Posted tagged ‘Roleplaying’

ArcaniA: Gothic 4

September 26, 2010

I recently purchased Gothic 3 and it’s expansion pack and I’m about 24 hours into the main game. While I enjoy many aspects of Gothic 3, and I even like the world they’ve created better than The Elder Scrolls universe, there are some serious problems with the game. Even with all the official patches and the fan made community patches the game is buggy. It also runs poorly on my machine, stuttering often and just providing that sense of “not quite finished” throughout the entirety.

The two worst parts of the game are the animations, which are just terrible. The swing of your sword is a simple back and forth motion that is aweful the first time you see it, and it gets worse as the hours progress. The second and worst offender is the voice acting. While the voice actors themselves aren’t all bad the majority of them are, and the dialog is C-Movie quality. I’m sure this is because the developers are German and it was localized into English.

Arcania Gothic 4 - 2010-04-15 14

What does all of this have to do with ArcaniA? The first thing is that I wish I hadn’t played the demo. An hour later and now I’m not sure I can go back for the 30+ hours of Gothic 3 I have left. ArcaniA gets so many things right that I went from not caring, to possible game of the year (for me).

The action takes place in third person with a wonderfully fluid control. This is the one thing I have always been angry about in regards to the Elder Scrolls. They include a third person view but it’s clunky and a nightmare to try and play the game in. Third person really makes a game more enjoyable for me. At least in RPGs.

I can’t speak for the quest flow of the game as I’ve only played the tightly controlled demo area, which was really enjoyable but perhaps not a good example of the actual game. I enjoyed the fact that it’s a new unnamed hero and not a continuation of the Gothic 1-3 characters, especially since the dialog in Gothic 3 made me dislike each and every one of them.

The level up system is much more intelligent and easy to manage this time around. You don’t have to find trainers to upgrade the odd abilities like “hunting” anymore. You get a skill panel where you can update your abilities each time you level up, moving the game more in line with contemporary RPGs. The combat, even the ranged combat, is much more entertaining that Gothic 3 or even Oblivions combat. You must actively block, dodge, and parry. They even included an idea from The Witcher and at the end of your swing your weapon will glow a faint yellow. If you click attack again while it is glowing you will do a flurry of attacks.

The game is still buggy, but it’s simply a demo. A demo that came out before the release of the game and it may not represent the final quality. If it does I might wait for a patch or two as the textures of clothes, even in close up conversation, often defaulted to a VERY low res texture that looked hideous. Add to that the “seams” of the terrain would show and the dialog isn’t much better than in Gothic 3.

Even with these faults I can’t wait for ArcaniA. There is just one thing I think they REALLY screwed up on. Calling it ArcaniA. I know the final capital A is for effect and that is fine, but when you are referencing your world and IN PARAGRAPH you say something like “explore the vast lanscape of ArcaniA and find adventure and excitement. Really? Ugh.

http://raptr.com/amuntoth/raptrcard

Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Essays

May 19, 2010

wowdanddad-lg

Gordon from We Fly Spitfires wrote, both on his blog and on this one, about the seeming transition of Roleplaying from inside games to outside them, such as on blogs or websites. It’s interesting to have watched it change over the years, and while hope may be dying for Gordon, mine has just been sparked by a simple memory.

I remember playing Ultima Online many years ago, back when it was new and revolutionary. Roleplayers were everywhere and no matter what you did you were exposed to it. In many ways it was the opposite of what we have now. But you know what I remember most? Out of my entire time playing Ultima Online, the one thing I look back on with the most fondness were the guides.

The only guides I could find, and the guides I really wish I could find now, were in character. I remember specifically reading an alchemy guide and it was entirely in character. Just try to imagine the creativity it would take to not only figure out all of the information needed to create a guide, but to then make a story out of it that was compelling.

The fishing guide was another favorite of mine. It was told from the perspective of a young whipper snapper (you) as you met with an aged, salty fisherman. He told you about some of the misconceptions the people of Brittania had when it came to fishing and the ocean. He warned you of the dangers and explained, in vague terms that were specific enough to easily figure out where to go and what to do, but it was all a story.

Jump forward a few years and most people were roleplaying in game. Guides had become information textbooks with no flare and no heart. Let’s face it, the majority of people in the world are not roleplayers. That fact by itself shouldn’t effect the roleplaying community as much as it does. If it were just for the fact that more and more people are getting into MMO’s then it should just mean that there are more and more non-RPers and non-RP servers. So why is it so hard to find Roleplaying ON a Roleplaying server?

The problem is that it’s not just non-roleplayers that are flooding into MMOs and video games in general, it’s that douches are flooding in with them. Sure it’s partly the anonymous nature of the internet, but that’s like blaming guns for murders. Sure, without the gun the murder might not have happened, but some idiot pulled the trigger.

It used to be that video game nerds were just that. We were the quiet kids who liked DnD and reading. Flash forward to now and the vast majority of gamers are people who would have tried to beat us up for our lunch money back in the day, and they haven’t changed much. They’ve invaded the hobby and changed not only the pay models, but the target audience and the treatment of people inside the game.

Sure, you’ve always had jackasses in MMOs, going all the way back to MUDs. Ultima Online had it’s fair share, but, and this may be nostalgia talking, I seem to remember it being a current beneath the broader roleplaying/adventuring vibe. Now Halo Jocks (Disclaimer: Halo is a good game, but would have been better on PC. Facts are facts, keyboard and mouse will always be superior for FPS) with popped collars are running around “roleplaying” P3nisP3n3traterXx the Orc Fighter! His battlecry is “L2P!” and his favorite taunt is teabagging.

So why do I have ANY hope left? Because I blog hop and see dozens of stories being written from the perspective of the bloggers characters. Even people who don’t usually write RP stories throw out little one shots that give me not only an insight into their character but into the blogger themselves. I see people in game trying to roleplay (some do better than others) for the first time, though it’s rare. I also see drawings of characters, in character podcasts, in character “newspapers” that publish real and made up in game events. Perhaps one day soon we will see in character guides make a resurgence! If that happens you might see the amount of in game RPing make a comeback simply because, if you can get brought in character and into the world deeper and deeper by the supplimental material outside the game, then you are more likely to be interesting in staying in character while in game.

I have never been one who believed that the lack of MMOs feeling like living breathing worlds was the developers fault. I think more and more the worlds are vibrant and interesting with some great stories playing out that even the developers didn’t foresee. I blame the community for changing and making roleplaying in a roleplaying game, or treating people nicely even, a taboo.

Then again I have no faith in humanity. I haven’t since I was a boy. That is probably tainting the way I’m seeing the whole picture but it’s just who I am. I hope that roleplaying will make a comeback, especially since it is so difficult to get six or so people together for several hours once a week every week in real life. If it doesn’t I’ll just enjoy some great roleplaying on the outside.

Below is a list of recent RP posts that really got me interested:

Yams – The Breckenridge Legacy 2.3. A Sims 2 story that isn’t so much in character as a great story and some great writing.

Star Trek: Tarpitz. This blog follows the adventures of Captain Judon Ruz of the U.S.S. Tarpitz.

MMO Gamer Chick – Fight Like A Khitan. Told from the perspective of her new Khitan Guardian. Am I the only one who can’t help but picture Kung Fu Panda whenever I read Sifu?

Tooting my own Horn. My Star Trek Online Captains Log. It’s the first one I did on Star Trek Online, and I really think it was entertaining.

Blue Kae’s Meet the Silver Hunter. It’s not in character, but more a character biography, and a well though out one I might add. I really enjoyed it.

Have your own blog or website and like to post storied of your MMO characters? Let me know in the comments and I’ll check it out!

Guest Post – We Fly Spitfires

May 18, 2010

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires has done me the honor of writing a guest post about a subject I am pretty close to. On a side note my American spellchecker nearly had a heart attack when I loaded this baby into it. Not because anything was spelled wrong, but just because of the difference in spelling between European English and American English. Gotta love that :)Without further rambling on my part, enjoy this wonderful post:

Taking Roleplaying Out Of The Game

Roleplaying is a funny old thing. Traditionally it was a group of geeks crammed round a table at night, acting and embodying the roles of their fantasy genre based characters, abiding by a pen and paper rulebook and battling against the wits of their human Games Master. It was part acting, part socialising and part gaming all rolled into one. And then along came the computer and the Internet and ruined everything.

RGP video games were designed to satisfy the itch of roleplay by creating more immersive universes that players could access at any time of the day without needing an entourage of fellow roleplayers. We marvelled at the technology and adored games like Baulder’s Gate II as they gave us a whole new RPG experience. After a few years, the next logical step in the evolutionary chain came in the form of the MMORPG and it seemed like the ultimate opportunity for roleplay. It combined all of the convenience of gaming at home with all the immersion that a computer game can provide plus the ability to socialise with thousands of other players online all bundled up neatly into one package.

It’s now been over a decade since the first MMORPG and the sad news is that all meaning behind it is starting to fade. Yes, they are amazing fun and a fantastic joy to play but they aren’t roleplaying games in the sense that first inspired their inception. They have become ruleplaying games. Players don’t play roles, they are instead just focused on being the best and min/maxing their statistics. You no long play "Utgard The Mighty Warrior who has a phobia of cats", you play "Bill, level 80 Warrior with a cookie-cutter Fury spec and a Gearscore of 4,000".

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. As players roleplay less inside the games, we’re starting to see a rise of roleplaying outside it. More and more gamers are writing fan lore about their favourite MMO or stories about their characters. They broadcast their fan fiction from blogs and forums and ignite the imagination inside us all with brilliant stories and tales of adventure. Even Everquest 2, which still severely lacks roleplaying in game, recognises this fact and provides the facility for players to write their own in-game books.

Yes, the days of "Hail, noble knight" and "Oogbah da biggest and cleverest Ogre" are long gone and maybe that’s the result of the rise of voice chat or the mainstream popularity that MMOs are gaining but, whatever the case, at least we’re seeing a new outlet for roleplaying and that’s a wonderful thing. Roleplaying isn’t dead, it’s just moved to other formats to deal with the evolution of the RPG genre. Take comfort in that, good sir, for at least the flames of roleplay are still fanning somewhere.

-Gordon