SD#50 No Basically Here

Remember, it only counts when it's Stark saying it.

We’re still figuring out this format, so apologies for the run time! Your government wants to hack you, but it’s for your own good. Also, the guys ask the listeners for info; “Who uses cable vs streaming, and what are your reasons for it?”

Dragon Age: Origins

This upcoming game is BioWare’s latest baby. They’re boldly claiming that it will be a synthesis of the popular Mass Effect and Baldur’s Gate gameplay styles. Yeah, those were definitely the magic words, at least to me. Anyway, here’s a short trailer to whet your appetite:

It’s coming out this fall. I must admit I’m pretty stoked. Expect a full preview from me sometime in the near future.

KOTOR MMO On The Way

For years we’ve heard rumors about a third installment in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series.  After a while, these rumors evolved into rumors of a KOTOR MMO.  Now it appears that there is starting to be some basis for these rumors.  I present the following as evidence.

On July 3, 2008, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Wars: Sagas, and Star Wars: Legends were all registered by LucasFilm Licensing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Nothing too special in an of itself.  These could relate to just about anything out there: books, comics, etc.  But when combined with information that Portfolio.com is reporting, things get very intriguing.

N. Evan Van Zelfden in Los Angeles warns, watch out World of Warcraft. In an interview at E3 this week, Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello said that EA is working on the next version of Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic, and it will most certainly have a massively multiplayer online component to it.

“We’ve got two of the most compelling MMOs in the industry in development,” said Riccitiello. The first title, based on the Warhammer property, will launch soon. “And the one that people are dying for us to talk to them about — in partnership with Lucas, coming out of BioWare, which is, I think, quite possibly the most anticipated game, full stop, for the industry at the point when we get closer to telling you about it.”

Does Riccitiello mean the oft rumored Knights of the Old Republic Online?  “Yes,” he said.

Now if you take that information and add it to what the guys over at CVG are reporting, it looks like we’re in for some serious fun with lightsabers.

LucasArts and BioWare look set to lift the lid on a KOTOR MMO within the next 30 days.

While it’s not official yet, based on the rumors that are flying, this is a done deal.  Hopefully it will be a good game.

An issue with modern games

In any video game, you have to have a suspension of disbelief; that is, you’re willing to let certain parts of it go to the wayside, because you realize you are playing a fictional game.  Here’s a good example for people who are new to the phrase:

Example 1 – You are fighting off a zombie horde.  In real life, zombies don’t exist . . . and even if they did you’d most certainly die.  But since it’s a game, you let it go.  That’s suspension of disbelief.

However, it can only go so far.  Shows, movies, and games that take it too far end up becoming painful to endure (see Battlefield Earth for what I mean . . . actually, don’t).  Keep reading and I’ll give you some of the best examples, in my opinion.

First up is the game I’m playing now, Mass Effect.  This game is awesome.  I won’t go into a review here, since the game is hardly brand-new and has been reviewed to death already, but suffice to say it should appeal to 90% of the gamers out there.  BioWare put a lot of effort into making the game as immersing as possible with characters and dialog that feel very natural.  The use of actual professional actors in the voice lineup helps with the game’s quality (as a bad cast can make an otherwise decent game unbearable; see the first Resident Evil).

However, there is one glaring problem with the game world; weapons.  Not how they operate, or what they look like . . . but they are EVERYWHERE!!!  I’m not kidding either; you break into a safe and there are three sniper rifles inside.  Tell me why the safe in the medical clinic had three rifles please!  Why does the bug I just killed have two ammo upgrades on it?  Why, on a planet that is so anti-weapons that I have an argument with security just to bring my gun with me (Noveria for those who’ve played the game) can I find grenades in the trash can?!

In a game like this, you’d have to be utterly inept not to end up swimming in extra weapons, armor, mods, power-ups, and upgrades.  Everything that can hold anything is nine times out of ten holding a weapon.

Penny Arcade

Alexander pointed out a similar situation in Diablo; you’ve killed a skeleton and a suit of armor drops as loot.  Where the crap was he hiding it?  Why wasn’t he wearing it?

Every game seems to do this to some degree.  Even more baffling is why I’m gaining credits for every enemy I kill.  Am I a bounty hunter without realizing it?  I’m pretty sure that law enforcement isn’t paid on a “per kill” basis, so why it’s this way in games is confusing.

Also confusing is the fact that you are typically rewarded for robbing people.  If you see your mouse/cursor/reticule light up, it means you can rob someone.  It doesn’t even require skill, so it’s not like you’re Danny Ocean and this is some challenge.  You press some buttons, use a hammer, or (in the case of Mass Effect) just over ride it with omni-gel.

Penny Arcade

Penny Arcade

Perhaps these games occur in a world where human nature doesn’t exist, so no one ever thinks to steal any of their neighbor’s stuff . . . but that seems like a stretch to me.

Even better is who you are stealing FROM.  Typically an NPC you can get a quest from has some goodies in their house you can take as well.

“Thank you sir.  You’ve saved my daughter from those bandits and scared off their leader.”

“Yup, sure did.  I also went into your home, smashed every crate I could find, and stole everything of importance.  I don’t need most of it, so I’ll just sell it for gold the next chance I get.  Oh . . . I also stole your gold.”

“You are a most honorable and brave adventurer.  I wish you well on your travels.”

Can anyone else see the problem here?!

I realize that the player character has to get credits/gold/supplies from somewhere, but wouldn’t it be more interesting if that somewhere had more to do with the player’s actions?  If you are hailed as a hero, wouldn’t sword smiths be lining up to give you their best work?  If you are some jerk who’s been robbing every person you come across, shouldn’t the law be after you?

Just once, I’d love to see some NPC in a game sitting around, making crates.  You can talk to him and he’d explain that everytime an adventurer such as yourself comes through, people lose all their crates.  It’s up to crate-smiths such as him to make sure everyone has enough crates for the next time.