Saturday, November 27th, 2004

Well.  With NaNo done and printed and etc., I’ve finally allowed myself to install and start playing Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines.

If you’re not interested in first-person action-RPGs based on goth
pen-and-paper roleplaying games, you might want to skip this one.

Right.  So basically now I’m talking to the people I already game with.  C’est la vie.

At any rate, I’ve put in about five hours with it tonight, and so far
so good.  There are a couple of minorly buggy bits, but they’re
all in the presentation – conversation or background music occasionally
skipping when I choose a conversation option.  It isn’t a big
deal, it’s just a slight skip which causes me to miss nothing
important.  That said, it is noticeable.

That said, that this is the biggest problem I’ve seen so far in
a game that’s just been released is a miracle of miracles.  It is
from Troika, and they do know how to machine-tool the gaming goodness, but… well, let’s just say their game last year, Temple of Elemental Evil, came out of the box with some, uh, issues.  Significant ones.

So far, and here I knock hard and loud on particle board, rapping
bloodied knuckles against the surface of my computer desk, I haven’t
seen anything like that.  Combat is a touch clumsy, but that’s
because I suck at first person games so I opt to switch out to 3rd
person when a fight starts.  The keyboard commands leave a bit to
be desired, too, in the case of pretty much anything that isn’t in the
standard WASD scheme – and all the truly important stuff is, so that’s
also a very minor deal.  My biggest complaint so far is that it is
a TOTAL pain in the ass to switch from one Discipline to
another, so I have yet to use my nifty Thaumaturgy 2 power because,
mid-combat, standing still long enough to switch to it would get my ass

Oh, that’s my other big complaint:  the clans and powers are more
or less the same, but not entirely and that feels really, really
weird.  I know, I know – how the hell do you incorporate some of
the more distinctly social or roleplay-centric Discipline powers into a
first-person computer game?  I know.  Still.  That means it’s not actually Vampire: the Masquerade
– not by the book, no matter how fantastic a job Troika have done
creating the mood and ambience and overall flavor of the World of

That segues nicely into my big thumbs-up:  the game feels a lot more mature and a lot more like V:tM than Redemption did.  It actually earns its M+ rating, so far – not just with the cursing, but with some good gore and an appropriate laissez faire
attitude towards the spilling of blood.  You are penalized in a
very real, very eventually-you-lose-the-game way for committing random
violence, much like in pen-and-paper V:tM.  However, also much like V:tM,
sometimes the only thing you can do is lay the smack down on some
Sabbat ass.  It feels right.  The game has this going for it,
that’s for sure:  it feels a hell of a
lot more organic than Vampire: the Masquerade – Redemption.  That it’s
in the Halo2 engine and that it’s made by a significantly more talented
company probably have something to do with it that, but it’s worth noting.  If the first V:tM
PC game scared you for all the wrong reasons, I’d suggest giving this
one a try.  It’s an entirely different experience. 
Honest.  I’m enjoying it a great deal so far.

Of course, it’s me saying that, so maybe it’s that they did a
good job and maybe it’s that there are, in the midst of the horror, the
right amount of tiny, silly touches that remind me of our tabletop Vampire
games – like getting a “dance” action when you walk onto the dancefloor
in the local goth club, and that action icon being a sillhouette of the
Travolta pose from the poster for Saturday Night Fever

That right there?  That’s the delicious taste of Fallout right there.  I love Troika.

Still, Troika need a web designer so, so badly.  Please.  They need to hire one now.  Seriously.  I could give them some names. (more…)

Hey, look – it’s a post about something other than NaNo, so it’s really just a link!

Ever wanted an electric car?  One of the coolest made just became available for import to the US.

I recommend this site not just for the Zapz cars, but for the “cars for sale” page.  Specifically, check out the bottom car in the right column on the second sale page

I don’t just want an electric car – I want an electric Winnie The Pooh car.

Fuck yeah. (more…)