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Everything posted by malkav11

  1. I can understand why people dislike achievements, and I definitely would like there to be a user-end global setting to turn off notifications for people who don't care about them/find their immersion being ruined by them. But personally I love them most of the time, and although I think the interesting achievements are the ones that encourage experimentation with the game or finding some cool off the beaten path element of it, I absolutely do want the achievements that just track game progress. I don't see it as a metric for the developers to see how many people have managed what (as has been noted, this would be easy enough to implement in some behind the scenes fashion). I see it as a way to have a history of -my- progress in a game, and compare it to friends and the internet at large. It's like how Steam tracks how many hours you've spent playing a game, except that's just time with the executable running, whereas the achievements tell you what parts of the game you've experienced. This is information I enjoy having available to me. It's not particularly meaningful in the larger scheme of things, but it's a memory aid and interesting data about my personal play tendencies (and those of my friends, for that matter). I think I'm against having a cross-game metascore the way it's been done on consoles (although it took me a while to come to this side of the argument), but just having those data points attached to a game the way Steam does? yes please. I think the more interesting (and potentially worthy of pursuit) metric is how rare your achievements are. Steam's profile showcase shows off your rarest achievements and I think that's pretty cool. I do hate achievements that are either completely meaningless (oh look, you've killed X number of thousands of this basic respawning enemy type in our game. Woo.) or actively push you to play in ways that break the game experience, though. For the latter, particularly ones that are multiplayer-based. If you put achievements into your multiplayer game that reward poor play or ignoring the actual game objectives, that's not just bad for achievement hunters, that's bad for everyone playing. (For example, World of Warcraft has a holiday meta achievement that rewards an awesome flying mount. I want this thing badly, but some of the sub achievements are really unfun and the ones that force you into PvP a) put me in a game mode I hate and b ) are about doing things other than pursuing the actual objectives of the scenario, thus fucking over the people that actually want to be there.)
  2. And there's where I don't agree. Morrowind's UI is perfectly fine. Much more usable than either Oblivion's or Skyrim's by default, although thankfully on PC modders have made great strides in fixing those games' UIs. And although Oblivion's UI wasn't great to begin with (I suspect teething issues as it was their first console-primary release), many of the ways it is specifically poor on PC are clearly because it was designed for console play. Same goes for Skyrim, to a lesser extent. I don't want to blame everything that's wrong with the later games' UI on being designed for console, because there's elements of their UI design that aren't good for either platform, and because Bethesda was better about optimizing for PC when they released Skyrim, quite possibly due to complaints about Oblivion's UI. But it certainly plays a role.
  3. Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition

    It's way too late now, but it sounds like you weren't using the F key to gather/loot stuff. I'm like 99% certain that skips accepting the item and just drops it into your inventory. (Stuff like this is why I quickly switched to controller on The Witcher 2, since M&K controls required me to go through dialogue boxes to loot things and with the controller they just all went straight to inventory like I'd want.) It also just feels less fiddly. Don't think it fully addresses your complaint, but it'd have been something.
  4. Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition

    I think DA:O's combat is just about as good as any real time combat has gotten in an RPG. Which is to say I find real time combat inherently less tactical and more frustrating than turn-based combat, but it was relatively easy to control, had tons of options, and, at least until the late game where I was simply too powerful to be challenged very much, required careful positioning and thoughtful use of abilities. I'd certainly be sympathetic to people who made a case for one or more of the Infinity Engine games being better, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to agree because Origins gave non-caster classes way more to do than the D&D games did. Neither II nor Inquisition provide the range of tools that Origins did, nor the variety of enemies, nor that level of control over relative positioning (for different reasons - II because enemies just spawn in on top of you, Inquisition because there's no usable tactical camera). Neither are they willing to let the enemies pose nearly the level of threat they did in Origins, although given the much weaker combat in the later games I feel this is just as well. I'd hate to have to deal with fights that can kill my entire party inside 30 seconds without the tools that made those encounters challenging rather than frustrating. (And they definitely don't pose the same level of threat. I remember being utterly terrified of revenants in Origins - they could absolutely shred anything next to them and their mass pull spell made sure everything was next to them on a regular basis. This on Normal. They appear in Inquisition, too, which I'm playing on Hard. They didn't even register as being revenants until I'd killed a couple and gotten the journal entry. II didn't have anything that interesting as an enemy in it.)
  5. Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition

    You don't actually -have- to do most of the busywork, but they clearly want you to and I for one have a really hard time detaching myself from that completist mindset. I can't agree about DA2's combat, though. I found it to be an unending sea of tedium to the point where I knocked it down to the easiest setting midway through, not because it was ever challenging, but because I just wanted to have the fights end as quickly as humanly possible. And they still dragged. I've been tempted to do the same with Inquisition but someone was saying (I think on Crate and Crowbar) that this didn't actually make the fights any quicker, just less likely to actually hurt you in any meaningful way. I haven't been frustrated by the fights, though. They're really easy even on Hard (as a mage, anyway) as long as I don't try to use the tactical camera and don't take on anything more than a few levels higher than me.
  6. Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition

    The big difference between the two, as far as I can tell, is that DA2's combats are all at least three times as long as they should be because multiple waves of reinforcements spawn in for every goddamn fight. Inquisition at least has the grace to have the majority of its encounters limited to the enemies currently onscreen, and those usually number like, 4-6 tops. (Or at least, that's been true for as much of the game as I've played. I suppose it could change. I hope not.)
  7. Oblivion's UI was awful, yeah. Not sure how you're disagreeing with me, if you are.
  8. I think there's a simpler explanation: Morrowind was developed for PC and a mouse and keyboard interface, then ported to Xbox. Oblivion and Skyrim were developed for Xbox (360) and a gamepad interface, then ported to PC. I don't mean this as a "consoles are ruining our gaming" thing, you understand (and Skyrim, at least, has some concessions to the differing needs of a PC interface). But it pretty directly explains a lot of the differences. Having a list-format inventory, for example, because Morrowind's icon-based inventory is awkward to navigate with joysticks. The giant font because console games are generally played from much further away. Etc.
  9. I became familiar with vaping this Christmas, as it turns out that my uncle (who lives in a suburb of San Francisco, by coincidence) is starting up a vaping liquid wholesaling business (i.e., they sell to vape stores rather than directly to consumers), apparently because he wants to help people quit smoking. He had a little case of sample bottles and a whole rundown on the subject that he gave to my mom and grandma while I happened to be at the table. They didn't seem real sold on the idea, but then, neither of them have ever smoked to my knowledge. Later he gave the sample case to my Marine cousin and his wife, who have both switched to vaping instead of smoking since last I saw them and have managed to cut out the nicotine as well. (My uncle is also a personal trainer and is teaching TRX classes part time at the local YMCA. It's such a stereotypically Californian set of vocations...) On the subject of Meundies, I was disappointed to discover that although they have multiple varieties of male underwear, boxers aren't actually among them. The closest they get are boxer briefs, and that is not close enough for me. The pricing doesn't seem particularly unreasonable, though. My favorite boxers are the flannel ones Land's End sells and those are normally $19 a pair.
  10. Designer Notes 3: Frank Lantz

    I had never heard of Frank himself before listening to this podcast and assumed I wouldn't be familiar with his games, but the family that hosts the weekly boardgaming session I've attended for many years used to love Gearheads. I hadn't thought about that game in years.
  11. Designer Notes 2: Rob Pardo - Part 2

    It's interesting that hunters using mana was brought up as an unsatisfying design decision that was forced by not being able to figure out an approach to a unique "focus" resource that played well, and yet there was no mention made of the fact that hunters had mana replaced with focus back in 2010. Evidently they found a way to make it fun.
  12. Which is a lot more like Pitch Black than Chronicles, and honestly pretty enjoyable. I mean, it's kind of redundant, but still.
  13. Other podcasts

    It's not really accurate to describe it as Dragon Age combat being wonderful, because the only game in the series with good combat is Origins and it's now outnumbered by the ones with shitty combat. (Although, to be fair, Inquisition's combat is at least markedly less shitty than II's because they no longer spawn enemies out of thin air for two or three additional waves in every single combat.)
  14. I didn't realize that some of those romantic interactions in Mass Effect existed. I think the first time I saw a character in a Bioware game where romance could be broached but turned down was Aveline in Dragon Age 2. You do have the option to hit on her, but she's not interested in Hawke, she's interested in one of the other guards. Her questline where you play matchmaker between her and her love interest is super heartwarming and adorably awkward and made her one of my all time favorite Bioware characters. (I think she even manages to avoid suddenly dropping 600* IQ points in the final act, unlike most of the rest of the party, but it's been a while since I played DA2.) *Yes, I know that people generally come in under 200 on the IQ scale even if they're geniuses. The characters in Act 3 of Dragon Age 2 act like they're deep in the negatives.
  15. What are the must-see TV series?

    The Wire and Breaking Bad are probably the two greatest shows I have ever seen. The Shield gets a honorable mention as it's uneven but has one of if not the finest ending in television. I could recommend many other shows, of course.
  16. Saints Row 4

    You mean in the later games? Yes, they're still a complete sociopath, but they're a sociopath in the way a lot of Video game protagonists are. It isn't really a thing narratively.
  17. This seems like it would work better in someone's living room with a DVD.
  18. Saints Row 4

    One of the things that makes SR2's story interesting to me, although I can absolutely see why people would find it not to their taste, is that SR2's boss is really, clearly and no bones about it, a murderous sociopath. It's often masked by humor and a playful style, but it's there and it sometimes comes out in pretty appalling ways. This is not someone you're supposed to idolize, I don't think, and although the other gang leaders aren't particularly nice people either, the Boss is responsible for a whole lot of the chaos and bloodshed that goes down. SR3 and 4 go full on into "you're just this wacky fun loving guy/gal" mode and while it's funny I'm not sure it's nearly as interesting.
  19. Hell, even on the AAA FPS side, general critical consensus seems to be that the latest Call of Duty is the best in years, and Wolfenstein: The New Order is pretty fantastic if you want something that's, y'know, not Call of Duty.
  20. Saints Row 4

    You really ought to try 2 again. 3 was a huge letdown in comparison, as funny and over the top as the missions were. 2 is kind of technically shonky and not quite as wacky, but it had an enormous amount of love put into it and it makes for a much stronger overall package. For example, there's no purpose to this, really, but there are activity nodes all over SR2 where if you let your Boss idle near one, they'll walk over and start doing something ambient in the gameworld. Tons of different stuff. All over the world. Nothing like that in either 3 or 4. And that's just one example. It also has way more side activities, and many of its most creative and amusing activities have never returned to the series. Instead, 3 quite reliably picked some of the worst ones, like Escort, to revive. Its pedestrians do a wide variety of things and will even commit crimes on their own. There's really nothing like that in the later games. Etc. 1 was soulless and boring, though, so you're only half wrong.
  21. I can sort of see how this year might feel slightly lackluster compared to 2013, but on its own merits it's still so full of crazy goodness that I haven't been able to keep up at all. And none of the games that have been reputedly disappointing or technically broken are things I had any real hopes for. But then, I'm a PC gamer. If you're looking to one (or even both) of the new consoles as your sole gaming source, I could see it being a pretty lackluster year, yeah. (Though, you'd still have Shadow of Mordor, Alien: Isolation, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and undoubtedly other stuff from earlier in the year that I am now forgetting.) That's kind of par for the course for early adopters, though. I can't think of a console I've owned that would have had much to offer me in the first year and probably even first two years of their existence.
  22. Saints Row 4

    Yes, people care about Gat. A lot of people were really pissed when he was killed offscreen and virtually unremarked in Saints Row III. I know the first time I realized he was supposed to be dead was the funeral mission. And his return was an advertised feature of one of the DLCs (turns out, not really) and a big moment in IV. And FWIW, I think the superpower stuff in IV feels much more like Prototype than either Crackdown or Infamous, orb collection aside.
  23. Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition

    I'm playing as a mage on hard and I haven't noticed any elementally resistant enemies, though I've found a few that are vulnerable to electricity. It doesn't seem like it would be that problematic if you've specced into a couple of different trees and perhaps have a staff that does a third type of damage, anyway. And spinning my staff around and shooting out a lightning bolt that chains repeatedly between all the enemies for tons of damage is super satisfying, as is setting six guys on fire at once, or paralyzing one guy for several hundred damage with explosive lightning from the sky that sends all his nearby friends sprawling. I feel like it's a lot easier to survive as a ranged class, too. You're squishy up close, sure, but if you run one of the warrior NPCs as a sword-and-board type with some taunt abilities and Solas for spirit and frost casting, like I am, you generally aren't near any of the enemies and if you are, you can run away until they get pulled off you. Whereas I just die horribly controlling the warriors I've got.
  24. Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition

    Skyrim's quests often send you way the hell across the map and then you wander off and get distracted midway through. TES games are also one big map instead of the several fragmented zones in Inquisition. And of course, there are no party members to recruit in the first place. I think there are certainly games whose primary issues are that they've been saddled with the legacy of a name that creates expectations they were never trying to fulfill. I don't think Dragon Age II is one of those games. The problems it has would be problems even if it were completely unassociated with the Dragon Age franchise. It wouldn't add variety in tilesets, do away with the ridiculous reinforcement waves (or fix the many other issues I personally have with the combat design, but apparently some people like it so meh), or make the writing less awful in the third act. There's a bunch of fairly trivial DLC for Origins as well as the good ones but you may as well get it all by buying the Ultimate Edition (ideally on one of the regular sales it goes on) because buying it piecemeal is way more expensive than just getting it all. You're really mostly just there for Awakening, The Stone Prisoner, and maybe Leliana's Song and Witch Hunt (I confess I never got around to playing those). I've never bought any of the DLC for II because I disagree with Bioware's DLC handling - they set a price that's higher than I want to pay for the content you get (this is just DLC in general for me - I almost never agree with the initial pricing), and then they never discount it or lower that price. And Origins is the last of their games that has an edition that bundles in the DLC, so you don't get to do that either. At this point you can quite routinely pay almost 10x as much for a complete set of DLC for, say, Mass Effect 2, as you would for the base game. (Even when it's not on sale, it'd be about double.) That said, I preordered or got the Deluxe Edition or something because I loved Origins so much, so I did get the Sebastian DLC. He was kind of dull and I probably wouldn't recommend paying separately for it.
  25. Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition

    Origins is great. Awakening is great. Dragon Age II has some really good narrative and character stuff in the first two acts (of three) but I found the combat incredibly tedious because every fight is dragged out by multiple reinforcement waves out of nowhere, there's minimal enemy variety and I feel like they gutted the systems and encounter design that made the combat in Origins tactically rewarding. I'd recommend dropping the difficulty down to easy and just powering through the combat to the parts of the game that are worth seeing if you do happen to go for it. Also, be warned that the final act's writing quality drops like a stone down a well and the plot veers off into complete nonsense.