Monday, April 16, 2012


I've been funding a lot of kickstarter projects lately. Which is a weird concept in and of itself, it's a bit like investing but so many people are pooling small amounts of money together it's more apt to call it micro-investing. The mediaverse has been referring to it as crowdfunding and that's just as good of a description as any. I'm beginning to inwardly call it "casting the 'Mass Beg' spell"

So... shit! A lot of kickstarters I backed have successfully ended, which means I've spent a lot of money recently on things I won't get for months. Or a year.


The first one was 'Double Fine Adventure' - - it was trending on every video game site I visit and, though I had never played Psychonauts or Grim Fandango or virtually anything else he's made, Tim Schafer's reputation as a visionary was enough for me to be interested enough in pledging money to this project.


After backing Tim Schafer's project, I got a little kckstarter crazy and backed a couple of projects that had already met their goals, but with the intention that I would definitely get the swag offered for a minimum bid.
'This Is Not A Conspiracy Theory' documentary series, which was being created by the same guy who made the brilliant 'Everything Is A Remix' web documentary series.
'Return of the Deck of the Living Dead' which I backed out of sheer exuberance since I was about to start GMing a Deadlands game that week.
And then there was 'Farmaggedon' which I misunderstood the premise of at first, but didn't take my pledge away as the idea sounded good and I wanted to see the final product. He met some of his overfunding goals as well, so I'll end up with the base game plus an expansion for it when it finally gets published.


The next kickstarter I baked on the first day it started. 'Dwimmermount: An Old School Fantasy RPG Megadungeon'. I read James Maliszewski's gaming blog because I enjoy his insights into old school D&Ding, despite the fact that he's kind of rude and never answers e-mails regarding typos in his work. I enjoyed reading his last game and wanted to help pitch in for his next project, plus if his megadungeon had been available as a digital download I probably would have purchased it already.


A series of indie video games followed in Tim Schafer's footsteps, but none of them got the same level of media coverage that Double Fine Adventure received. As soon as I heard about them I would either go to the kickstarter page and pledge money with very little hesitation, or else I would dismiss the idea without hardly thinking about it.
'Wasteland 2' put together by Brian Fargo, the mastermind behind the original Fallout.
'The Banner Saga' is not the sort of game I might usually play, but it stuck out to me. It evoked the 1970s Ralph Bakshi era of adult cartoon movies, and I had been hearing snippets of news about it's development before kickstarter was becoming common news in the video games industry. I pledged enough to get my own banner crest in the game because I thought that was a really cool reward!
And finally, there is 'Shadowrun Returns' which is set to wrap up the storylines of previous Shadowrun video games, while also giving a throwback to turn-based strategy games like X-Com using the setting and characters from a Shadowrun world. How could I not give them some of my money? And by the way...

'Shadowrun Returns' ends in 3 days!


I vowed two weeks ago to stop pledging money to kickstarter campaigns. It's too easy to get really excited for something and then spend money and be forced to wait, and wait, and wait. I haven't seen any returns yet for any of these kickstarters because the earliest one isn't set to deliver until May. And then there's 'curse the darkness - a roleplaying game'
Matthew McFarland is the man responsible for this little gem. I met him randomly via LJ a few years ago while he was offering to sell used gaming books. I bought a couple of titles from him and we befriended each other over similar interests. It was only a month or two later that I realized he was one of the hired authors at White Wolf Studios, which then left me with the constant anxiety that he might think that was the only reason I was "friends" with him.
For quite some time now he's been posting sparse details about this role-playing game he's been working on, and always made these entries with the words "curse the darkness" and they were intriguing. I was always curious to learn more about the setting, and looked forward to his entries despite how cryptic or confusing they might end up being.

Today he created a kickstarter to fund his project and I'm proud to say I made an exception to not spending any money and pledged enough money to get an example character named after myself (or named by me) in the rulebook. The project won't end for 40 days, but waiting for the rulebook to arrive will be the really agonizing bit.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

not complaining about Mass Effect 3

Now that I've finished playing Mass Effect 3, I can finally read all of the essays and watch all of the videos about the ending. Fair warning: THERE BE SPOILERS HERE! so stop reading and don't watch any of the videos if you haven't played ME3 yet.

There's an essay on the Penny Arcade Report which breaks down the common complaints of the ending and rebukes them, and I quite like it.

My favorite video has to be this one, which lays out a really good explanation for the main character suffering from the effects of the Reapers' indoctrination ability. I really like this explanation for the ending, not just because it makes sense (with one slight hiccup) but because it means my Shepard got indoctrinated. Tragedy is awesome!

Then there's this episode of the Jimquisition where he points out that so many people being upset about the ending legitimizes video games as a modern adult artform. Very good stuff here.

And that's pretty much it. After talking about the ending with Jake, and then reading/watching these essays/videos I am firmly convinced that the ending of the game is a hallucination and that I lost to the Reapers. And if Bioware changes that interpretation with their "extended ending DLC" later this summer, then I'm just going to ignore them because they obviously lost sight of what they were doing: telling an awesome story. AND TRAGEDY IS AWESOME!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

complaining about Mass Effect 3

I have to say that I am pretty disappointed with Mass Effect 3, and I haven't even gotten to the hugely controversial ending that I have done very well to not spoil for myself. But now I'm going to spoil a few things about the game for you, so stop reading if you plan on playing this game in the near future.

My most recent save places me in the final battle, I think. My squad is in the no man's land between Alliance forces and the Reaper tower-light beam-transport whatever. They never show the fucking thing except for transparent holograms so I have no idea what it is that I'm trying to travel to. It's some place that will take me to the Citadel so I can hook up the Crucible, our death weapon, which will presumably transfer energy throughout the relays and disrupt the Reaper forces throughout the galaxy. The Crucible is technology older than the Protheans, that has been improved upon and refined over the millenia and passed down cycle to cycle in the hopes that the next species will use it to destroy the Reapers.
It's the stupidest resolution not only because it effectively uses magic to overcome the final enemy but also because not a single character within the game shows the slightest hint of skepticism that the Crucible might actually be a part of the Reapers' plans. From the very first moment the weapon was explained I thought "This is too convenient." And then later on we learn that the secret to using the Crucible is to hook it up to the Citadel? Right, I don't buy it.
In the first game, the Citadel was the key to Reaper forces invading the galaxy and harvesting humanity, but now in this third game the Citadel has been completely ignored by the Reapers while they've sat themselves on every other planet. That is a plot hole, a HUGE FUCKING PLOT HOLE bigger than a semi-truck, it's the size of the Reaper army that plot hole is.
Then there's the combat. It's not fun. I am bored with having to kill so many enemies over and over and over again. Combat feels less tactical and more of a slog through an endless mire of bodies.
Once I'm done playing through the ending I'll update this entry with my final thoughts, but I can predict right now that the game ends for me once I return the Quarians to their homeworld. It's the only plotline I was emotionally invested in, and the way I see it, having Reaper-enhanced geth as a military ally should be enough to turn the tide of the war.

After playing all three games in quick succession, I have to say I like the interface of the 3rd, the combat of the 1st, and story of the 2nd. Too bad there was never one solid game in the series that outshone the rest. From what I've read, most gamers consider the 2nd one the best. For me, the 1st one is the best. That's the only one that evoked the excitement of an epic space opera saga and when I was done playing, it left me wanting more.

UPDATE: Just finished playing. The ending is dumb. Apparently magic fixes everything.