24 June 2005

World of Warcraft - What It's Like

As this game has led to a lack of posts recently, I figured I should at least write up how it plays.

To start with, it's fun and addictive. The game looks great - not due to high technical specs, but just because the design is really good. Stuff just looks cool.

It has a few of the things that had kept me away from MMORPGs. These include (1) morons, (2) boring bits (usually involving repeated killing some type of creature for a quest) and (3) some annoying bugs. However, the overall experience is good. I'm helped there by knowing a large group of people in-game (for one character) and playing with Make Tea Not War for the other (cooperative play with someone in the same room is very good and not often found in PC games). The times I have randomly picked up extra people to do this or that quest, they've been good for the most part. You always see some morons spamming your chat window in cities but I guess they still are a minority.

The game is also so huge that I can see that playing at least four different characters through (with different species and class) will be required to see anything close to all of the game.

So, it is good. Worth the price, just. I suspect I'll certainly get 4-6 months play from it, which will make the total cost about that of two games. That's reasonable - I'd normally probably buy three over a half year.

09 June 2005

Carnivale - Review After Finishing It

I watched the final of series two last night. Really good show. Pity they cancelled it, the ending (i.e. setup for series three) looked really interesting.

That said, some really nasty stuff happens and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone easily disturbed by, for example, sexual violence or dismemberment. However, if you're prepared to handle some violent and freaky stuff, it's well worth it.

The way the magic is portrayed is really neat, reminiscent of Tim Powers novels to me. It feels like it has a logic to it, but it's not a very nice logic in most cases. The acting is universally good and the scriptwriting too. The characters are interesting and are forced to deal with situations that have no good way out, which makes some powerful scenes.

The direction tends to include a lot of dark scenes where you can't see what's going on, but aside from that there's little to complain about.

Why does it seem like every TV show this good gets cancelled?

07 June 2005

Primetime Adventures - Playtest Impressions

Regular group played a game of Primetime Adventures last night, so I thought I'd share my impressions. This will be pretty brief, I think, mainly hitting the high and low points.

Show and character generation went really well, it seem to be just the right level of detail (not much, in this case). The show was called A Fistful Of Brains and dealt with four bounty hunters who hunted down rogue zombies (apparently some zombies managed to live without mindlessly attacking people). The characters were a truly bizarre bunch - a hillbilly trucker, a voodoo magician/ex-government agent, a beautician/assassin and a zombie rights advocate (yes, he was one of the undead).

The scenes played out pretty well but I think we generally were only thinking of how they started, rather than where we wanted them to go. It was also mainly action-based rather than focusing hugely on character issues (although all their issues were addressed).

One big turn off was the tie-breaking element of dice rolls - ties aren't that uncommon, and the rule is for each side to throw an extra die to add to their pool. Now, odds are successes, so a lot of the time this gets repeated. This is not fun. It also changes the odds - you can have a better chance than the opposition at first but if you tie on that roll, it becomes even whether you win or lose. We decided that a house rule would be that higher rolls win ties, and only add more dice if that is a tie too.

Fanmail was under-used, partly due to people forgetting about it but mainly just carrying the story along too fast. When it happened it worked as intended and added to the game.

Overall, a very good game with maybe a little flaw or two.

Oh, and the pilot? The evil zombie gang pushing the zombie drug 'Z' was taken down, but test audiences were unimpressed. Looks like we'll pull in the next pilot for something new next session...

05 June 2005

Welcome to the future!

CNN article about early cornucopia machine development: The machine that can copy anything. Sounds like it isn't too far off production, either.

I wonder how long it will take from the first production model until everyone (yes, everyone) has one? I'm reminded of the spread of potatos and chillis when they first came to Europe - they spread basically everywhere in a few decades, and transport then wasn't as fast.

Also, not too many steps between that and the ones that Stross has in Singularity Sky, I hope.

03 June 2005

New Addiction

After much evangelism from work buddies, I finally caved and bought World of Warcraft this week. I'd previously avoided such games due to two main factors:
1. I don't like the idea of paying a monthly fee for a game I already bought.
2. It's going to be full of intarweb morons.

Now, the main thing that changed my mind was that so many people I know are already playing it, so I can meet up with them in game and that's much better than trusting to random people. But I've also been pretty bored with computer games recently and thought I'd try what is pretty much the only big game type I haven't played before.

So, how is it? Gameplay is much as expected. Addictive, but still quests aren't super varied. That said, I've seen a few really cool variations on the basic 'collect this' or 'take that to him' quest. And there's hints of a big overarching story or two going on. Overall, a very good game that plays pretty much exactly as you expect.

Also, seems low on morons. That might just be because I play in the middle of the night, USA time of course.

Oh yeah, anyone wants to say hi in game, I'm playing a troll called Xugarr on the Khadgar server.