29 April 2008

Actual Play Update: In A Wicked Age...

I haven't been making updates on this for each chapter (we seem to manage exactly a chapter per session). The game is still bringing some great play each time, and we're getting the rules down well too, which helps enormously.

The way that recurring characters develop is interesting - we have one in particular who is becoming more and more evil each chapter she appears in. Lucky for everyone else she's not going to be back for a while after last chapter (in which she was harvesting souls).

I'm also looking forward to next session, as I'll be taking a turn as a player, and sharing the GMing around. It will be interesting to see how it feels from the other side.

Updated opinion on the game: Not just recommended, mandatory!

Game Chef: Complete

I had fun with this, and I feel like the game I created has a good solid core in there. I also think it's pretty likely that playtesting will show that the mechanics are totally unbalanced between the three character types and need to be severely tweaked. Still, I'm more happy with this than my other designs.

It's a game about revolutionaries in a world with three strange societies, all in decline. Characters compete to be the one to reshape it all to match their ideals. Possibly for the better.

If you are interested, you may have a read.

26 April 2008

Night's Sorceries by Tanith Lee

The final of the Flat Earth stories, this one interweaves the previous two books, telling other stories that interrelate with Ahzrhiaz's story. It's good, including some of the funniest stories in the sequence.

19 April 2008

Delerium's Mistress by Tanith Lee

Continuing the Flat Earth stories. This one is a lot more of a traditional novel than the others, all about one character and her life. There's a certain freshness to the fantastic elements too. Good!

14 April 2008

Gogol Bordello (A strange music discovery)

So, I came across these guys via Boing Boing and was extremely impressed by what I heard. On Saturday I tracked down their latest album and have been listening to that quite a lot since then.

They call themselves gypsy punks which seems to sum it up pretty well. It is fun, loud, and very very funny stuff.

Here are some of their songs on youtube:
Start Wearing Purple
Wonderlust King

More Wicked Age

We played some more In A Wicked Age tonight. It went pretty well, seeming like everyone was now into the groove of how to play. One recurring character got intentionally removed off the list because his player was sick of him (the guy had some seriously bad chapters), and there seemed to generally be more awareness of how to position the characters for conflicts.

The story went more smoothly than the previous ones, too, with two tangentially related plots each being resolved quite nicely.

I'm really liking this game, and each chapter increases my enjoyment.

06 April 2008

No More Heroes

This is a game for the Wii. I'd pretty unreservedly recommend that anyone who owns the console buy it (unless anything I am about to say turns you off straight away).

It's a lightsaber (well, beam katana) fighting game in which you control Travis Touchdown (who is definitely a protagonist rather than a hero, as the title suggests). Having won a beam katana in an online auction, he is challenged to kill some guy by a sexy girl. This done, he is told that he is now #11 ranked assassin in the world and that he needs to off numbers 1 to 10 next. He carries on with gusto, in the hopes of sleeping with the girl (who is also absolutely crazy, it turns out). So much for the story - it's not really that important.

The game throws you into the first boss level right away, with many minions to waste before going after #10. Then you get let loose in the town, which is like a funnier version of Grand Theft Auto (just looking at the names of things is funny... Suplex Burger, Tyrannomarket Rex and Cafe Gloom are my favorites so far... oh yes, and Go Commando Army Surplus). There's a fee to pay to set up each boss fight, so you have to spend a while doing freelance assassination missions and other odd jobs to make money before you can sign up. The odd jobs are strange and hilarious (lawn mowing, mine clearing, pumping petrol, etc). There's also all kinds of collectibles - trading cards for luchadors, t shirts (they're numbered, and I have #83 or so), etc. You find these in various places - alleyways, dumpsters, buried treasure, boss levels, etc.

It also glories in absurdity. Travis talks to you directly, and speech bubbles appear by him to tell you when special button presses/remote movements are required. The HUD is all in fantastic fake 8-bit pixellation, and little midi tones and tunes abound when you pick stuff up etc. It's a collection of game in-jokes, as well as plenty of humour on the dodgy side of taste. The main example is save points - Travis needs to go to the toilet to save the game. As the story goes on the characters say stranger and stranger stuff. At halfway through I can't begin to imagine how it's going to be by the end.

The other chief thing is that the fighting is a lot of fun. The basic system is nunchuk stick to move, A to attack with beam katana and B to punch or kick, D-pad for evade. Holding the remote up or down switches you to high or low stance to defend yourself or get past defenses. That's all cool but not exciting. What makes it are the death blows and wrestling moves. Once you have almost taken someone out, the game goes into slow-mo and displays a (big, pixellated) arrow. You swing the remote in that direction, and that triggers a death blow animation. They are sweet. Wrestling is similar - if you stun an opponent with B attacks, you can grab them with another B press, then you get arrows for nunchuk & remote movements (sometimes two in order) which trigger some fantastic slow-mo wrestling takedowns. There's more in the fighting but that is the basic and the coolest stuff.

So far, I rate this as the best Wii game I've played. Buy it!

Delerium's Master by Tanith Lee

The third book of the flat earth series, this one has more of an ongoing story which appears to continue over the final two books. This detracts a little - I quite liked the collection of stories that were more tangentially related in the first two books. It's still fun, however, so no real complaints.