the one to start Connacht on the path to conquest. It certainly helps that I think I have a better grasp on that element of the game as well. Before that, though, I'm just going to focus on getting Heinrich to adulthood in one piece.
To Part V
Friday, 26 October 2012
|Indeed Aed does love his wife, as we can see by the huge brood of|
offspring that he produced with her.
|Aed really did well for himself|
during his reign, and his heirs
have some big shoes to fill
I also have a feeling there's something in the water wherever Aed's clergy usually hang out, and it's something a lot more sinister because two more of my bishops have suddenly decided to go heretic on me. One guy embraced Walderianism, and I can't remember off hand what the other got into, but I'm thinking it may have been Catharism. Again. I had these people thrown in prison, but this time I was actually able to demand that the Walderian convert back to Catholicism, to which he happily agreed after which I had him released, and he lived out the remainder of his life serving in my council. The Catharin simply shouted, "I don't wanna!" every time I tried to make him convert so I was forced to leave him in prison. Unfortunately, I also forgot about him after time, so he wound up rotting there for many years before finally dying. Did he ever have a change of heart, I wonder. I guess we'll never know.
|It's difficult to see here, but a|
tuberculosis epidemic swept
much of Ireland
After quite some time, though, Aed I finally died. I was actually starting to wonder about this guy because he kept on going and going, living for over 80 years. In his twilight years it was easy to see that age was taking its toll. His stats were starting to go down, and the earl of Briefne was able to usurp Aed's claim on that county. Even after Aed did die, his son was getting up there in years, already in his late 50s, and didn't have a long reign at all before succumbing to age himself. About the only thing that he was able to accomplish was to get the "Lust" attribute. A few short months later he was dead, apparently of natural causes. Right.
So now Aed I's grandson, Tadg, is leading the county. He's suffering a fairly significant hit to opinion of him since he's still in the transition period after taking the reigns of power. This will last for a few years, so I have to do whatever I can to improve people's opinions of him. Thankfully we're not at war right now other than the crusade going on, but that doesn't inhibit feasts, fairs, or hunts like more conventional conflicts do, so he'll have to start up the partying anew like his grandfather once did. Hopefully this well get him in everyone's good books sooner rather than later, and he can get down to the business of expansion.
|Because Aed I lived for such a long time, his son barely had a chance|
to rule Connaught before dying himself
And this is where things could get interesting. Despite Briefne seizing my claim on that region, it's former ruler has died and there is a child on its throne, so I can usurp the claim right back now if I want. I plan to do this. It does get tricky, though, in how I go about invading the region. I recently started the construction of Connacht's second castle, which will be complete in under two years. When it's done, I will be able to muster significantly more troops, and also have a better selection thereof, including a larger number of heavy infantry. The long and short of it is that I should have a good-sized invasion force at my disposal, and I can finally start thinking about expansion.
|Tadg's first wife died, so now I'm|
trying to marry him to a princess
So there are some decisions to be made. I'm leaning toward dealing with Tyrconnell first, but we'll see. Before doing anything I need to shore up morale in Connacht, and make sure all of my nobles are on good terms with Tadg. Only then can I start looking to expansion.
To Part IV
Thursday, 25 October 2012
|Could an invasion be coming?|
Where to begin? Hmmm, first, another neighboring region, Tyrconnell, decided to fabricate a claim on Connacht, which means there's a risk that I may be invaded at some time. I have my army training, but my forces aren't very large, so it may prove to be a problem if this guy marches on me any time soon. All I can do is try and keep my soldiers ready, and maybe see what I can do about improving the area's opinion of Connacht. Not long after this Aed's wife died (of natural causes), and this proved to be a double problem because not only would I have to seek out a new wife for my duke, but I also needed a new spymaster. Filling this position resulted in a flurry of job shuffling in my council as I tried to find a suitable replacement. I had to go so far as to invite some new nobles to my court, but after about a year I finally had a number of new nobles that were very good at their jobs, and at last the spymaster position was filled for the long haul (I hope!). The council even got a couple of new members that were particularly skilled to take on the roles of steward and chancellor.
|What the hell! First you complain at my feasts, now|
you turn heretic on me.
|There have been no lack of spies|
lurking around Connaught.
So things have gone all topsy turby in a little over five years for my little corner of Europe. We're still throwing our parties but it's hard to ignore the looming threat of a potential invasion from Tryconnell, the loss of Aed's wife, and his bishop suddenly turning heretic. Things have started to take a turn for the worse, but now I guess it's up to me to get things back in order, and ensure that Connacht becomes the hippest, most happening place in all of Ireland.
Part III is over here.
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
I've always been intrigued by grand strategy games. They seem such complex things as someone whose never played one before with all of the rules, countless factors to consider, and tons of historical depth to them. I think for a lot of people it feels a little daunting trying to get a handle on such a game. A while back I got my mitts on Crusader Kings II, Europa Universalis 3, and Hearts of Iron 3, but up until this point my time with the games can only really be considered fiddling riddled with false starts and silly mistakes as I try to get a handle on the genre.
Now I've decided to really sit down and try and get comfortable with these games starting with Crusader Kings II. I chose this one because I find it a little easier to grasp than the others, and it has a nice sense of humor to it as well where it feels like even if I lose I still kinda win just because of the hijinks my characters got into while playing.
|I have a du jure claim on Briefne, but it ;make take some work to|
bring it under my control
So, for someone like myself who likes lots of history, as well as games with a lot of meat on their bones, I guess it was inevitable that I'd sink my teeth into these games. This go around I plan to play through a session until the bitter end amassing as much prestige and piety as I can until my family line dies off or I make it to the year 1453, the year the game ends in. I'm going to give it a go as an Irish duke in Connacht, Aed I. Ireland is pretty much referred to as tutorial island in the game because it's a relatively quiet area of the world where not much happens. The larger nations mostly leave it alone seeing as it's so far away, and nearby countries like England and Scotland have their own problems without trying to invade. About the only thing players need to worry about is other Irish rulers trying to take over neighboring regions. Just to make sure I've got a handle on the game's mechanics I'll be playing it on the lowest difficulty setting. If I survive I'll play a new game with it set to normal and see how that goes.
|Hunts have been very good to Duke Aed I|
And that's one of the things that I'm noticing with Crusader Kings II: you need to take the long view on things. A lot of things take a really long time to come to fruition, so don't go running around guns blazing all the time like one would in countless other games. Realize that a plan that has just been set in motion may take many, many years before anything comes of it. Research takes time. Construction takes time. Getting all of the pieces in place for some grand scheme takes time.
That isn't to say nothing happens in the game, and that players are forced to wait ages before events come to pass. There's still a lot to do for fun, for profit, for the benefit of your family / vassals / subjects / the clergy. That's largely what I've been doing so far, going on hunts, having feasts and festivals, and finding a wife for my son (landed him a daughter of the Duke of Aquitaine). With a steady flow of tax income, research into ways to get more taxes, improve military tactics, and get more monthly prestige, things seem to be going well.
|One of the first orders of business in this session was finding a wife for|
Aed's only son.
I've also held a couple of winter feasts, sparing no expense on food or entertainment. Guests have been treated to mountains of food, rivers of drink, and conjurers, tumblers, and fire breathers. These things are really quite the spectacle. The local bishop seems to be a bit of a jerk at the feasts, though. At the first feast he turned down more wine, which thoroughly pissed off Aed. At the next one, held a couple of years later, he was openly complaining about the food. It's weird, because he has a really high opinion of my character, in fact he holds my duke in higher regard than the pope, and yet he's bad mouthing him at these parties, and turning down his hospitality. Maybe it's water under the bridge, though, because at the last feast he and Aed stayed up until the wee hours chatting about this and that, and they seemed to have a good time.
|Hurray, free money! I mean bad thieves! Bad!|
|It's always nice when everyone survives one of my|
parties eyebrows intact.
That's all still a long ways off, though. For now it's time to party, and really fortify things on the home front. Some expansion will come eventually, but I'm not willing to jump the gun on it. I'll satisfy myself with feasts, festivals, and hunting for the time being.
On to Part II of this adventure.
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Getting down to the business of making a character to play as, I rolled a mesmer, then realized I didn't like him by the time he was level two. With that I moseyed on down to the character select screen, and tried again. This time opting for a ranger, who also is a Norn (a big viking-like human), and who happens to like her alcohol (seriously, that's an option when creating a Norn). She even has a faithful bear companion that helps her in combat. I named him Mister Barnaby. A better name for a bear will never exist.
|Female Norn ranger. They're good with both ranged|
and melee weapons
It was while bonking random baddies over the head that I started to notice that this game is a little different. There's still the array of abilities with cooldowns on them, but there are some nice tweaks like being able to dodge and counterattack, as well as swapping between two sets of weapons. Snazzy. Then I noticed that I even have entirely different weapons for when fighting underwater to which I thought, "Whuuuuu~?" followed by, "Hurray!" while proceeding to shoot at any water-dwelling denizen unfortunate enough to come into range of my harpoon gun.
A short time later, while perusing my map I noticed all of these darkened icons, and felt compelled to light them up because what icon in its right mind doesn't like being lit up? A sad, lonely one. So with that, I went on my way around the map helping NPCs with their problems, discovering places that apparently should be interesting to me, checking out vistas (which are kinda neat because it takes some platforming to get to these places), discovering teleportation doohickies, and doing skill point challenges (complete a challenge, get a skill point that can be used to unlock fancy new abilities). By the end of all this, I'd lit up all of the icons in my area, and the game was all, "Thanks man! Here's a thing!" and I was all, "Sweet!" When I clicked on the little treasure chest to see what glorious Thing the game felt appropriate to bestow upon me, I was greeted with an item that would increase the experience my character earns by 50% for an hour. Not bad, but I'll save that until level 70 or so when that should come in a lot more handy.
|Some Norn off to smash and / or|
Thoroughly taken aback by this, I decided maybe I'd start fiddling around with the crafting because I'd heard on good authority that there was copious amounts of experience points to be earned from that activity (and there is!). So what to choose. Leather working seemed a no brainer for a ranger so she can have the finest in leathery fashion while fighting the forces of evil. The other was cooking because I want to make cakes.
While fiddling around making stuff, my mind was blown once more because I discovered that I can just shove all my crafting goodies in the bank and leave them there. When doing crafting at a station, the items are automatically pulled from the bank for making stuff. This is just fantastic for reducing clutter.
|Each area has a ton of places to visit. Visit them all, get a prize.|
After safely stowing away a hardy collection of hamburgers and boot soles (shut up, I'm still a lowbie at this crafting stuff!), it was back to questing, now in a nice, snow-swept mountain range. There were more lonesome icons everywhere that I did my best to show a little love. Wholesome love. Not the naughty kind. This was all mixed in with some story-related quests because apparently my character is special, and has to go on fancy missions chalk full of conversations in completely different screens (that's when you know you're special). And that's how things have progressed to this point, showering tiny icons with affection, while doing fancy, important looking quests. A bit of a tossed salad, and about the only salad my ranger is going to be having for the next while since she doesn't know how to make one yet (she can make salad dressing, though!).
As I'm sure you can glean from this, I kind of like Guild Wars 2. Granted it's only been a few days, and I'm barely over level 20, but good times have been had. Whether I'll still feel this way about the game in a month from now is anybody's guess. We'll see. For now I'll just continue to enjoy the game. Anyway, that's all for now. Stay tuned until next time, where I talk about the joys of de-leveling in a good way.
Thursday, 27 September 2012
|Smacking around a ghoul|
along the coast
These scalps have already proven surprisingly profitable. My party brought back enough to make a fast 1000 gold with minimal effort, and put the proceeds toward a nice, shiny Large Shield +1 for my main character. At least I'm assuming it's shiny, though it looks like there's some wood in there, so maybe not so much. With that, I reckon it's in my group's best interests to keep hunting those baddies down, and start raking in the moolah. With a little hard work we'll make out like bandits selling those scalps. (Ho! Ho!)
|The Flaming Fist is paying top dollar for bandit|
It can get a bit boring hunting down bandits all day, though, so to change things up a bit I've gone wandering around the wilderness just to see what there is to see, and what sort of trouble my party can get itself into. A lot of it has been just walking around thinking, "So man trees!" but there have also been some really fun encounters.
First there were the spiders. Glothrim and the gang (my character's name is Glothrim, by the way :p) were wandering along and would occasionally get attacked by very big spiders, which they were able to handle just fine (and get a nice amount of XP off of), with the occasional ettercap tossed in for variety. After cutting a path through the forest we encountered our first pack of tough enemies: a sword spider, a phase spider, and a wraith spider. I wasn't expecting them, so wound up getting attacked by all three at once. Being the heroic type, I sent my melees in to fight them, discovered the area is trapped, got everyone webbed, and wound up with even more very big spiders bearing down on my party. Yeah.
|Black Talon Elite don't drop scalps|
but they do carry high-end
arrows that you can loot
After recovering, we headed toward the center of the map because I had a feeling there may be a structure there. The whole reason I took my party to this zone was because on the world map it looked like there was a quaint little cabin in the area, so I thought it would be nice if we popped our heads in and got to know the neighbors. Turns out it wasn't a cabin, and the people there weren't very nice. It was actually some old ruins being investigated by Red Wizards of Thay.
|Wraith spiders give some decent experience for defeating them,|
but make sure to isolate these monsters
I haven't read any of the Forgotten Realms books since high school, so I wasn't quite certain, but had a sneaking suspicion that these wizards may not be on the up and up. When we got too close their leader noticed, introduced himself briefly, and then informed us we had to die because we'd seen too much. He was surprisingly cordial about the whole thing. Now, I'm not a fan of wizards in this game because they can hit damn hard, and they always seem to like fearing a bunch of my guys, sending them running around like chickens with their heads cut off, making them pretty much useless for a while. So, having to fight a bunch of wizards at once wasn't the most titillating proposition. Sadly, it was unavoidable.
|Denak is a bit of a jerk|
So, now my party is along the coast, smacking ogres. I haven't had to be too terribly careful with my pulls here, but it's also important not to be careless. At any rate, it's not a bad place to farm up experience, and hopefully level everyone up a few times. Minsc is getting close, and I really want Dynaheir hitting level four as well. She starting to be kinda useful with her magic now.
It's also starting to feel like it may be time to resume the hunt for bandit scalps, and maybe even finishing off this chapter, so I may just get down to that soon. Anywho, I'm off to continue my adventures. Maybe I'll even go and punch a wizard in the face to help me feel better about myself, but not a Red Wizard of Thay, though. They're mean. Until next time! =D
|Don't mess with the Red Wizards of Thay|
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
|There are no lack of things to fight in Faerun|
What replaying the game has reminded me more than anything else is just how much RPGs have changed in the last 10-15 years. The games have gotten a lot easier, and the pace has been cranked up considerably. Just with the game on the default difficulty I often have to work quite hard to win. It may just be a small group of baddies, but if I go haphazardly running in swords swinging, my party will take a huge amount of damage, and people will die. Well, maybe not so much when fighting kobolds or xvarts. They're just a nuisance. Against some ogres or hobgoblins or the like, especially when they may out level your party a bit, beware. Tactics, and smart use of spells becomes the order of the day. Have badly injured characters fall back to be healed, buff where you can, be prepared with the right spells, and most importantly don't be afraid to run away.
|The more one explores the larger the world seems|
It's really not like RPGs today where players are charging headlong into danger, cutting down everything in their path, and feeling like a badass after, with maybe the occasional boss fight that is sorta kinda tough. In Baldur's Gate it really feels like the world is a dangerous place. There are no lack of baddies out there that are ready, willing, and able to smash your party to pieces (especially when they're turned to stone). It takes a lot more thought and skill to wade through this game than a lot of modern RPGs where it feels like players are being presented with 10-20 hours worth of monsters to smash in the face before hitting the ending credits. It's actually really satisfying to be pushed this hard.
Then there's the whole pacing thing, as games of this period flowed a lot slower. You could go for a nice stroll through town and have chats with countless NPCs while soaking in the local ambience. Even venturing into the wilderness, a fortress, caves, or whatever was a slower, more methodical experience. Leveling is also a big thing in the game (as is getting new, more powerful weapons). It's a few hours in before party members even begin to reach level two. Heck, I'm still waiting for Dynaheir to hit level two on my current play through. My point, though, is that leveling up means something in this game. It's a very much needed boost to characters' stats and abilities, not just a steadily growing number that is so easy to take for granted in other games. That level up could make all the difference between getting wiped out, or just barely making it past that one pack of monsters.
|Hurray for the relative safety of|
But, yeah, just had to type out some thoughts on the state of RPGs then and now, and how much this game has reminded me just how the genre has changed over the last decade or so.
Thursday, 20 September 2012
Like a lot of people, the game that got me interested in Bioware was Baldur's Gate. It was my reintroduction to PC RPGs after a very lengthy hiatus, and I really loved that game. It had the most tactically oriented combat that I'd ever experienced in a role-playing game up to that point, there were really interesting characters that would join you on your adventure (the world met Minsc for the first time!), and the game took place in the Forgotten Realms which was one of my favorite fantasy worlds growing up. So yeah, Baldur's Gate was all kinds of awesome for me when it came out.
After playing the game, I made a point of keeping an eye out for whatever other games may come down the line from Bioware. I grabbed Tales of the Sword Coast when it came out, I leaped at Baldur's Gate II and its expansion, and I even played MDK2 when it came out (yes, Bioware even made the occasional game with no RPG elements in it). This process continued right up to the first Knights of the Old Republic, devouring whatever the company had to offer.
|The Baldur's Gate series is one of my absolute favorite RPGs|
I've even been slow to grab the Dragon Age games. I actually like them quite a bit in no small part because the games' combat is much more similar to that of the old Infinity Engine games. It's a lot more tactical. Heck, I even enjoyed Dragon Age II, and I know a lot of people can't stand that game. I thought it was a fun ride, even if players had to spend a ton of time in one town.
|Mass Effect is the first Bioware game that I couldn't get excitied about.|
Will I ever like the series? Who knows!
|Dragon Age was a bit of a|
return to Bioware's roots
Backlash against the company has been building for a while. There was that whole debacle regarding the ending of Mass Effect 3, a lot of people really disliked Dragon Age II, and it's safe to say that Star Wars: The Old Republic was a colossal failure. So, one has to wonder if these things played a part in Bioware's founders deciding to leave. Then again maybe they really are tired of making games, and want to walk away from it all. Whatever the case, they were the last line of defense between Bioware and EA. With them gone, I suspect Electronic Arts will have even more direct control of the company. Sadly, when this has happened in the past it has led to the demise of countless once great studios like Bullfrog, Westwood, and Maxis. It wouldn't come as a surprise if Bioware found itself as the latest addition to this heap of carcasses sooner rather than later.
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
So, I've been playing a bunch of Faster Than Light since it came out, and boy is this game fun. If you're unfamiliar with it, FTL is pretty much a roguelike in space where you command a ship trying to stay ahead of rebel forces as it races back to its headquarters with vital information for the federation (not that federation, just the one they're using for this game). However, instead of piloting the ship yourself and blasting away at enemies all pew pew pew, you actually tell your crew what to do. Get someone piloting the ship, have another person man the weapons, and another taking care of the engine room (you can also put someone on shields, make boarding parties, etc), then fly from one star system to the next, sometimes helping people in distress, and other times engaging in battle (or both!). It plays a lot more like a sim combined with a strategy game, and it has been eating up inordinate amounts of my time.
It's definitely a game much more suited to those who like micromanagement. You can tell your crew what systems to focus on, who should repair what when something gets damaged, pick people for a boarding party (assuming you have a teleporter on your ship), decide what systems to focus attacks on in battle, and how to upgrade your own ship. There are just so many options.
Up to this point, I only have the initial ship players get in the game, the Kestrel, and I just unlocked the Engi ship the other night. I like the Kestrel a bit more even though its the starter ship, as a lot of its key systems are more centrally located (shields, internal scanners, doors, weapons, and med bay), so if something gets damaged and needs repairs it's a lot easier to get someone there to fix it and return them to their post after. The only systems that are a bit out of the way are life support and the engine room, but it's still a more preferable setup than the Engi ship, in my opinion, as that vessel is more ring-shaped and takes a bit more travel time to get to certain systems. Also, I'm a bit more partial to the weapon systems on the Kestrel (missiles and a laser).
Systems can be upgraded if you have enough money, and it's up to the player how they want to approach this. One can go for high defense and start pumping cash into things like shields and engines, or be very offense oriented and crank up their weapons systems. There's also a bunch of sub-systems like internal sensors, doors, autopilot, and such that can be improved. Whatever the case, just be sure to improve your reactor too so that you have enough power to use these fancy new upgrades.
I've actually grown partial to upgrading my doors as it can be incredibly useful when my ship gets boarded during a battle. I'll open my airlock, and all of the doors leading to where the enemy is on the ship, and the oxygen will get sucked into space. With blast doors it takes longer for invaders to break through them and get into the next room, exposing them to oxygen deprived areas for longer. Once they realize what's going on, they'll scramble to a safe zone in search of air only to be greeted by my crew and their trusting blasters when they arrive. Good times.
The ship battles are quite a lot of fun, and they happen often. It feels a lot like Star Trek in some ways as I remember Captain Picard always telling Worf what to target on an enemy ship when the Enterprise got into a fight. It was usually, "Target their weapons" or "Target their engines" or whatever. The same sort of thing happens here with the player deciding what systems to prioritize in a battle. I tend to go after the shields first, and then work on their weapons systems. It keeps them defenseless, and allows you to really do a number on a ship.
FTL hasn't even been out a week yet, and I already love it to pieces. It's fun to fly out into the cosmos and get into some fight, soup up my ship and fight some more, then die spectacularly when I bite off more than I can chew...only to start the whole process over again.