Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Aug 26th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under evolution, rpg, pc, open world, history, theory, editorial


As video games become an aging hobby, it becomes more difficult to grasp the beginning of its tale, or the history and growth of it in general. This does not just mean its actual history, but also its dominant theories of design. For example, when many gamers talk of role playing games, only two dominant styles are generally brought up: The consolized Japanese designed role playing games, and the historically more mechanically complex and open, Western designed role playing games. Despite the fact that these two schools of design are considered different enough to be easily categorized, they share a common ancestor in tabletop games, specifically Dungeons and Dragons. While Dungeons and Dragons has been around since the 1970's, it has evolved and is almost unrecognizable in comparison to its earliest version, as the company that originally created the game went bankrupt, was bought out, and its creator has passed away.



Continue reading The Great Western RPG Schism?



Posted on May 24th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under PC, review, strategy, simulator


RimWorld is an early access game developed by Ludeon Studios that has been available for purchase since 2013. Updates are steady, if a bit slow at times. It is the winner of multiple Indie Game of the Year awards for 2016, despite being in early access alpha, so there has to be something to this unfinished game, right? While I'm sure most by now have long been turned away from the idea of early access, there are still exceptions where games have plenty of content.  Whether or not the content is polished or finished is another question. For Rimworld, each implementation of new features with every major update are actually functional, if a bit buggy for a few days post-release. RimWorld is in many ways easier to digest than Dwarf Fortress, and while Dwarf Fortress' simplistic graphics, archaic UI, high learning curve, and incredible depth are bound to turn off most would be players, RimWorld's simplistic art style at least adds flavor and something to look at.


Continue reading RimWorld



Posted on May 16th 2014 at 06:33:43 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Shadowrun, snes, genesis, nintendo, sega, pc, indie, kickstarter, dragon, tactical rpg



When it comes to my collection list of wants I have two RPGs for the major 16 bit systems up very high on this list. Shadowrun for the SNES and the completely different game of the same name for the Sega Genesis. These games are examples of the very few Western developed RPGs released for these systems, at least ones that weren't ported from the PC that is. Both versions are considered good games, with the SNES game widely being considered ahead of its time with its noir style narrative and tactical gameplay. It was a critical darling when it released, but commercially flopped.

Fast forward two decades and we have Kickstarter. This is one of the best tools for a small team to completely fund and develop a game from the ground up. I'm sure most of us are aware of what it is and does for developers. They basically pitch their game to their final customers while development is either very early, or still in the planning stages. Customers then throw money at the project, if the developers make their goal then they can start development. If they surpass their goal then they implement 'stretch goals' which basically add ideas or staff to the process of development. The Kings of Kickstarter, at least in the video game world, are Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo, the latter of which has two massively successful projects.


Good ol' Jake Armitage even returns for the Ripper investigation!

Harebrained Schemes also had a very successful Kickstarter with their project, Shadowrun Returns. This project ended with over $1.8 million of funding. So now the game has been out for awhile and I picked it up while it was on sale. Shadowrun is one of my absolute favorite tabletop settings. It takes our real world and completely flips it upside down with an event called the 'Awakening'. Earth is now covered with humans, elves, dwarves, orks, and trolls in various quantities. At its heart it is cyberpunk with the ability to use technological enhancements as well as magic to build stronger characters, and the Deckers' ability to physically jack into the internet (or as the game calls it, The Matrix).

Anyway, as of this review there are two different official campaigns to choose from, the original one Dead Man's Switch, and the latest one released as DLC, Dragonfall. Dead Man's Switch takes place in the Free City of Seattle, while Dragonfall takes place in Berlin. The game is presented in an isometric perspective reminiscent of the SNES Shadowrun as well as Interplay and Bioware RPGs around the turn of the century.



The game is easy to control, click where you want to go and who you want to talk to. Combat is actually more in the style of XCOM than other RPGs. There are various items and decorations to use as cover, there's even Overwatch in the game. To keep with its RPG roots your stats influence your chance to hit as a percentage, get close to the enemy and the percentage increases, use buffs to get that even higher. I rolled as a shaman with Eagle Totem, so I could buff everybody's chance to hit in a small radius, as well as cast Haste on my various party members. By the end of the game this meant that at any one time half the party had double the Action Points, and could easily have over 85% chance to hit as long as they were close to my PC. Combine all this with a spirit that shamans can summon for an extra party member and its easy to see why this support class is completely awesome.

I have beaten Dead Man's Switch, and its set up as a murder mystery. You get a message from one of your fellow Shadowrunners Sam Watts, your main character is down on his/her luck at this moment but this message promises a huge payout for you to find your friend's killer. He's already dead by the time the message gets to you, hence the name Dead Man's Switch. You go on a long journey through the city of Seattle's underbelly in the 2050's. This story ends up tying in with the events that lead to the downfall of Chicago in the novel Burning Bright and sourcebook Bug City. You also get to have the completely awesome immortal elf Harlequin in your group during the end game, as well as meet a representative of the Dragon Lofwyr who hails from Berlin, tying Dead Man's Switch into Dragonfall.

While the game is simple to play and fun when it works I did run into crippling, near game breaking problems. There were times when my main character would just get frozen in combat. She couldn't move, but she could still cast spells, heal, and control her spirit. When I tried to move the game completely froze for a few minutes. I could still control the rest of my team though. I ran into this problem in 2nd half of this campaign, even the final battle. But, with Harlequin and Coyote I managed to win and brought justice to Sam's killer.



Dead Man's Switch was not long, even with this problem I managed to beat it in about 16 hours. It was just incredibly annoying to have the game lock up, freeze, and then have to find workarounds to still win said game. If you decide to try this game and do not run into the problem I did (which a majority seem to not run into) then you might be able to shave an hour or two off of my completion time. I also missed a couple side quests when I went back to check walkthroughs for what I missed.

If you're interested in science fiction and want a different, near future take on the genre, mixed with heaping doses of fantasy and warped reality then Shadowrun might scratch that itch. Your chances of running into the problems I had are quite low after all the forum research I did to find a solution. If you're already familiar with some of the lore from Shadowrun this should fit in quite nicely, especially if you're familiar with the tie ins I already mentioned. If you're skeptical then you might want to wait until it goes on sale again.





Posted on Mar 13th 2014 at 07:43:21 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under South Park, stick of truth, pc, xbox 360, ps3, and its gone, baseketball, jew

The Stick of Truth was probably one of the most anticipated RPGs of the year. Its based on the popular Comedy Central show known for its crude animation style, rude characters, profanity, and insightful satire. Matt Stone and Trey Parker are two of the best writers in the show business today, including their smash hit musical The Book of Mormon, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, and the beloved classic BASEketball on their resumes its easy to see how the legions of South Park fans would flock to a game written by the show's actual creators and lead writers.



The game was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, themselves known for being excellent writers and world designers. They also have a nasty reputation for releasing broken and buggy games. Is this true with The Stick of Truth? There are some bugs I experienced, but they didn't really hinder gameplay. A few design decisions hurt the overall experience more than a graphics bug and the one crash I experienced.



The graphics bug involves alt-tabbing without pressing Escape first. It could lead to the characters bugging in and out of existence and was fixed by quitting the game and restarting. It was rather annoying, but didn't completely break the game. The save design hurts the game more than anything. It seems to be a save anywhere type of system when it is really a checkpoint based system. So, saving right after a cutscene was usually fine, but saving halfway down the street would mean the reload would put you back at the beginning of the street.

The actual game itself is quite beautiful. The art makes it feel like you're playing through a short season of different episodes. You play through different days, with all the kids having to go to bed once the sun goes down. These days are built around plot events, not the passage of real time, which flows well with the way the game is written. The world is open, but feels more like a side scroller since you can only cross streets at crosswalks. South Park is not a large town though, its always been referred to as a little mountain town somewhere in Colorado. Some areas seem to be left out, but every building has something to do in it. Well, except the bank. And you can probably figure out what happens there if you're a fan of the show.



The game's writing is spectacular, and the RPG design leaves even more room for references namely in gray junk items. Everything from Alabama Man to Space Cash is there to be found somewhere. The characters are just as they are on the show, with attacks based on their history. For example, Kyle has an Elemental Summon attack which is nothing more than Kick the Baby.


Or the most feared attack of all, Mr. Slave's ass.

The timing attacks and defenses in battle will remind long time gamers of RPGs like Super Mario RPG, Mario & Luigi, Paper Mario, and some more real time battle systems like the Tales and Star Ocean series. Combat is rather easy though. I played on the hardest difficulty and still found myself rolling through the game by spamming armor lowering attacks. I played as Jew, so my main attack against bosses and defense heavy enemies was Circum-Scythe, it was quite satisfying to use that attack against enemies such Pedophile and Meth Head.



As a whole, The Stick of Truth is a very well done game. If you're not a fan I would still recommend it as the writing is absolutely hilarious and vile at times. I found myself laughing hysterically at certain events, and smiling through most of the game as a fan. This game should go down in history as one of the best licensed games out there. Stiff competition in that category I know, but it really is that good and probably the best overall game in terms of technical issues, writing and story, and overall gameplay polish that Obsidian has released so far.



Posted on Oct 30th 2013 at 11:33:54 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under thief, pc, looking glass, zombies, the dark project

Greetings Ghouls 'n Ghosts! I am back and bringing you a spooktacular with a game that at first glance, should not be an experience that delivers goosebumps and stiff hairs. So, why does a game remembered as a stealth/action game have such a creepy atmosphere?



Thief: The Dark Project is a game that spent such a long time in development that it is rather surprising it came out to be such a great game and experience. Other games which spent so long in development include such well remembered classics like Daikatana, Duke Nukem Forever, and Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Thief stars who else than a master thief by the name of Garrett in an unnamed medieval/magical/steampunk metropolis simply called 'The City.' Garrett is a former Keeper, masters of stealth and the keepers of ancient tomes and knowledge. But, now he's a freelance thief who finds himself caught up in a supernatural plot.



So, what makes this game spooky? As a result of its long development it went through many early builds and re-writes before the game was really built. The Dark Project was its final working title, and at times could have become a first person swords and sorcery action RPG involving communist zombies. The developers added stealth elements and realized that sneaking by the enemies was more fun than trying to fight everybody.



True story: the design team was inspired towards the stealth model by everybody's favorite submarine simulation, Silent Service. In the final game Garrett is an unstoppable force of sticky fingers while hidden or in the shadows, when exposed you must be a master of the combat system or face certain death.

Some of the inspiration from the early zombie idea was left in the final product, these are known as the Monster Levels. The game goes through a cycle every two or three levels, one type of level being a human based level, the other being one of the monster levels. The monster levels include useless zombies and quite a few more original monster designs.

Most of the creepy feelings and moments come not from the actual encounter of the monsters though, but the suspense built up by Eric Brosius' sound design and music compositions.



Sadly, Thief's sequels broke away from the horror inspired monster levels, being all but non-existent in Thief II: The Metal Age. There is a throwback towards The Dark Project's horror levels in the third Thief game, Deadly Shadows. It may just be one of the single greatest levels in the history of level based gaming. The Shalebridge Cradle...



So, the next time you're itching for a midnight gaming experience to enjoy in the dark, fire up Thief Gold, the total expanded version of the main game, turn out the lights, put your headphones on and immerse yourself in The City.



Posted on Oct 29th 2012 at 11:34:21 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Renaissance, pc, rpg, golden, ultima, gold box, betrayal at krondor, ultima, the bards tale, wasteland

This is part two of my PC RPG retrospective. Again if you wish to see all the pretty pictures and any video if there is some in the post check it out on the main stage. Exclusive posts are put up for enjoyment as well. http://whydidiplaythis.wordpress.com/

As the mid 80′s came there were plenty of new additions to the RPG scene, many companies would be built or come into their own as a result of success and the quickly growing PC market as a whole.

Origin would continue pushing the storytelling envelope with its own creations in Ultima V. Lord British has essentially been overthrown by his advisor Lord Blackthorn. Blackthorn was possessed and corrupted by power and ambition, skewing the virtues away from the original system of voluntary following as self enrichment and enlightment. Blackthorn has pushed the virtues into the law of the land, causing suspicious behavior and a suppressed populace around Brittania. Garriott really showed how a philosophical system of belief meant to free the minds of a world can be turned on its head and used for less than virtuous purposes.

In 1985 the aforementioned Interplay joined the ranks of the success stories in this genre, releasing The Bards Tale, the same year as Ultima IV, such a wonderful year. While gameplay wise The Bards Tale was quite similar to Wizardry the focus of the story and combat was more focused on magic than most games before it, which featured it as an option that may or may not retain balance in combat depending on party build. Interplay would develop the sequels to The Bards Tale, but since they were forced to change the original intention of the storyline and flow for the series their heart was not really in it, leading to the sequels being considered largely mediocre. Interplays heart would instead go toward the development of an entirely new experience for gaming, the post apocalyptic world. In 1988 Interplay would release Wasteland, a popular and successful endeavor that focused on the politics and rebuilding efforts of survivors of a global thermonuclear war. Interplay loved this idea so much that Fallout would be designed as a spiritual successor to Wasteland. A recent Kickstarter for a true Wasteland 2 was recently funded by Interplays founder Brian Fargo and development will be between his new company InXile and many members of Interplays Renaissance internal team at their new company Obsidian.

Strategic Simulations, Inc. would bring the officially licensed Dungeons and Dragons to the PC market with its series of Gold Box games starting in 1988. While SSI had its own experience beforehand with 1985′s Wizards Crown and 1987′s Eternal Dagger they were the ones who won the bid to license D&D from TSR. The Gold Box games would use the storytelling benchmark set by Temple of Apshai at first, telling its story primarily from print media with in game citations for players to read after completing certain events. SSI and its Gold Box series would top the sales charts through the late 80′s through a combination of crisp design, storytelling, and riding on its D&D license.

1987′s Dungeon Master would bring the first person perspective from early dungeon crawlers such as Wizardry and the dungeon diving in early Ultima games and produce combat in real time. This game can be only be described as ahead of its time, as it offered many seemingly smaller details that combined into a smooth, immersive experience. Players were able to manipulate objects with the mouse. All of these innovations combined into a powerful game that SSI would emulate with its later Gold Box games.

Wizardry would also keep chugging along through the late 80′s, the 4th through 6th entries in the series introducing more story elements, but really keeping the same gameplay intact. But after 3 games before it Sir Tech had their gameplay design largely intact already. All that mattered now was to really balance the first person dungeon crawling, turn based combat, party building, and difficulty, really the difficulty.

To close out the 1980′s we have Might and Magic, a series which began in 1986 and continued until 2006 despite the company who bought the original developers going out of business. While Might and Magic was highly popular for its time it did not really do too much differently than those that came before it, borrowing heavily from other RPG series of its day. But it all came together in a tight experience and made its home in the hearts of many gamers.

By the early 90′s there were so many companies which had success behind them and their various series that the only thing that seemed able to stop them was their own increasing ambition. Well, that is partly true. Technology was advancing at a fast rate, early pseudo-3D was gaining momentum and development times were getting longer as teams got bigger. A few new success stories came about, but of those, few were able to keep their momentum as the declining popularity and shift in market interest was already happening.

Origin made it through the 80′s standing taller than ever, and celebrated the new decade with Ultima VI. Ultima VI introduces a political quandary to the player, showing the consequences of his actions in Ultima IV, namely taking the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. Demons invade Brittania to reclaim their holy book and are later taught to share.

Ultima VII would be the beginning of a new trilogy, and set it off with a bang. Now a big, bad archdemon is trying to take over Brittania and only the Avatar can stop him! Ultima VI and VII take some inspiration from Dungeon Master in that many objects can be moved around the world, put in your own bags, or dropped wherever the player desires, giving Brittania a huge, new amount of interactivity.

Other than these new Ultima releases the early 90′s were already quieting down, but one more influential release would come about before the True Darkness set in. Betrayal at Krondor was released in 1993 and as far as Im concerned, the Golden Age has already passed by this point, and this is the last gasp of an era passed. Betrayal is based on Raymond Feists Riftwar universe, making it one of the only licensed RPGs up to this point that was not a Gold Box D&D based game. Despite being a solid role playing experience the times had caught up to this game even before release. The graphics were considered outdated at release but heavy RPG fans let this game slip in as a cult classic despite largely forgettable sequels.



Posted on Oct 18th 2012 at 07:39:39 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under RPG, pc game, pc, video game, game, rpg, ultima, rogue, fallout, renaissance, temple of apshai, interplay, origin systems, or

So this is a series of blog posts I've been putting up on Wordpress and spreading around. If you want to check out the original posts (they have pictures and stuff) then you can find them all here: http://whydidiplaythis.wordpress.com/

In 1997 there was a large shift in the RPG World in general. On the console side the genre was given immense exposure due to the exploding popularity of Squaresoft's Final Fantasy 7, this game would go on to be the second highest selling game for the Playstation. This series is going to be focused on the PC side of things. Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game was released by Interplay Entertainment in this same year to widespread critical success and commercial support, selling more than any RPG had in years for the PC. Before Fallout released many industry insiders and long time gamers had essentially given up on the genre, developers were not making many due to rising costs and due to diminishing returns publishers had stopped greenlighting them.

Now by its simplest definition a renaissance is a rebirth or revival, which means there came a time before the release of Fallout where RPGs on the PC were king. So before we step deep into this revival it is imperative that we understand what came before, from what heights had this classical age of PC gaming climbed to? How hard and fast did it fall? What did these gamers get to experience in the days before RPGs shifted to consoles?

In the Dark Ages, for the sake of ease I'm going to label this time period as the late 70's to the mid 80's when most PC games were largely text of ASCII based. A lot of ideas would be pioneered during this time, deep storytelling came about from text adventures and gameplay ideas came from the earliest text based RPGs. Rogue was highly influential in terms of development ideas. This one release popularized the idea of 'randomly generated content' to developers and gamers, leading an entire subgenre of RPG to be labled as 'Roguelike'. This basic design philosophy inspired everybody, from the massively successful Diablo series to the more niche Mystery Dungeon games from Japan.

Temple of Apshai was released in 1979 and was one of the first graphical RPGs to be released on any PC system. Limitations lead to what became a team effort for storytelling that would become prevalant through the late 1980's. Text in the game would give the player a section of literature to read in a printed manual that came with the game. ToA was perhaps the first RPG to do this, and set a true benchmark until technology could catch up.

At this time graphics started to make their appearance more well known on the early Personal Computers, before 1980 most games with detailed graphics were on powerful mainframe systems. Due to technological limitations most of the RPGs that came out in the early 80s were simple representations and retellings of the designers' own tabletop campaigns, mostly Dungeons and Dragons. Wizardry and Ultima would release at roughly the same time, 1981, and both would prove highly popular and influential for the future. Wizardry was built completely around one large dungeon, laying the early groundwork for the modern dungeon crawler. Ultima would also make liberal use of dungeons, but spread them out throughout a world with its own story, the player able to fully explore the overworld before delving into the underground dungeons.

Wizardry would keep its basic design philosophy and continue being fairly successful. The series was the benchmark for character building and those who just wanted to dive into a dungeon and get right to the action. Wizardry would become incredibly influential worldwide, even making quite the splash in Japan where the series would become the most direct inspiration for Dragon Quest according to its creator.

Ultima made a habit of evolving its world, storytelling, and gameplay experience with every new release. Origin Systems and primarily Lord British himself, Richard Garriott, would become the greatest storytellers in gaming history to this point. Many of them even hold up today. Ultima III would really be the first release that truly set the series apart from its contemporaries, introducing plot twists into its story as well as really starting to hash out the mythos for Brittania.

Ultima IV is an entirely different beast though. Where RPGs were largely shallow up to this point (and even after), telling stories centered around ultimate magic artifacts or one stereotypical bad guy bent of world conquest/destruction, Ultima IV would introduce the idea of total freedom, philosophy, and self discovery to gamers. There is a story, but there's no real evil antagonist at all. The world of Brittania is at complete peace after the events of Ultima III, so the main character is summoned by Lord British and educated about a philosophical system based around 8 Virtues and sent around the world to master these virtues. This adventure is a landmark in not only gaming, but the evolution of storytelling in gaming. No game before it was not solely focused on some evil force or mystical artifact, and few have focused solely on the philosophy of a world and belief system as much as Ultima IV since its release, making the game quite an enigma.



Posted on Jun 1st 2011 at 10:07:55 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Soulbringer, Interplay, bad, game, sucks, package, horrible, painful, PC

One thing I'm sure we're all guilty of is playing a few games that we looked at as lackluster, unpolished, unfinished, buggy, glitchy, bad, or all of the above. In this first edition of Why Did I Play This? I, SirPsycho, take a look back at a steaming pile of gong that I got when I purchased what is perhaps my all time favorite game. All I wanted to buy was Planescape: Torment, and I found it for a good price coupled with a little game called Soulbringer, and I decided to install it on my old PC and give it a try. By the gods does the latter game reek of the bad decisions that rocked and eventually toppled the publisher Interplay.

Soulbringer Cover

Now there are many things that can anger the typical gamer, even if he/she considers or is known to be a hardcore, especially for the RPG scene. Now on the surface and even underneath it Soulbringer appears to be a normal RPG, you get thrust into a mystical world ripe with strife, ne'er-do-wells, conspiracy, and magic. However, the way the game is presented and played show a struggle of how you trudge through it just leaves much to be desired. For example; even before you get in your first fight you notice the first big design mistake the game made, that is that you cannot see anything more than ten feet away from your character!

Where's the Sun?

Why? Is there a perpetual black haze around every character on that world? With that shot you also get a look at the combat system and how severely outdated it is for a game that was released in 2000, even the graphics look bad compared to most that was out at that time! Why do I have to click on the attack I wish to do in the 21st Century? This was not before the advent of hotkeys or even mouse based combat, so why did it need to be done for this game? Too many questions and not a single answer that would make any logical sense.

The plot is as cookie cutter as you can get for an RPG plot. You would think with the brilliance and success of Black Isle's desire to break the mold that had been cast over the stale RPG genre, that Interplay would try and be a bit pickier about what it decides to green light and publish. But no, this game can literally be summed up as:

*Spoilers*














"Evil magicians are summoning demons and taking over the world! Kill them all!"

/*spoilers*

Masterpiece Soulbringer Road the Coattails of

The camera is so clunky and unfriendly that tweaking the angle during combat is useless as you'll miss out on valuable time to click on your attack and hope that your opponent does not use the perfect counter to send you down to feed the digital worms. The rest of the interface is no better, making navigation more of a chore than an easy way to quit out of the horrid game.

There are some pros to be had about this game. Despite the plot being so generic it hurts, it does trudge on to give any player that does enjoy the title a long, rewarding experience. There are hundreds of side quests to take to fill your wallet and get a better feel for the world of Rathenna, its inhabitants, and their culture. Combat has some depth to it in that you will have to switch weapons out on the fly to play to an enemy's physical weakness instead of there only being a magical weakness. The musical score is also above average, not by much though, and remember you could love it and think it a masterpiece of musical achievement or the perfect example of why this game sucks so hard.

In summary, if the game was release even five years before it was, it could have been considered a mindboggling masterpiece without peer. But since it was developed and came out during the time where Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Fallout, Torment, and others were trying to reinvent, reinvigorate, and renovate the old fashioned RPG house and succeeding, this game from the same publishing head starts backpedaling along all those steps forward. I cannot recommend this to anybody, if you are a completionist then by all means try and see what you can do with this, but do not play this alongside those aforementioned classics if you really wish to play Soulbringer. You'll just leave the crap to the flies and flock to the Sword Coast, you know you will.

Tune in next week for something completely different.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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