Kickstarter Updates: Successes, Failures, and Cards

First up, if you supported Anima: Gate of Memories, thank you!  They cleared their goal, hit a stretch goal, and continue to push with a PayPal account set up through their website.  While I don’t know if they will hit it or not…the $300,000 stretch goal includes co-op play.  Who doesn’t love that?  (Incidentally, there have been some technical problems with the website the last couple of days, so if its down, fear not).

 

Anima_GoM_Marchosias

 

Secondly, with a late surge, there was a victory for sandbox MMORPG fans when Pathfinder met their $1,000,000 goal as well.  I did not pledge there – mostly because I thought it was a pretty poorly run campaign that suffered from developer neglect (no contact or updates in the last 72 hours of the project…um…), as well as stilted investment levels that actually penalized late investors.  Early bird rewards are one thing…giving players who pledge in the first week 6-7 times the number of goodies as late adopters is a bit much.

 

If you are looking for other good projects to invest in, let me suggest two for more traditional PnP RPG players and one for CRPG players.

 

 

  • If you are an old school RPG guy, Ken St. Andre and the Buffalo crew are saddling up for a final ride:  Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.  The project is already funded and blowing away stretch goals left and right.  Get in for as little as $14, or dig deep to get sweet rewards like a character portrait done by legendary Liz Danforth herself.

 

 

  • Chaotic Shiny, who creates free random generators for RPGs, and whose generators I’ve put to good use before here, is working on her first non-digital product – a deck of cards that doubles as a visual random tavern generator.  That’s…really cool.   Decks are $11 or $13 depending on how quickly you get over there.

 

  • If you are a fan of old school CRPG’s like the original Final Fantasy, but wish they would be updated for the modern day…boy do I have a treat for you.  Project BC, who has gotten several small indie RPG’s out the door right now, is working on something really neat.   Its hard to explain, but go to their kickstarter page, and read the updates and information on how this game will be what we all know and love – but with a twist that makes it even better.  Vacant Sky:  Awakening.  $10 gets you the finished game and (assuming they raise another ~$250 or so, which they easily will) a bonus story involving one of the main characters.
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The New Online Dating RPG…

I was on Facebook today and saw an advert for what looked to be a Facebook RPG game that was a little more…complicated (read: interesting) than the standard Facebook casual game fare, that rests mostly on your still in Bugging Friends with a specialization in Multi-Level Marketing.

So I clicked the link for Wings of Destiny (A NEW FACEBOOK RPG! – read the tagline) with a picture of a full on character screen with what appeared to be stats and inventory (which is what got my attention in the first place).    After clicking “no” to the inevitable – “O hi guyz, can we has your information?” question, I was taken to the game’s main page.  Where I saw this:

lolwut

 

Yes..fight hordes of demons, use your vast powers for good, find you soul mate!  I tell you, its only a matter of time before we see MATCH.COM: THE RPG in development.  Probably by SOE.  Those guys will try anything once.

EQ2 Watch

Well sitting at home sick does allow one some extra play time.   One of the things I’ve been doing is keeping an eye out for the beta release of EQ2 F2P client.  Originally targetted for an August 17th release date, things look like they’ve been held up abit.  Along with that was a delay in the release of GU57.  Now that the GU57 release notes are out, its easy to see why*:

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    • More classes are now neutral:
    • Neutral: Troubador, Dirge, Ranger, Assassin, Templar, Inquisitor, Fury, Warden, Coercer, Illusionist, Wizard, Warlock, Bruiser, Monk, Guardian, and Berserker
    • When you start a new character you will have Apprentice spells. This spell tier along with Journeyman will have a beginner level of FX in both size and quantity. Later when you acquire Adept or Expert versions of the spells the level of FX will increase. Finally when you acquire Master and Grandmaster versions of the spells you will experience the full FX force of that spell.
    • All classes have had certain key abilities removed – they will no longer receive them automatically

You and I both know what provoked these changes.  F2P does, will, and will continue to have an effect on the non-F2P version of EQ2.  The move to additional neutral classes is fine I think.  The future of Norrath was a little too…black and white for my tastes anyway.  The past of Norrath (EQOA, my original stomping grounds) was a little more muddied and I think this helps move the lore back in that direction.   The changes in spell FX and graphics is probably fine as well.  As EQ2 gets older and older, its going to need more and more facelifts.  And this will help with that, while also driving a little incentive to pay for upgrades on the free program.

But the last group is where I draw the line.  One of the absolutely great things about EQ2 is the ability to “stay in the field” – not losing people in a group session (or solo for that matter) to have to return to town to buy abilities – and – this is my fear – to remove those abilities from the F2P version unless one is willing to shell out a little more cash.  Those abilities?  Primarily Taunts.  That key mechanic that makes groups function.   And Intercept – another primary group mechanic.

Secondary to that is my own particular beef with the current trend in the evolution of EQ2.  Note the following changes that I imagine many players skipped right over or perhaps even applauded:

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    • The Guardian ability “Shield Bash” is now “Bash” and no longer requires a shield.
    • Priests will no longer receive the spell “Summon Food and Water.”
    • Summoners: “Aqueous Stone” is now “Aqueous Soul” and no longer summons an item that grants water breathing. It now simply casts water breathing on the target.
    • “Hunker Down” no longer snares the caster.
    • “Wall of Rage” no longer snares the caster
    • The Berserker ability “Body Check” no longer requires a shield.
    • All versions of Will of the Heavens can now be cast while the monk is feared.
    • “Heroic Dash” no longer requires a shield or symbol to be equipped.
    • “Hateful Slam” no longer requires a shield or symbol to be equipped.
    • Mages will no longer gain “Bind Sight” automatically. It is now a fun spell and can be bought from the class trainers.

Ladies and gentlemen, all of those changes can be filed under one category:  loss of roleplaying opportunities.  Loss of fluff.  Sacrifice for the sake of mechanics and only mechanics.  I will always lament those, and I will always rage against them.  They will cause the death of your game.  Laugh all you want to.  EQ2 is at its heart an MMORPG.  And many of the players come not for the MMO, but for the RPG.

Its hard to put into words but a game needs have a certain amount of…synergy.  Synergy between the crunch and the fluff.  Between the mechanics and the lore.  Dissociate the two and problems begin to crop up.  You game loses its “soul” or it becomes difficult (or boring) to play.

The solution?  Those second set of changes should not have just been “removed” or had the fluff removed.   Instead they needed to be retooled to make them effective in (all the) way(s) they were originally intended to be.  If the beneficial effects granted by a spell or skill were not balanced well enough against the disadvantage of a self root – then fix the balance.  Don’t throw the the baby out with the bathwater.

That being said, there is something to balance out my disappointment.  Its a salve that doesn’t fix the problem but that does ease the pain a bit.

  •  
    • Weapon appearance slots are no longer restricted to being the same wield style of your equipped weapons.
    • Appearance slots are no longer restricted to levels 20 and higher.

As always, since we are simple consumers, and in the word of MMO’s, just a small group among thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, we take the good with bad.  At least, if we can’t get a synergistic EQ2, we can have the next best thing:  one we can mold a bit in our image, and that’s free to boot.

* I got my personalized invitation to the launch of EQ2X at 9:20pm CST this evening after posting this in the morning.  Dang I’m good.

Westward Ho!

A short while ago, The Ancient Gaming Noob and I shared happy memories of our first RPG experience – in a classroom with an Oregon Trail experience.  Not the one on the computer, but one that involved the entire class in small groups and roleplaying exercises.  This was prompted by his look at Frontierville on Facebook.  Scroll down to the bottom for our comments.

Well today, from sheer coincidence, as I looked for something completely unrelated, guess what I found?

Westward Ho!

Looks like its been updated for the internet age, and may in fact be a whole new program, but it jives alot with what I remember, so its at least based on that core material I think.  I may have to email the “Wagonmistress” and find out the history and origins of  the program.  Its for schools of course, but how wicked cool would that be if the materials were open to the public?

The classroom unit basically consists of five weeks of activities.  The first week is spend on character creation…errr, group organization, supply selection, etc.   The next three weeks are governed by the Travel and Fate cards which give out random encounters for the groups to face and overcome.  The last week is the reunion and celebration where the survivors celebrate their safe journey into the northwest territories.  This element at least is subpar – everyone knows thats the place where the GM is supposed to hand out the loot and XP.  But I suppose for a one-off scenario that’s not really appropriate eh?

Anyway, as they say on the intrawebz…IMMD.

Scratching the Itch

Much as I love EVE and STO and space games in general, my roots are in fantasy.  I have thus far resisted the urge to spend more money on a fantasy subscription, though I do envy my brother’s dual EVE/LotRO status at the moment.   But sometimes you get lucky with something.

My brother, searching for cheap prices on Europe Universalis III, which he’s been wanting to buy for awhile now, stumbled across a game called Mount & Blade, which had a free unlimited trial to level 7.  Since they were both by Paradox, who also puts out some other games we’ve enjoyed, he decided to try it out and called me in as well.  We fast found out that the game was offline (though an online standalone expansion is being release later this month).  We also fast found it to be addictive.  Why do I mention it here?  Because alot of you are EVE players, and the big draw of EVE is its sandbox mentality.  This game echoes that perfectly

Let the bodies hit the floor...

At first I was disappointed that the game (Which functions much like an MMO btw, hence our confusion) had no spells, mana, or magic.  Instead it concentrates on being a pure Medieval simulation, though not historical at all, taking place in a fantasy kingdom with fantasy cultures, which though, are based on real life ones.  You have your Nords (Vikings), your Vaegirs (generic barbarians), Khanates (Mongols), Rhodok (English I think), and Swadia (Frank/Germanic looks like).  But I got over the lack of magic quickly.  There is still plenty of customization in your weapon, armor, and fighting style choices.  And the combat is based on skill – not just your skill sheet based on your level, but also some kinesthetic ability with the mouse and keyboard combo.  It takes some getting used to, but is not so hard its a turn off.  It plays like a cross between an MMO and a semi-real time version of Heroes of Might and Magic.

Character creation is fun, and meaningful.  The tutorial is solid, and if its not enough, you are started at some Training Grounds where you can whittle away additional time honing some skills before you start adventuring in the big bad world.  Interaction and Diplomacy are huge.  Like the common merc solider toady you are, you’ll have to do some menial tasks for the Lords before they will really respect and trust you with some of their wealth and power..and perhaps one day a fiefdom of your own.  Or go Robin Hood on them and ride around aiding villages.  Remember the old game Defender of the Crown?  This is like that but on steroids.

Graphics aren’t great, but they aren’t a turn off either.  And there is a satisfying “thunk” in the audion/video interface when you axe connects with that irritating highway bandits chest too.  And best of all, if you like the trial, the game is a mere $10 on Amazon.

My recommendation?  Get troops early and often – usually recruits from the villages – and take them to the training grounds.  Sparring with them a few times will level them into decent line troops.  If you can get your band up to 30, you should be a match for most random groups of bandits, looters, and deserters.  Yes deserters.  The five kingdoms and their related vassalages often get into full blown wars, which is difficult (alot more tougher npc’s running around to dodge or fight) but also provides some quick advancement (rescuing a captured Lord has its privilages).  The new expansion will allow you to go one step further and take on the Throne, as well as gather political marriages and expand the strategic vision of the game by adding on to kingdom management. 

Anyway, now you know why I haven’t had much to say about EVE in the last couple of days eh?  This has let me scratch my sword and shield itch without breaking the bank.  Give it a shot, see what you think.