Wednesday, February 12, 2020

My Arm Hurts

This is what 140ish non-player characters looks like.

What is this for? I hope to tell you soon!

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Finished Sympathy

After my post about computer rpgs I have not completed, Jensan suggested I talk about the games I have managed to finish. There aren't many.

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Mission AccomplishedBaldur's Gate II - I played this in 2001 or thereabouts and it remains one of my favourite gaming experiences. I adore this game. I never got around to the Throne of Bhaal expansion, although I do own it; once I've finished the first game in the series, I'll replay BGII and then finish the story.

Dragon Age: Origins - I wanted to play this from the moment it was announced but it took years for me to get a copy. When I did play it what struck me most was how it wasn't much of an improvement over Neverwinter Nights; if anything it seemed like a step backwards. I didn't bother with the expansions or sequels.

Final Fantasy VII - Japanese computer rpgs were not easy to get in the UK when I was growing up. We got even fewer of the Square and Enix games than the US did, although we did get Terranigma and they didn't for some reason. As such, Final Fantasy VII was the first of that venerable series that I played, and I played it to death. I got all of the playable characters up to Level 99, broke the in-game clock, and even then didn't see everything in the game, but I did finish it.

Final Fantasy XII - As a story, this entry in the franchise is rubbish, and even seems to give up on itself by the end, but as a game it's one of the best rpgs I've played. It feels a bit like an online multiplayer rpg but with better, less random, content and no griefing from eleven year olds in Alabama.

Final Fantasy XV - I wrote about my thoughts here. but that was before I finished the game. I wasn't quite as enthusiastic about it by the end. The combat remained rubbish and if anything got even worse with the acquisition of an item that killed anything -- even optional megabosses -- with literally one button press.

Liberation: Captive 2 - Technically, I didn't finish this as it had about four thousand missions, but they were all variations of the first level and I completed the first five or so missions multiple times as a result of save game corruption, so I'm counting it.

Neverwinter Nights - It's good fun, but it's no Baldur's Gate II. Perhaps the best thing about it was all the community content; I downloaded and played loads of homebrew campaigns, some better than the original game.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - A beautiful game, but an odd one. It's sort of like a Square Enix rpg crossed with a thinly-veiled Pokemon ripoff, and it seems aimed at beginners, but it's packed full of hidden and optional stuff that you have to work to uncover, and I can't imagine many newcomers doing that.

Planescape: Torment - It is just as good as its reputation suggests.

Skyrim - It is nowhere near as good as its reputation suggests.

There is a third list -- rpgs that I have bought but not played -- but we're not going to get into that right now, because it's embarrassing.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Unfinished Sympathy

My favourite computer game genre is probably role-playing games, I think in part because it's possible to be good at them without having the agility and coordination most other computer games require. For the most part, anyway. There are some exceptions.

Except... I seem to have trouble finishing the things. Although I have completed some, these ones sit in a fuzzy, indistinct limbo:

Baldur's Gate - I'm about two thirds of the way into this one. It's not as good as the sequel -- yes, I am playing them in the wrong order -- but it is good fun and of all the games here is the most likely to get finished.

Chrono Trigger - This is technically in the "now playing" category, but I have decided to take my usual approach with Japanese rpgs and spend hours upon hours building my characters to maximum level so that they can steamroller through the rest of the game.

Dark Souls - I got bored. This may come as a surprise as it's one of the best games ever, except I don't think it is.

Fallout: New Vegas - I only started playing this a few months ago and I have hit the level cap through wandering about and completing sidequests. I just need to go and do the main storyline.

Final Fantasy VIII - I haven't played it since 1999 and I no longer own it, so I'm never going to go back and finish it. I hit a wall in the game where my party was too powerful to continue, which is a problem I haven't seen before or since.

Final Fantasy X - I am very fond of this game, but I reached a certain point and could not continue for personal reasons that would probably seem absurd if I explained them.

Golden Sun: The Lost Age - This one's quite good, but I forgot I had it until I started writing this post.

Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark and Shadows of Undrentide - I finished the base game but by the time I got the expansions I had uninstalled the original and now my current PC won't run them.

Phantasy Star - I have probably played this more often than any other rpg, but I have never got around to finishing it. I had the original on the Master System and I started it at least twice because my original save was corrupted. I started it again on the Wii, at least twice on the PS3, and I'm sure I started playing it via emulator at least once too. It's a great early(ish) console rpg but for some reason I can never finish it. Maybe in 2022, for its 35th anniversary.

Vagrant Story - I never quite got a hang of the combat system in this one and playing it is a bit of a faff as I have a US copy.

The Witcher 3 - I got bored again, although I can tell it's a much better game than Dark Souls. I think the combat system turned me off, as it's based more on the player's dexterity than it is on equipment and statistics, and dexterity is my dump stat.

Xenoblade Chronicles - I stopped playing this one because I liked it so much I didn't want it to end, which is one of the best reasons to pause, I reckon. Ridiculous too, as it's had two sequels and two remakes since. Oh well.

One significant issue is that I have a stack of unplayed rpgs waiting for me when I clear this backlog. It never ends.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Caught Short

"I have two games left to play and I hope I can still get one win before the season ends. Let's see."

That's what I said after my last game. Oh dear.

My next match was against an experienced dwarf team. The other coach was lovely and we got on well as we played.

In many ways, the game was a pleasure to play.

The first half was something of a disaster, with so many injuries that I had no one left to stop the dwarfs jogging in for a more-or-less unopposed touchdown. Even my opponent felt sorry for me at that point, which sort of helped.

The second half went better. I was able to push back and put some dwarfs down, managed to hold on to the ball for most of the half, and when I did lose possession, I regained it soon after. Alas, I was not able to convert any of that into an equaliser, and a winning score was well beyond me. Still, my opponent was an excellent player -- 9th overall in the league in comparison to me at 31st! -- so keeping him to one touchdown isn't too bad. Or so I tell myself, anyway.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 0 - Fun Vacuums 1

One of my vampires will miss the next game because of injury, and I have four thralls out with serious injuries, forcing me to bring in journeymen to make up the numbers for my last game of the season.

Regarding that final game...

I was set to play a human team that was not doing so well so I thought I had a chance at a win, although I was well aware that I had thought something similar before. As it turned out, that coach has now withdrawn from the league so I've been drawn against a good Norse team with considerably better league statistics than my own.

I am not expecting things to go well.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Chrimble!

This will probably be my last post of 2019. I hope you have a good end to your year, however you celebrate it, and I will see you in 2020.

I mean, I won't see you because that's not how this works, and I'm neither a Californian AI or a Russian hacker hijacking your webcam, but you get what I mean.

(If you want, you can still buy my new book.)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Stuck in the Middle

I have written and drawn a brand new Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure and it is released just in time for the festive season!

You can probably guess the inspiration, although -- whisper it -- I haven't seen the film!

You can get the adventure in print here or in pdf here. The physical book is a limited and numbered edition and -- as far as I know -- will not be printed in this form again.

(Now I've said that, watch it get a second printing in a couple of weeks. No one tells me anything.)

Oh! And there are also t-shirts. Two of them! If you buy at least one t-shirt and use the discount code EDWINA then the entire order will have free postage; this offer ends at 23:59 Finnish time on the 26th of December.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Double Dark

Out of my ten scheduled Blood Bowl matches this season, four have been against elves, three of those against dark elves. Back when I started playing the game in 1994ish I did quite well with my own dark elf team, and although Blood Bowl has changed quite a bit since then, I knew that the pointy eared braggarts would be difficult to beat.

So it proved in my first and second games, so I wasn't expecting too much...

First up were the Vaggaroth Villains, a somewhat experienced team currently sitting in the top half of the overall rankings. My vampires got smashed in the first half by the dominant elves, suffering a bunch of casualties and conceding an early touchdown.

"There's still the second half," I thought to myself, "So there's plenty of time to turn this around." I am nothing if not optimistic.

As the ball was kicked off for the second half there was a pitch invasion, and rampaging Villains fans knocked down and stunned all but three of my players.

Oh. Good start.

Even so, I somehow managed to prevent another elvish touchdown and almost scored an equaliser, but ran out of turns.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 0 - Vaggaroth Villains 1

Match eight was versus The Tigers, a rookie dark elf team. Going into the match I was emboldened by the Tigers' lack of reserves and a complete dearth of rerolls, but I knew how good dark elves could be and as my opponent had little in the way of previous form, I had no idea what his play style was like.

Things looked iffy from the start as I lost a vampire at the end of an assassin's blade, and although I tend to take the swinginess of Blood Bowl to be part of the fun -- otherwise I wouldn't have picked a team as unreliable as vampires! -- I must admit that I thought this calamity would set the tone for the whole match.

One good thing about vampires is that they tend to recover from their injuries, even death, so Chris was back in action almost straight away.

I scored an early touchdown and although the dark elves equalised just before half time, I was feeling content, if not confident.

One of my players caught the ball from the second half kick off, the vampires formed a loose cage, and began to rumble down the pitch. While vampires have the agility of elves, they are not as fast and I didn't want my ball carrier to be exposed, so I felt the cage was the best strategy. The dark elves threw everything into defence and forced me to change direction a couple of times but the cage held, I managed to maintain forward momentum, and in my last turn, my ball carrier made a break for the line.

In Blood Bowl, players have a standard move allowance, but can Go For It to gain a couple of extra squares, although they have to roll 1d6 for each square and on a 1 they trip and fall. My player had six squares of movement and the end zone was seven squares away. Can you guess what happened?

If you said "You rolled a 1" you would be half correct because I did indeed roll a 1, but I had a reroll!

Which also came up a 1.

Oh well.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 1 - The Tigers 1

I am disappointed that I missed out on winning the match, but I know it was down to bad luck rather than poor play, so I'm happy(ish) with the result. I picked up a fair few star player points as a result of some lucky casualties so the team as a whole is looking stronger, and I do feel like I'm getting the hang of the vampire style of play now.

I have two games left to play and I hope I can still get one win before the season ends. Let's see.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

More Barbarians

I've been working on something I can't talk about for eighteen days, so instead here are some other bits I have done for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, which should be out in 2020.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Wilhelm Chaney Is A Liability

I lost, of course, but let's talk about Wilhelm Chaney, so-called "star player".

I was 2-1 down to the Black Mountain Mad Dogs, an experienced orc team, albeit one rather down on its luck, coming off a nine game losing streak. With three turns left in the game I had punched a hole in the left flank and Chaney was through to a scoring position, out of range of any of the orcish defence, with a gaggle of vampires in support

One of my vampires throws the ball. It's good! All Chaney has to do is roll a 3 or more on a d6, and he has the Catch skill to try again if he misses.

He rolls a 2.

Then another 2.

That's not good, but it's okay. Two turns left, the ball is loose in the end zone, and the orcs are miles away.

Next turn, Chaney steps into the end zone and goes to pick up the ball. It's a 3+ again.

He fluffs it.

Right then.

There's no need to worry. The orcs are getting closer but there's still a turn left and the ball is just sitting there. All Chaney needs to do is pick it up, he scores and I tie the game. On a 3 or more. That's all I need.


The werewolf fumbles the ball into the crowd, which lobs it back into the arms of an orc who then hoofs it up the field and that's the game.

In all fairness, my opponent did score two touchdowns, both of which were somewhat soft, so I can only blame my poor defensive tactics for letting those happen. Failing to score an equalising touchdown after three very easy attempts? That's all down to the dice failing me.

But that's Blood Bowl for you.

Elsewhere it was quite a balanced game. My opponent suffered some poor luck of his own with two of his players -- including his troll! -- injuring themselves -- one fatally! -- when attempting to tackle mine. After a cagey, defensive start from both teams, the game opened up, there was quite a bit of movement  up and down the pitch, and it made for a fun and exciting game. A long one too, after three riots delayed the game to the extent that we ended up playing turn seven three times in the first half.

But that's Blood Bowl for you.

Final Score: Purple People Eaters 1 - Black Mountain Mad Dogs 2

I have four games left in the regular season. My hope is to still walk away with at least one win, but I am running out of time.