Friday, June 22, 2012

Dungeon Siege III: Further PS3 Adventures...

Matt and I have had our Playstation for about two weeks now, and I'd like to think I'm getting better! I've not touched Red Dead Redemption since the first night- no worries, I'll get back to it! Just been distracted! I have been playing quite a bit of Jack and Daxter and a lot of Little Big Planet 2. Being platformers, they're a lot easier to get into then a first person shooter is!

After we bought all those games the first weekend, we ended up with a bunch of coupons for money off, or buy-one-get-ones for more used games. So this last weekend, we picked up a couple more for ridiculously cheap! One of the games Matt bought was Dungeon Siege III.

DS3 is a hack-and-slash, which is a game style that focuses on weapon based combat. A lot of fantasy games tend to be this way. You have your weapons and abilities, and basically wail on your enemies and do things like roll out of harms way, or charge into them, or knock them down. For me, these games are perfect and have always been a favorite genre. Like Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Baldur's Gate, and CHampions of Norrath before it, I've been having a blast with this game!

My main character is a swordsman. Every playable character has two stances they can use, and mine are a one handed sword and shield (Commonly called 'sword and board') technique, and a two-handed sword technique. I can switch freely between them any time, and while the shield gives me increased protection and access to a shield bash, the two handed sword does better damage to groups, and allows me to dash into things for massive damage. You spend the whole game rolling around and flipping back and forth between the two playstyles. It's super fun!

Another feature of the game is that it gives you a little companion to help you in your fights! The companion my swordsman gets is a woman named Anjali.

"Hi, my name's Anjali. It means 'Occasionally Useless'..."

She's an 'Archon' which means that she can turn into this fire elemental thing and shoot fireballs, as well as fight with a spear in human form. For the multiplayer in this game, a second person can take control of my companion, but otherwise, the game controls her for me. I can even pick all her talents and abilities as the two of us level up, so I can customize the way she plays. In theory...

You see, for the most part, the computer plays her great! She's helpful, does decent damage, drops her heal-ey fire circle thing when I need it, and even walks around and picks up gold for me of her own volition. But sometimes, the computer seems to take a kind of sadistic glee in having her do exactly opposite of what I want her to do.

She has this ability called 'spinning kick' that hits multiple enemies. I've buffed it to stun them as well, so she'd hopefully run up and stun them, then we could kill them without getting attacked back. You'd think that's what she does, but every time I get swarmed by enemies, she bursts into flames, stands twenty feet back and tries to shoot them. One. At. A. Time.

Another problem is she often gets stuck on things, or doesn't path correctly. At one point she stood for three minutes, attempting to fireball a spider that was on the other side of a fence, oblivious to the fact that the fence was blocking all her attacks.

Game designer's also don't realize that no one builds small bits of fence line in
middle of abandoned spider infested woods.

To her credit, the spider also bugged out (Get it? Bugged out??) and kept trying to fling poison at her through the fence with equal success. It was awkward. For the most part, these problems aren't any big deal. Every computer AI has little glitches like this, where the pathing fails, or it doesn't relaize it can't shoot through something. Until I got to a boss....

It was a two phase fight, and in the second the phase the boss destroys part of the ceiling, dropping large, flaming beams into the room that you have to dodge around. Anjali spent most the fight in the corner, out of range, running in place against a flaming chunk of wood till I died and had to restart. It was impressively bad!

All in all, despite the occasionally buggy companion, the game is a lot of fun! I think I'll head off and try and beat that boss again... Maybe Anjali won't get trapped in a corner this time, and will actually help!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In a Perfect World...

I feel we would all ride dinosaurs to work! Traffic jams would be much more interesting! This is a little doodle I started about a week ago, and have cleaned up and finished.

The original cleaned up sketch!

And the shiny finished piece!
Click it to make it bigger!

I was trying something different with this. I wanted a more realistic coloring job than usual. No cell shading, or lack of shading at all. I also worked with a limited pallet of colors, choosing four and working with various blends, shades and values of them. I used the marker tool (Something I rarely use) and 'painted' it, giving it a really different look. I wanted the colors to be unified and compliment each other. Although looking at it now, I probably should have gone with a warmer background, there's a lot of blue in there....

This is one thing I wish I HAD gone to art school for- advanced color theory and shading. In general I don't really support art schools. They cost a lot of money, for skills one can usually learn from doing and practice. Guidance on some of the harder to grasp principles would be nice though...


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Red DEAD.....

This was an interesting weekend. I'd been playing a lot of Wii recently, specifically a LOT of Animal Crossing: City Folk! I have a lot of good memories of the original Animal Crossing game for the gamecube, and have been having a blast returning to the newer game and building myself a house, filling the museum, etc. For those that don't know AC is a game where you move to a little town full of anthropomorphic animal neighbors. And... that's it. You pay your mortgage, interact with neighbors, collect furniture, run errands. It's actually a ridiculous game concept, but rather enthralling!

We've had an xbox 360 laying around for a while, but we haven't really used it at all for a long time. Well, on a whim we decided to go and trade that sucker in for a brand new, shiny, PS3! I've always wanted one (And it doubles as a Blue Ray player!) but I'm not really a hardcore console gamer anymore. Oh, I played the hell out of SNES, Gamecube and N64, but these newer ones... not so much. And I'm pretty terrible at first person shooters, especially those using dual joysticks. I'm usually running around looking straight at the sky or down at the ground. It's pretty embarrassing.

Among the games we bought for it was Red Dead Redemption- a western themed sandbox shooter game.I'd always wanted to try it, because let's face it, a western themed game that's both popular and good is pretty rare. No one does westerns anymore!

I was serious about that 'western theme'....

Starting off went fine, and I was really enjoying it, getting into being a cowboy and all that rot. But there's something I've noticed with these new games- They all follow the 'learn as you play' style of teaching you the game controls.This has been around a long time, and is pretty standard. Just like Mario games; walk into the turtle and you die, jump on the turtle, and it dies! Ta-dah! This works well for older games with limited move sets, and controls that never change. In Mario, the 'A' button is only ever jump. And besides throwing an occasional fire ball, jumping is all you ever do.

When you get into these new, high tech games, this teaching style is not quite such a good idea. For someone who's both learning a new controller type, and the FPS style game, it's a NIGHTMARE! The game decided to teach me how to shoot my gun from horseback while I was being attacked by coyotes.

It's the video game equivalent to giving someone the driver's education manual when they're already on the highway during rush hour! The game was popping up script at the top, telling me what to do, but I was also trying to  figure out which buttons to push, steer my horse, and aim a rifle at moving, snarling, jumping coyotes. It was frustrating to say the least...

Another big turnoff to me is games where you get confused. Being a virgin to these new systems, most of the older games I played were fairly straightforward. You ended up with stuff telling you what to do and where to go. If I'm spending ten minutes wandering around confused, you've lost me. I finally got where I needed to go and followed the sheriff and his buddies out into the desert to kill some cattle rustlers. For all the trouble I had with it (I died so many times, the game asked me if I wanted to turn on a special mode that gives you increased health and helps with aiming) I enjoyed the harrowing gunfight.

But after we finished off the dastardly rogues the sheriff and his friends rode away, and I promptly got lost in the desert. And it got dark. I turned the brightness up in the game menu, but I don't see very well anyway, and this is roughly what it was like.

Night time in this game is serious- very realistic, but also kind of annoying. So I'm riding this horse around in the desert, trying to figure out where to go, when I hear a yell for 'help'! Now I'm wandering around in the dark, trying to avoid getting the horse stuck on cacti and looking for this 'helpless' person. And that's when the dude calling for help appears out of no where, grabs my cowboy character, flings him off my horse, and steals the damn thing. He stole my freaking horse!

By this point I'm hunched in the middle of the couch, raging at the screen about my "F***ing horse!", desperately running after the thief and shooting bullets in every direction but his, because I don't have any practice shooting on the fly while running. I promptly turned the game off.

Maybe I just need practice, or maybe I'm just not cut out for first person shooters. Really, the games are so very different from those I used to play. Even the controllers are different. The joysticks are far more accurate and way more sensitive. The games are hyper realistic. I don't have any experience doing this kind of puzzle solving... At least not recently!

Or maybe I'm just starting to get old?