Friday, 30 March 2012

A Serious Thought

In Memory of Eddward Gould, Web Artist 1988 to 2012

Sorry to do this again folks, but creativity is ultimately the slave of reality.  I’ve got some more news that shaken me, and I’m remiss that I missed it for so long.

Five years ago while I was bored out of my skull at university, dreaming of breaking out and doing something more creative, I came upon Eddsworld.  This artist from the UK was inspiring, and indeed uplifting, as his art came from one clever and simple idea: I’m going to draw animations and use them to stage adventures staring me and my friends.  The idea was a hit, and took off, supported by his great skill with animation, his clever and witty writing, and his and his friends’ abilities with voice acting.  The cartoons were silly and funny, and they conveyed the warm personality that created them.  Most of them are still available on YouTube.

I just learned today, that last week on Saturday, Edd Gould has passed away young.  This was a surprise passing, as I’ve learned Edd had a long battle with cancer, considering it an inconvenience and impatiently trying to get back to doing what he loved.  That was his cartooning.  It’s always tragic when someone dies young, but you know, it shouldn’t be.  Through it all, he lived doing what he loved. 

Many of us dream of doing something better, more meaningful or just a little more personal.  Edd had the guts to follow his dreams, and he leaves a legacy that easily spans the whole world.  His talent will be missed, but his inspiration should live on.

Rest in Peace Edd, and God Bless

From Just Another Fan

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Intermission - the Future of Smash

Hey folks.  Writer’s block conspires again to throw off all of my stated ambitions for creative writing, so lucky you, you get to hear my ramblings on one of my favorite topics.  SMAAAASH Brothers!
Oh, stop groaning, I’ll make it work, I promise.

The timing is actually meaningful.  Ever since Brawl, I’ve been struck with two thoughts, that this idea or feature is the best idea ever in gaming, and that this idea and feature beside it ruins the experience completely.  I’ve been tweaking Smash Brothers mentally for a while now, and now that Kid Icarus Uprising has launched, I expect to see many of those ideas tested, challenged, and ultimately discarded. 

We’re not going to know that until we play it though, and with the game mocking me, calling to me, on the coffee table across from me, it is time to put some of these ideas on record so I can see where I was right, and where I was dead wrong.  This brings us to the question, what should Smash Bros. do differently?  I’m going to start with what should stay, or is on the right path.

First – Keep Masahiro Sakurai as director.
This is the right man for the job, and his vision remains as entertaining, as satisfying, as all around fun, as ever.  Everything here following is just suggestions, tweaks, and game balance modifications.

Second – Keep the Subspace Emissary
Smash brothers is a solid fighting game, but Subspace Emissary makes it mean something.  Sure, the story is told with little to no voice acting, and no text, and that hurts it.  The emphasis on cut scenes does a lot to help, but ultimately Subspace Emissary restores most of the heroic aspects to Nintendo’s cast.  And really, how many fighting games offer a full side scrolling beat’em up version as part of their game, with two dozen completely original non-playable monsters to fight?

Third – Keep the game Nintendo based
Every child on a forum has his favorites for the next new character inclusion.  I do too, and Hey!  Look at that!  Some of them are from 3rd parties.  That’s cool right?  Well, no it isn’t.  Notwithstanding a crossover like the Vs. Capcom series (please, please, oh please), Smash Bros should be about the Smash Bros, focusing most heavily on the Nintendo series headliners.  If Square agrees to a Dissidia vs. Smash Bros, awesome, all of you Cloud fanboys are golden.  If Sonic alone crosses the gap, cool.  But Nintendo should not give this series up to 3rd parties just to sate the fans of other games.  Or if Nintendo is sating fans, satisfy us first, who’ve been there for just about every Mario, Metroid, Zelda, and Pok√©mon launch and enjoy these games, most times much more, than what third parties can deliver.  Okay, fan boys, let the hating begin.

First Change – More Story Please
It’s an odd choice for a fighting game right? Well not really.  Super Smash Bros 64 had one idea, to mix up Nintendo’s most beloved mascots and let them beat each other up.  It’s something of an interactive commercial, and it has been exploited as such: heck, it’s pretty much made Fire Emblem a fan base here in the American Territory.  That was then, but Smash has greater potential that is yet to be exploited.  The story, mostly surrounding Master Hand and his rebellious dolls, is cryptic and rapidly changing, Melee and Brawl turning the heroes into trophies when they lose.  There’s still no good reason why all of these Nintendo strong-arms are gathered in Smashworld, or who thought up the dumb name Smashworld, or why more allies and enemies keep entering the world.  All of these are fundamental questions begging for a true RPG treatment, and indeed, Nintendo has more than enough experience in role playing games, from Golden Sun to Fire Emblem, to Mario RPG/Paper Mario/Mario and Luigi style storytelling to make it enjoyable and fun.  

This is not merely a wish, it evades a looming crunch.  With 37 playable fighters, Brawl is as large a cast as most other fighting games (Street Fighter IV has 35 at start!).  With such a crowded lineup, it becomes increasingly difficult to give adequate story weight to each.  Kirby is the hero of Brawl, Mario and Link are jealous protectors of their princesses, and Captain Olimar is just along for the ride.  Changing the base from fighting game to role playing game, or better, strategy game in the vein of Fire Emblem, gives new weight and meaning to each character.  Captain Olimar might get no video time, but he and his 100 Pikmin army just made the mountains impassable!

Second Change – Street Fighter conjures to mind the next request.  Downloadable characters.  A logistics nightmare I’m sure, but there should be way to do it.  The AR cards included in Kid Icarus Uprising strike a few new ideas, including content hosted in online and the picture of the card (from the 3DS camera) enabling a download.  This would make not only Kid Icarus AR cards, but in fact all of them, very valuable.  I wonder if it is possible to simply puppet the AR image that is presented over the AR card…

Anyway, that’s all I can think of right now.  Reports of two new Smash Bros. titles being developed whet my appetite, and I cannot wait for E3 and some new details, even if only screenshots or developer interview leaks. Comments, anyone?

Monday, 26 March 2012

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Well, that was one heck of a month.  Followers of the blog need no reminder that I’ve strayed just a bit from the original idea of the blog, but not out of scope.  For the last 30 or so posts I’ve been kind of obsessed with the setting I’ve designed copying Resident Evil in a Victorian setting.  This project has no final title, but has the working title Victorian Evil, which is as good as anything else for right now.  

Going forward, this project is far from complete, but it leaves the blog’s scope of designing characters and deeply descriptive scenes behind.  In other words, for anyone who joined during this long period and wants to see more, this project won’t be seeing updates here anymore.  

I said the project isn’t done, and that’s true.  I intend to take everything that I’ve already done over the last four weeks and reorganize and polish them, working them into a proper PDF.  The d20 Open Source content means that it’ll be provided free of charge, provided I can find a good hosting service.  If all else fails, I’ll just link to the Torrent.  This project will require time, so fans of the blog will be most disappointed to hear that I will be taking a short work-cation.  Call it a reduction, as I intend to post blog entries every other day, rather than every day.

The final announcement is that I will be returning the blog to its roots.  Visible way at the bottom of the blog archive is a short list of blogs that I was doing over a month ago that emphasize exactly what I want to be writing: scenes!  Tiny, one page snapshots of a moment in time, heavily focuses on character and setting.

I’ll check back when the PDF is ready to download.  Also, anyone with comments or suggestions for names (or just random tips with writing this setting generally), please do so in the comments below. For now, thanks for your understanding.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tony Berne, the PCs best hope for Redemption

Priest - Vicar (Good)
Name: Anthony Berne                                          Gender: Male
Height: 5’6”                                                             Weight: 176 lbs
Age: 53                                                                     Level: 11
Human Dedicated Hero 4, Acolyte 7

Applied: STR 6 (-2) DEX 10 (0) CON 12 (+1) INT 15 (+2) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 12 (+1)

HP: 50
Allegiance: Positive, Anglican Faith, Lawful, Good

Class Skills: 28, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7
Concentration (CON) + 13, Craft (writing)+1, Decipher Script, Gather Info, Investigate (INT), Knowledge (arcane lore+5, art, behavioral sciences, business, civics, current events, earth and life sciences, history+2, physical sciences, popular culture, streetwise, tactics, technology, theology and philosophy+13) (INT), Listen (WIS) +8, Profession (WIS) +9, Read/Write Language (none), Sense Motive (WIS) +6, Spellcraft (INT) +12 Speak Language, Spot (WIS)+8, Survival (WIS) +9, and Treat Injury (WIS)+13

Simple Weapons Prof. Feat = no -4 non proficient penalties for clubs, daggers
Talent Healing Knack = +2 bonus on Treat Injury skill checks
Talent Healing Touch = Healing Kit increases restored damage +2
Feat = Personal Firearms Proficiency
Feat = Endurance, +4 bonus on hourly swim/run constitution checks, con to hold breath, con to avoid starvation + thirst, Fort saves vs heat and cold environments, and Fort saves vs suffocation and drowning.
Feat = Improved Initiative +4 on Initiative checks
Feat = Alertness +2 on spot and listen checks

BAB: +8    Fort: +6 Ref: +3 Will: +6   Def Bonus: +7    Rep Bonus: +5

Acolyte – Cast Divine Spells (5 @ lvl0, 4+1 @ lvl1, 4+1 @ lvl2, 3+1 @ lvl3), DC to resist is 13+spell lvl
Acolyte – Rebuke/Command Undead + Magical Beasts (as of Acolyte lvl7)
Acolyte – Spontaneous Cast Cure (any)
Acolyte – Combat Casting +4 Concentration Checks in combat

Equipment: Church vestment, Holy Symbol of Christ

The vicar Tony Berne is a modest and devout man, but perhaps most significant is his long and little spoken service on campaign, most of it as Army Chaplain for the British Armed Forces around the Niger River in Africa.  While not taking the surgeon feat, he has learned the value of acting quickly and spying trouble ahead.  He is retired from service, but retains his familiarity with weapons, healing, and hard campaigning.  He has kept the mysteries that he has witnessed on campaign to himself, but he has experience in leading good souls against the Shadow…

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Alicia Desdemona, Evil Acolyte

I’ve been talked out of this mad scheme of changing Turning to affect shadow.  Shadows, as monsters in the 3.5 Monster Manual, are already affected by Turning, which was the intent.  While I wanted to limit the effect to creatures of shadow, a review of the Baskerville Hound asked what creatures of shadow.  Most of the monsters that I considered using where magical beasts.  The Acolyte gains the ability to affect them (turn, but not destroy) at 7th level, which is also what I wanted to see done.  It seems easier to simply use the Acolyte as given rather than re-invent the entire creature type structure.  For now, anyway.

Both characters will be Acolytes which requires 6 ranks of Knowledge, 6 of Sense Motive and 6 of Listen.  They will both be exceptions to the common rule that NPCs can’t have Prestige classes, as one will be a recurring villain, and the other may be a tutor or powerful ally for the mid-level PCs. 
Secretary (Evil)
Name: Alicia Desdemona                                     Gender: Female
Height: 5’                                                                 Weight: 110 lbs
Age: 28                                                                     Level: 6
Human Dedicated Hero 4, Acolyte 2

Applied: STR 8 (-1) DEX 13 (+1) CON 10 (0) INT 14 (+2) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 12 (+1)
HP: 19
Allegiance: Negative, Divine Shadow, Chaotic, Evil

Class Skills: 28, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7
Craft (visual art, writing+6), Concentration (Acolyte only) (CON) +7 (INT), Decipher Script, Gather Info, Investigate (INT), Knowledge (arcane lore +6, business, civics, tactics, theology and philosophy +6) (INT), Listen (WIS)+6, Profession (WIS)+2, Read/Write Language (Latin) +4, Sense Motive (WIS) +6, Speak Language (Latin)+5, Spellcraft (INT) +7, Spot (WIS)+6, Survival (WIS), and Treat Injury (WIS)

Simple Weapons Prof. Feat = no -4 non proficient penalties for clubs, daggers
Feat Creative = +2 on Craft visual art or writing
Feat Attentive = +2 on Sense Motive and Sense Motive
Talent: Skill Emphasis Sense Motive (WIS), effectively +3 on all checks
Talent: Aware = add Will Save to Spot and Listen checks

 BAB: +4    Fort: +5 Ref: +1 Will: +5   Def Bonus: +4    Rep Bonus: +4

Acolyte – Cast Divine Spells (4 @ lvl0, 3+1 @ lvl1), DC to resist is 13+spell lvl
Acolyte – Rebuke/Command Undead

Equipment: Street Habit, Church vestment, Holy Symbol of Shadow

Desdemona is playing a deadly game.  I still have to pick the skills her new Acolyte class grants her, but she is in deep and can no longer see safety except in serving her shadowy master.  This allegiance now trumps all.  The Chaotic allegiance reflects her trapping 4 PCs (constables) in the Baron's Manor to try and get him moving, and honoring his agreement to move the goods.  That seems pretty chaotic to me, at least.