All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Monday 25 February 2019

Dungeons and Dragons and Me

Over the past few years the phenomena that is Dungeons and Dragons has rocketed in popularity, spreading far and wide. In part due to twitch streaming shows such as the acclaimed Critical Role on Geek and Sundry and the perhaps less known but just as good Dice Camera Action on DnD's Twitch channel. These shows and shows like them, more than anything else I believe has brought D&D into the mainstream, increasing their popularity and making them more acceptable in the public eye. And to clarify I don't mean the whole Satanic Panic thing from the seventies where people got the wrong end of the stick and linked D&D to devil worship, I'm talking more the social stereotypes making D&D seem a little... I don't know, something that you hide?
Which is great. D&D and other Role Playing games like it are amazing. there is absolutely no reason you should have to hide that you play. No reason that you should want to play but then get real quiet about it when people who don't play are nearby. And these shows, and more specifically the people on them have done so much to make that happen.
From their work with 826LA to the 'Jocks Machina' phenom these people have done an insane amount of work and put so much love into this to make it mainstream and acceptable.

What I wanted to talk about today is less about D&D in general and more about What D&D has done for me.
I might talk about D&D itself in more detail another time but right now I wanted to address the reasons that I personally think that D&D is amazing.
To understand really what it means to me we need a little background;
Upon writing this I am a 32 year old Games Designer with delusions of Author-hood. I've been in the games industry for 10 years as of September 2019, I've been playing role playing games almost constantly since 2015 when I watched a show on Geek and Sundry called 'Titans grave' DMd by Wil Wheaton.
Something in that show struck me, something about the storytelling, the investment of the players and the way that the DM could craft a world and a narrative where anything could happen.
After watching that through I went to my friends and sent out an e-mail to my company saying 'I'm going to run a game of Fantasy age. Who wants to play.' I got about 10 responses. so I asked them 'What do you want the world to be like? fantasy, scifi, modern age?' which helped me figure out what I wanted to do. It didn't even occur to me that I could buy or use a premade campaign. as soon as I decided that I was doing a RPG I was building a world. I was building a story, I was going nuts. Even now I don't use premade campaigns, not because they're bad but simply because what i want to do is tell a story, build something from nothing and interact with the players in a meaningful way that I personally don't think I can get from a campaign book.
Anyway, over the weeks leading up to playing the number of players wittled down to 4 and then 3. eventually that campaign ended due to people being unable to attend and interest dropped off. But I'd been bitten by the bug. I knew I wanted to keep going, and I've been DMing, whether in Fantasy age, D&D, Fate, Dread or who knows what other rule set ever since.

I've always been fairly shy. People around me have always had the spotlight and I've never been good at talking in public, at making myself known, at asserting myself in general, but being a DM means that you can't just be on the side lines.
For me one of the biggest things I can say that D&D has done for me has made me much more comfortable with myself and has (to use an over-used parlance) brought me out of my shell. Now that isn't to say I'm not shy in some situations, but it's helped me so much. There was a time when I couldn't speak up for fear of making a fool of myself. Even in DMing there was a time when I couldnt cut people off and get them back on track with the game. Now I lead discussions at work, and use character voices in the DM chair.

Not only that but those people who stayed for that first Fantasy Age game are my best friends now and they're still my players, as well as a couple more. those people who I DM for I make lasting friendships with. It gives us a connection, a bond that I haven't had in any other situation, and the things I design and build in D&D give me things to talk to other people about.
Not to mention that all of this world building has been incredibly useful for helping me to become a better games Designer.

Basically what I'm saying is that D&D is amazing. Role Playing Games are amazing. They help you in so many ways, especially social skills and everyone should do it.
I will most likely make more posts about D&D in the future, maybe some DMing stuff but for now that is it.

- James
A fun D&D story

Monday 18 February 2019

Throw the Javelin

I played the Anthem demos. both the VIP one and the open one. If you just want to know what I thought of the game without having to read everything; basically I really enjoyed the gameplay, but there were some massive issues with the VIP demo and a few issues with the open demo.

If you're still here, then I suppose you want a more in depth review of what I played. As always I have to start with the preface that I'm a massive Bioware Fanboy. That said, this is a very different type of game to the games they usually make. It’s still a role playing game to an extent but the focus has shifted away from the story or at least away from the human experience, the relationships you form to something more about gameplay and action.
For those who don’t know, Anthem is BioWare and EA’s upcoming multiplayer, 4-person-squad based shooter based around the mech-like ‘Javelins’ that the players will operate and pilot.
Not a lot is know about the story at this point, it seems to be a sort of post apocalypse where people live in forts and players known as ‘freelancers’ venture out to get whatever is needed and stop the bad guys and monsters from coming to get you.
It's a fairly common idea that we see in games a lot these days. Destiny, Borderlands, Metro to an extent, fallout and who knows how many others. So i wouldn't say the story is particularly original, which is a shame because that's what we all know and love about Bioware. That said it was only a demo. We got barely any story for it, so it's unfair to judge.
What we did get was level 10 game play.
the developers have said that the levels will cap out at level 30 so what we played was about a third through the game, strength wise and it was a ton of fun. One thing I've heard a lot, and agree with about the last Mass Effect, Mass Effect Andromeda, is that the story was bad, but the gameplay was a lot of fun, really refined, and i feel like Anthem took that and massively improved upon it. Without the shackles of an established franchise to hold it down I genuinely think that Anthem's gameplay was a huge step in the right direction.
The flying felt fun, the combat was punchy and the special powers made me feel very Epic. Especially the Storm suit which had me blasting elemental attacks as well as using the standard guns.

It's also worth noting that despite the solid game play there were a lot of issues with the VIP Beta, not all of which were fixed for the open Demo. For instance I experienced infinite load times, menu errors that stop you from being able to continue and the servers just not working for the first twelve hours or so.
It's to Biowares credits that all of these things were fixed by the open demo and the issues I faced in the open beta were significantly smaller, limited to things like losing connection to the server or simple bugs like graphical errors and lag.

So like I said, there were some errors but the gameplay was really enjoyable. We'll see how it does when it goes live on friday the 22nd, though I wont be able to play until the 25th as I'm going on holiday.
I do have high hopes, I hope its good.

- James

Anthem Tube

Monday 11 February 2019

Fallout 76, a bad experience.

So I went into Fallout 76 knowing how bad everyone said it was and to be honest I didn't have that experience. i played it for a couple of hours with my uncle and we had a good time. It wasn't a full fallout game by any means, but I hadn't paid full price and looking at it as just a sandbox to have fun with someone it was a fun thing to do. Run around murder things and maybe build up my settlement, but today, only my second time on the game things started going down hill.
I was level 4, just out of the gate, hadn't even finished tutorial quests they give you to learn about the game and these 2 guys about 10 levels higher than me started attacking me. At first it was just annoying, they were hitting me but it was doing nothing because I was below the level where I could engage in PVP. but then I levelled up, still not out of the tutorials and they started being able to hurt me, sure it wasn't a lot, but they just wouldn't stop. they followed us around for the entire rest of the game attacking and then killing us.
there's a system they have in the game that is supposed to prevent this sort of griefing and that is that if people attack you and don't respond they kill you and they get a bounty on your head. but there are 2 things this doesn't take into account; until you respond this takes a long time to do so you're basically stuck not playing the game because you have a bunch of ass holes griefing you slowly to death, thus destroying your fun
and 2, there has to be players on the server that want to go after criminal players. on this server world clearly there was not because We got killed a couple of times and they just kept finding us on the map and keep on coming for us.

This really feels like a flaw in the game to me. maybe because I don't come from a DayZ background, maybe cos I never really picked up on Ark survival, but I went into this game to play with my friend and that experience ended up not happening because these two guys wouldn't let us. not only that but when they killed me they stole resources off me, so it actively reversed my game progression up to that point, and that's a really bad feeling when you've barely started the game.
It didn't even give us the option of changing server worlds, We could have quit and come back, but by that point we're basically done playing.

For me this is a very poorly designed system, it relies too much of the assumption that other people will want to stop the griefers, and doesn't take into account the idea that people might buy the game 2 months after release.

We will likely pick it up again, because we like playing co-op enough to give it a second shot, but if I'd been playing this single player I would be uninstalling the game now.

- James
Fallout Tube

Monday 4 February 2019

Star Wars Rogue One: Comments

Star Wars Rogue One, comments while watching. Go!
1. this is the 4th film chronologically, eighth film made but not a numbered episode.
2.why no scrolling text? what do you think this is? some kind of non star wars film?
3. see that robot has a communicator built into it.
4. Jyn is told that she needs to escape so she grabs the cuddly toys. Priorities...
5. that is a family that likes their blue milk.
6. why didn't they park closer? that is a LONG way to march, and it gives the guy they're hunting way too much opportunity to snipe their leader and kill him.
7. what do they know about the force?
8. it's a good thing Galen has no gun, he could have killed Krennic
9. Lyra shoulda shot him. she had every chance. Shoot first gloat later.
10. A significant portion of her head was visible when she was watching.
11. it's a good thing saw Gerrera's armour is already kitted out to carry that oxygen mask around.
12. he just straight up shot his mate there. I thought the rebellion were supposed to be the nice ones. all sunshine and rainbows. I guess this is the dark side of the moon here.
13. that is a big jedi statue.
14. that robot is the best.
15. I feel like they would call themselves the alliance not the rebels. Alliance intelligence rather than Rebel intelligence.
16. the robot reminds me of the one from hitchhikers guide.
17. saw is pretty messed up. the pilot hasn't even spoken yet and he's already shouting lies.
18. he doesn't know what saw gerrera looks like how come he recognises him now.
19. ugh sgi tarkin... I genuinely thought they'd just keep him facing the other way, make him more of a mysterious element.
20. Saw Gerrera is gonna be real embarrassed when he realises he just sent a legitimate new recruit with tons of useful information insane.
21. oh look its those two criminals, I wonder if we'll ever see them again.
22. man those rebels are dangerous, very reckless. don't they care about the unaffiliated that they hurt? I guess not. They didn't seem to give a damn about that child.
23. she's hitting their blaster 'proof' armour with a stick...
24. thye guardians of the crystals are pretty rubbish. also not that useful in the city away from the crystal caves.
25. these really are the dregs of the rebels.
26. I mean, I get what saw was doing leaving her behind, but leaving her behind on a deserted planet with only a knife? thats... that's a little harsh.
27. "It's not a problem if you don't look up." - I think you're oversimplifying the issue miss Jyn.
28. "we need a statement not a manifesto." Translation: "we can't blow up a whole planet, not until Episode 4 so that film gets the impact."
29. The pilot must have a mind of steel to survive that monster with sanity intact.
30. if they're only using 1 weapons generator why is it still firing all 6 beams?
31. "there's a problem on the horizon; there's no horizon."
32. What bullshit is this that saw doesn't want to run anymore? like your not making a stand your literally just dying. Nobody you want to know will know. and nobody will give a crap.
33. making the jump to lightspeed in the atmosphere cannot be safe. you could easily hit any of those pieces of rubble at light speed.
34. it was a little stick in the side of the holo projector why didn't she just grab it?! I know the city was exploding, but still.
35. So I checked and the blind guy isn't a jedi so how does he see the force moving around cassian?
36. I can't tell if Galen should want to let the scientists die or not.
37. Cassian should snip Krennic.
38. people keep telling him he'll never win. they give him plenty of time to listen as well.
39. She probably shouldn't have run out and yelled father in front of everyone.
40. Nope. how does a blind man shoot down a spaceship? I don't care how good the force is. He's not a jedi.
41. how crap are a tie fighters shields that a crossbow destroyed it?
42. the way Galen's leg is bent back does not look safe.
43. the not-jedi asian dudes arrived at a timely moment.
44. I wouldn't mind learning more about Cassian's past. he's way more interesting than Jyn.
45. "You can't talk your way around this." is what you say when you know you're actually in the wrong but are still too mad to say anything.
46. There's a lot of lava on this world, I hope nobody lays down near the rivers. Liable to get burned.
47. It's a damn good thing those guards around vader's bacta tube are loyal, he is a sitting duck without his arms and legs on.
48. "careful not to choke on your aspirations director" he says choking the director. That's pun master Vader there folks, proving he did learn something from Obi Wan.
49. Jyn goes from 'go away and leave me alone' to 'Rebellions are built on hope' in 3.25 seconds. those rebels have been a bad influence on her.
50. those fish people are aggressive.
51. "Jyn. I'll be there for you. Cassian said I had to."
52. it just sounds insincere when she says it.
53. "Your friend. The Jedi." "Yes, he served me well in the clone wars. Since then he has lived in hiding. I will send for him." I wonder who he means. Probably Mace Windu
54. do you think this plan is where they got the plan for the endor battle.
55. k-2 really is the best.
56. why did Lyra have a lightsaber crystal for a necklace? was she a jedi?
57. it's a good thing that all the empire uses skinny white guys. This deception would not have gone far if they'd sent out a big black dude for Cassian the tiny to impersonate.
58.I don't feel like Jyn and the 2 monk dudes have been through enough together for one to call her his little sister.
59. why did Jyn just endanger their mission by lowering her visor and revealing her face? was it so that we knew it was her? cos I don't feel like we're that stupid.
60. I know that corridor its on the jubilee line. Canada water I think.
61. that gun of Baze's must be either really old or really powerful to require that external power source he's carrying around.
62. why do they insist on giving the blind man a gun?
63. that crossbow of Chirrut’s blew up a tie fighter but it doesn’t even knock back the storm trooper who it hit.
64. what are R2 and 3PO doing standing around I know for a fact that they're on the Raddus' ship with Leia.
65. its nice that they used gold and red leaders footage from episode 4.
66. gotta love the way that At.At just shrugs off the rocket launcher attack.
67. "All rebel frequencies are blocked!" use imperial frequencies?
68. It's nice to see what the rebels can do against At-ats when they're not hindered by a world that's too cold for x-wings.
69. what were all those ties waiting for? why are they only now attacking?
70. the mon calamari bridge seems really dangerous with all those windows around the captain.
71. well there goes red 5. I guess we now know why there was an opening in the rebel red team for luke.
72. Why on earth did he walk around that pilar like that, getting the cable stuck like that?
73. Bye bye K-2 saddest moment in the movie.
74. I feel like there was a reason that the hard drives were in closed off rooms, like maybe they needed a specialised environment. the static could destroy the data. that would be a rubbish ending, huh? they get all the way to send it but its been corrupted.
75. Why does she just happen to have a hard drive carrying belt?
76. So here's what I would have liked to learn about Chirrut and Baze; I wanted to learn that Baze, not Chirrut was once a Jedi and Chirrut was his padawan (or something). After order 66 Baze lost all faith in the force and in his despair his connection diminished/vanished. His padawan, however never lost faith and spent the rest of their time together trying to rekindle his old masters belief and only in his death after doing the impossible, walking to that com tower and turning on the master switch does his faith return. Then he destroys all those stormies using his force senses and his gun.
77. what purpose could possibly be served by that door that opens and closes like that?
78. I'm not sure that's exactly how physics works. if a small thing pushes a big thing into a big thing I feel like the small things force wouldn't be enough to tear the big thing in half. it'd be like me using 1 finger to push your fist into another fist and expecting it to cause serious damage to the other fist, no?
79. reset antenna alignment? but I swear that's how it was before anyone started fighting. that's just what the antennae was like.
80. every member of the erso family has told Krennic he will lose.
81. I hope they have backups of all the information on scarif, but at the same time if they do then why did they need to spend all that effort infiltrating? why not go for an easier base?
82. is the death star just bad at aiming or did it shoot miles out to sea for dramatic effect?
83. the ship with the plans should probably have been the first out not the last.
84. You know, I wish just one member of Rogue one had survived. Doesn't need to even be an important one, the pilot would have done, or that indian kid, but it woulda been nice if 1 of them had gotten to episode 4.
85. okay even if this whole film was awful if it had this one scene where Vader fights through the ship its worth it. the only real time you see his skills.
86. I don't like that they put leia's CGI face in this. it's so unnecessary.
And that is the end of rogue one. so far it has the least complaints from me. I like this film but I see what people mean when they talk about how they don't like how much of a departure from the original movies it is. the main star wars films with the exception of Empire, are nice fun fantastical adventures, then you watch this film and it's a world war 2 documentary.
Great film though. And now we are done with Comments.
If you read through all of these then congratulations you earn this you tube video:

Critical Tube!
- James