Thursday, May 26, 2011

KotOR Replay 01: Pre-boarding Rant

Start a new game, and first thing that happens is the game throws six doofuses at me. I get the differences between the men and women pretty quick. I got that far through public education. But the classes aren’t very well defined.

Soldier I get. BLAM BLAM HOORAY! Scoundrel is like a Han Solo then, right? Pretty certain there’s no spaceships. Hopefully he gets some sort of bonus to gambling (Note: he doesn’t. Pazaak is equally useless for all classes. But more on that in a future post.). So Scout would then be like…what? Wicket? Is this the forest yiffer hobo class? And where the hell is Jedi? I was promised lightsabers.

I’m being a little abusive here. I know damn well the classes—and most of the character mechanics—are based loosely on the WoTC Star Wars RPG. From what I recall Soldier and Scoundrel made it through pretty straight, and the Scout is a well-abused Fringer.

But jumping in without previous d20 experience? Befuddleville, Rune: Never too many axeshome of the Bewilderbeasts. Especially going with the advanced character generation route. Getting a mental hold of ability scores and skills and feats is probably the biggest hurdle for anyone thinking of getting into d20 games. It’s  too many axes of weird shit. And the real summbitch? The machine god will not care if I make an inept one-legged goat-woman as my character. Doesn’t matter if it’s been two minutes or two hours, you don’t get a chance to re-roll. Screw up, and it’s back to Endar’s Perpetually Doomed Spire for you.

Luckily, my original play through in ‘03 went well enough, thanks to the old standby of Soldier/Fighter-plus-everything-passive. POW POW ZAP PUNCH JAB. During that game I learned that if I wanted to have real fun in quest lines, I only had to care one skill: Persuade. Everything else I could pretty well drag one of your NPCs around for. Landmines, computers, locks, wine tasting, whatever. The rabble can handle that.

Next time: What the hell is with those pants?Talking though? It’s all me. I could have had Frederick Douglas and Cicero three inches away, bored out of their skulls, pleading to get involved, and every damn Persuasion check would be through me. But I know how to manipulate most of the Bioware story machines now. Always max out the conversation skill. Oh, and I need to throw some repair in there, too. HK will need that. All told, that makes Scoundrel the big winner here.
Screw you, Scout.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Give Me That Old Time Republic

You know what’s great? Star Wars.

No, it is.

I’m not saying everything with the Star Wars label is good. There’s a lot of crap. The kind of crap that would kill most properties. That’s probably what’s most impressive about Star Wars: the brand can withstand any number of assaults and ill-conceived additions. When someone hits upon another entry that has that Star Wars feel, everything else melts goddamn away. It’s like the Second Coming, but with lightsabers.

For the X-Box generation, Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic is probably the most memorable rejuvenation of Star Wars. Not that it sold as many Burger King cups as the prequels, or clocked as many hours viewed as the Clone Wars cartoons. But goddammit, it gave you a blaster, pointed you at some stormtroopers, and said, “Save the galaxy.” It let us be either Luke or Vader, and drag the Republic along with us.Mister Sparkle

Here we are some eight years later. There are people who are old enough to walk, talk, and have opinions on the awesomeness of hitting robots with laser swords who were born after KotOR came out. Is sticking it to Darth Malak with your whiney Jedi and homicidal robot still as awesome?

For the next few weeks I’m going to be revisiting the original KotOR to see how it holds up. There’ll be needless cursing, groundless speculation on design decisions, and more than a few minutes worth of me swinging my pen in the air while I make "vrrrrrmm” noises with my mouth.

The Intro Post

Hello, all.

As I'm relaunching this blog, it's best I do the traditional intro post.

I'm Chris Cowger, Content Developer at CCP Games. If you're familiar with EVE Online, you may know me by my dev handle, CCP Big Dumb Object. This blog is not affiliated with CCP Games. All opinions herein are my own. I have to say that so when I say something outlandish and stupid, we all know I'm not dictating company policy.

"Content Developer" is a bit of a catch-all term, almost as widely abused as "Narrative Designer." In my case it tends to cover most any task related to the implementation of game content, including level design, writing, tools stuff, and internal processes.

I'm starting this blog as a way to get shit out of my head and on to some sort of paper, digital or not. Expect a lot of stuff about stories and video games.

And dragons.