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About Jackalmonkey

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  1. Or in other words, I'm comfortable describing aspects of the game as problems just as I'm comfortable calling a game good or bad, and I think we all can enjoy that latitude. In truth the concept that games can have problems is taken for granted among gamers and game designers. The kingmaker scenario is generally acknowledged to be a gameplay problem, as is player elimination in long games of more than two players. Other generic problems (arbitrary randomness, encouraging AP, uneven player starting conditions) abound even in successful games and regardless of whether you are comfortable with these elements, they're still problematic insofar as they run counter to the gameplay's fun, strategy, fairness, time commitment, etc. Cases in point: Problems are often identified and addressed in subsequent editions of games. Cash and Guns' 2nd edition fixed the loot distribution mechanic (problematic because it slowed the game and involved little player partcipation) by replacing it with a drafting minigame. Game of Thrones' 2nd edition fixed a lot of the problems associated with the different starting conditions by introducing neutral armies to slow certain types of expansion. Expansions and updates are often about solving problems in game content and design. The Netrunner relaunch fixed the tracing mechanic and unbalanced abilities by redesigning tracing from the ground up and siloing powerful abilities within a faction system. Eldritch Horror corrects a lot of the problems of Arkham Horror, not only simplifying the mechanics but also creating more varied objectives. Those varied objectives (called mysteries) were criticized after the game's release, not for their inherent mechanics but because there were so few - a problem which EH's Forsaken Lore expansion corrected by adding several for each scenario. For a simpler and more well-known example, Settlers of Catan solves the problem of randomness in die rolls by replacing them with a deck of cards that better obey the 2d6 bell curve. Competing games often solve one another's problems. You mention LOTR; well, PACG solves the problem of the LOTR's compartmentalization of deck construction and gameplay sessions by integrating deckbuilding into the encounter deck and making player decks persistent session-to-session. Dominion is a great game, but the lack of player interactivity is a legitimate problem that other deckbuilders have since aimed to fix: Trains does so by making players compete for real estate; Arctic Scavengers addresses the problem via a bidding/combat round, etc. House rules are about nothing if not fixing problems. One of the most popular threads for Spartacus at BGG is the "blue dice variant" that fixes the problem of kiting in combat and brings the movement mechanic in line with other gamplay elements. The game is better and more consistent with the variant implemented. Problem solved! In short, many (very good) games do have problems, and more importantly, those problems can be identified and solved. PACG's problems are likewise both evident and solvable. If you'd like to articulate how to solve them I'm all ears, but I don't think further discussion about whether the game is good or bad is interesting or fruitful.
  2. Do you? The criticisms noted above have less to do with the game's dissimilarity to an RPG than with its repetition and lack of interesting decisions. The reasons you like the game have been articulated pretty well by Rab over at Rock Paper Shotgun, whose article I linked to above. And yeah, I get it: it's easy to set up, plays fast, and it has a lot of the generic fantasy tropes that people already know and like. As far as the best game of 2013 goes, I disagree obviously and I've only seen interest wane at BGG, where the game premiered at the top of the Hotness and has since disappeared. Regardless, I reckon that bringing the game to a new format provides an opportunity to iterate upon the current mechanics and provide a bit more story to each adventure.
  3. Figured this would be worth linking to here, as it's one of the very few initial negative reviews of the cardboard original. Since its publication a lot of its criticisms have been echoed elsewhere. The points in brief: Easy to learn, easy to master: "Once you know how to win, once you have mastered the subtleties (which are about as subtle as a naked man at a bus stop), the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game turns into a dull routine of flipping a card and rolling dice." Mechanically repetitive, repetitive, repetitive: "Basically, the game pretends to have a story, and yet delivers a mediocre and repetitive game of flipping cards and rolling dice." Dicey dice: "The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is incredibly capricious (for those of you who missed High-Falutin Jabber 101, that means there's too much luck)." I'm posting this here because I've played the cardboard version many times and initially liked it (for reasons pretty well articulated at a different review here). For a few months my friends and I kept it on as the opener when we met to play boardgames, and even used the same persistent characters session to session (O Lem, you once were a true love of mine). But we stopped halfway through the second Adventure Pack, our collective interest waning, then souring as the as the points outlined above kept on smacking us about the face. "I'm 'fighting' a 'harpy,' play 'weapon,' roll dice. I'm 'opening' a 'gate,' play 'item,' roll dice. I'm 'outsmarting' an 'ambush,' play 'blessing,' roll dice." Repeat and repeat and repeat and look, when I say we stopped halfway, I mean to say that we didn't even finish the game we were playing. Someone had to take cookies out of an oven or top off a parking meter or empty the kittenbone tray or something - I don't know, but the game broke up a bit and when we reconvened we just sighed and frowned and between the four of us couldn't think of a compelling enough reason to keep playing. The game has real problems, but I'm hoping that between the new digital format and a critical third party revisiting its mechanics, it can be salvaged to better align with the thematic experience originally envisioned by its developers at Paizo. So I guess I'm just wondering, you know, kind of out-loud-like, if the devs are addressing any of these criticisms in their designs or staying, eh, faithful to the original.
  4. Mechanically the Paladin seems perfectly elegant and the abilities concert well around the class role. These updates are amazing. A caveat with some of the terminology, though: Reviving Exhortation Zealous Barrage Faith and Conviction Coordinated Attacks Shake It Off Inspiring Triumph Zealous March That's a lot of adjectives, an entire phrase, and why settle for faith when you get conviction into the mix for the low cost of two extra words? You're going to have ample opportunities to purple your prose without bruising the abilities too. Why not: Revive Zeal Conviction Coordination Endure! Triumph Zeal What, flavor? A few well-chosen words in the context of each other's company will do that job just fine. There's no reason why every tooltip needs to be like busting open a fortune cookie. In a game that seems fairly elegant - and in which we're already going to have a massive glossary introduced by the lore alone - I am happy to settle for simpler ability names.
  5. Very similar experience here - the game was just suddenly easier when I restarted after seeing my whole team spontaneously gutted in a Terror mission (despite a lot of save-scumming). Got a good game now and working on Gollop but no idea how close that puts me to the endgame. Open Question: Heavy - worst class? Or am I just misusing him? The rockets seem a real turn-off given that they tend to destroy loot, and I love the Suppression ability but Support seems to bring that just fine.
  6. For those so inclined, Shamus Young of the Escapist penned an absolutely massive critique of the terrible Thieves Guild questline here. Yeah, it's something like five parts, but it's fairly incisive in its criticism, and many of his complaints are immediately applicable to most of the game. Young's experience is pretty much the same as mine. I gave Skyrim about 10 hours and then got wrecked by the usual problems facing stealth-based characters in worlds that level up alongside you, but that was far from the root of my problems with it: brainless fps gameplay with no tactical considerations, no significant choices (or consequences), and quests and enemies that are palpably and purposely generic for the sake of infinite 'radiant' questing. I don't see the point in this game at all, unless it's a sort of avant-garde implicit critique of the Narrative Vacuum of the Sandbox that game designers are supposed to take to heart and never repeat (whether in error or intentionally) ever again.
  7. Oh man, the comments section for that blog entry is dire in its nerditude.
  8. Wow, some kind of thread: hither an excruciatingly detailed design pitch, thither nostalgia for the halcyon days of your Interplay forebears. Am I alone in finding it depressing that when people have the freedom to express precisely what they want, about half invariably ask for sequels [to sequels]? Say Obsidian, how's about something risky? Or risqu
  9. On the one hand I do wonder how this hasn't happened yet, and on the other hand: oh please no. I mean, I liked Dawn of War, which was an excellent tactical game, but there was nothing compelling about the setting, character, or story. Every faction in that silly universe is entirely unsympathetic, not merely for whatever passes as their ideologies but for how poorly drawn those ideologies are. In 40k, the 'good guys' in their various forms are religious fundamentalists that are marketing to Stormfront neckbeards, the 'bad guys' are S&M/bodmod drones to pander to goth neckbeards, and the remaining groups are just there for novelty value - consider the 'comedic' dialect of the Orcs, which is an embarrassing ****ney/Caribbean eye-dialect that seems more than a little racist and in any case is staggeringly painful to read. The only compelling storyline I can imagine is one in which you have the opportunity to methodically screw over each faction - or better yet, to alter them in ways that utterly wreck their canonical basis (i.e., converting the entire Human Imperium to Baha'i, teaching the Eldar to work out their issues through hackysack and drum circles, or getting the Orks on Ritalin and enrolling in early-start literacy programs). I'd also assent to play a game in which you destroy painstakingly painted miniatures armies with a flametorch at GenCon, and you level up based on the liters of tears shed by weeping aspies.
  10. HELLO OLD FRIEND Doesn't all this talk about the Deadliest Catch just make you want to design an ASCII Alaskan fishing roguelike? * ^^VV^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^0000 * you caught * * ^^VVV^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^000 * *LOBSTER!* * * ^^^VVV^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^00 * * * ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^000 * +1 FISHING * * ^^^^^^^^^^^_[[ ]_/_^^^0 * * * ^^^^^^^^^^^\______/^^^^ * (< (< * * ^^^00^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ * ,' /`99/` * * ^^0000^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ * >']]::(,.) * * ^^^00^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ * `'///\\\ * * ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ * * * ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ * FISHING: 76,352 * The only stat is fishing, every screen is ocean, the currency is fish and the only thing you need to buy with it is more whiskey. Primary enemies will be overexposure, liver failure, and the Kraken. Look for it on kickstarter soon.
  11. I used to share your cynicism, but then I played Arkham Asylum, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Tie-In Game. You're right that tie-ins are usually lousy cash-ins, because they typically try to get by on IP alone. Good tie-ins are successful because they have a great alignment between theme and gamplay - in Arkham, Rocksteady nailed the gameplay of CQC and stealth. The greatest accomplishment of Arkham Asylum is that your character will perch deftly on a gargoyle wearing tights and big ceramic bat ears and you don't feel like some fiddly furry creep - you feel cool, and you feel lethal. Based on the Game Informer article, the new RPG seems to be RT hack and slash running on Onyx, which (like DS3) runs a very real danger of becoming generic gameplay with a tacked-on theme. I could see this as worrying. But this IP is kind of built to make use of traditional RPG tropes and perhaps surmount them. You mentioned earlier that Obsidian may as well make a Jersey Shore or Big Bass game, but the difference between those IP's and South Park is that South Park has its own developed universe and metaphysic - it even has 'lore,' or whatever term nerds use to designate the fake history of a fake setting. It also has elements important to storytelling - an often editorial worldview and real honest-to-goodness themes. Among those themes is the role of imagination - more specifically, how imagination is often willfully self deluding, self aggrandizing, and ego inflating. And I'm sorry, but how is this not characteristic of nearly every RPG you've ever played? There's a reason why Avellone refers often to ego-stroking and power fantasies as recurring design goals. RPGs are often about elevating the scale and stakes of the game, chiefly to accommodate the expansion of the player's ego as s/he trivializes former challenges. The twist in South Park - and this is potentially rich for both story and gameplay - is the opposition between the "power" of a person's imagination and the powerlessness he or she feels in reality - there are inevitably moments where characters in the show come down from their fantasies to face the indisputable bummer of real life. Consider for instance the episode where the boys are playing ninja: they're drawn as these massive muscle-bound anime characters in their fantasy - until a goddamn throwing star ends up in Butters' eye. They're once again themselves, small and vulnerable and in trouble. I honestly believe there's more freedom and potential in this franchise than in, say, Star Wars, D&D, or Warhammer, which are so hemmed in by 'canon,' prior world-building, and fanbase expectations that their settings are downright claustrophobic. But then I was one of the people who looked forward to Alpha Protocol, so maybe I'm just biased against swords, lasers, and laserswords.
  12. South Park and Obsidian are a terrific marriage. One, it's an opportunity to showcase the breadth of Obsidian's design capabilities. Two, South Park is a globally recognized IP that will get mainstream PR pickup and call further attention to a company we love (albeit under the iron thumb of THQ). Three, complain as thou wilt about Trey and Matt's juvenalia and libertarianism, but the fact remains that they literally crap gold pretty much all the time. Sure, literally, as in they literally can't walk three feet without filling their pants with several kilos of creamy golden bullion; as in anyone who went to the Book of Mormon premiere will tell you that Matt and Trey dropped trou right outside the Eugene O'Neill theatre and blasted out eighteen million dollars of honeyed metal. Like two shuddering diarrhoetic fountains of chunky golden poo, splattering and clinking all over the red carpet. They keep a passel of small Swiss children on hand to scrape it up and bank it for them. What I'm trying to say is that this will also be financially lucrative. Also, filthy. O forever sad fanboys with your beliefs and your feelings and your shriveling expectations, harken not those sad violins, and think on it this way: Consider Fallout 3, and then consider New Vegas, and observe the Obsidian hallmarks thereby added: choice and consequence, interesting and worthwhile companions, factions driven by plausible ideologies and interests, compelling story, clear and gripping stakes, etc. - all those design elements we so often put down to good writing. Maybe Bethesda succeeded in making Fallout a triple-A title, but Obsidian [re]infused the franchise with heart and smarts and humor. I don't give a good galldang if the IP is South Park or Fallout or Rainbow Brite; it will be a good game, and this is only good news. I send my best wishes to the team working on the project, as well as one humble request: Lemmiwinks. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
  13. A question for those of you who've gotten appreciably far: does the game world ever open up? I played through to Coruscant and was unimpressed by the instanced and discontinuous nature of the game world. I've not played WoW in a long time, but players could run from one side of the continent to the other if they so pleased, and I think Blizzard only expanded the openness of the world in recent expansions. Moreover, everyone participated in the same game world all the time, which added to the world's sense of persistence and the player's sense of immersion. In my brief time playing TOR, I found myself shunted from one location to another on rails, following pre-determined questlines along optimized routes with no alternatives. Once I finished my designated starting area, I and apparently everyone else was forced to migrate collectively to Coruscant. And both Coruscant and the starter areas aren't really 'worlds' in the open sense; they're essentially just large corridor-based dungeons with occassional questgiver/vendor areas. Moreover, the areas are actually instanced so that even players in the same region may not be able to interact with each other unless one of them phases through to the other's instance. This concern is moot if players are eventually permitted to make decisions about where to go and what to do; perhaps Coruscant is just another starter area to familiarize players with key game concepts (though if so it's a hell of a long tutorial). So having tried the beta, I'm left wondering whether or not we're ever able to break out of these instanced corridors and to get into genuinely open territory.
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