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Tycho / on Fri, Jun 21 2002 at 8:24 am

Caliente!

A selection of sizzling links.

  • 570 Bars:  I know a guy who knows these guys.  Actually, wait…  I know one of them.  Anyway.  There are apparently some five hundred and seventy bars where I live, and they’ve been to 119 and climbing.

  • Polymer City Chronicles:  I like Chris.  Apparently, not everybody does, least of all his registrar, who stole his domain.  The site is set back up at Polymercitychronicles.com.

  • Battletech!:  I was directed to this (very exciting) open source project, designed to recreate tabletop Battletech, which should excite you if you have any human emotions whatsoever.  They’ve done a hell of a job.  The version available for download has some errors that make some mechs not work right, for which there is a replacement data file.

  • Umbrella Terror:  Umbrellas appear to have hijacked Penny Arcade as a conversation topic every day this week, which is too close to Philistine Continuity (spit) for my liking.  Hopefully, the horrifying imagery in this news story will snap us out of it.  When I first read this story, I was like, “Foreigners are hilarious,” and then I noticed two things.  For one, this is the second umbrella murder in as many months.  For two, murder is not a task your standard umbrella is accustomed to.  I doubt that the procedure could be described as pleasant.

  • Raven Shield Interview:  This one is over at Elited, and I thought it was a good one.  I honestly don’t know why I haven’t talked more about this game, as it’s one I think about a lot.  I think it has the potential to get a grip on my whole crew, so it’s something I keep an eye on.

  • Boyarm:  You know, I really have no idea.

(CW)TB

Tycho / on Fri, Jun 21 2002 at 7:23 am

I am of the opinion that Neverwinter Nights is something of a big deal, so if you don’t want to read about Neverwinter Nights, you’re going to have to go somewhere else.  We do have a new strip as well, but it’s also about Neverwinter Nights, if only tangentially.

It’s real, real good.  The game, I mean.

Frequent readers of the main page might have seen Batjew’s comments after my own on Wednesday, implying that he would make us suffer somehow.  The reality is that he and I played it until far too late last night, and we were having such a good time that I feel I can forgive him for naming his elven warrior Mama Cass, which is not only out of canon but also an anachronism.  I only stopped playing because I hadn’t blinked for probably three hours, and - as it turns out - your eyes become covered with a delicious film, reminiscent of pudding.

Playing Dungeons and Dragons games on the computer sort of compounds the dorkiness, compressing it, and shaping it into a monument that gets beaten up at lunch.  I’m not going to give shit away, because I don’t want to wreck it for anybody, but I almost started clapping when I saw some of my favorite monsters make an appearance.  I mean, that’s pretty fucking sad, and I knew it was sad then.  The rational Tycho was watching me play over my shoulder, his arms were folded and his lips were pursed.   

It’s kind of funny, I’ve been playing D&D 3rd Edition since it came out, and I clearly did not understand the way combat works.  There are a couple slight alterations - not the least of which being you play it in real time - but to actually see feats like Cleave and concepts like Attack of Opportunity play out illustrates them infinitely better than my actual play.  Just to make some sense of this, Cleave allows you to strike another opponent immediately after you put one down.  Attacks of Opportunity are taken any time a laundry list of designated events occur - someone runs into your attack range, out of your attack range, tries to cast a spell, tries to bake a pie - but in actual play, that isn’t always modeled properly.  There’s a lot of fudging that just inexorably takes place when you’re playing a game to have fun, and the guy who is running the game doesn’t always have clock cycles to invest in rule-mongering.  Just between the two things I described, crafty minds are already making some interesting connections.  Let’s say my monk is beset by three gibbering goblins.  Two engage me in melee combat, which is inadvisable, and it’s behaviour like this that makes goblins so difficult to insure.  The last one runs up late, after combat has already started - he enters the area I can attack, and due to poor nutrition and a series of bad life choices he is slain in one blow.  Now my Cleave comes in to effect, which is almost assured to take out another one, all because one of them got there late.  Spread out rule interactions like this across an entire party of characters, and it’s easy to see how a man might get a wild look in his eye.           

Something else I never really understood was the idea of Summon spells, inspiring today’s badgerian antics.  The first character I made - now discarded, like all my first characters - ended up a Priest, and priests can ask God to send them a monster every once in a while, if he’s not too busy.  Now, in the pen and paper game, yeah - sure.  You summon something like that, often something hideous, and then he helps you kick ass, but it’s typically for a very specific purpose.  I never realized what a bizarre non-sequitur it is to wave your hands and have an grim-looking, surly badger appear.  And he’s not just there when you’re in a fight, oh hell no.  He snorts and capers around after you, in that strange way extra-planar badgers do, whether you’re in a pitched melee or just shopping at the store.  And he’s there for a really long time.  In a tabletop game, again, you might forget to model that duration, or imagine that no matter what you’re doing, a badger with ADD is going to snuffle everything in the room.  You can send him away, but I wouldn’t if I were you.  For who can know what offends a badger from betwixt worlds?     

The game is true to its 3E roots where it matters, does things the way they need to be done in other cases, and is about as good as we could hope it to be.  It even illuminates the original game in ways I didn’t expect.  It’s also hard as hell to find, and on behalf of Me I’d like to congratulate BioWare on that Feat, which is not described in the source material.   

I suppose the other thing this comic reveals is that we are in on a certain beta.  Please don’t ask me questions about it, because I can’t answer them - my NDA has clear admonishments against the use of words like “excellent,” “tense,” or “gripping.”       

With any luck whatsoever, we should be seeing Minority Report tonight.  I’m one of these people who feels like they need a little science fiction in their action movies, to, you know, make them all thinky.  I’m also a Philip K. Dick man just in general.  I thought Minority Report was a hell of a story, but it weren’t very long as I recall - if you’ve seen the short story behind the movie A.I., though, you know that never stopped anybody.   

(CW)TB out.

air christian-slaters

Gabe / on Thu, Jun 20 2002 at 11:28 am

Necrowombicon 2002

Penny Arcade cult member Fatrick is setting up the con this year. Here is the latest word from him about how it’s gonna go down:

The Necrowombicon 2002 will be held in Vancouver (burnaby to be specific) British Columbia, Canada.

It will be on the weekend of August the 16th 17th and 18th

the plan is to attend Playdium (huge arcade) on the night of the 16th. We hang there from about 7 to 11 o’clock, and then the night is yours to enjoy.

The 17th I’m planning on renting a Room at the Bonsor Recration Center (attached to the mall that Playdium is in) from 9 am to 1 am. I’m trying to arrange for a few bands to play, grab your ‘puters for some LAN action (bring LAN gear if you can) and your RPG and tabletop games. (Warhammer, D&D….) and we’ll game the day away.

Sunday, you can enjoy the sights of Vancouver, I thought that going to Playland (amusement park, rollercoasters and such) would be a good Idea, but that’s not an official plan.

Anyways, all of the particulars are being arranged on the Penny-Arcade Cult website, in the Necrowombicon 2 forum. Post your questions and comments there.

if that is all the information that you need and you want to go RIGHT NOW, drop a message to thenecrowombicon@hotmail.com PLEASE do not send questions or comments to that e-mail address, all your questions will be answered in the forum on PACult. All I need from you to register, is your name, your online handle, and where you’re from. This is a list to see who’s going to be there so I can accurately set things up with appropriate sources (Hotel, Convention hall, Playdium)

Just like the last one, this is not an official PA convention. So if you don’t have a good time it’s not my fucking fault. I think the plan like last year is just to get a bunch of gamers together near an arcade and have a good time. Tycho and I will be there as will Jew and possibly Safety Monkey. I think I may even be able to talk Kara into showing up. If you’re not doing anything else that weekend maybe you could go to.

-Gabe out

Gabe / on Thu, Jun 20 2002 at 11:13 am

Eternal Darkness

I was able to get my hands on an early copy of Nintendo’s new horror game for the cube, Eternal Darkness yesterday. I am only about five hours into it but I wanted to give you all some quick impressions of the game so far since I know many of you have been waiting for this title for a while.

The game kicks off with the main character Alex finding out that her Grandfather is dead and the police don’t have a clue why. She decides it’s up to her to check out his spooky old mansion and see if she can’t find some clues to his death. After only a few minutes it becomes obvious that your dear old grandpa was into some seriously fucked up shit. A hidden study holds a giant book made out of human skin and bones and freaky artifacts and paintings litter the walls.

As Alex reads each new chapter in the big book of death you actually get to play that characters story. Starting in ancient Rome you take control of many of the various characters through time who have encountered this book. While playing these chapters you will learn various magic spells and attacks. As Alex finishes reading each chapter she now knows these same spells. Chapters to the book are hidden throughout the mansion and the tricks you learn while playing them will help Alex as she searches the house for more pages. The control is excellent and the combat system is very well done. By using the trigger button you can target specific parts of an enemy’s body. I personally enjoy chopping off a zombies head and then watching him feel around for it in confusion. Each character you play as, including Alex has what is called a Sanity meter. Each time you encounter some fucked up shit, like say a giant three headed bug monster you loose a little bit of sanity. To regain this lost sanity you must kill the creature by deliver a “finishing blow”. This is easily accomplished by knocking his ass down and hitting the B button while standing over him.  If you let your sanity get to low you will start to hallucinate. You might for instance walk through a door and find that you are twice your normal size. Unable to fit through doors you’ll wander around confused until the character shakes off the hallucination and snaps back to reality only to find that you never even went through that door in the first place. This is one of the more tame visions you can have. I don’t want to give away too much but you will see some pretty crazy stuff when your sanity bar is empty. I am telling you this game is Goddamned scary. I’m not talking about Zombie breaks through the window, jump out of your seat Resident Evil scary. I am talking about some serious mind fuck scary. I am talking about bleeding walls and whispering voices kind of scary. Again I hate to give away too much but I will say that if you can you should play this game in surround sound and turn off all the lights.

Visually the game is okay. The graphics in the game are all real-time unlike Resident Evil. So while it might not look as good as RE it also doesn’t take ten minutes to open a goddamned door. The camera is not movable and will most often be stuck right in front of your character. This ads to the suspense as you will never be sure what you’re walking into.  The story is pretty deep and I’ll be honest with you’ at this point in the game I don’t really understand it very well. I’m not sure I am supposed to though. From what I’ve heard things will start to fall into place as I get a bit further. It’s defiantly very deep and any fan of H.P. Lovecraft will feel right at home with the ancient gods and tentacle beasts.

So far it looks as though Eternal Darkness was worth the wait. I plan on putting some more time into it today and I’ll be sure and let you know if my opinion on it changes. As of right now, I’d say that if you’re a fan of the genre you should definitely pick this one up when it drops later this week.

-Gabe out

anon / on Wed, Jun 19 2002 at 1:01 pm

What’s that you say?

What’s that, copy of Dropship: United Peace Force for PS2?  You want me to return you to the store after playing only 2 levels because you’re a horrible piece of crap?  OKAY!  You’re the boss!

But wait a minute, didn’t you get me really excited at the 2001 E3 show?  You did?  What went wrong?  Why did you have to turn out so badly?  What’s that?  It’s because your control and cheap enemy AI both suck ass?  Gosh, I suppose you’re right.  All well, thanks for taking an hour of my life away from me.  Huh?  Return you for a copy of Neverwinter?  But, I don’t really care for RPG games like that.  OHHH, You’re right!  I suppose I could get it with the sole intention of driving Monkey and Tycho crazy!  WORKS FOR ME!  Thanks, copy of Dropship: United Peace Force for PS2!  YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND!!!




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