Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bi-Monthly Update - July/August

oops- missed one. 
heck, I didn't even make a post for over a month.  I'm surprised I haven't been fired. 

I am looking to fix this.  I just haven't found the right time.  The morning is basically out, I'm getting ready for work earlier now than before.  The evening could work, but I just haven't felt like it most evenings.  Weekends?  Seems good in theory, but it seems like I'm busy, and when I do have time, I don't feel like writing.

That is my story right now.  Lame, perhaps, but it's what I've got. 

Funny story:  Jane and I just got done hanging with her cousin Betsy, and the next day, she takes a picture with Zaboo from the Guild!  Apparently the actor who plays Vork owns a nearby coffee shop, and they are friends with him.  And then Zaboo, came in and she got a selfie with him.  neat :)

During that visit with Jane's family, we played a bunch of new card and board games that I'd never heard of.  I'll elaborate in another post, but here are the games we played:  X-Wing miniatures, Code Names, The Resistance, and danged if I can't remember the name of the fun map-building treasure hunt game.  I'll find out the name and get back to you.

Hearing about Pokemon Go on twitter a lot.  It sounds pretty cool, like a much simpler version of geocaching.  People are running into each other all over, families playing together.  I still don't have any plans to download it, but it sound great.  Like you're living in and acting out an RPG game.  What's not to  love?

Okay, I'm keeping this short for now, so I can get this post out.  I'll come back with another update soon.  Promise!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Show Review: Stranger Things

Earlier in the week, Conklederp and I finished watching the Netflix series Stranger Things, and being only eight episodes long, it did not take us too long, although we only watched two episodes a night so as to not blow through the entire series in a single day, which is entirely possible, but it's not something that I frequently like to do.

Without giving too much (hopefully) away, I will say that the kid actors did an amazing job.  It is pretty easy for kids who may not have a lot of acting experience turn out to not be great, or at least not directed very well, which could lead a studio to hire older actors who have more experience, which presumably is how you end up with 20 year old actors playing early high school students, or in the case of Beverly Hills: 90210, casting a 29 year old Gabrielle Cateris as 16 year old Andrea Zuckerman.  But the four principle "child" actors, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlinMillie Bobby Brown, and Noah Schnapp were all amazing.  Wynona Ryder also gave a great performance as the separated mother whose younger son goes inexplicably missing.  Sorry, spoilers. . .sort of.

Moving on from how well X number of the actors did, I'm going to stick with impressions and things that I really liked about this series.  The first was how well the writers integrated early Dungeons & Dragons into the story, how it kept coming up in the story, and how I never felt that it was made out to be this cheesy game that a bunch of nerds played.  Granted it is a game that a lot of people perceived as nerds play, but that is not the point.  The point is, is that it reminded me a lot of playing D&D for hours upon hours when I was 12 with Dr. Potts and Dellaños.  There were plenty of visual references to other movies including The Goonies, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Stand By Me and Alien.  The camaraderie of the kids going through some horriblness reminded me a lot of Stephen King's stories that involve kids (The Body, IT), that the way the kids react to the events around them seem somewhat normal for being a work of fiction.  None of these films or books you would have had to have watched or read in order to enjoy this series, it is just that certain scenes looked and felt appropriately familiar; also nothing was given away by recognizing these potential references either.

I mean, just look at that poster!  That art style is straight out of the 80s done with some modern flare.  Another thing that I loved, was that the primary kids all rode bikes.  Having grown up in a semi-smallish town (population was only 39,000 in 1990, up from 30,000 in 1980), I rode one of many bikes to get anywhere in town.  After getting my first bike in. . .1st grade I think, I rode a bike to school practically everyday through my senior year in high school.  Most times Dr. Potts and I would hang out, one of us would ride our bikes to the others house, if our parents were not already going to be going over for a visit already.  My older sister did not even get a car until after graduating from high school, so again, it was primarily on bikes that we got anywhere.  And if I remember correctly, there were only two principle high school characters in the show who drove cars; sure there were more, but not every 16 year old kid had their own car is my point.

With the series only being eight episodes, I was a little sad that it did not go on any longer, but at the same time, the story that was told in the eight episodes seemed about right and that the story itself was wrapped up in that amount of time.  Offhand, I cannot think of anything that was mentioned in earlier episodes that was not wrapped up by the end of the final episode, and if there was, then I must not have been paying attention because of how engrossed I was in the overall story.  And did I mention the acting?  Because the acting from the main kid actors was phenomenal.

Earlier in the week, Conklederp said that Stranger Things was renewed for at least another season, and that it would include the main actors from the first season, which honestly I was a little sad about.  The end of season one felt pretty good closure-wise and I was kind of hoping that additional seasons would be done in an American Horror Story type fashion, which new stories involving new characters that all happen at least in the same world.  To me at least, it would be like if Steven Spielberg had made an E.T. The Extraterrestrial 2: Phoning Home, or something along those lines.  What I am now hoping for is that the characters from season one will be passing the torch onto new characters and the original characters will only be present in the first episode.  That might be harsh, but that is what I am hoping for.

In closing, I highly recommend Stranger Things and major kudos to Netflix for green-lighting this project.  I look forward to more projects by the Duffer Brothers and the other actors as well.


P.S.  Conklederp also pointed out that Finn Wolfhard, the actor who plays the lead Mike Wheeler will be playing Richie Tozier in the remake of Stephen King's IT, which I think is pretty great.  

And I think we may have to start watching Intruders simply because of how amazing Millie Bobby Brown was in Stranger Things.  That kid is going places, let me tell you.

P.P.S.  If you are at all concerned about the content of the show, I would say that an 11 or 12 year old would be perfectly fine watching this show as there is no language that a kid would not hear watching a PG movie from the mid-late 1980s, although there is a bit of blood and some possibly unsettling imagery.  So basically Older Sister (aka Shrimp), Flan could watch this, but probably not the littlest one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "Main Theme" - Neverwinter Nights (PC)

"Main Theme" from Neverwinter Nights on the PC (2002)
Composer: Jeremy Soule
Label: Atari
Developer: BioWare

While looking through one of the bookshelves in our place, I saw my collected copies of Neverwinter Nights and the two physical expansions, (Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark), and I was hit with a wave of 2002 nostalgia.  So I took the CDs off the shelf, used both Instillation Discs and the Play Disc and booted up the game.  Worked perfectly.

That was when I was greeted with this song, the main theme from Neverwinter Nights.  I tell you, coming off the heals of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, I loved the proverbial shit out of this game.  I even went to Fry's (believe it or not) to buy the Shadows of Undrentide expansion since I couldn't find it in any stores in Woodland or Davis.  If I hadn't been so against digital games at that time, I would have bought the DLC Kingmaker, but I was set in my ways of physical media only.

Jeremy Soule's score here does a fantastic job of easing the main theme in, and by about 33 seconds in, you know that it's not going to be all roses and sunshine.  Around 1:20, the theme comes in with more heroic and fanfaric fashion, but then slowly fades away before one faint and final pronouncement of the main theme at the end.  It's a beautiful theme, which is why I wanted to share my nostalgia (which has held up by the way) with you all.

Road Into The Dark Unaware

P.S.  As far as I am aware, this was my first introduction to Jeremy Soule, although I didn't know his name at the time.  It wasn't until I was playing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (which was also released in 2002) back in 2013 that I thought some of the music reminded me of the music from Neverwinter Nights.  Actually, I forgot that he also wrote the music for Icewind Dale (2000), but I don't think I played that game until 2003-2004.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "War: The White Weapon" - Final Fantasy Type-0 (PSP)

"War: The White Weapon" from Final Fantasy Type-0 on the Playstation Portable (2011)
Developer: Square Enix

I wanted to break our once-a-year posting of a song from a PSP game (something I did not realize until just now), and decided upon "War: The White Weapon" from Final Fantasy Type-0.  Which I should mention is a game that I have never played, but a handful of the music was used in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call and I actually just finished a BMS (Battle Music Stage) with this track and I thought that it would make a nice addition to our collection here.

Now, I have no idea what "The White Weapon" is and even after a cursory Googling, I am still not any wiser as to who or what it is associated with.  I do know in the early Final Fantasy days, that the White Mage spell "Holy" was changed to "White" due to Nintendo's rules about having religious depictions of Judaeo-Christian symbolism removed from North American games because of. . .reasons?  Maybe this is a reference to those early days of Nintendo censorship?  So this is what I will assume (until I actually get around to playing the HD release of FFT-0HD.

As far as the music goes, it's a pretty heavy and chugging piece of battle music and since it occurs so late in the soundtrack (Track 13, Disc 2), I will again assume that this is a mini-boss encounter.  I could be wrong though, but since it is also used as battle music in Theatrhythm (which doesn't hold true for all of the BMS songs as Aerith's Theme from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is also used in a BMS), I am going to assume that this is true.  Maybe.  When the melody comes in at 0:20, to me it sounds very classic battle music that you would find in any Final Fantasy game from FFIV and beyond.  One interesting note though is that the song has a definite end to it, although is still perfectly loopable (sp?) at about 1:52.  But that lead up to 1:52 starting at 1:37 is pretty damn awesome and exciting (and can be terrifying in Theatrhythm as the notes come flying).

Generally I like what Takeharu has brought to the Final Fantasy franchise since his work on CC:FFVIII and I would like to see him associated with more Square Enix titles aside from what he's already done with The World Ends With You, and the Dissidia: Final Fantasy franchise.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Writing in Games: The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard

Before I begin, I want to say that if you are interested in playing The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, I will be revealing some spoilers, but only because it provides context for the reason behind the article that I'm posting today.  So if you have not yet played and want to, you may want to skip this post.

Okay, now continuing.

Last night while getting back into TESA:R (After trudging through the Dwemer ruins southwest of Port Hunding for most of the day), I returned to the Yokudan camp outside of the city to the north and set up the stones (after some online assistance, because I am apparently not smart enough to know how this astrological chart,

translates to placing two rocks in the following locations on an astrological map drawn in the sand):

I'm getting away from my intent, but after this rigamarol happens, I was greeted with a nearly eight minute cut scene, which also contained some of the best written dialogue for a stereotypical "rousing" speech that I have ever heard in a video game of recent memory.

The context leading up to this Shakespearean-esque speech is that Cyrus the Redguard is trying to restore Prince A'tor's soul (which has been imprisoned in a soul gem) to his body.  Prince A'tor will then lead The Restless League, (which are the remnants of the Crowns on Stros M'Kai who rebelled against Tiber Septim's annexation and ruling of Hammerfell) against the Imperial occupation of Stros M'Kai.  Cyrus calls the remaining Restless League to the Temple of Arkay (which is where the cut scene starts) while he brings the Gypsy-esque Yokudans for the transferring of Prince A'tor's soul.  After the soul transfer takes place, it is observed that the soul transfer failed, which presumably means that Prince A'tor's soul is forever lost, which is observed by the Restless League who then become discouraged at Cyrus having failed them in their long running goal.  That's when Cyrus starts with his speech when he realizes that the soul did not enter the body, but became one with the sword.

I am not sure which of the three principal writers for TESA:R, (Todd Howard, Michael Kirkbride, and Kurt Kuhlmann) was behind this speech, but damn they did a great job.  Granted Cyrus does not speak with such eloquence at any other part during the game, but it is just so damn good that I do not care that it seems a little bit out of character, or at least a character who we are introduced to during the events leading up to and during his time on Stros M'Kai; in-game time it is only a couple of days.

This is basically it for today's post.  I just wanted to talk about, what I thought was amazing writing on the parts of Howard, Kirkbride, and Kuhlmann, as well as voice acting by Michael Mack.  I was very much impressed and knew that I had to write about it, so that is what I did.  Now it is onto finishing the game as I appear to be very close to finishing.

And Many More Of Us Shall Die

P.S.  All of the screenshots I took from Vazz's walkthrough of TESA:R since I've been unable to take screenshots while playing on GOG's Galaxy client.  I also used Vazz's assistance to help me through some of the more confusing parts/puzzles in this game so far (see the above puzzle using constellations and rocks).  The videos linked are Vazz's walkthough that I used.  I will also be using pictures from his playthough when I write my full article after I finish playing because there is just oo much taken from this game that is used in the later Elder Scrolls games and I want people to know about it too.  Just wanted to let everyone know.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "Praying Hands (Cloud Castle BGM)" - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (GB)

"Praying Hands (Cloud Castle BGM)" from Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge on the Game Boy (1991)
Composer: Hidehiro Funauchi
Album: Akumajo Dracula Best Music Collections BOX
Label: Sony Music Distribution
Developer: Konami

Despite not having played this particular Castlevania game (why not release it on Virtual Console like y'all did for Castlevania: The Adventure, huh!?), I did acquire the music from the game as I'm a sucker for all things Castlevania music related. . .well almost, as I don't have any of the recent game soundtracks or the ones from the PS2 era.  That being said, I can say that my liking of this song is not from any nostalgia standpoint.  I just think it's a pretty cool song with composer Hidehiro Funauchi doing a great job with the Game Boy's limited music chip (4-bit music) using two different types of percussion sounds often "at the same time," or at least sounding like it.

The biggest criticism I have about this song, is that I do not get the feeling of being in a Cloud Castle (a castle in the clouds or a castle constructed from clouds).  That is it.  The music itself I find to be very fitting for the Castlevania brand, if a little more fantasy related rather than the gothic horror of the later games. But with the premise of Simon Belmont's descendant, Christopher Belmont exploring castles with differing themes (Crystal, Rock, Plant, and Stone) comes across as a little hokier than what one might expect from a game whose story revolves around killing hoards of undead.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Free Games Galore: Steam Summer Sale 2016 Edition

As mentioned in Monday's post, I felt I exhibited an excellent amount of self restraint in not buying anything during this most recent Steam Summer Sale, which I think is the first time I haven't bought anything since I started using Steam back in September 2011.  I did however participate in the Exploring of My Queue in order to acquire the trading cards associated with the Summer Sale.  Actually, I did spent sort-of-money in that I used $0.09 from selling back duplicate cards, so I guess it's not 100% true that I didn't spend any money, but I didn't spend any money on any games, I guess that's where the distinction is.

What I did discover while going through no less than 36 games each day was a number of Free to Play/Start games, and while there is a whole category for these, I rarely actively look through those lists.  So during the last week, I actually installed 12 games and I'm going to talk about them, but only superficially as I have yet to play any of them.  I may actually come back with full on articles about some of these, or it may be that this is the only time I feel compelled to write anything about these titles.

So let's do this alphabetically because it just looks better that way.

ArcheBlade.  This anime inspired online mulitplayer fighting game. . . I can't think of why I picked this one up.  I'm very picky when it comes to online games, let alone multiplayer games, I think it was just because it was free and didn't require much disc space to install.

Black Rose.  You only have a flashlight (presumably) in an abandoned funeral home that's supposedly haunted.  Damn yes!

Close Your Eyes.  This game looks like an RPG with painted/drawn backgrounds that apparently gets all weird and creepy.  I like the concept, but I could easily see this game becoming either very bad or too full of itself in all of its esoteric weirdness.  I'll give it a try though.

Cupid: A Free To Play Visual Novel.  I like period piece games, and I love gothic themed stories and since I'm not typically one for the genre of "visual novels," I'm not out-rightly against playing them either.  And since this one was free, why not.  Also the ESRB rated the game M and it would be a change of pace to play an M rated game that isn't rated as such due to the frequency of exploding organs and gangrenous fleshy bits (although there'll apparently be some partially nude fleshy bits).

Endless Sky.  This game looks to be an Asteroid inspired sci-fi exploration game, and I'm okay with that description.

Legionwood 1: Tale of the Two Swords.  I have the second game in this series (Legionwood 2: Rise of the Eternal's Realm) and I figured that having the first game in the series wouldn't be a bad way to start off a story.

Medusa's Labyrinth.  This is an first person horror set in Greece, presumably dealing with Medusa's labyrinth, but that title could just be a misdirection, but I'm okay with that.  I do love me a well made horror game. 

NekoPaLive.  I'm not actually sure which letters to capitalize in that title.  I just thought that this game looked too ridiculous not to try it out and write a review about.  There may or may not be (but most likely will be) shame whenever I decide to give this game a try.  And now that I think about it, I'm not even sure what genre this game is and that's actually kind of intriguing, it's like going into a movie and only knowing the title, which still doesn't tell you anything about what you're about to experience.

The Night Cafe.  Even though this game is labeled as being Vive and Oculus Rift ready, it didn't say that it could not be played without a VR headset so I decided I would give this game/walking-sim a try.  Exploring van  Gogh's paintings from the inside sounds like it could either be very cool, or horrifyingly terrifying.  Now if someone came out with the same premise, but with Bosch paintings, that'd be the stuff of nightmares, and it would be great!

One Thousand Lies.  I don't even know what a "kinetic novel" is but it's apparently part of the visual novel genre, or it may not be, maybe that's the difference, that one's "visual" and one's "kinetic."  But not only was the game free, but the soundtrack is free too, so I thought if the game/story is really bad, maybe the music would turn out not to be half bad and perhaps rather catchy.  Worst case scenario is that they're both crap and I lost part of an afternoon.

Radiator 2.  From what a cursory search led me to find out, there is no Radiator 1.  Plus, this screenshot left me very amused and confused as to if this game is a parody of itself, or if it is a legitimate event in the game.  Plus!, one of the tags says "Family Friendly," and I am typically not naive enough to believe that that was put there by the developer and is more than likely a trolls attempt to have an eight year old child play the game because it is, after all, labeled as "Family Friendly."

Transmissions: Element 120.  A free-to-play (as is everything on this list) Half-Life mod-ish game set in the Half-Life universe.  I haven't decided yet if I want to finish Half-Life 2 before trying this game out as I feel that based on the description alone, it might just be a multi-hour love letter to that universe that I apparently didn't fall for as hard as the rest of civilized civilization.

So this is the list for freeness that I acquired instead of spending money on games.  They all may have been a huge mistake from which I will be wasting a good portion of my summer when I could have been playing another round in Vertiginous Golf, which by the way, is a really fun mini-golfing game with some wonderfully dark undertones.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "Ladutorm Castle" - Dragon Warrior I (GBC)

"Ladutorm Castle" from Dragon Warrior I & II on the GameBoy Color (2000)
Composer: Koichi Sugiyama
Album: No Official Soundtrack Release (Kind of, see below).
Developer: Enix

A little bit of information before we get fully underway.

First off, the starting castle in the Japanese and US release of Dragon Warrior/Quest are different, with the Japanese castle being called "Ladutorm Castle" and US castle titled "Tantegel Castle."  Second off (??), the game that I am pulling music from is specifically the Game Boy Color remake, which was released back in 2000 and had updated graphics and a revamped score by the original composer, Koichi Sugiyama.  The Super Famicom arrangement can be found on Dragon Quest Super Game Music Collection Vol. 2 and uses the music chip found in the Super Famicom/SNES as opposed to the one used for the Game Boy Color, so that particular arrangement is going to sound a little easier on the ears if you're not one for the often tinniness of GBC music.  After much searching, I was unable to find an official release of the music composed for the GBC release, although you can find almost any other Dragon Quest album since they first started to be released back in 1986.

So now that that's out of the way.

I love how Koichi Sugiyama has added to the theme of Landutorm.  The first time I heard the song go beyond what I had previously known from the original Dragon Warrior (which loops at the 0:34), so everything from 0:34.01 until 1:55 is all new material that was originally composed for the Super Famicom remake of Dragon Quest I & II that was only released in Japan.  But back in 2000, I had no knowledge of this arrangement and was completely blown away.  There would be times I would boot up the game just to listen to this track in particular, I just think it's that damn good.

And it is.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Monthly Update: July 2016

This article should have gone up last Friday, but July sort of snuck up on me, although I was aware that it was no longer June for a good portion of the day.

So June was quite a full month.  I finished (in mostly practical terms) my accounting classes and have only an internship to find and complete by August if I want to be fully completed by the end of the summer, otherwise into Fall Quarter it is.

Our Dungeons & Dragons group lost Chreekat (while he Summers in Finaland), but gained four more people, all of which are new to D&D on some level, and all are new to 5th Edition.  DMing for seven people was definitely interesting as the largest group that I had done previously had been five (with six PC's).  Keeping track of all the players, especially during the one combat encounter was a mentally exhausting and I now know that I've definitely grown as a DM since I am pretty certain that I would have been able to handle a group this large last year when our group was just starting out and me with my DMing dry spell of close to 10 years.  Probably also having played Mansions of Madness which has, more or less, the role of DM as a part of that game helped a bit; speaking of which, I bought the Forbidden Alchemy expansion last year and I have yet to actually play it, so maybe tonight (being Friday) if Conklederp's up for it.

And we did play the first story from Forbidden Alchemy, being the one that was like a sequel to Lovecraft's "Herbert West - The Reanimator."  As it turned out, I didn't play the role of the Keeper quite right in that I read one of my enemy movement cards wrong and moved them only one space when I should have moved them three.  Plus with the choices I went with, about a quarter of the board/mansion/former medical school didn't need to be explored and the group we played with [Conklederp, D, and M.(Don't have schnazzy nicknames for them yet, but I will).] were too smart for their own good and they B-lined it to the rooms with the clues and were able to beat the game before I was able to turn over the fourth time card.  The way I equated it to Conklederp was like going through Eternal Darkness and barely experiencing any of the sanity effects.  But the group came away having a great experience, so I can't really complain.

In the video gaming front, GOG's summer sale happened, during which I was able to restrain myself and only bought System Shock: Enhanced Edition since I already have System Shock 2 over on Steam and I was holding off until I played the first game.  And speaking of System Shock, Night Dive Studios is developing and releasing a remastered/updated version of the game and a "Pre-Alpha Demo" is available to download and play through either Steam or GOG.

Speaking of demos, I picked up the demo for id's new Doom and I can tell you that I will sadly not be buying the game on my current computer.  My computer maxed out at about 15 fps, which any member of the PC Master Race (which is a moniker that I actually really don't like for a number of reasons that I won't get into right now) means that I shouldn't even bother trying to play anything if it's less than 60 fps, it's just broken and not playable.  I will admit that it was very sluggish, but somewhat playable and it took a bit to get used to, but since it's only the first stage, I ended up quitting after dying, but damn is that a good looking game.

On the non-demo gaming front, since I wasn't going to fork over money to play the new Doom, I decided to re-install Doom 3 and play that then have a go at the Resurrection of Evil expansion since I never played that after completing the main campaign (with Vorlynx's help in one of the boss stages in Hell).  I'm also on my third or fourth character in Fallout 2, but I've already covered that game quite a bit over the last week so I'll leave it at that.  I also started Telltale Games' The Wolf Among Us while patiently waiting for The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series Season 3, and Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series Season 2.  I needed my Telltale fix and I had already purchased TWAU a few Steam sales ago.

And speaking of Steam sales, their Summer Sale was in full swing (as of this writing) and I'm being very diligent in not buying anything by reminding me that I still have a colon-full of games that I've bought and haven't even installed yet. . .but SOMA, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin, The Evil Within, Tales from the Boarderlands, and Darkest Dungeon are all quietly whispering to me when I think I'm not paying attention.  Not to mention 105 other games that I have sitting in my wishlist just hanging out.  And since the sale ended this morning at 10am, I can say that I was able to control a number of urges and actually didn't spend any money.  The fact that I was playing games that I had previously bought and hand't played before (with the exception of Doom 3) helped to reinforce the fact that I still have a number of unplayed games.

I did however buy a Steam Controller through Gamestop (with some Gamestop giftcards) since it was at the sale price that Steam had set for their summer sale and my decision for that stemmed from being intrigued with the controller, the fact that it was both a wireless and wired controller, that I frequently will hook up my computer to the TV so Conklederp can watch me play (or vice versa in the case of Skyrim),  and any other of the titles in the Telltale Games series.  I also thought that the joystick on my 360 controller was starting to feel a little wobbly (but not post 1080 wobbliness of the N64 controller).

Alright, I've got to wrap this up as we're heading out to do some semi-'Murican stuff that doesn't actually involve BBQing anything or blowing anything up. . .so I guess it's not very 'Murican, but whatever.

As I Drank From A Cup. . .

Friday, July 1, 2016

Origin Stories: Judith - Fallout 2

After my last post about Fallout 2, I decided that I would create a new character and start over.  Looking over my skills, I felt that perhaps the Bruiser trait might have had something to do with me missing more frequently than a sane person should allow themselves to believe that they're missing. 

So I let go of the Bruiser trait thinking that the text description, "You may not hit as often. . ." meant that not only would you be hitting less frequently, due to decreased number of action points, but it would also alter your to-hit %, possibly without it being displayed. Well, with my new character (Judith), her to-hit percentages are about the same as my previous character at the same level and she hits about as often as Jude did, but possibly because I gave her 9 action points which allows for two strikes with the sharpened spear, or one shot with a gun and  one strike with the spear, which can help make the misses when they happen feel a lot less dramatic.  But I still ended up missing three 81% to-hits in a row against a rat and now I have photographic evidence:

The to-hit % didn't change between all the attacks and on the next attack I did kill the little bastard.
And earlier Wednesday, I did miss a 95% to-hit, followed by two 77% to-hits.  Missed all three in a row.  Blarg.

But all of that is now why I'm here today, it's all pre-context for the story that I'm about to unfold on y'all.  And just to be forewarned, there will be story SPOILERS.

So my new character I named Judith, and not because she's a Lil' Ass Kicker either, but because my previous character I had named Jude and I decided to stick with the Beatles theme (the origin of that was that some semblance, or scant memory of the song existed with the tribe in Arroyo and Judith's parents wanted to name her after this fragment of a song that had been once known).  One of the main differences between Judith and Jude was that I gave Judith higher charisma and I had one of her main skills being in Barter in order to give me better prices on buying and selling, which may not come as quite in handy in the late game, but if I couldn't get to the late game, then what would it matter which skills I picked?  

So there's 18 year old Judith. And I chose 18, again as a throwback to what our modern day society considers an "adult" and this tribe has only vague memories of something being very important about turning 18 and has everyone at that age go through the Temple of Trials.  To me it made more sense than creating someone who was at an older age, which might be harder to explain game-wise as to why they were still only level 1.  Obviously, Judith passes the trial, is given the clothes of The [fabled] Vault Dweller and sets out to find the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) so that you can save your village.

So the first town that Judith comes across, Klamath, she encounters a number of people who frequently make derogatory statements regarding tribals as being uncivilized and are worth less than Brahmin; or at least something to that effect.  She decides to help them anyway because she needs money and information.  Upon reaching the next settlement, The Den,  After helping out a few residents and making enough money by selling duplicate equipment, she's able to release Trader Vic from captivity by the slaver Metzger.  While in The Den, Judith continues to encounter distrust/disdain for "uncivilized" tribals, but now being equipped with leather armor, she doesn't stand out quite as much.

When she reaches the town of Modoc on her way to Vault City, she's told of a farm about a day north that's inhabited by glowing ghosts and that they killed a resident of Modoc named Karl, as well as countless travelers who were all put up on stakes, Vlad Dracula style.  While talking with Grisham who owns the local slaughterhouse, she get recruited to guard the Brahmin from a pack of wild dogs.  During this encounter, one Brahmin dies, eight dogs are killed and two run "off screen" (which I consider to be a victory since they're no longer present and I cannot trigger them to come back), but it turned out (due to a known bug with this quest) that the whole herd was killed and Grisham becomes upset and tells me to leave before he kills me.  After this altercation, Judith meets Grisham's daughter Miria, being "the farmer's daughter" type character who, while trying to be nice to her (after hearing that men frequently have sex with her because why the hell not apparently), throws herself at Judith, they have sex, before which I was told that "[Your world will never be the same again.]"  In the morning, Grisham finds out, and somewhat confusingly drags Judith and Miria to the local chapel and the two are forced to be married (which in-game terms meant that I ended up dropping Vic as my companion and picked up Miria as my new companion).

Judith eventually visits the aforementioned farm and it all looks like a giant bloody shit show.  No, seriously, blood and guts and bodies up on stakes and more bodies and whatnot:

Told ya.
So Judith finds out that the "ghosts" are really just former vault dwellers (presumed vault dwellers as there was no vault. . .I guess they could have been a small community who hid in and underground shelter on the farm before the Great War) and have coated themselves with phosphorescent fungus to scare people away from stealing their crops/farm/Brahmin.  Through a series of communications with Sheriff Jo in Modoc and the leader of the community at the farm, you find out that the bodies are basically scarecrows covered in Brahmin guts; that Karl is alive and ran away to the Northwest, and that you have 30 days (per Sherrif Jo) to prove that the farm community are good before the people of Modoc wipe out everyone at the farm.

So Judith travelled Northwest of the farm (I was hoping to come across a settlement or a small shack) and find nothing.  I eventually head back to The Den, find Karl who is still alive and proceeds to drink himself into a stupor after every conversation.  (I determine that this is good enough so I head back to Modoc).  When Judith returns, she heads to Sherriff Jo to tell him that Karl is alive and that they don't have to attack the people at the farm.

When I read this, I genuinely felt remorse and guilt for basically having an entire community counting on me to work out a peace for them.  Now I know that I could have reloaded from an earlier save, looked online (which I did) to figure out how to save the community (or both for that matter), but in the end, I figured that this outcome was going to be part of Judith's story.  I decided that her interactions with the handful of prejudiced residents of Klamath and The Den, coupled with the intollerant and fearful people of Modoc, and not being able to save a community that she felt akin to ("lowly" and "uncivilized" tribals compared to a thriving community of mutated and alienated humans living underground), she snapped.  And so happened the Massacre at Modoc of 2241.

There're only four bodies on screen here, and many more that I couldn't fit into a single frame, but you get the idea.
The massacre started with Sherrif Jo, during which Miria fled and ran back home.  Judith chased after Miria to explain herself and ran into Grisham whom Judith killed, followed by Miria's brother Davin.  I had no way of knowing who participated in killing off the community at the farm, but there well over 20 people, not including more than half-a-dozen children, so I assumed the entire town of Modoc was in on it.  In the end, only one trader was able to escape, Miria "left" and remained at her late father's house, everyone else was killed.

I did feel a little bad about this dramatic turn of events, but I didn't feel that it was out of the realm of possibility.  That Judith had taken over a month of her time that she could have spent not helping and focus on saving her own community, and in the end, it didn't matter because the people at the farm were all killed anyway.  All because a small town of fearful people chose not to understand their neighbors to the north.  Sure my actions aren't going to bring back that underground farming community, but I (as a player) was just so infuriated, that I made the decision that Judith would exact her anger and frustration with how she had been treated on these people.  Not a great resume builder I grant you. . .

So now Judith is vilified in the town of Modoc [what's left of it anyway], she's "Separated" from Miria, and is labeled as a "Childkiller" (there was a stable boy who worked at Rose's Bed & Breakfast).

This is where I am at with Judith now.  She's on her way to the Vault City out east to find out about the G.E.C.K., which is where Trader Vic says that he's acquired Vault technology before, so it's my best (and probably incorrect) option.  I'm sure the omnipresent Vault 13 jumpsuit will come in handy as I hear that the citizens of Vault City can be uppity and are probably isolationists to a certain extent.  She is currently Level 7, both her small guns skill and melee weapon skill are at or just over 100, and I am still missing the occasional 95% at a rate that seems more than 1:20, but things are getting better, things are getting better every day.