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Off-Topic / Re: Video Game News and Such 2016
« Last post by Valentina on April 29, 2016, 03:42:25 PM »
What worked about Doom was that it was a combat frenzy. No pausing in combat, no distractions from inventory juggling, no NPC's to command, no CHW's to prioritize. That's not to say it had no tempo, just that the tempo was either BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD or vast empty spaces concealing the next fight-or-die frenzy of violence. Reloading doesn't necessarily negatively impact that. The Brutal Doom mod has reloading. It's not a problem, it's a modifier on the tempo, a multiplier on the pressure. That's also the difference between Medkits and Health Regen -the former's another note in the tempo, the latter's a break in the action.

Another of Doom's qualities was atmospheric overkill. Going from wide rooms to tight corridors was a tangible shift in experience -more ambushes at vulnerable range, less room to dodge (but more choke points)- multiplied again by suddenly finding huge open areas. When I saw an area sprawl open with teeming crowds of enemies I either felt cautioned ("this is going to hurt if I do it wrong") or filled by blood lust ("I WILL DEVOUR THEM WITH BULLETS!"). The realspace levels felt plausibly real and that contrasted nicely with the Hell levels feeling unnatural and artificial. This is a place with lakes of boiling blood. This is a place where the horizon is fire and the sky is a mire of hate-filled souls. I have no fucks to give about whether any of that conforms to any "modern" aesthetic. It shouldn't, it's it's own place. It's Hell. It can and should have arenas of slaughter. It's not a place good for anyone, and that includes it's dwellers.

A thing I am quite comfortable with: getting a good look at my enemy, seeing it there illuminated cleanly in it's twitching two-frame resting animation did nothing to "cheapen" my reaction. It didn't have to "make sense" if it was clearly a demonic thing. Doom isn't about horror, though there can be terror ("RUN RUN GOTTA RUN OH FUCK RUN") so having things lurking in shadow half-seen doesn't seem like it adds anything to me. Knights and Barons weren't scary because I didn't really understand them, they were scary because they did titanic amounts of damage and took an arsenal to kill. That they were also tall and had an extremely straight bearing helped -"this is a thing that is sure that it's better than me. It's deadlier and tougher, it wouldn't need to lower itself to charging, it didn't get peasant and do that utterly unimpressive "roar and spit" thing every stupid ogre-breed thinks is intimidating. It's in no hurry because it can fry me at range and butcher me in melee."

And Doom was a puzzle game, oddly enough. Not keys and crap, but a combat that's five flavors of death and in which victory means peppering the Demons before charging the Imps because what I want to get them between me and the Cacaodemons so that they'll buy me time to use to finish them off once the Imps are done. Except behind the Imps is a hidden door, and behind that is a Knight. And I'm well inside "unsafe to user" range for a rocket launcher. Suddenly I need to watch it more than anything and I can't trust those Imps to play along and join the fratricide. Wipe the Imps, dance with the Knight, listen for the Demons to leave off chewing the Cacaodemons -if they don't cooperate I can put them between me and the Knight, and they'll get into line eventually. The dance floor changes with the threats and the strategy -I loop around to both dodge Knight and Cacaodemon fire and to get the demons in place or kill them off. The latter happens, so I bolt towards the Cacaodemons and, conveniently, away from the Knight into cover because I need health. Oh look, a Revenant. Good news? Shotgun fodder. Bad news? Seeking rockets at short range. End the fight quick, and if I can the fodder is dead and I control some hard territory. As long as I don't seriously screw up I've won.

Until another variable appears. Suddenly, Arachnotron boss. Whatever.

Point being: this Doom, any Doom, needs to recreate that. Hunting and being hunted. Wildly variable and often unpredictable terrain. Enemies with clearly different combat mechanics. Percussive and powerful weapons. No hard cover mechanics. Gratuitous fatality mechanics are welcome, but need to be a victory dance not a mid-combat snack break.

Want different-genre-same-principle examples? Ninja Gaiden. God of War. Devil May Cry. Space Marine. Puzzle-and-frenzy, you are a fast, murderous thing very fundamentally weaker than your enemies -except that you're flexible and when faultless execution mates to tactical intuition you get hundred(s)-hit counts and steaming piles of insides like islands in an ankle deep warm chutney ocean.

Intensity. Carnage. Mastery.

Off-Topic / Book Reviews
« Last post by ludomastro on April 29, 2016, 02:44:40 PM »
I was playing around with Google Books the other day when I decided, on a lark, to search for some old D&D material.  I honestly didn't expect to find anything due to copyright concerns.  However, I stumbled across a biography of Gary Gygax.  I gave the prologue a read and decided to nab a copy and give it a go.  The local library had one so I was off to the proverbial races.

Michael Witwer has given us Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons and Dragons.  It serves as an easy to read biography and clocks in at just over 300 pages including an index.  Michael, according to the author page, is a gamer himself and it shows in the structure of the book.  There are two things that make this both a quick and enjoyable read.  They also make this one of the most different biographies I've ever read.  One of them even had me worried for a bit.

The fist is the structure of the book.  There are 9 Levels with, on average, five subsections.  I suppose you could compare the Levels to chapters but that's not quite right.  They're more like sections of time.  The 44 subsections are merely designated with a  plus (+) sign and the numbers don't break at the beginning of a new section; they merely continue through to the end.  (e.g. +1, +17, etc.)  The prologue and each Level starts with an en media res scene of a GM and a Player.  The Player is speaking for Sir Egary at various points in his life.  The banter is very much tabletop and includes the rolling of d20s.  I'm sure you've picked up on the fact that Sir Egary is merely a thinly veiled reference to Ernest Gary Gygax.  While these short scenes (most are less than a page) don't mimic the upcoming life of Gary directly they definitely serve to set the tone of the upcoming Level.

The second is the author's choice to fictionalize the narrative.  As an engineer by degree and a corporate compliance auditor by profession, it was more than a little jarring to think that someone would ignore the data in favor of telling a compelling story.  However, I eventually did remember that a biography is the written life story of the subject and that Gary was the creator of virtual worlds where the story mattered more than the data.  (Rocks fall, everyone dies.  A GM rolls the dice for the sound they make.)  Indeed, after reading the book, I can safely say that it was the right choice.  Also, Michael has been nice enough to include a comprehensive bibliography and reference notes so we can understand where he drew the data to put into the fictionalization.

Each subsection is short enough that you can usually read it in a few minutes.  Additionally, each subsection covers a short period of time or even a single event in Gary's life.  Thus, the book can be easily nibbled or you can binge on a Level.  I found that I had trouble putting it down.  The book does what many good books do and hooks us with the an opening scene in the prologue of a distraught Gary leaving the TSR offices after being ousted by the board of directors and the new majority stockholder Lorraine Williams.  After going on a literal walk through town and metaphorical walk down memory lane, Gary picks up the phone and calls his ex-wife, Mary Jo, before breaking down into tears.  When his ex asks him to start at the beginning the author starts with Level 1, subsection +1 and begins to tell Gary's whole life story starting with 7-year old Gary Gygax and friends getting into a street fight in Chicago before the family moves to Lake Geneva in subsection +2.

It would be easy to see Lorraine Williams as the villain who ousted our hero; however, the author takes pains to present both sides of a situation if the sources vary on what happened.  This approach humanizes Gary, flaws and all, and makes him seem like one of us rather than the near god-like being he is often presented as.  The novel for it is more novel than traditional biography takes us from a young boy's imaginative times with the Kenmore Pirate (his Chicago gang) through marriage, children, divorce, triumphs, failures, and finally we see the end of a man's life.  The story continues beyond that point and tries to encapsulate the influence Gary has had on life as we know it.  With the possible exception of the final few chapters, I enjoyed the read and found it to be both informative and balanced. 

My hat's off to Gary for the obvious reason: the hobby he helped create is what draws us together.  I also must tip my hat to Michael Witwer for drafting this tale of Sir Egary and his exploits.

A read is highly recommend.
Did we learn nothing from Biodome?

Weasel takes out LHC.
Off-Topic / Re: Video Game News and Such 2016
« Last post by RusVal on April 29, 2016, 12:27:32 PM »

80 BUCKS?!?!  The new CoD: IW is $80?!?!


Edit- Oh wait, that's the Canadian prices.  Ugh, almost had a heart attack there.  Here, have a ufo teaser while I go lie down. :P
Off-Topic / Re: Video Game News and Such 2016
« Last post by RusVal on April 29, 2016, 11:42:59 AM »
Doom is coming back.  It looks really pretty, but, um, does anyone really care?

Did the Quake series have an overarching plot?

Yes, and no.  To both questions.

Doom, unfortunately, looks like its going to underachieve greatly.  What they are doing is commendable, injecting old school values into a modern FPS, with things like maze level exploration, lack of weapon reloading, a focus on run-and-gunning, etc.  And all of it's probably going to be lost to an audience who wants either a new Halo/CoD or a complete HD remaster of Brutal DooM.  The Halo/CoD crowd will find the old stuff quant but dated, and the older crowd will hate the newer elements, leaving only the few who can appreciate this particular blend of both styles actually happy.  At least, that's my take, anyway.

And Quake had two overarching plots, technically.  The first and third had this weird heavy metal plot going on that led to an excuse for arena combat, and the second and fourth (plus spinoff) focused on an alien invasion by the heavy metal version of the Borg.  Or, I should say, the counter alien invasion.
Off-Topic / Re: The Idiot Box 2016: Yadda yadda yadda.
« Last post by Desertpuma on April 29, 2016, 09:37:50 AM »
Punisher just got its own series on NetFlix
Off-Topic / Re: The Idiot Box 2016: Yadda yadda yadda.
« Last post by Krensky on April 29, 2016, 09:26:14 AM »
Especially if it's on HBO or Cinemax.

Lots and lots of braid pulling... If you know what I mean.
Off-Topic / Re: The Idiot Box 2016: Yadda yadda yadda.
« Last post by Antilles on April 29, 2016, 04:43:18 AM »
You forgot braid pulling, lots and lots of braid pulling.
Off-Topic / Re: The Idiot Box 2016: Yadda yadda yadda.
« Last post by Viperion on April 29, 2016, 04:35:28 AM »
There is a Lot of stuff there.  I hope everyone is signing up for a 20 season project.
15 seasons of travel, shy stuttering, and smoothing of skirts does not make for good TV
Off-Topic / Re: The Idiot Box 2016: Yadda yadda yadda.
« Last post by MilitiaJim on April 29, 2016, 04:17:26 AM »
There is a Lot of stuff there.  I hope everyone is signing up for a 20 season project.
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