Posts Tagged ‘Ultima VII’

Living Worlds: The Joy Of NPC Schedules

Just before the Christmas break I was trying to catch up on all of the interesting games that I hadn’t found time to play earlier in the year. Else Heart.Break() was right near the top of the list, even though I have zero interest in games that expect me to learn how to program in order to have fun. If I learn how to program it’ll be so that I can become a megarich superstar game dev, not so that I can solve puzzles in somebody else’s game.

So why play a game that is quite clearly about IFs, ELSEs and ANDs? The Store page description contains phrases that should have warned me off the game rather than encouraging me to buy it, and yet something appealed. I wanted to play the game because of a single paragraph in Brendan’s review:

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The RPG Scrollbars: Pants On Parade

Since the dawn of RPGs, two things have remained constant: heroes require armour, and players will always want to find out what happens if they strip it all off and run around. Some would call it a secret test of a game’s devotion to world simulation – that if characters react, it says good things about the developers’ devotion to detail. Others just think it’s really funny. (To be clear, it’s very rarely even close to sexy.)

This week then, a random sample will answer the question the world has been waiting to realise it should have asked – objectively speaking, which RPG is the best? Specifically, if they all forgot their PE kits and had to go quest in their pants.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Manual Override

I miss manuals and their kin. They’re often still provided with games, I suppose; usually PDFs to explain how to play and to give jerks on forums something to insist you RTF if you dare complain that something isn’t clear enough. I’m not really thinking of that side of things though, but the ones that felt like they were part of the overall experience. The in-world documents. The bestiaries that didn’t just list enemies, but breathed life into them in a way that the often simple game you were playing really couldn’t. The snippets that told you that while, yes, you were going to be spending the whole game in a series of dungeons, there was a world somewhere outside them that cared too.

This week, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites, and related bits and pieces, and see which ones struck a chord with you, the person reading this. I have others from other genres too, including Galactic Inquirer from Space Quest V, which was all the funnier for coming in an era when toilet paper like National Enquirer wasn’t eally available in the UK, and Claw Marks, the official magazine of the TCS Tiger’s Claw. But you see the letters RPG up there in the title? They don’t stand for ‘rocket propelled grenade’. Unless you’re dealing with a modern era RPG, in which case I suppose they might. But never mind. Onwards! To the wonderful world of words!

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The RPG Scrollbars: The Best Punishments For Cheaters

Over in Everquest II, they’re trying an experiment at the moment – what’s that? Yes, Everquest II. People are still playing it. The original as well. I know, I’m surprised too, but never mind. Specifically, they’ve created a prison server called Drunder. The idea is that instead of banning trolls, griefers and cheaters (presumably up to a certain point), they can simply throw all the troublemakers in server jail and let them play together with no possibility of escape. Nothing can possibly go wrong! If you want to indulge in the anarchy then you can request to be sent there, but again, it’s a one way trip for your account. Has Daybreak finally discovered the ultimate fix for bad online behaviour, though? Let’s ask our special ethics correspondent, a snowball in Hell.

Well, while we wait, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at how a few other RPGs have decided to have a little fun with their dodgier elements, both online and off.

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The 50 Best RPG On PC

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC RPGs ever released. Covering the entire history of computer role-playing games is a daunting task and attempting to place the best games in such a broad genre in any kind of order is even more daunting. Thankfully, we are equal to all tasks and below, you will find the best fifty PC RPGs of all time.

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Libraries And Liquor: A Day In The Life

Alec wrote about some of his favourite gaming moments last week and I was inspired to put together something similar. Ever the structuralist, I decided that I’d string my favourite moments across a fictional interpretation of an actual day. Here is one of many days in my life, from a breakfast of champions to the blurred bottles at the heart of Saturday night.

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Fantastic Cartography: Why Videogame Maps Matter

I well up a bit looking at this. So many memories.

Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 141-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Adam’s celebration of videogame cartography, from cloth maps to digital records of procedural worlds. This article was first published in 2011.

Some of my earliest memories of gaming are not of the games themselves but of the things that came bundled in the box with them. Whether it was a hefty manual, full of lore and encyclopaedic listings, or a little extra something. My games don’t even come in boxes anymore. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the shelves in the house where I grew up, full of big cardboard slabs with none of this DVD case finery. I’ve been remembering the excitement of opening the box on the bus, surreptitiously because my parents always thought I’d lose the manual or disks before we reached home. And I’ve been thinking about what else I sometimes found inside.

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What I Write About When I Write About Games

Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 141-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Adam explores his own gaming history to understand why he plays and why he writes.

This is my first week back from a holiday, during which time I barely looked at an internet, let alone wrote on one. I didn’t play any games either, unless you consider freezing to death on a remote Welsh hillside to be some sort of game. As is often the case, not doing something for five minutes has made me think about why I do it in the first place. Why, of all the wonderful and fascinating things that exist, do I spend so much time thinking and writing about games?

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Rule Britannia: Every Ultima For The Price Of A Pint

That’s right – Ultima 1-9, plus the two Underworld games, for the price of a pint. And not one of those fancy craft ales that you’d sup in a tweedy pop-up bar that charges sixteen quid for a thimble filled with ‘paprika-spiced apple cinnamon wedges’ that taste like rancid Doritos. GOG.com are currently offering the Ultima bundle for $7.14. That’s the price of a pint of Carling round these parts, with a pack of Transform-a-Snacks on the side. Ultima is far better for body and soul.

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A Game And A Chat – Divinity: Original Sin’s Divine Depth

In a year potentially chock full of amazing classic-style RPGs (Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, the beginnings of Torment, etc), it’s easy to overlook Divinity: Original Sin. That, however, would be a tremendous mistake given that the Ultima-VII-inspired Kickstarter darling looks to have depth and personality in spades.

I corralled Larian in my very own (adoptive) hometown of San Francisco, and we played the opus-in-the-making’s latest build. I had to pre-record this one sans a camera, unfortunately, but Larian head Swen Vincke showed me nearly two hours of late-game (read: not in the alpha) gameplay and discussed how players can kill every NPC and still progress, non-violent approaches, how Larian *wants* us to break its systems, how it plans to avoid another disastrous Divinity II: Ego Draconis-style launch (despite some rather pressing bugs in the current version), comedy in a normally self-serious genre, talking to animals, and gobs more. This one is now near the top of my most-anticipated list. Tune in below.

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