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Category Archives: Saucy Sundays

Ate something funny this Friday. And then Friday night it made me do the opposite of eating it(coming through the same hole as it came in, I.E not the butt). So I was pretty wasted yesterday, and I’m pretty tired today too. Hence no Blizzard post today. Today will instead be dedicated to the wonders of real life. So today I will be doing dishes and cleaning out this den of filth.

I’ll write that piece later. For now, toodles.

Saucy times again!

At the time of pre-writing, I have been playing Dwarf Fortress non-stop since I sent out my first expedition. This despite the fact that I rebooted my Company of Heroes campaign. Anyone who has tried Company of Heroes will know that it’s a great game. Awsome in fact.

(Pro-writer tip No.1: Cursive writing makes words seem more  important)

And yet I have been playing this ascii game for all of my free time. Today I managed to force myself to stop playing sometime at midnight. Though I have to admit I played for just a little bit more to build a brewery and assign a brewer. Dwarf Fortress is a veritable black hole of time draining. When I was putting pizzas into the oven earlier today I set the timer to 13 minutes. These 13 pizza minutes usually feel fairly long. Meaning I have time to do some serious internet browsing. But when I sat down to play DF while waiting it felt like it took only a heartbeat before the alarm went off. I thought to myself “What the fuck? I just set the timer..?” But no, I was just consumed with trying to keep the goblin thief from kidnapping one of the babies.

I well enough understand that most people will look at this game and only see the interface. A block of grass, a block of stone, a block of stone, a block of dwarf, a block of armored dwarf, etc. It’s a shame. Because when you begin to scratch the surface of this complex, unforgiving, fantastic game, you realize that it’s one of the best games ever. Fully knowing how subjectively fucking insane that sounds I hold firm to this notion. Dwarf Fortress is an amazing game. The tag-line is “losing is fun”. Partly because there is no winning. And partly because you’ll fail. And you just have to be able to find the fun in failing. Here’s something I ripped from the DF wiki to illustrate this:

“A free dwarf will get assigned the job of pulling the lever. This dwarf might be a long way away, and the delay in pulling the lever can result in fun.”

“There is no built-in indication of what a lever does, and pulling them to see what will happen can be immensely fun.”

What I’m getting at is, if you can’t see the hilarity of accidentally flooding your fortress and wiping out fifty lives, then you’re probably not very good company on a desert island.  These things that tend to happen are kind of part of how a Dwarf Fortress game characterizes itself. The very infrastructure of DF is one that doesn’t give you any clear-cut goals to pursue, but provides probably the most amazing framework ever for making  its own stories. Like the one where Kol Tsungerush went mad after having locked himself in his craftsworkshop. Or the one where the fortress broker tried to sell crafted goods to the merchant without the merchant having a chance to make a profit, resulting in an insulted merchant and a dwarf settlement without their much needed anvil. Or the one where the militia commander started hoarding various random items from the public storage in his own room, and calling them his personal belongings.

They weren’t his personal belongings. And as I resume the pre-writing of this post he has filled the hallway with his personal belongings. He is now also the proud commander of 9 dwarven defenders. All fitted with steel armor and weapons. They’re currently hard at work training in the barracks. To spice up the training I decided to steal an idea from off of the internets. Training in Dwarf Fortress is mainly done by repeating tasks. I.E if you’re an armorsmith you will train your armorsmithing skills by making armor. Armor-usage and dodging is trained in a similar fashion where the dwarves have to be put in situations where they get hit and have to dodge. Hence I made their barracks into a danger-room with spike-traps emerging from the floor. To operate these traps I have assigned a jobless dyer to pull a lever constantly to make sure the militia is properly harassed. I just wish that the militia personnel don’t get any funny ideas like having children or getting pets. Because if they bring the children or the pets inside the danger room it will result in fun

.

Fun happened in the danger room after writing the previous paragraph

Dwarf Fortress has a nigh perfect formula. But I guess it requires a lot from the player. It’s not mainstream and it probably won’t ever be. But it’s a game that simulates a dwarf fortress to perfection. My next plan is to capture live elephants and make them into war elephants. I have a feeling that the goblins will be knocking on my gates soon. And in a proper paranoid fashion I’ve made ballistas and directed them at the main fortress entrance. After this fortress is in so much fun that I’ll have to abandon it I think I’m gonna make a dwarven scouting expedition in Goblin territory. That way I’ll be in for a lot of fun. You should go ahead and have some fun too. Dwarf Fortress is free.


Do you like the Wild West? I usually don’t. I think old Western movies suck. I think The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a pretty boring flick. I do, however, like Deadwood. Deadwood was this cascade of vile profanity with a story focused on some likable and some utterly disgusting characters. It was great.

And so is Red Dead Redemption. So in normal review fashion I’ll make it even more clear for you:

This is a great game
.

Red Dead Redemption is the kind of a game I go around wishing for at times. It’s not grand, it’s not fantastical, it’s down to earth and sensible. Sometimes this sensibility will be a bit disappointing, but all in all its a great experience. For a sandbox game there’s a lot of fun stuff to do. Hunting is fun in its own right. It’s not Monster Hunter, but then it’s always satisfying lining up a headshot from horseback while a deer is in full flight. It is actually always satisfying shooting stuff. Weapons feel right, the sounds sound gratifying, and just generally everything feels true to the setting.

The dead eye mechanic that’s been toted on about is what you’d expect. Awesome. There’s nothing quite like marking down six headshots and watching John Marston make six families fatherless( or more likely, leave six prostitutes without income).

Best of all, in my humble opinion, is the story. It’s not particularly complicated, it’s not very amazing, it’s not very epic, but it’s damned good. It’s about John Marston. Once an outlaw, now trying to make right for himself. Forced to do a job for some government agents keeping him on a tight leash he goes hunting down some old comrades of his. And while the story is never epic, it’s always good and down to earth. The moments that will have you thinking “That sonuva whore!” is more likely to be where rattlers steal the hard earned goods of your benefactor, rather than some story of grand betrayal in the highest echelons of society. The ending, which has been the most thought provoking aspect of this game is an interesting choice. It left me speechless and disappointed when it happened. But as the events has matured in me over the day I’ve come to accept it realizing that it was inevitable, and even come to think it was good.

The question is, what will you think?

What’s bad then? It is by no means a perfect game. Cover will often not be as protective as you think. As soon as you leave an act, the people that have grown on you during that part of the game, will be left too. Which is a damned shame. The cast of characters are great. It’s a wonderful set of scoundrels, lowlifes and decent human beings.

I know that not all people will appreciate the lack of grandeur. But I quite like Red Dead Redemption. It’s believable. So much that I’ll mourn the passing of the Old West.

Giddyup pardner!

With only two comments to give me direction for this post, I’ll have to make some compromises in the would-be formula. Reader participation does not seem to be the “it-thing” amongst my readers. Which makes me well angry. Ingrates!

Which also makes the whole idea of a reader discussion moot. So, my first thought was to write about my thoughts, on the future of retro gaming. A fairly interesting idea given today’s reboots of old franchises. I mean, we have new games coming out, that are essentially old games, but with new bosses and levels. Megaman 10 for example.

But, I’m not really interested in discussing this right now. Instead I’m interested in your opinion on improvements to the blog. Once more I’ll be making a leap of faith in assuming that someone other than Honkiie or my biggest fan will chip in.

So my question to you, the readers, is: How do I make you want to help me making an interesting blog?

I gather that reading a blog  basically means you’re interested in reading the writer’s posts, or looking at fancy pictures. But that’s not really rewarding for me without seeing some pennies chipped in the comment section. So, do I need to become more in tune with the going ons in the gaming industry and always write posts about big games like Final Fantasy and drop the Monster Hunter madness or what?

So tell me fellas and fellettes if there are any. What makes you the pleb, tick?

There’s a very fine line between the awesome and the absurd. At what point when we see something that’s supposed to be cool, do we think it’s just over the top and stupid? Where do we draw the line between cool and redundant? I don’t know. These are hard questions to answer, mostly relating to them being highly subjective. Kind of like anime for example. Some people like anime. I used to like it, but these days I’m put off by the genre because of their high-tailing stories and stupid special moves. And yet, one of my favourite series ever is Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. An anime where galaxies are thrown as shurikens.

It may be that to appreciate the absurdity of it all, it must be so absurd that our brains can’t register how over the top it is. That’s how I feel about Tengen Toppa anyways (You oughta check it out, you’ll be surprised at how serious it is, amidst all the absurdity).

Anyways. Today I was blown away. Monster Hunter has a way with making weapons feel right. Smashing your hammer into the face of a Great Jaggi just feels right. But we’ve gone over why already. But today, when I thought I couldn’t love Monster Hunter any more than I already did, I got my hands on the Switch Axe. It’s kind of like the Matrix. You have to see it for yourself to believe it. And even then, you probably need to try it to really understand how awesome this is.

MHFU introduced the gunlance. A weapon that’s uncontestably one of the most awesome weapons in gaming history. You stab it into the maw of some unwitting beast and blow its face off with a shell. That’s pretty spiffy. But Capcom doesn’t settle for just awesome. They went ahead and made the Switch Axe. On some basic mental level in my mind I know that I should be questioning the very existance of this weapon. It’s a mechanical beast that switches from axe to sword and blasts shit. It’s absurd. But it’s also fucking cool.

I think it’s time all of you people got yourselves a Wii and Monster Hunter Tri. The hunt is on.

I’m back!

So, being away from the city, out in the beautiful wilderness, of course left me with only one thing to do. Playing Monster Hunter. I did actually enjoy snowboarding aswell, but from a gaming perspective, the journey west was very successful. I downed Shen Gaoren and crafted the True Devil Slicer. All in all pretty swell. If not for the fact that I got my ass handed to me by the high ranking White Monoblos and regular Monoblos. So, now begins the process of figuring out how to kill them so I can tear their guts out to string me a bow.

I like games that completely consume my mind. Except for the times when it infects my brain to the point where I can’t sleep because I’m thinking of some stupid strategy to get me that gut bow. Since I wasn’t gonna post anything today I’ll make this short and sweet. So to finish this saucy sunday off I’ll link you this neat trailer:

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/ashes-to-gears-of-war/64419

Since I feel too few people play Mount & Blade I have decided to make a running blog post story. It’ll be done with a little twist, but in the end I should be able to show off all neat features of the game. Note that I am not endorsed by Taleworld in any way, Warband just happens to be the game I am playing right now, and as such I’m unable to process any other peripheral games at the moment. In a while maybe I can write some posts about the trivial games that are currently on the horizon.

The Journey of Temujin

Mount & Blade is a roleplaying game at its core. While it does merge several types of games, it all begins in a character creation screen.

So, before we start out we answer a few questions regarding your characters past. Who was your father? What did you work with before adventuring? Why did you leave your home to seek out adventure? While these questions do not have any impact on story-related events while playing, they do confer stats and equipment from the start. So choosing these will likely influence what type of character you will be playing.

After answering the starter questions you get to create a look for your man or woman. I made mine look like a Khergit Horseman. There’s a surprising amount of tweaking available, so you can make your character look as decent or retarded as you feel like.

In the above screen you assign your skills. As you can see there’s quite a bit to choose from. But the explanation is as follows. The left side lets you add attributes. These govern the maximum of any skill you can have and give bonuses to them. The middle contains the skills. From this you basically create your character, choosing from shield use, leadership and the ability to take prisoners. The system works well, and definitely makes you feel as though you’re free to create the character you want to play. On the right are the weapon skills. These govern damage and speed of strikes. So basically, if you’re not skilled at using one-handers a Nord Huscarl with a battle axe will crack your skull open before your swing hits home.

With the character creation explained, so begins the journey of Temujin, neatly named after some conquering warlord way, way back when.

Journal of Temujin

Day 1

At last I left the steppes of the East. The elders could no longer still my rage, and so I took a caravan to Tulga, heart of the Khanate. The spirits must have guided us safely home, because no less than three times could I see steppe bandits on the ridges watching us. Like vultures waiting for the time to sweep in they crept out of distance. An armored traveler guiding us through the windlands said they wouldn’t strike while we were still waking. Hearing that I decided I would keep an eye open during nighttime, those dogs would have made great target practice for my newly strung bow. My endeavor proved disappointing.

We arrived at Tulga as the sun was setting. Cities are odd things. The buldings can’t be moved, so they must always stand there. Never can they follow the herd. I do not understand it. The elders had told me that there would always be people wandering about, trading and being loud. I found this to be untrue. As it was late when we arrived it seemed like they had all gone to their houses. The caravan master urged us to find an inn to rest, but I wanted to see this place for myself. So I wandered the streets alone. My exploration was cut short by a broadhead digging its way into a cart beside me.

The robber’s aim was untrue, and his will forsaken by the four winds. My arrows, however, found their way home into his heart. Just as I was about to search his corpse for gold a man called out to me. He ran up to me and explained how it was dangerous to walk about during the late hours. And offering his own home as refuge for the night. I took him up on the offer, wary of his intentions.

My suspicions turned out to be justified. The man was a merchant in the City. And he was in need of help to find his brother who had been kidnapped by local bandits. As the elders had warned me, the city-folk are a weak kind who cannot fend for themselves. But the man offered me coin, so I took him up on his offer. He bade me find help in the local villages so that we might attack the band of villains at their heart. I was not even given time to sleep before he had me out of the door. As the journey had not been as spending as it could have been, I decided it to be for the best if I make myself a warband as soon as I might. I need many good men for the task ahead, so I set off to gather some men from the western villages.


I managed to rally some tribesmen with the promise of gold. Tomorrow we hunt for bandits. If we can find some from the same clan who kidnapped the merchant’s brother, we can surely find out which foxhole they keep as home. We shall see what the winds bring.

This Sunday I want to give a shout out, TRL-style, to a personal fave in gaming. Not any one game in particular, really, but rather to games where there is no story incentive to play the game.

This may come as a shocker to some people out there. But not all games come fitted with a tacked on story to make people play. Not all games bother with poorly scripted cutscenes and dialogue just because it “should” be there. Some games are just inherently so awesome they don’t need any story. Games that fit into this category are among others: Monster Hunter, Mount & Blade, Flotilla, etc.

So, what makes these types of games great? Why do you play? If we use Monster Hunter as an example. Monster Hunter puts you in the position of a person who wakes up in a remote village where hunters live. And then you’re told to go hunting. Why? Who knows. They just say that you should. Now, someone too infected with the story norm may be put off by this. And if they decide to not play because of it, they’re missing out. Because Monster Hunter has a rich world, filled to the brim with fantastic.

Hunting Lao Shan Lung is a bit like hunting a mountain

In Monster Hunter you hunt monsters. After you’ve downed a monster you carve its innards out so you can string your bow with its guts and whatnot. After that you hunt a bigger monster, subsequently locking up new tiers monsters to slay. While there is no story in Monster Hunter, there is still progression. Usually progression comes from the story. Some important event happens to tell you “we’re this far along in the process of the game”. But a game without story needs something else. In Monster Hunter’s case there is always something bigger and badder to gut after the monster you’ve slain, and there is always better gear to make. If you haven’t played Monster Hunter you may well write that notion off from the get go. It sounds like you’re playing it for the gear right? Well that’s where you and your preconceived notions are wrong! I already told you that Monster Hunter’s world was rich and wonderful, and there is something about the atmosphere of the game that fills you with the joy of hunting. It feels as real as a game where you slay dragons rightly could. The various dragons and monsters all behave in certain ways that make you remember them. Everyone who has played the game remember their first encounter with the beast Tigrex. And from fighting Tigrex you instinctively know, even if  you haven’t thought about it, that Tigrexes are vicious and brutal and will eat your brains if you happen to miss a dodge. Just from the way the creature reacts to your actions and from the way it moves you know it’s the most aggressive monster in Monster Hunter. So to put it as easily I can, it feels right.

There is a parallel to draw between Monster Hunter and Mount & Blade. M&B is an open world game where you choose what to do with your life. If you want to join the Nords and create an army of Huscarls then go for it. You can do it just the same as you can become a horse archer and make a mounted army of Khergite. And while this freedom of choice could be limiting and make the game feel unfocused, it doesn’t. There is a realism to the medieval setting that’s always there, a nice vibe that sees you through. Something that makes you feel like a knight in the dark ages.

Just a man and his horse

For both Monster Hunter and M&B I’ve brought this feeling up. That Monster Hunter feels real and rich, and that M&B actually dons you the armor and puts a lance in your hand. These feelings can’t be superimposed on someone else, so they are of course subjective. But my opinion is that good games don’t really need story if the setting of the game makes you feel you create your own.

Lately games made by independent developers have been all the rage. It all started with Braid. And the success of the game sent the whole industry into a sticky-fingered fervor, where everyone was trying to achieve the same “arty-ness” that Braid had managed to nail down. I for one, think the trend is stupid. My opinion is this: Most indie games are shit and only get attention because they’re made in some artistic manner. Now, that’s not to say they’re inherently bad and that people shouldn’t like them. All I am saying is that I don’t like them. It’s my opinion that indie games tend to get away with a lot simply because they’re indie, and “they’re supposed to be that way”. Well, that’s bullshit, so without further ado, here are two indie games I love:

Mount & Blade

In Mount & Blade you start out as a guy (or gal) in one of the five kingdoms of Calradia. And after that, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want. M&B is a sandbox game at heart, and after you start out you simply set off into the world and start carving a name for yourself. You could compare the game to Heroes of Might & Magic with a third-person perspective. You level your character, equip him, gather allies, level them, and then you can choose to join a kingdom and eventually become a vassal with your own keep. In battle you not only command yourself and your horse, but you can also give orders to your infantry, cavalry and archers, thus giving it a tactical aspect. There are no specific classes but as you level up you can specialize in all manner of skills ranging from horse-archery, lances, trade, capturing prisoners, two-handed weapons etc. etc. It’s safe to say that there are countless possibilities for your character to progress to suit your play-style.

This mix of gameplay elements come together nicely making Mount & Blade a satisfying experience. But the true joy lies in combat, if I’m to be completely honest. Mount & Blade has like no other game managed to nail down riding. It’s difficult to explain the feeling you get when you impale a Rhodok Crossbowman on your lance, or when you manage to put an arrow into a knight’s head while in full gallop on your courser. But let it be known, it’s hella rewarding. The game simply has that “it” thing you look for in combat. Mount & Blade is at its core a game that has successfully managed to implement impact and momentum to create a great ssense of realism, which many big dev companies have failed to do despite of their budgets. And no screenshot is going to do this feeling justice, so you’ll simply have to try it out for yourself.

Flotilla

My all-time favourite strategy game is Homeworld. I can think of no other game in the genre that can compete with the sense of awe I got from sending battlecruisers into combat accompanied by a full wing of fighters and frigates. Ion cannons, plasma torpedoes and hyperspace gates. To me, it was the perfect game. And after the release Homeworld 2 there were rumours of a sequel. But nothing happened. Still today I hear the whispers, but alas there seems to be less and less of a chance for Homeworld 3 to see the light of day.

Because of this I was overjoyed to see Flotilla. It’s a game where battles take place in a FULL 3d environment, where you have battlecruisers and frigates, and where space-elks commandeer the starships of the federation. While lacking the serious tone of Homeworld, Flotilla is still a fantastic game. The premise is this: you’re a flotilla commander and you have a terminal illness meaning your life will end in seven months. Because of this unnamed deadly disease you set off on one final adventure. You travel from planet to planet, acquiring gear to outfit your ships, new cooler more powerful ships, and meet some interesting people who you can either destroy or help (in some cases, you mostly destroy them). You can have your merry way in space until your time is up, and you die from the disease. This limit in time means you can never make a huge fleet kitted with all the cool gear, so the scope of the game is rather limited. But it should be noted, the game’s focus  is topping the high score so the time-frame is understandable. And while I wish they’d patch in a sandbox campaign to the game, it doesn’t draw from it being an enjoyable experience. If you want to fight panda bear pirates in space, or be the karaoke champion (you can become the champ in the game, but there are serious consequences…) then you should buy Flotilla. Get it for just ten buckaroos here.