Thursday, May 14, 2015
Wait, let me back up here. Hi. I haven't written anything in awhile. I'm Ed. I'm a geek. Sometimes, far too rarely, I feel compelled to write things down. So let's talk about Arrow.
I only sat down to give The CW's Arrow a real shot (ha) about a month and a half ago. I'd heard good things from friends and fellow geeks, but I've been very, very wary about anything coming out of DC Comics for the last several years. I was born and raised a DC fan, coming into my geekiness around the same time that Knights were Falling and Doomsday and Clark Kent were punching each other so hard that buildings were shaking around them. My dad, though not a particularly nerdy soul himself, had fond memories of his own childhood comic book days and encouraged my interest. He'd return home from garage sales (this being the rural Midwest) with boxes full of old comics and trade paperbacks, almost always published by DC or Archie--and my deep-seated love of Archie is a whole 'nother subject--and I'd delve into this strange, colorful, violent, and often inexplicable world of superheroes and villains punching each other in dramatic fashion.
Around the same time, Batman: The Animated Series was kicking off. B:TAS begot Superman: The Animated Series, Supes begot Justice League, and basically, throughout my childhood and into my burgeoning adult years, I had Bruce Timm's legendary version of the DC Universe keeping me company. I also began to discover DC-oriented comics blogs like Dave's Long Box, the Absorbascon, and Chris Sims' Invincible Super-Blog. These helped me finally understand some of the stories I'd been confused by in my youth and connect to aspects, characters, and bits of DC apocrypha I'd otherwise never have been exposed to. I grew from a guy who liked comic books and superheroes to a dyed-in-the-wool DC Fanboy.
And then Christopher Nolan happened. I enjoyed Batman: Begins quite a bit; I loved The Dark Knight and lauded Heath Ledger's performance (even if he still wasn't as good a Joker as Mark Hamill). But by the time The Dark Knight Rises hit, DC's editorial staff seemed to have succumbed to the exact same madness that had, thirty years earlier, caused every comics writer in the industry to take a shot at recreating Alan Moore's Watchmen. On the film side, it was obvious; Man of Steel's promotion (and eventual execution--no pun) made it clear that whoever was in charge of making these movies thought anything from DC that hit the silver screen needed to be dour, grim, dark, gritty, and absolutely humorless. Sure, Green Lantern looked like it might be kind of fun (I won't lie, I had high hopes for Ryan Reynold's Kyle-Rayner-disguised-as-Hal-Jordan film), but its box office demise apparently sealed the deal at Warner Brothers: DC movies are totally serious business, man.
Monday, August 4, 2014
It's November 20th, 200 A.D., and Lu Meng has finally run out of college tuition money.
But look at that Intelligence score! From 42 to 68; not too shabby, in my opinion. It's not quite up to our target of 70, but we've barely even begun to earn Tactics XP yet, so there's no real rush to get there.
It's been a long road to hoe, but we were just the Joe to hoe it. Let's see how the world looks nowadays, after our long sequester.
In the Central Plains, Cao Cao and Yuan Shu are still gearing up for an inevitable war. Liu Bei is still hanging out in Ru Nan, and Lu Bu is still sleeping on Liu Bei's bed and pissing in his sink and leaving his dirty underwear draped over Liu Bei's favorite sculptures.
Actually, it doesn't look like anything's changed at all. Kinda weird.
In the southeast, Sun Ce (who is still alive, somehow) has expanded his territory a bit, and he's probably going to be coming into conflict with Liu Biao pretty soon. Biao's an annoying bugger in the early game; he's not an important character, and he doesn't really have any great officers under his command, but he's got some prime real estate that provides him with enough money and manpower to make him tough to knock out.
And our Act I antagonist, Yuan Shu, is still just sitting there with his measly two cities. I wonder if the game's scripting broke? Sometimes, a particular officer moving to the wrong place or switching sides too early can cause the scripted events to stop happening. This might actually be a good thing, because a lack of scripted events means Cao Cao won't get to automatically double his territory again when he goes to war with Yuan Shao.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Enough dicking around with odd jobs and crime fighting. It's time to make some real money!
... But first, we're going to need to do some more odd jobs and crime fighting.
First off, it's time to look into these Buy Product jobs people keep posting.
Each city has its own specialty product. (Or its specialty is that it doesn't have a specialty, but you get what I mean.) Hui Ji, if you'll remember, was all about its fish. Other cities produce exceptional oil, silk, wheat, or what have you. These Buy Product jobs task you with finding a city that specializes in a particular product, buying some, and bringing it back.
How do you find out a city's specialty? Observe!
No, seriously, you go around and use the Observe command. Sometimes, you'll find previously undiscovered characters, sometimes you'll get generic dialogue and gameplay tips, and sometimes people will enthusiastically tell you all about how City 17 is world renown for their headcrab exports.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Let's get ourselves a job we're more qualified for.
As a 17-year-old college student, our resume isn't exactly leaping off the page. However, if there's one thing undergrads are fully capable of, it's throwing a damn party. Let's join a festival!
"... you would join us."
Wait, we don't even have any responsibilities? You're literally just paying us to attend?
Do go on.
So, we head to the farm...
And get ready to party!
Lu Meng, party scientist.
Two hundred bucks and a bump to our reputation. This is the greatest job of all time.
It occurs to me that if I'd bothered to show off the stats screen at the beginning, I could have avoided losing three weeks' tuition money to my private army. C'est la vie.
Here's a list of Meng's skills. Each row of skills cover different aspects of the game.
The first row are the Job skills; they all boost the results of things a character might have to do between fights, from improving the farmlands, researching new technology, patrolling for bad guys, or hiring soldiers. Meng starts with Repair, Order, and Drill, meaning he's good at rebuilding walls, fighting crime, and teaching peasants to stick them with the pointy end.
The second row are Battle skills. These are Leadership-based abilities to be used in combat. Charge lets you push enemies around the map, Missile lets you use fire arrows, Unison lets you surround enemies and attack them at once, Settle removed negative status effects, Rally buffs morale, Surprise lets you attack non-adjacent enemies, and Distract... I'm not actually sure what Distract does.
Third row are the Strategy skills. These are also used in battle, but are based off your Intelligence stat. Blunder makes two adjacent enemy units fight eachother, Stun stuns, Entice (despite its vaguely sexy name) taunts enemies, Confuse confuses, Aero lets you change the wind's direction (useful if you play with fire), Geo lets you dig pits for enemies to fall into, and Maze... actually doesn't get any use in battle, but does let you build Mazes on the world map instead of Forts.
Fourth row: Duel skills! If you're fighting someone one-on-one, these help you beat their heads in more efficiently. I'm sure I'll cover dueling in more depth, since it's one of the few things Meng's decent at, so I'll go into more detail later.
Fifth row: Debate skills! ROTK X introduced a duel-like system for the nerdier characters. Typically used to resolve diplomatic actions, debates are abstractly represented by two men standing on a bridge and shouting at eachother until one of them falls off. Yeah, I don't know. More detail for this coming later, but suffice it to say, debating is bullshit. At least until you get Plead and Insight. And then it's bullshit in the other direction.
Finally, the sixth row covers reknown skills. These are earned in various ways, and give nice bonuses that help specialize your character's role in the world. Meng starts with Admiral, meaning that when he's fighting in a boat, he won't be constantly dragged around by the tide. The skill I really want for him is Warlord, which is going to require 70 Intelligence and a metric butt-ton of Tactics XP. I'd also like to pick up Doctor, since I think it will help him prolong his life--and even if it won't, it's a fun skill to have.
Whew. Let's see what the rest of the screens have in store!
Friday, August 1, 2014
So, here we are. Chai Shang is a relatively small city located in southeastern China. If the game followed the novels, it would probably be Lu Meng's base of operations for his final campaign against Guan Yu.
It's pretty boring. Let's blow this joint.
What is RotK10, you ask? Well, as the name implies, it's the tenth in Koei's line of strategy (and occasionally strategy/RPG) games about the Three Kingdoms era of ancient China. Like its more famous cousin, Dynasty Warriors, ROTK takes the characters and events from Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel and lets you experience/recreate history as them; unlike the Warriors games, though, this series aims for a more realistic take on the characters, pulling characters like Guan Yu and Cao Cao off the front lines and putting them in charge of armies, cities, and empires.
Most of the ROTK games are straightforward grand strategy games. Pick (or create) a ruler and try to conquer/unite China. However, a few games in the series offered a twist: rather than controlling Sun Quan, why not play as Taishi Ci? Let the AI handle the deal-making and warmongering, while you train your martial skills, journey the land seeking adventure and glory, or just sit in town and teach the peasants how to work a field properly. These games allowed players the freedom to tell their own, emergent stories, to tinker with the systems and figure out how to break them, and to immerse themselves into the game world--at least as far as the clunky, menu-driven UI would let them. They were so beloved that they spawned sites like SimRTK, allowing players from around the world to engage in a forum-based MMO version of the games.
Sadly, the series seems to be defunct. Koei's last pair of entries were both straightforward empire building titles, and sales of ROTK XI were so poor in the U.S. that XII will likely never be ported. The chances of us getting another RPG hybrid in the series appear to be nil.
But at least we can still play our beloved old PS2 games on our modern systems, right?
... yeah moving on