Posts Tagged ‘Ultima VII’

The RPG Scrollbars: Voices In Your Ear

Looking back on System Shock, one part inevitably stands out more than any other. SHODAN. The goddess of Citadel Station. With her words she turned a futuristic maze into a horrific hunter/hunted situation, where survival was about clawing back control and beating the machine at her own game. It’s an impressive achievement… but especially when you consider that really, she was little more than a few well written voice files and a world that let them temporarily seem like something more.

Since the start of gaming though, there’s been technology… and there’s been showmanship. One often gets mistaken for the other. We see advanced AI in characters that simply broadcast what they’re doing. A simple line of dialogue at the right moment can make a game. In Deus Ex for instance, being shouted at for going into the ladies’ wasn’t simply a cute bit of scripting, but its way of saying that it was always watching. And you were never going to know what it was watching out for.

Sometimes, characters just commenting at all can create wonders.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Seeking Mr Eaten’s Name

Full disclosure time. I’m about to talk about Fallen London [official site] by Failbetter Games, a game and company that I’ve now done a fair amount of writing for. Please pause to get the necessary pinch of salt to take with anything that follows, if you wish. However, my love for this crazy Victorian universe goes back a lot further than that, and this week I’m not going to talk about anything I’ve had a hand in. Instead, I thought I’d discuss Seeking the Name. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s one of the most interesting, disturbing quests you’ll ever regret taking on.

Some minor lore spoilers follow, but nothing too deep.

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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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