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Blaise Russel

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About Blaise Russel

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    (2) Evoker
  1. Come Together Here come old flat-top He come grooving up slowly He got joo-joo eyeball He one holy roller He got hair down to his knees Got to be a joker he just do what he please He wear no shoeshine He got toe-jam football He got monkey finger He shoot coca-cola He say "I know you, you know me "One thing I can tell you is you got to be free" (Refrain) Come together Right now Over me He bad production He got walrus gumboot He got Ono sideboard He one spinal cracker He got feet down below his knees Gonna hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease (Refrain) He rollercoaster He got early warning He got muddy water He one mojo filter He say "One and one and one is three" Got to be good-looking he just so hard to see (Refrain)
  2. Not really. He's doing what he's doing because he's been told to stabilise the Republic, not because he has any heart-felt concern for people in general or whatever. Furthermore, good does not have a monopoly on stability. If I want a stable Republic because it makes it easier for me to extort money and exploit people, does that make me LS?
  3. Excuse me while I go off on a tangent here. All right, to expand: the game had one story, about four disparate entities teaming up to 're-jig' the world (an eighteenth/nineteenth industrialising low-frequency-magic world) in order to make a prophecy occur, so that a Charlemagne-figure and his Eternal Army would be resurrected and could be used by the villainous team to accomplish their own individual ambitions. The four villains were a rebel anti-monarchical lord who had been defeated and forced into hiding, and wanted to conquer the local Empire, remove the royal family and instil the roots of republicanism; a goddess-avatar figure from myth and legend, one of the creators of the original prophecy, who, frustrated in 'old age' by an increasingly alien world, wanted to retake her power and reshape things to her own (benevolent)desires; an ancient lich, equally revered and loathed by the wizard community, who sought the power of the army as a bargaining tool to forestall his imminent final death; and the last of the bear-men, a race destroyed in a series of wars previously, a king without subjects, heavily inspired by Iorek and the armoured bears of His Dark Materials. Anyway, the basic premise of the story was "power corrupts," and you would see this represented throughout the game world: officials, nobles, high clerics, officers, celebrities etc. would be lazy, corrupt, morally lax, incompetent, paranoid, uncaring or downright evil, proportional to how 'powerful' they were. Very anti-authoritarian vibe, I guess. Obviously the four villains, as the most powerful people present in the game, would be the worst of the lot; the lich would be the most selfish, the avatar the most arrogant, the lordling the most hateful, the bear-king the most self-absorbed and angsty. I suppose the player would provide the second half of the premise, "corruption can be resisted," by becoming more powerful than the villains and remaining a hero (well, if they played a heroic character). Now, the four operated for the majority of the game as a single unit, with individuals performing tasks that helped progress their plan. However, a 'main' villain, or rather a 'focus' villain, was chosen by the player's choice of vocation. Each path and respective villain shared certain traits and associations that allowed for a narrowing down of the story to look at a particular aspect of it. So the Army path gives you the rebel lord, because the lord was once an army officer, the army put his rebellion down, etc. and because both the army and the rebel lord give you access to the political side of power and corruption. The Church and the avatar go together because the avatar is a 'Virgin Mary' figure for the Church and because both allow for philosophical meandering, for the abuse of spiritual and theological power. Becoming a bodyguard/assistant to one of the great mages of the region leads to the lich because of his history with the wizards and because together you get lots of transhumanism, ivory towers and intellectual supremacy and all that. Finally, the traditional adventurer, the exploring troubleshooter wandering the wildernesse gets the bear-king, because you're walking through the ruins of his life and because of opportunities to explore relations between various groups of different race, physical and personal (monstrous) power and so on. Whichever path you went for, you got the same story; the same events happened no matter what. At this stage, the bear-king raids a museum and steals a precious artifact. At this stage, the lich and the avatar murder a local official and the band of government assassins assigned to kill the four villains. At this stage, the four journey to the pole and attempt to realign the stars in order to invoke the prophecy. What changed was the perspective, the images drawn and the subquests centred around each path. Now, the paths correlate roughly to the four 'main' classes of D&D (not that it has to be D&D). The Army: Fighter, the Church: Cleric, the Wizards: Mage, the Adventurer: Thief. However, they weren't limited to just those classes. If a cleric wanted to join the Army, he could - and he could have the opportunity to become a chaplain as well, ministering to soldiers as well as being part of an elite squad. Similar situation for wizards (battlemage) and thieves (scouts). The Church needs warriors, wizards and thieves just as much as it needs clerics - it's a bureaucracy, not a collection of spellcasters. Indeed, the paladin, a 'warrior' class, would perhaps be better off in the Church than in the Army. The wizards don't care who they hire to do their dirty work, and anyone can be a freelance adventurer. The player could chop and change between the four, but after a certain cut-off point, when the threat level of the villains reaches a certain point, the organisation would 'trap' you, deciding that as a hero on the rise you were too valuable to simply let go. Of course, I'd be perfectly happy with including an 'out' at this stage, for the contrary player who just doesn't care about saving the world or having a job and doesn't mind a game-over halfway through the game. Okay, I'm done. What I'd really like to see is the combination of player participation and narrative construction, which I reckon would tap the full potential of games as storytelling devices - inclusion of the audience in telling a story. As things are, player participation generally gets shunted off for the most part into an irrelevant sandbox area that doesn't do anything except help the player pretend to be affecting the story as an individual. To stretch your metaphor even further, perhaps the effect could have been heightened if the many different trees shared a common species. If all the seeds of, uh, whatever Fallout's main story concept was - let's say transhumanism - were grown and developed so that you have dozens of little stories across the map about mutants and blame for the war and struggling to survive a harsh desert enviroment and robots and self-loathing and other things that tie into the Master's larger scheme of forced evolution and transcending the mistakes of humanity in general and the pre-apocalyptic powers in particular... there would be a solid narrative that the player could pick up and piece together. "Hey, this Military Base reminds me of the situation in Junktown... and the Glow... and Necropolis..." The key would be to make it dominant without becoming monotonous, I think.
  4. The problem I have with character freedom is that it makes it more difficult to integrate the protagonist into the story. The major difficulty, I reckon, is self-expression; most games limit the player's ability to define their character to LIGHT SIDE/DARK SIDE, which usually translates as: sweetness and cakes or thuggish bastard. Not that subtlety is used particularly often in defining NPCs either, but still... how can I demonstrate that my character is a military hobbyist, say, or a culture vulture, or doesn't drink alcohol or does drink alcohol or is a right-winger or a progressive or deeply admires abstract art or... any of the myriad of things that define real people in the real world? That aside... even if I can express these things, it rarely has an impact on the story as a whole. Features that define who my character is exist parallel to the main story, where (in the name of choice) my player-shaped hole is going through the motions of progressing the story. The only opportunity to actually alter the story to fit the character so that they produce a cohesive whole usually comes at the end, where I can randomly choose which final cutscene I view first, then go back and see them all, regardless of whether or not they make sense when contrasted with my progress throughout the rest of the story. "Sure, I was at 100% LS alignment throughout the game right up until this point, Bastila, but I'll just suffer a moment of psychological disjunction and I'll be all set to take over the galaxy, 'kay?" Actually, this ties into something I was thinking about when that whole 'multiple antagonists' thing was being discussed. As a proof of concept, I constructed a basic game outline with four disparate villains, the most powerful people in the region, teaming up to unlock ancient magical power, so on so forth. The kicker was the kind of job you took as a player character at the beginning set the story into one of four paths, each with their own villain and each taking a different approach to the story umbrella of ol' "power corrupts". So, for example, joining the Army as a soldier/peacekeeper led to the rebel aristocrat in exile as the main villain and the story being centred very much on temporal power, the reality of war, on politicking and the failures of monarchies, feudalism, democracies, etc. Meanwhile, joining the bureaucratic Church put you up against the avatar, had lots of supernatural shenanigans and (theistic) magic, things about the 'natural order' and freedom of will and such. The goal was to merge player freedom with strong narrative. See, I don't think it's necessarily that the two are mutually exclusive, it's just that player freedom just isn't used as well as it can be. Player freedom too often translates into player contrariness, with people bleating and whining about having to save Imoen or whatever. Similarly, sometimes not enough choices are given and more often than not they're meaningless and irrelevant, existing in aforementioned parallel-story-universe. Stuff like the Fallout endings is good, but I reckon it ought to be taken one step further and combined so that instead of a series of disjointed snapshots you get an overall 'saviour of the wasteland/down'n'dirty scumbag/enigmatic shadow/etc.' result with your actions in the various towns being evidence for that wider conclusion rather than mini-conclusions existing in (potentially contradictory) isolation. Better yet, get it into the game itself, so that by the end you can cite your actions in Shady Sands, Junktown, the Hub, Adytum as reasons for your being a hero, for why the Master should listen to you or whatever. Not that the other half is used any better, but that's another story...
  5. See, I don't think Revan started out thinking "I'm gonna be evil for a little while, I can stop at any time" and just succumbed to the temptation of the Dark Side. I think he fully, willingly submerged himself in evil, because it'd be better for the galaxy to fall under his thumb than for it to be conquered by the inhuman True Sith. As Emperor of the galaxy, he has a motivation to protect his investment/possession and keep it relatively intact; the True Sith have no such obligation. As he saw it, there were two options - seize power, take control of the Republic and make it his bauble, keeping it safe under his awesome and uncontested might, or leave it as it was and allow the True Sith to overrun its ineffective defences and destroy it. He chose option one, because true loyalty to a people or an ideal requires that you are willing to betray it, sacrifice yourself and your faith in it if it will ultimately make things better for it.
  6. This does not mean what you think it means. Regardless, they don't seem to have played the same game as I did. Kreia was not a nihilist at all; she simply rejected the Force as a universal arbitrator and definer of roles, preferring instead the individual choice free of co-ercion that is, according to the article, what the player must find to replace her apparently nihilistic philosophy!
  7. I liked what they did in GTA: San Andreas with the clothes that CJ wore. In each area - Los Santos, countryside, San Fierro, Las Venturas - I felt the need to buy new clothes that were appropriate to wherever it was that I was currently had my home base at. So in Los Santos, I'm wearing bling-bling gang colours, but when I get to the country, my bright green hoody and oversized jewellry looks out of place, so I slip into a shirt and jeans. In San Fierro, I'm the proprietor of a small business and a contact of the local Triad, so I get a nice denim shirt, shades and a beard. By the time I hit Las Venturas, I'm a m-f-ing secret agent, jumping out of planes and blowing up dams and robbing banks and stuff, so I get a nice sharp black suit and a cool haircut. The end result is when I return to Los Santos and try to convince Sweet to abandon Grove Sweet for someplace else, the contrast between good ol' loyal Sweet's traditional gang colours and my "I got out of the ghetto and never looked back" CJ's suit really hits home. I found it much more interesting and got far more out of that aspect of character progression than I did when I got 'Hitman' skill in pistols or maxed out my muscle stat.
  8. Rather, 'RPG' is so stupidly amorphous that it has to be weighted down with irrelevant constructions for it to be of any use in labelling games. The inevitable result is that people get confused over the tacked-on parts, complain that they exclude some games from being 'RPGs' even though they have 'role-playing', start taking the pieces off and end up with a meaningless definition. 'Role-playing' is a player, not a computer activity; to apply it to a piece of computer software is absurd, since the ability to role-play is contained in the person, as opposed to the machine or programming code.
  9. Which is why it's a silly term to be using, especially since games that are called 'RPGs' can be much better described by other genres, like 'tactical combat game', 'action game', 'adventure game', so on so forth.
  10. I think I understand what's being driven at. Aside from issues of 'story checks' that are too well hidden, I dislike the idea of it all being decided at the beginning, which could all too easily mess up player character development. An initially definitely-not-good bastard of a character who discovers through battling true evil that deep down inside he's really a decent chap could end up triggering Sir Valiant of Smitingdon as his primary antagonist, for example, with the result being two good characters fighting it out to stop 'true evil'. Of course, you can allow for this quite easily ("I'm not the bad guy any more!") but it really complicates things and can distract from what the main plot is supposed to be. Obviously, this is a minor issue, but I think a more organic method of pattern-matching hero and villain, one which takes place over the majority of the game and with limits that cut off certain story paths if you do certain actions, would be better. It'd be very interesting, though. The main thing is creating a central story thread that is loose enough to encompass several different antagonists with several different 'slants' on the same story without making it generic and meaningless. I suppose the key is to highlight certain aspects of the story for each villain, and make it seem as though that was the only way it could be. For example, three games of Deus Ex could each be retconned into matching one of the three endings, so in one game, the conversations with Helios, Morpheus and Savage and the evils or incompetence of human governance, visible or not, naturally lead up to the transcendance of Helios' ending, while in another, the monstrous results of transgenetics and nanotechnology, the deaths of Paul, Jock and others, and the loss of JC's former life as a counter-terrorist agent inevitably result in the redemptive self-sacrifice of Tracer's ending, and it is the clashing of egos and 'Great Man' history that produces Morgan's ending. Different events are highlighted in the same game to produce different 'stories' that are all internally consistent, despite containing conflicting 'story pointers'.
  11. There are ideas and concepts in the Star Wars mythos that could be really interesting and stimulating, were they given a darker, more adult and more complex slant. Another "Star Wars" story does not really allow for this, focused as it is on simple, straightforward repetition of epic good versus evil heroic fantasy. (Hah, as if Star Wars came up with such stories, as if they are somehow 'intrinsic' to Star Wars.) Regardless, your example is horrendously poor. I don't ask for a change of setting, I ask for a variety of interpretations of Star Wars ideas. I want darker and more complex interpretations of Star Wars not necessarily because they are somehow 'better' than lighter or simpler ones, but because there are plenty of the same old Star Wars stories and I'd like to take a slightly different look at the Force, at the Jedi and Sith, at the Republic and its citizens and everything else. The universe is a big place. There's room for a lot more than just the one, single story, repeated ad nauseam.
  12. I do not understand this at all. If you want something 'Star Warish,' why not watch the Star Wars movies? Hell, play KOTOR again, there's your interactive Star Wars fix for when you need to play some Star Wars. Why does every game have to be the same? Why does every story have to be just like Star Wars? It's been done; let's have some variety, let's have something new. Let's do something exciting and adult and non-Star-Wars with the Star Wars setting because it hasn't been done before.
  13. No, I don't think you did. Perhaps it's a matter of personal emphasis. As a games player, I've never really been as interested in the 'game' part of a game as I am in the story and atmosphere and suchlike. As such, I don't notice things like the interface save that they're particularly bad or cumbersome (like the NWN radial menu). Someone with a more balanced view (or just someone more perceptive, more attuned to what their senses say rather than their brain) might pick up on these other elements. I think this is more a matter of art direction rather than incorporating the interface into the gameworld - making the buttons and things look appropriate and atmospheric. Perhaps this is my personal bias again, but I'd have been just as happy if the Freespace games had used generic space-battle-bg-with-interface for the main menu than if they'd used the rooms on a spaceship equalling your menu options that they did. Not taking into account that the latter is prettier, of course. Different example: didn't bother using the ammo readouts on the gun models in Q4. Sure, it's quite impressive and I can appreciate the effort mentally, but I just never used it in the actual game. This may have been due to being trained to look at the HUD rather than the gun, but of course when I'm playing I don't want to be staring at my weapon at any moment in time, trying to read the little screen at an angle when I can look at the whole shebang. No, true, but I fear that poor implementation of a design that isn't centred around clarity and sense can lead to messiness and confusion. Consider the DX:IW 'eye' hud, which just got in the way. While of course it isn't always going to be like that, the point is that it can and I don't see the rewards really justifying going to the expense to get something like this right when you can just do it the simple way and get on with the game. See, I'd be saying that about trying to turn computer games into a decent storytelling artform, 'cause that's important to me. Combining the structure/interface of the game with the creation of an alternate world is not so important to me, so 'trying and failing' is not really any better than not bothering - especially when an immersive game world isn't the focus of your project. Even if we limit it to RPGs, a character focused game is not so reliant on this world-immersion-thing as, say, Fallout would be, or your interpretation of DX.
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