Gaming

My Overwatch Obsession

I’m giving seriously considerations to putting a Cracked Dice Overwatch team together for PC. A group to play competitive and practice two or three times a week. I don’t expect the team to be MLG level or play in any tournaments but an organized group that has fun and plays well as a team.

For those that haven’t heard; Overwatch is Blizzard Entertainment’s newest game (and IP). A team based first person shooter in similar vein as Value’s Team Fortress 2. Overwatch is the new hotness with excellent game play, fast paced action, and addictive fun. Each character has unique play style and personality with both pros and cons. Each plays an important role as part of the team and being part of a team in the main focus of this game.

I’m really enjoying the game but my normal casual attitude to gaming is being overridden by my desire to wrangle the herd of cats that is the causal player base. I’m attributing this change in attitude to the game play being so teamwork orientated. I’ve watched and played with talented FPS players who have been stomped by average players who work really well together. That is a major strength of Overwatch; teamwork can count more than individual performance.

During the first few weeks of release, I joined a team participating in the GosuGamers weekly tournaments. We got totally stomped every time. We didn’t practice (or scrim) as a team. We rarely discussed our strategies or comps. It was a total mess. I’m not blameless. We failed as a team and I was part of the team. So I failed right along with everyone else.

After the disaster of my short lived MLG career (haha), I played with a number of different friend groups. Playing with friends is always fun for a laugh but it doesn’t fulfill the competitive itch. Solo queue in competitive is a roll of the dice. Not often but sometimes you get a team with people who want to work together. Most of the time is like quick play with everyone just doing there own thing.

So now I’m looking at building a team. Its a weird feeling for me. I’ve never been a competitive person but something about Overwatch is bring out the competitive Crispy.

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Gaming, Review

The Witness by Thekla Inc.

I’ve been playing The Witness. A first person puzzle game along similar lines of The Talos Principle. The beautifully stylized island is colorful and engaging. The puzzles, although similar, are challenging and require experimentation and discovery to complete. Thekla use of space, angle, color, and lighting to great effect to create an atmosphere that feels expansive and familiar but still mysterious and magical. The Witness is another great step the in genre of first person puzzle games.

I recommend checking out The Witness to anyone interested in puzzles and environmental design.

Fiction, Gaming, Theory

Building a Campaign as a Group

When running a new campaign I like to try something different. A system I’ve never tried. A new character building method. A weird magical system. An interesting genre mix mash. Just something new to keep the experience different so I learn what I enjoy and what players enjoy. This time around I started the campaign off with a group world building session.

The premise starts with all the group members offering ideas and themes for the campaign. We collectively pick our favorites. Then we all work together to flesh out those ideas to make a campaign world and the major themes.

I got my new group together and explained the idea. We used note cards to keep track of each idea. To start us off I offered up a few themes.

  • “Magic is part of everyday life”
  • “Under the rule of evil tyrants”
  • “The gods are angry with mortals”

The group added a few of their own ideas.

  • “The area’s city-states offer war among themselves”
  • “Magic-users are seen as sub-human”
  • “Demon and devil incursion are commonplace”
  • “Government propaganda abound”
  • “The journey is more important than the destination”
  • “Adventure!!!”

The group then voted on their five favorites: “Under the rule of evil tyrants”, “Demon and devil incursion are commonplace”,”Government propaganda abound”, “Magic-users are seen as sub-human”, and “The journey is more important than the destination.”

Then we had a series of discussions on how to flesh out each one. During our discussions, I offered suggestions on what the group could add to the campaign. If those suggestions sparked an ideas or new discussions, I encouraged it. When a suggested didn’t sparked anything, I dropped it. As the game master I would have plenty of time to add flavor and content to the campaign. This world building session was for the players to get their ideas out there.

“Under the rule of evil tyrants” was the first to get some attention. They decided that the tyrants are secretly magic users but seen to be benevolent dictators. The groups adds the tyrants may be related to demons.

They decided “Demon and devil incursion are commonplace” only started in the past 15 years and they don’t have a central home base. The demons are drawn to magic users and they are the governments enforcers.

Aside from using demons it seems “Government propaganda abound.” They use their propaganda is to vilify magic users. Blame them for the demon attacks. Also to smear the neighboring country, the Wild Wizards of the West.

With all this negativity it seem the general population sees “Magic-users are seen as sub-human” and fear them. This opinion started around the same time the demon started attacking. But the magic users themselves don’t feel like they are sub-human or sub-dwarf, or sub-elf.

“The journey is more important than the destination” wasn’t expanded because I felt it was pretty self explanatory. I kind of wish I had given the group the opportunity just to see what the players would had done with the idea.

And so the country of Welldrake was born. The basic themes and ideas of the campaign were laid out. Armed with the new knowledge the players built characters and I ran a quick introduction season where the characters are whisked away to the far reaches of the country and need to travel back the capital.

By the time the second session rolled around I had taken a little time to write up a little flavor text for the campaign.

Thirty years ago the kingdom of Welldrake was under attack from marauding demons. The kingdom’s military was unable to protect its people as towns were destroyed and thousands were killed. A small heroic band of adventurers were able to do the impossible and stop the demons. In the process, they uncovered clues to a conspiracy amongst the kingdom’s elite and leadership.

The heroes gained a new purpose and founded an organization, the Inquisition, to uncover how deep the conspiracy went. They found priests, nobles, generals, and even the king himself guilty of working with the demons. At the center of it all was the Wizard’s College and its members. They had started and lead the conspiracy against the people of Welldrake.

The next ten years was marked by a war between the Wizard’s College and the Inquisition. When the war ended the Inquisition had won and the Wizard’s College and all its members were destroyed. The Inquisition ended the monarchy’s rule, set up a new ruling council, and outlawed the study of magic.

The new nation of Welldrake had peace again for five years. Then the first reports of demon attacks spread. With the Wizard’s College gone suspicion ran amok and blame was put into any caster of spells, wizard or not. Priests and the naturally gifted were targeted with anger and fear. The people of Welldrake were scared demons were returning.

That was 15 years ago, the fear and suspicion has only gotten worse.

In one creative brainstorming session the group gave me the basic tools to make a campaign that they, collectively, would be interested in. We could have taken more time to dig deeper into the world, races, magic, and lore but we only focused on what interested the group. Any concepts left unexplored were for me to fill in later or not at all.

I like group world building idea. I think it has great potential. I would love to see what a different group does with it and how it shapes their campaign. If you have done something like this before, let me know how it did or did not work out for you.

Gaming

Cranky Arkham Knight

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about getting Arkham Knight on PC instead of console like I would normally do for a triple A game. I don’t own any of the current generation of consoles. Logically I shouldn’t buy a new console just for one game that I’m only going to put – maybe – 20 hours into.

But the “discussions” about the poorly implement PC port for Arkham Knight have me torn. On one hand, I don’t really want to deal with a game that is so buggy on PC when the option to play it on a console is available. On the other hand, I’m not sure I will be picking up any games on console in the future since my PC is okay and I’ve been playing mostly indie games anyway.

This is my personal dilemma and the logical brain is winning, mostly. If I can wait that long, I’ll just wait until they fix the issues and buy it on PC.

A loud minority of the internet is much angrier. Complaining about frames per second caps, technical issues, and their under utilized super elite computing power. Not really about actual game quality. There is plenty to be upset about if you pre-order a game and you receive less quality then promised so I can’t really fault anyone for being hot under the collar but some of these complaints seem ostentatious; specifically said to boast about the commentator’s equipment.

I think the main point consumers should take from this whole ordeal is as gamers and consumers we should hold publishers and game developers to a certain level of standard. If the game doesn’t meet expectations, don’t pay for the product and let them know why through thoughtful reviews and discussions.  If they can fix the issues in a reasonable frame time and you still feel the game is worth your money and time, buy it. Enjoy it. Then judge the game on its merits as game.