Monday, March 31, 2014

After a Week...

I'm calling it. Diablo 3 might just be the best comeback story I've ever seen. The expansion, Reaper of Souls hit Tuesday (well, Monday night around 11 for those that pre-ordered the digital release). The loot system, which was the main thing dragging down D3, was overhauled prior to RoS's release and got me hooked. I had uninstalled the game, thoroughly disgusted, but reinstalled it after all the great buzz about 2.0 Loot. RoS took all that goodness and expanded it. It added an Act V to the game, that while seeming to be short, was very atmospheric and well done. It also added Adventure Mode, which is where the real fun lies.

Once you beat the game with a character, you can either decide to run through another playthrough of the main game with that character or go into Adventure mode. Adventure mode still utilizes the main areas of the game, but applies 5 bounty quests for each Act. These quests range from clearing levels of a certain dungeon or killing a specific creature. At higher difficulties, the quests become harder like "Kill the Skeleton King in 45 seconds or less." Yowch. You get a shot a good loot, and get lots of XP and gold for completing the quests. You also gain Keystones, which one you have five will allow you to open a Nephalem Rift to a randomized dungeon. The point of these dungeons is to fill your kill meter so that the Rift Keeper appears so you can then kill it. This gains you treasure and XP, but you also get Blood Shards which can be traded for a random magic item of the slot of your choosing. I've been having a blast doing bounty runs and Nephalem Rifts.

Diablo 3 is actually worth the price of admission now. After it's boring vanilla game, and the blatant money grab of the Auction House, it's good to see that Blizzard still listens to the fans and wants to make a great game that players will want to keep installed for quite some time to come. Well done, Blizzard, well done.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reaper of Souls and a General Malaise

Another weekend has slipped past with really not a damn thing to show for it. I tried to get into the zone, to get some writing done, I really did. However, the words just weren't coming and my ideas felt, well, dumb, so I said to Hell with it for the moment and played some Diablo 3 instead. I hate writer's block. Not to get too disgusting, but it's like my brain is constipated. There's ideas and imagery there that wants to get out, to find it's way onto paper/screen, but it...just...can't...  I just wasn't in a sci-fi frame of mind no matter how much I wanted to be.

What my mind did wander to was fantasy. I suspect it was all the demon-slaying in D3 and likely the binge of Game of Thrones Season 4 previews my wife and I watched. Combine that with my 5-year old's desire to try out the new D&D boardgames (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of Drizzt), and all the ideas that kept coming up were tied to fantasy gaming. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm already trying to write some sci-fi material! Blast this gamer ADD.

At any rate, Reaper of Souls, the expansion pack to D3 hits tomorrow. It'll be one of those days in which I just want to get home so I can start a new Crusader, which will make the workday an even more painfully slow slog than usual. It will also likely keep me pulled away from Mythic Space for a bit longer as well. Hopefully, the ADD will swing me back around again before my writing completely switches gears again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Have a Dream...

No offense meant to the late, great, Dr King, but that title felt fitting even though I'm going to talk about video games.

I love the Action RPG genre. It all started with pumping quarters into Gauntlet (Red Warrior sadly needed food badly a lot...) then it exploded into a full bore obsession with Diablo and all the various games that it spawned. While I love the never-ending quest for more loot and harder challenges, I'm often left wanting when it comes to the world. These type of games scream out for an larger, more open world like those seen in other more traditional RPG's and MMORPG's. What I would love to see is a sandbox-style Action RPG.

Here me out. You travel across a hex map. In each hex there's a chance of an encounter. If that encounter is monsters, then you zoom into a random map based on the environment that you're travelling in to fight or flee with the creature(s) you've stumbled upon. If that encounter is uncovering a forgotten tomb or a cave entrance, then you go into a dungeon (randomized like the early Diablo 1 levels or what you see in Torchlight II these days). There would still be set landmarks to tackle like the crypt of an ancient lich, or the castle of the evil warlord, or the den of a dragon or demon or some other such monstrosity. There could even be quest strings that lead you along an adventure path of sorts, but the choice of where to go and what to do is up to you. Not interested in tackling the Swamp Dragon? Go fight the giants of the North instead, or just explore the world. The loot system would stay like what is seen in Action RPG's, random and tailored to level and somewhat to class.

The base game would cover a set area, but it would be expandable. A new area might even include new classes, monsters, quests, and rewards tailored for that area. You could even create planar levels for super high-level content.

I wish I had the skills to do something like this, but I don't have the coding savvy and I certainly don't have the artistic ability and rendering know-how to pull something like this off. This could be a huge idea in the hands of the right company. I know I would buy such a game in a heartbeat. Then again, I may be the only person that something like this would appeal to.

Anyway, that's my dream. I dream of an Action RPG that keeps giving me more to explore rather than having to run through the same quests over and over in my search of fortune and glory. It may not be the grandest dream ever, but dammit it's mine!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's quiet...too quiet...

I haven't had much time to do much of anything lately, writing-wise. I am kicking around a fluff piece about sports and/or entertainment in the future pertaining to my Mythic Space setting. I'm just got a few random ideas so far, nothing really all that concrete. I hope to have something ready to post soon.

One thing that I'm surprised slipped past my radar that I found out about tonight is Pathfinder Pawns. Cardboard stand-ups of various creatures and NPC's from the four Pathfinder Bestiaries and from several of their Adventure Paths, as well as an NPC Codex. While I'm not a Pathfinder player, I do convert their creatures to S&W and the NPC's would be great to have as well. This is an excellent idea, and I'm likely going to snatch up copies as I find them. I loved the old Basic D&D cardboard stand-ups, and still use many alongside minis to this day, but I wish they were scaled to a size other than Medium/Man-sized, so these Pathfinder pawns are perfect.

I'm still playing a bit of Diablo 3, but I'm easing up a bit with Reaper of Souls due out this time next week. I don't want to get burned out before new content is released!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Diablo 3

I've been pretty quiet this week because I gave into the foul beast that is Diablo 3. I reinstalled the PC version the other day after reading that the latest patches leading up to the release of the expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, had greatly improved the game. On top of that, Blizzard is shutting down the thrice damned gold and real money Auction House, which made me insanely happy.

I had given up on the PC version when the reviews of the PS3 version came out saying it was a much better experience. I picked that up and really liked it. The drop rates for gear were much more in line with what was seen in Diablo 2 and that made for a much more enjoyable experience. The 2.0 patches for D3 PC have made it fall in line with that of the PS3 version, even better actually. I still haven't found any set gear yet, but seeing as how I'm about level 60, I would expect that my chances on seeing some set gear will greatly improve. Where I rarely ever saw a legendary item drop, I've had several now. All of these changes have made me feel good enough about D3 that I went ahead and pre-ordered the expansion.

I still wish that the character builds were more in line with that of D2, or better yet Path of Exile, but once I hit level 60 and can start amassing Paragon points, I may feel a bit differently about the character progression.

I hope that this isn't the end of what we'll see for D3. D2 only had 1 expansion though, so I'm not going to hold my breath.

At any rate, I've been feeding the addiction lately, but I will likely take a break once I get my barbarian to 60 so I don't get burned out before RoS hits. Plus, it'll give me a chance to finish my rulebook and start doing some serious work on the setting and converting aliens and such with reckless abandon!