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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Game 70: BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception (1988)




This morning, all I knew about the BattleTech franchise is that when I was in junior high, it was popular among kids that I hated. This is also true of professional wrestling, Doctor Who, and the novels of Frank Herbert. I've avoided all of these things for the last quarter century. Even downloading this game is a process of suppressing my knee-jerk loathing for Chris Lonergan and his band of troglodytes.

But I prevailed and learned something about the history of the universe from the Wikipedia page. The game takes place about 1,000 years in the future. Humanity has colonized the stars, but constant warfare has caused politics and society to regress into a state of feudalism, with hereditary lords and "Great Houses" ruling various star systems and clashing for control of the galaxy. For a while, the houses were united in something called the Star League, but when the First Lord was assassinated, order collapsed in a series of Succession Wars that have lasted more than 200 years.

Warfare is conducted by elite pilots of armored, weaponized robots called BattleMechs. The pilots are called MechWarriors. In the game, I play a young MechWarrior called "Jason Youngblood," scion of a line of famous MechWarriors who fight for something called the Lyran Commonwealth. And that's about as far as I'm willing to go before I determine whether the game is going to hold my interest or not.


The iconographic display is attractive enough, except I keep losing track of where Jason is.


The game starts off in the Pacifica Training School, a walled compound,where Jason is still learning to be a MechWarrior. Actually, I should say "just started learning," because I begin "unskilled" at everything and have only 50 gold pieces. Or "c-bills." Whatever. The game is iconographic, with Jason represented by a tiny little icon who moves around between buildings, some of which don't seem to be enter-able. So far, I've discovered:

  • The Citadel, where Jason trains and can learn a little about the backstory by talking to other MechWarriors and visiting the "Hall of Legends." The "security" chief of the compound is named Jeremiah Youngblood, apparently my father.

I suppose I have to learn what all of these terms mean.

  • The Barracks, where I can sleep.
  • The Lounge, where there's entertainment and other people, none of whom seem interested in talking to me. I get this message a lot, in fact. You'd think as the son of the security chief, I might command a little more respect.
  • The MechIt-Lube, where BattleMechs get repaired and, for 500 c-bills, I can take a course on repair. The game has some fun with the fact that I don't have a Mech yet.


I was just checking out the options. Jeez.

  • The Armor Shop, where I can buy or repair personal armor. ("The shopkeeper, trying not to offend you, carefully points out that you are not currently wearing any armor.")
  • The Weapons Shop, where I can buy personal weapons, such as bows, swords, guns, and anti-Mech weapons.

Isn't the "vibroblade" from Star Wars?

  • The ComStar Station, where I can use a computer to check out my financial record and make investments in different companies. This is definitely a first for a CRPG. Just for fun, I made a risky investment in a pharmaceutical company.

This doubtlessly means that the stock is about to tank.

The centerpiece of the school, surrounded by a series of pylons generating an electrical field, is the Training Center. The ostensible purpose of this stage of the game is to go on a series of training missions that teach you how to use BattleMechs. After a copy protection screen in which I had to identify various Mech parts...


It does this with every damned visit.


 ...I was able to engage in the first mission. The game asked me to choose between Mechs titled Locust, Wasp, or Chameleon, and I went with the Locust as the fastest. The first mission was nothing more onerous than guiding the Mech from the Training Center to the southeast corner of the fencing and back. I managed to fail the first two times anyway, by taking too long. The game then made me wander around for a while before I could take the mission again, but ultimately I succeeded. ("Considering that you chose to use a Locust," the trainer harrumphed. "The results are hardly surprising.")



When I went to bed that night, the game walked me through a vivid dream in which enemy agents infiltrated the compound and I single-handedly saved the Archon Katrina in true action hero form:


Witty.


In my second mission, I had to go pick up a piece of rubble in the training field, but I managed to choose a Mech that doesn't have hands.


I am a disgrace to my family.


The third mission had me using weapons for the first time to shoot at an empty shell. I had the option to let the computer fight for me, but I didn't take it. Combat takes place on the same screen as regular navigation, but with different options for movement and engagement, not unlike Pool of Radiance or other SSI games. You can move by walking or running, jump (if you have jump jets), kick an enemy unit, scan a unit, fire weapons, and flee. You line up your actions and then "Begin Fight" to execute them.




Despite facing an unarmed opponent, I still managed to accidentally hit the "Flee" command, forcing me to sheepishly return to base. I won against the unarmed, unarmored opponent on my second attempt.


"It was scary-looking and....look, I never wanted his life! All right?!"


So here's the interesting thing: I've noticed that my money increases as time passes (though not consistently), and my skills increase during every training mission, whether I pass or not. I wonder what the downside is to waiting around indefinitely and failing repeatedly. In any event, I used the time and funds in between Mech lessons to enroll in some classes and boost my ratings in various weapons. My investment in Baker Pharmaceuticals did quite well and allowed me to take the $500 mechanic training. I haven't bought any weapons or armor yet.




As I close for the evening, I've completed four training missions. I'm not sure how many there are to go, but I do hope my poor performance so far isn't screwing up my character for the rest of the game.



The original BattleTech game.


The BattleTech franchise started as board games but soon boasted a series of more than 100 novels, this game and a non-CRPG sequel, BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge. There was also a tabletop RPG game called MechWarrior which spawned a series of action computer games. This appears to be the only CRPG that's part of the franchise. I can't say that I'm disappointed. Aside from the visceral reaction prompted by the game's title, I've just never been interested in machines. Never went through a truck or robot phase as a kid. Never built stuff with erector sets. Was bored by the Air and Space Museum. Never played with Transformers. I'm not sure why BattleTech feels like "kid's stuff" in a way that fantasy sword-and-sorcery games don't, but it does. I'll try to ignore the subject matter and see what the gameplay itself has to offer. So far, I'm enjoying the witty dialogue and the way that the game slowly eases you into its story and interface.

158 comments:

  1. I remember having fun with this one as a kid, once you get out of the training you can salvage the enemy mechs you defeat for money, equipment, or the mech chasis itself.

    I seam to recall that the game is time sensitive and if you don't finish the main quest in time you don't get the best ending, but I may be confusing that with another game.

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  2. I liked this game quite a lot when I played it 20+ years ago.
    But when I tried to replay it half a year ago I noticed some annoying design faults.
    After the initial area you can no longer improve your skills by practice. And how long you stay in your initial area if dependent on, well...you hinted at it yourself.
    But it's not critical - you can complete the game with low skills and you'll meet NPCs with higher skills.

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  3. I'm not sure if the gameplay itself would appeal to me, but the graphics in your screenshots are really nice. :)

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    1. I think the mech looks like a fish walking on land.

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  4. It's a pretty game and was (for me as a kid) really great, although it's kind of the edge of what you would call a CRPG. It probably just about makes the cut, but it's definitely more of an adventure game with tactical combat. There isn't a whole lot of advancement (at least, not many decisions you can make), although you do have several options in creating your party which have effects in how you can do combat later.

    The game boasts a really big and beautiful world/overland map ... with depressingly few interesting locations. Most of the map is big and empty and/or composed of generic towns. There are however a couple of times during the game that you have to find locations that are almost impossible to see on the map, and at least one time that a new location appears on the map after an event, and so even if you had mapped out the entire world you wouldn't have found it on the first go.

    I'd say in your new post-rehab CRPGing phase, give this one a decent whirl and at least get past Starport and into the party building/tactical combat phase before moving on.

    I really love this game but don't waste time playing it past your six hours if you're not enjoying it. That being said, you could probably beat the game in less than six hours if you knew exactly what to do. I think the writing was well done, the world was interesting (to me) and I enjoyed the combat, but there isn't a whole lot of "CRPG-ness" there.

    I do vividly remember being absolutely in love with the graphics - after years of CGA, the blue in this game made my head implode.

    The sequel (Crescent Hawks' Revenge) isn't a CRPG at all - it's a tactical war-game.

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  5. Now I feel like playing MechAssault on the ole XBox. That was a truly fun game. Also, I notice a lot of zimilarities that probably mean it is related to this game in some way, such as Atlas and Zeus being mech names in MA,jump jets, and the mech on the cover looks like a Thor with laser cannons on its arms (though the one on the beginning game screen looks like that robot that the Robotech and Transformers shows were fighting over for toy rights (the main character's mech in RT and Jetfire in Transformers)).

    Also, Transformers(early morning reruns right before GI Joe reruns on weekdays when I was in gradeschool), Beast Wars, and Beast Machines were shows to keep an eye on from the early '90s to the early 2000's. The later two had pretty epic stories that spanned their runtimes, connecting everything that happened. I just wish I had a VCR that worked to watch my old VHS recordings or some place online to watch them again.

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  6. Another awesome old school game. Are you ransacking my memory and playing all my old favourite games or something?

    Gobble gobble.

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  7. This is tangential, but I highly recommend the first Dune book. You can skip the rest.

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    1. I'd agree with that. The first Dune book is a masterpiece, I love it (only read it last year). I then decided to read Dune: Messiah (the second book), and it's terrible, I can't motivate myself to finish it (and I have the third book as-yet unread).

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    2. ...also, I can't make links, apparently.

      http://inchoatia.blogspot.com/2011/06/frank-herbert-dune-1965.html

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    3. @Andy_Panthro: Yeah, the second book is terrible. It gets.. okay after that, but it's not really worth reading. There are way better books to read than the Dune sequels.

      @Faster, etc.: Well, our opinions certainly differ about Dune. I guess I don't disagree with large chunks of your analysis, but most of this can also be applied to.. pretty much any book in fantasy or science fiction. Pretty much all scifi/fantasy sounds terrible and silly and juvenile when summarized and taken completely out of context.

      As the Addict is a big fan of the Malazan series, I can't imagine that he would be "too good" for Dune, in the way you seem to be.

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    4. I...don't agree with this. I didn't take anything out of context, and I like a lot of fantasy/SF literature. I'm not "too good" for anything except books that drive me crazy with their dumbness.

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    5. A big +1 for the first Dune. Definitely steer clear of the movie of the same name produced in 1984. It's only redeeming factor is Patrick Stewart with a skullet. The laugh wears out pretty quickly, though.

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    6. I actually like the movie, but I can definitely understand why people don't. I certainly wouldn't recommend it, even if I enjoy it myself. It's very slow, and it doesn't make much sense without a decent understanding of the general context. It also has Sting in it.

      @Faster, etc.
      Sorry if I offended. Opinions differ.

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    7. No no, we're good. De gustibus est not disputandum, that's fer sure, even if I can't sometimes have difficulty understanding why.

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    8. You and me both friend, haha.

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    9. I made it halfway though Chapterhouse: Dune somehow, before giving up in disgust (it seemed like the first half was 2-3 people talking about events elsewhere while they stayed inside a single safe place).

      And for sanity stay away from the post Frank Herbert Dune books- they were made by his son based off of scattered notes and are often described on the level of Star Wars prequel-dom.

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    10. I quit at the end of 'God Emperor of Dune.' I still can't believe I read that entire book. I almost stopped in the first few chapters at some reference to "cyberwolves" or some nonsense like that.

      The only book even decent besides the first is Children of Dune. However, even that book requires rather large leaps of faith, and it has some troubling contradictions with the first book. Besides that, Messiah is awful. It really feels like a cash-in... like Herbert didn't even want to write it, but he knew he could make some cash off of it. God Emperor just felt silly and ridiculous. I dig the general ideas starting with Children, but Herbert just had no clue how to deliver.

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    11. I like the more modern Dune books done with his son.. stuff like the House Trilogy http://www.shelfari.com/series/Dune-House-Trilogy and the Legends Trillogy http://www.shelfari.com/series/Dune-Legends-Trilogy. They were short and dealt with the legends before "Dune" happened. I enjoyed them a lot.. they are really kind of dark and have some interesting concepts in them.

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  8. I vaguely recall a Mechwarrior cartoon, but my main experience of it are the Mechwarrior games for PC (the third game in particular).

    This looks fairly interesting though.

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    1. The Mechwarrior cartoon was terribly entertaining to my 10 year old self way back when. I wouldn't want to rewatch it out of fear of destroying my childhood memories.

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    2. Really, don't. I saw it on a few years ago, and had read a book or two that weren't bad so tuned in. Was the first episode and everything and....wow, there was a lot of overacting. I never watched it as a kid, but man. There are some kids shows that I've gone back to and found them better then I remember (Reboot, Fraggle Rock) but that wouldn't be one of them.

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    3. Reboot was Tron before I knew about Tron. I read a little last year that there might be an upcoming big screen production, but it will not feature characters from the show, last I read.

      Gosh, CA's post brings forth nostalgia. Now I gotta find some nineties shows I used to watch (Beast Wars, Reboot, Secret World of Alex Mack, Hey Arnold, X-Men, Spiderman, Highlander the animated series,Freakazoid, The Tick, Carmen Sandiago, Invasion America, and so many more).

      The '90s, when waking up at 6am on a Saturday was so worth it.

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    4. I actually went through some old cartoons, and a lot of the animation just doesn't stand up. This is especially true of the old X-Men show.

      But it was still fun to see them again. So many shows I rediscovered, but had forgotten the names of: Inhumanoids, Mighty Max, M.A.S.K., Galaxy Rangers, Silverhawks, Starcom, Belle and Sebastian, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Pirates of Dark Water, and many others (I should stop now before I further date myself).

      I remember every time MechWarrior, Gundam, or related cartoon was on though I'd just change the channel. I had that much disinterest in them. Of course, I could watch Transformers, and Voltron all day back then.

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    5. Dated animation nonetheless, I love the old X-Men cartoon! I can't stand the art style in Evolution.

      I used to watch Inhumanoids too. I've always had a love of monsters for some reason. I actually have four Inhumanoids comics from Marvel's Star line. There was way too much juvenile humor for my tastes, but then again, it was a kids' show, and the Star comics were meant for kids too, as in kids fresh out of Kindergarten. LOL, the monsters were cool though. I had a Tendril figure also, but I think my brother stole it from me when he moved. :(

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    6. Gundam Wing was OK, except for when it overloaded on political jargon... or I'd miss a few episodes and !Kablam! (onomatopoeia aside, that show was truly awesome. I still chuckle when I think back on some of its jokes) some of the main characters' political factions would have brought them into conflict.

      I watched a few episodes of X-Men on Netflix a few months ago, and surprisingly the only one that didn't still feel great was the BS hastilly put together final episode (Magneto is still just as awesome as when I saw his introduction episode way back when). For the most part I still think X-Men had good writing and a much better art direction than any of the revival series since.

      I have no idea of Inhumanoids, though. The only place I remember seeing them was in an old coloring book at my step-dad's parent's house.

      Oddly enough, Voltron on Hulu still seems fine to me if a little dated on the voice-overs, but now I can only watch Transformers The Movie (the movie is IMHO all the awesome the series should have been the ENTIRE time).

      Good reminicing with you guys.

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  9. I feel the same way, high fantasy really sparks my interest, but sci-fi starts to degrade that. Introducing robots then kind of kills it. Some games are still fun, and I remember having a MechWarrior game as a kid. Armored Core is probably the last game I played that had robots that I enjoyed.

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  10. You can see pictures of the mechs at www.sarna.net if you get confused

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  11. Haha, yikes. A Battletech RPG for people who like Battletech. I just like the imagery of your character running around like a terrible freshman in college failing everything. Savior of the clan, too?

    Seriously, though, the game looks kind of meaty if you're into the whole universe but not something I'd sink my teeth into. The screen UI makes it look like it could make for some good tactical combat, though.

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    1. I am not sure if it can be truly a dream of a Battletech veteran. As far as I know the mech selection is pretty weak in this one.
      And I wish it had slighly better graphics, to make mech looking cooler. It is sad, that even in 88, a C64 could produce better images than a PC, not to mention the Amiga, which was lightyears ahead of this quality.

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    2. What no love for the Atari ST of that era? Damn Amiga lovers! heh.

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    3. Ahh I remember the old Atari ST/Amiga rivalry. I don't know if it was a "rivalry" per se, but they both competed for my shopping dollars because their graphics were amazing for the time.

      (More accurately, my mom's shopping dollars. I couldn't convince her to pay up for either one, sadly.)

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  12. I recall watching an old friend play this as a young lad and being totally engrossed. Now I'm watching a new friend play it and am once again totally engrossed. Life is indeed cyclical. :)

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  13. I kinda liked this one as a child but I didn't get too far in. I like how - as you've found out - the game takes note of things you're doing and comments on them (with its dry humour), which reminds me of Sierra adventure game narrators poking fun at the misfortune of the player and the player's character.

    I do remember there's an easy way to make money in this and that levels don't matter much, but it's a big hazy. Never was big on mech combat though I loved robots and cyborgs as a child. They just look stupid and impractical, why not go with tank armor and helicopters instead? A helicopter would destroy one of these slow mechs beasts easily.

    As a PC game series though, MechWarrior were fun at the time, if not for any other reason than for walking in one direction and turning the torso of the mech in another and strafing the target. Fun I suspect people that played tank sims enjoyed well before MechWarrior.

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    1. I remember playing the version where you sit in the mech cockpit and use fake mech controls at Playdium years and years ago; that was FUN.

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  14. I'd give Doctor Who a go, even if you just watch the the episodes made from 2005 on. And if you only watch one episode watch "Blink", "Midnight" or "Vincent and the Doctor".


    As for giant robots, I can understand why you don't like them that much. I don't like stories that are simply there because someone wanted to do something with giant robots. It's much more enjoyable when they simply exist in the story rather than the story being a vehicle for them.

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    1. Dr. Who Scared the crap out of me as a kid... The theme music freaked me out so bad for some reason... Tom Baker is my Doctor forever! heh.

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    2. In addition to not liking it because it was popular with kids I didn't like, my mother wouldn't let me watch it. She had it confused with "Dr. No" and thought it was too violent.

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    3. Too scary possibly. I don't recall them being all that violent, though I think that was mostly a special effects limitation; They did kill quite a large number of people, and they've always been more then a bit dark.

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  15. A mighty fun post! Quite a difference to how games treat players these days: you'll get "Great!" for a mediocre performance. Here, you mess up and the game makes fun of you, and this probably happens particularly when you're just starting out and are trying to figure out the game. Personally, I don't think either approach is good for keeping my interest, but you sure make a fun blog post out of that stuff here.

    And no, swords and sorcery aren't any less juvenile than spaceships and giant robots.

    --Eino

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  16. I remember playing this one back in 1989 with a friend of mine. We completed the game, and I remember it being a fun experience and a good take on Battletech at the time (given how limited computers were in those days, something that was even *close* to the actual experience was usually considered good).

    I've tried to play it again over the years...but just couldn't capture the same magic a second time. So, I'm not sure if it's an artifact of its time or if I just don't feel the same way about it anymore.

    And, don't get me started on the sequel. I had high hopes...but they quickly got dashed.

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  17. Maybe you can keep investing money in stock, and instead of saving the world becoming really wealthy, like Wall St. Kid.

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  18. You might want to have a look at http://bg.battletech.com/?page_id=1923 if you start getting into the game: While based on a much newer version of the universe it has a lot more details then wikipedia, and it set up in a way that makes it a bit easier to look up things.

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  19. Oh and odd: I've always found SF much more 'adult' then Fantasy. Fantasy always felt to me as much more happy-go-lucky, elves and dragons et then most SF. That said, I don't think there is any huge flaw with either; Neromancer is definitely for adults, as is the work of C. S. Freidmen.

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    1. Yeah, any scifi (fantasy) fan who looks down on fantasy (scifi) for being too juvenile or immature really needs to have their head examined. They are two sides of the same coin.

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    2. I never said that fantasy was more adult than sci-fi. I said, "I'm not sure why BattleTech feels like 'kid's stuff' in a way that fantasy sword-and-sorcery games don't, but it does." I was referring specifically to this franchise (and, to a lesser extent, sci-fi that focuses heavily on robot battles), not all sci-fi.

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    3. Oh I can answer that one for you: Mechs make no sense as war machines. They stick up into the air, and thus make easy targets. They have lots of joints, and joints = weak points.
      As http://rocketpunk-observatory.com/spaceguideF-L.htm#giant_war_robots put it " Giant War Robots can operate in SPACE, but are primarily designed for PLANET WARFARE. I cannot imagine any practical military use for these things, except as conspicuous targets. But I suppose they appeal to every 12-year-old's fantasy of tearing up a model-railroad layout, hurling locomotives around and toppling bridges. This really would be kind of fun."

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    4. Well, they're pretty mobile on land, pretty indestructible, there isn't much place to hide in space anyways so why not (?), and... they're really good at combatting other mechs in melee combat.

      I don't know. Being a giant sounds awesome, lasers are awesome, and being a giant shooting lasers, holding a sword made out of lasers is wish fulfillment. Plus, as you swing that mighty sword down on one of the oh so much slower tanks, you might hear the exclamation of a deep-voiced soldier yell, "It's a Gundaaaaaamm!!!" (Mobile Suit: Gundam Wing reference)

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    5. *Puts tank squadron on reverse side of hill, uses low profile of the tanks to fire on you without you being able to return fire*

      *In space sends a group of far more manoeuvrable fighters to dance around you like bees and blast you to bits*

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    6. In fantasy space, this as true as the story demands (= false). And in fantasy space everyone can hear YOU scream.

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    7. I am aware, though it explains why it feels childish.

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    8. Come on, you know as the plot demands is a truism for every piece of fiction. Why should bent physics and imaginative ways of making piloting a giant robotic golem more of a battlefield advantage than real-world conventional weaponry be any more childish than imagining spells that everyone has, which are still inferior to say a minigun on a chopper (fantasy people would probably invent this stuff eventually and then come at a distance to mages with superior speed of firepower).

      Eh, whatever. Code Geass is the awesomest show that also includes mechs (that I have watched) is all I really need to know.

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    9. *Puts tank squadron on reverse side of hill, uses low profile of the tanks to fire on you without you being able to return fire*

      You assume the mech is incapable of the speed necessary to evade the bulk of the tank fire and maneuver to a more favorable position. Most mecha anime have extremely maneuverable mechs.

      *In space sends a group of far more manoeuvrable fighters to dance around you like bees and blast you to bits*

      Mechs are precluded from having anti-fighter missiles because...?

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    10. Mechs can have a low profile and mechs are basically just walking tanks. Until you have a viable hover tank then mechs can be deployed (if the technology for them is sound). As for fighters some genres include mechs that have alternate form modes which happen to be fighters. They aren't always just heavy walking tanks.

      "Eh, whatever. Code Geass is the awesomest show that also includes mechs (that I have watched) is all I really need to know."

      *derails another posts point*

      Code Geass also includes rules of Chess where the King can move themselves into check. Screw the laws of physics. Breaking the rules of Chess is unforgivable. >:(

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    11. Yeah, I thought that was a bit wierd, but then again this is an alternate timeline where Napoleon defeated Britain and magical power exists with technology (or rather behind the scenes). Maybe a Chess rule got changed, or LeLouch only plays against idiot nobles he knows he can screw with.

      Still, more of what I was pointing to with the Code Geass mechs comment was that I thought they looked rather cool and seemed plausible in that universe. Also, LeLouch's entire plot throughout the show kept me on the edge of my couch many times (don't forget he's clearly somewhat insane with the awesomest evil laugh ever http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=00EjISW5vsU&feature=endscreen).

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    12. Even if you have a viable hover tank, mechs might still win out for the same reason that tanks and planes aren't redundant to a battlefield once a mech is introduced: Cost. Depending on the cost of keeping a hover tank hovering, it might be a better idea to deploy a walker that can be more easily replaced than a hover tank with superior combat performance.

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    13. @Giauz: Yeah that's true and the show is awesome. My response was mostly meant as a joke. I'm an avid chess player and I always found the chess segments hilarious. :P

      @Maldeus: This is true. You would also have to worry about technology that might negate whatever allows the hover tank to hover or it breaking down (which might be far too easy depending on the technology). Where as a mech relies on more of a conventional (by futuristic standards) means of travel. The idea of a giant mechanical suit isn't even far fetched. The military has worked on power suits and those are basically just miniature and low tech versions of mecha technology.

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    14. *Power suits = powered armor. Bleh.

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    15. Maldeus: Actually dedicated vehicles would likely still be cheaper: Simple = cheaper, and building 2 primitive vehicles is a lot simpler then 1 with hyperadvanced engineering to make it do both. Also the skills required to fly a plane and fight on the ground are somewhat different as I understand it, so finding people you could train equally well in both would be hard.

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    16. The key word here is "likely" though. All sci-fi makes some assumptions about the way future technology works, otherwise it would be based solely off of technology we already have and it wouldn't be sci-fi. We don't know how mechs would work because we've never built them, so we don't know if it would be more cost-effective in all situations to build two tanks instead of one mech.

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  20. I'm glad you do writeups on games that I'm probably not gonna touch. :) Still, reading this takes me back to misty, rosy 1980s memories of weekday afternoons watching Robotech with my sister and thinking how COOL all the fighting robots were and how epic the storytelling was compared to every American afterschool cartoon out there.

    SciFi has its sub-branches, and what most people associate with SciFi is what would be the "high magic" equivalent in SciFi -- more outrageous and imagined and "kid-friendly" (though not necessarily less mature). Then there's the relatively gritty, "realistic" scifi most exemplified in my mind to the movie Alien. Also, a lot of recent SciFi (Firefly and Battlestar Galactica) fall under that, too.

    I kinda like the humor in this game so far, by the way. Seems like the point is to set the stage for some major badassery that your character will commit later in the game, probably witnessed by your former tormentors.

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    1. Oh, and were it not for the prefix "Battle" in that first screenshot you posted, I would've thought this totally was a Robotech computer game. The robot looks almost exactly like one of those "mechas."

      This game was probably trying to cash-in on the Robotech fans but fell just sort of purchasing the IP license. Darn - my 11-year-old self probably would've snatched it up back in the day without a second thought.

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    2. Actually Battletech stole some early mech designs from Robottech. They got caught, and these designs are known as 'The Unseen' since you never see them, though they still exist, you just never get pictures or miniatures of them. I think they've managed to reclaim some of the old designs by buying the rights as companies went under and such, but not the robotech ones.

      Delete
    3. Good points. I actually really liked Battlestar: Galactica (until the end), Firefly, and other sci-fi shows. I guess I would recognize a difference between sci-fi that focuses on characters and sci-fi that focuses on technology, and it's the latter that I tend to find a little childish and boring.

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    4. Well you are mixing up Sci-Fi with science fiction.

      Science Fiction is about exploring how new social, technological or other changes could effect humanity. This can be telling the story of racial conflict through a more literal interpretation of race (Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles), or discussing social changes in society via extrapolation (Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell's 1984) or using a future setting to discuss social issues through a dissociation that makes them a bit more comfortable to deal with (The Postman, but David Brin)
      Finally, there are the discussions of what may happen if our technology reaches a certain point and how it will effect society (The I, Robot series by Issac Asimov, The Gil Hamilton books by Larry Niven, The Uplift series by David Brin, Daybreak 2250AD aka Star Man's Son by Andre Norton)

      Sci-Fi as commonly used is just a show that takes advantage of special effects to have a plot that could well be set on earth. (Some episodes of Firefly are set here, others are more obvious social metaphor)

      There are also things that really aren't science fiction; Star Wars for example. You have a race of warrior-wizards who use swords, a hereditary weapon, a black knight; It is fantasy that used SF trappings to make it a bit less obvious. (I still love Star Wars, just saying)

      Yes, there are techwanks in books; A lot of the copycat books that came out after Neromancer for example. Flash Gordon. However the top of the genre isn't about the spaceships, though it may have them. It may not be about the characters either; It is about an IDEA. Fahrenheit 451, in my opinion the best SF book I've read, wasn't about the main character; It was about the idea that society could be manipulated into believing anything by mass media, based on the trends of less socialization and connection to the community and lower literacy. The Postman wasn't about the titular character; It was about the idea that any person who desires power is unfit to have it. It was also rather ham-handed and has a weird and clunky section on feminism, but that is besides the point. Neromancer is about...Ok, I didn't like Neromancer, but is isn't at its heart about cheap science fiction drugs. There are books written on what Neromancer is about, you can read them if you want.

      Anyway, I think that is the core of Science Fiction; Not the characters, but the message the author is trying to convey. You can do this with any genre, but it is much more common in science fiction, since it lends itself to discussions as to where we are going as a species and a culture.

      Delete
    5. Until now, I had no idea that there was a distinction between science fiction and "sci-fi"; I just thought the latter was an abbreviation of the former.

      Delete
    6. So did I, but according to Wikipedia:


      Forrest J Ackerman used the term sci-fi (analogous to the then-trendy "hi-fi") at UCLA in 1954. As science fiction entered popular culture, writers and fans active in the field came to associate the term with low-budget, low-tech "B-movies" and with low-quality pulp science fiction. By the 1970s, critics within the field such as Terry Carr and Damon Knight were using sci-fi to distinguish hack-work from serious science fiction, and around 1978, Susan Wood and others introduced the pronunciation "skiffy". Peter Nicholls writes that "SF" (or "sf") is "the preferred abbreviation within the community of sf writers and readers". David Langford's monthly fanzine Ansible includes a regular section "As Others See Us" which offers numerous examples of "sci-fi" being used in a pejorative sense by people outside the genre. The abbreviation SF (or sf) is commonly used instead of "sci-fi".

      Delete
  21. Sweet, I've been waiting for this game on your blog for some time. I too never got very far as a kid and look forward to reading about your adventures piloting mechs about.

    This coupled with the screenies recently released of the new Mechwarrior Tactics game are really bringing me back to my youth.

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  22. I never made a distinction between fantasy and sci-fi in terms of which is more "adult". The maturity of a subject isn't limited to it's genre to me but rather to the scope and tone of its content. Decrying one form or another because you think it's too childish (I know that's not what you are doing exactly) makes me think of someone too afraid to enjoy something because they take themselves too seriously. I can guarantee there are a great number of people who view fantasy as childish and I would say those people are wrong.

    I can respect your not liking the genre but I think you may need to explain why you don't better (well you don't have to, just if you are going to talk about the subject). Whether something is considering childish either falls to it being obviously so (something aimed at children) and whether someone's bias tells them so (something they deem beneath them). I kind of get that bias vibe from your mentioning kids you didn't like in school who were apparently heavily into the genre.

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    1. Oh, I can't come up with anything rational on it. I didn't mean for people to take that so seriously. And it's not universally true, as I say above. I'm a fan of Farscape, Babylon 5, Firefly, Battlestar: Galactica, Terminator, and Star Wars. Actually, there are more sci-fi franchises that I like than don't like.

      Delete
    2. Now that I read what I actually wrote, I realize I'm justifying something I never said. I said that I felt BATTLETECH was a little childish-feeling, not all sci-fi.

      Delete
    3. I see. Well that makes a bit more sense. I was more or less wanting you to define what you meant better. I'm not offended by your preferences regardless. Not liking a genre is perfectly fine.

      Delete
  23. Yeah, the mech selection in this game wasn't exactly that big. Mostly you will see just light Mechs and maybe a few mediums. I think including heavy or assault categories would wreck game balance. Better to do a few well than include a chance for an impossible fight against something a light mech could barely scratch.

    You receive 'allowance' in the training facility as time passes, so you can just let the game sit for a bit to be able to afford things. And the stock market is somewhat random(it updates as fast as allowance arrives). The 'high-risk' stock seems to have a chance for big gains occasionally. It also sometimes loses money. The others seem to provide very slow but steady growth.


    When you get to the combat missions, remember you can scroll around and see things currently out of view on the map.

    From your 'I should really learn what these words mean screenshot':
    Archon - title of the ruler
    Pacifica - the planet you are currently on
    Federated Suns - rival government/successor state; the marriage is intended to solidify an alliance between the two.

    Oh, and on combat! All mechs are built around a fusion reactor; you have effectively unlimited energy for beam weapons, walking, and jumping around. The limiting factor is heat buildup. All mech's contain numerous heat sinks to help discharge some of this heat(fixed amount each combat round). Anything other than standing still builds up some heat( jumping > running > walking). Weapons are what will produce the most heat. Ammunition based weapons have effectively no heat output(mainly machine guns so far). If your heat level goes too high, first accuracy suffers, then your mech will try to shut down(which I think can be overridden in this game). While shut down you are a sitting duck of course.

    Standing in water will help you reduce your heat level faster, but is slower to travel through(except for jump jets). There are other ways to create heat as well, their effectiveness is somewhat limited.

    I'm not sure how obvious this was from the manual; you have to balance how often you attack. I normally just ended up trying to close as fast as possible(assuming I out-gun the enemy). If you end up messing around with customizing mechs, the options they offer increase firepower but also more heat generation.

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    1. Thanks! I appreciate all of the tips.

      Delete
  24. CRPG Addict: how about some mention for the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter that just popped up? I don't know how often you'll see a sequel announced for a game you've covered.. especially a sequel from the same team and explicitly designed to recapture its spirit.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I'll try to find the appropriate place to highlight it in an entry.

      Delete
  25. Haha kilias2 beat me to the punch already. Here is a link to the kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/wasteland-2

    ReplyDelete
  26. I remember this game as a kid.. I think I like your blog because I sucked at half these games and as a kid did not have the perseverance to finish them (of course I thought I was an AWESOME gamer! BOOM!).. but you can do it for me! I do remember finishing a few like Pools of Radiance and Eye of the Beholder.. but I felt like some of those you could just win by putting time in..

    Not liking SciFi is cool... Seriously if it is not interesting to you then it is not. There is no big debate on why. Why do any of us like Fantasy or SciFi or even *shudder* Fiction? It's just a matter of taste. I tend to read everything and anything and like the merging into the story in most everything I read... some books I consider better than others but rarely will I totally hate a book (I am looking at you the Silmarillion! I actually should try that one again.. but all I remember is some biblical type writeup that was all like Ether beget Oomallilon who beget... am I wrong here?).

    Damn I get off track easy.

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    1. My advice is to skip the Ainulindalë and start on the Quenta Silmarillion proper. There are lots of names to keep track of, but at least the book comes with family trees, which helps.
      There are some great and tragic stories in Silmarillion, which are only hinted at in Lord of the Rings.

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    2. I'm not sure I think the Ainulindale is 'skippable,' but it's definitely dry, boring, and hard to read. As someone who LOVES to read history (real or fictitious, TBH), I had a lot of trouble getting through the Ainulindale. However, it is sort of necessary to understand the context of the Quenta Silmarillion. I guess it's skippable, but I suggest finding some sort of summary of early Middle Earth mythology if you want to jump right into QS.

      That said, QS is great. Honestly, it's incredibly underrated, if only because Ainulindale is so God damn boring and dry. It's -very- different from Lord of the Rings, even if it has a similar basic structure. Honestly, the whole story is pretty much a tragedy made up of smaller tragedies, with an occasional, localized triumph here and there.

      If you are too scared still to try it.. read Children of Hurin. It's basically a longer version of a story within QS, so it should give you some sense of the tone, the pacing, and the general approach of QS. If you enjoy Children, read QS. If not, move on. There's plenty of non-Tolkien fantasy worth reading.

      Delete
    3. You guys are killing me. When did I say I didn't like sci-fi? I said I didn't link sci-fi about giant robots battling each other.

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    4. You finished Pool of Radiance? How did you get past the bastards in the Rope Guild who kill me every time I encounter them?

      Delete
  27. With the risk of spouting psychobull remember the following.

    You say you've avoided things because the kids you didn't like in Jr. high were into it, and hint that it may have helped build a bias one way or another. By doing so you are allowing more control over your life, and the enjoyment thereof, than is probably warranted from these individuals.

    So as in most things forget the fans, and judge the value of each piece of entertainment separately from them. That way you can decide that Dune is bad based solely on Herbert's poor style of writing, or that you might get some entertainment out of this game based on how well it holds up or not.

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    1. I really didn't mean for people to take that part so seriously. That was my excuse for not getting into those things when I was 12. My excuse now is that my life is too full of other things. I update my blog infrequently enough as it is; I'm sure none of you really want me to start reading the "Dune" series.

      Delete
    2. Having 60 comments per post is your penance for leaving us!

      Joking, joking.

      Actually my phone blinks about new emails pretty much all day any time you update.

      Delete
    3. Hehe I'm actually wondering whether Addict deliberately left as part of some brilliant plan to increase interest in his site. :)

      It almost seems like there's more activity around here than before.

      You don't know what you got till it's gone, I guess. :P

      Delete
    4. I need to set up a folder with a filter putting all blog comments from his blog in it- It wasn't bad when he would update and I would get 10 replies over 2 days; this is getting crazy.

      Delete
    5. Yea I felt bad speaking in psychobull. What I was trying to do was help you see this game clearly without baggage.

      I guess we all misread you on your comment. To avoid these misunderstandings in the future I demand you post a video of you speaking your entire post so we can judge your tone and facial expressions!

      Delete
  28. I know you're past Wasteland now, but holy crap! Check it out!

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/wasteland-2

    ReplyDelete
  29. People who diss dune (every fucking one except the son's abominations) deserve to have their water reclaimed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem with the Dune story per se, just how badly it was written. Same complaint I have with lord of the rings.

      What those authors needed were good editors. Good editors can help you with style problems not just grammar mistakes.

      Delete
  30. @CRPG Addict
    I was never directly responding to your comments when I personally discussed the scifi/fantasy divide. I was just responding to other people's comments.

    However, I think it was largely due to some misinterpretations:
    "This morning, all I knew about the BattleTech franchise is that when I was in junior high, it was popular among kids that I hated. This is also true of professional wrestling, Doctor Who, and the novels of Frank Herbert."

    You don't specifically call out scifi here, but 3 of the 4 items you mention are scifi.

    Also, "I'm not sure why BattleTech feels like "kid's stuff" in a way that fantasy sword-and-sorcery games don't, but it does."

    Again, you don't mention scifi, but you specifically compare BattleTech to "fantasy sword-and-sorcery" rather than to just other games. I guess you, accidentally, implied a dichotomy of non-fantasy vs. fantasy rather than Battletech vs. Other games. I think you can see how one could read too much into it.

    Still, I don't care either way. Like I said, I didn't necessarily read that into your comments, as I actually recommended both Dune and Wasteland 2. Even if you did have that opinion, it's not a big deal. I would just disagree with that standpoint. It's all good. This blog rocks.

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    1. I should specify; I wasn't really criticizing, I just had a rough few days and really enjoy being a literature elitist.

      Delete
  31. Unrelated to what other people have posted: Keep in mind as you play through this that it is based on a tabletop wargame. You will probably be able to see the influence, and that may help you make decisions. For example, I'm betting exact positioning will be important as I recall differing range was a big trade off in weapon types. Heat was another one, as it wasn't a big deal in the arctic or on the moon, but could build up fast in the desert or on small mechs with lots of weapons.

    Be glad this game has a limited selection and came out early; They are still updating the wargame, and there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of mechs for it. This game came out quite early; I'm not even sure if the Clans had been introduced yet, so the back ground to the universe is much simpler. Basically there was a big empire, it has split up, the factions all fight each other like the knights of old, since total war turns out to be really damn destructive and they've already lost the means to reproduce a lot of the stuff they have, at least on a large scale. That is about all I think you need to know; later on they publish a few hundred books, have ComStar turn into an evil conspiracy, rework the universe a few times, introduce bigger and bigger mech, etc.
    Seriously, today the backstory is so complex there have been multiple reboots of the cannon, and alternate settings.

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  32. There are some games that are really good, like Mario, Zelda, Civilization, Star Control 2, and then there are some games made for an audience that's too stupid to appreciate things like that. When I told a buffoon that you can easily finish Wind Waker in less than 20 hours, perhaps 10-15 hours the first time you play the game (and the game is worth every second), his response was "That long?!?". See he's a guy who likes to play football, running around on a field of grass chasing a damn boll around and trying to hit it with your feet so it starts rolling in a more favorable direction. And then there are people who think Civ 1 is hard on emperor, or people who don't understand how to exploit AI in other games. Are they lazy gamers, or are they treating games with disdain? There are a lot of them out there, unfortunately they're having an influence on the gaming market as well, nowadays everything has to be easy, everything needs a tutorial, and everything needs to be simplistic so it can please simplistic minds. I don't like this trend, that's why I've been trying to reimplement Civilization for the past year or so, I'm currently stuck on getting good AI. AI is harder than I thought, I thought it was mere contempt for the player that drove the developers to bad AI, not challenge, but at least it wasn't for lack of resources.

    Let me guess, the people who liked BattleTech in your college were jocks, right? Imagine if they made books for people who don't like to read, the books would probably suck. In the same way games will suck if they make games for people who don't like to play. I havn't played BattleTech myself, so I can't judge, but there's that kind of book and that kind of game, movie or whatever, call it "childish" or just plain bad.

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    1. Wind Waker is a incredibly easy game and one of the weakest entries in the Zelda series. It's also ironic because Wind Wakers diminished challenge is indicative of Nintendo pandering to the people you are talking about. Wind Waker's length is also only increased by padding via the ocean mechanics and mini game. The actual game is incredibly short.

      The guy you are talking about is the final form of gamer raised by decreased gaming expectations caused by the games you seem to support. Just look at the latest Zelda (the worst pretty much) Skyward Sword. That's the laziness of WW taken to the next level and I bet you loved it.

      Delete
    2. I didn't support Wind Waker. Actually I recall that conversation, I was complaining about how quickly it was finished.

      Delete
    3. Guys: With the possible exception of Zelda II, they are clearly action-adventure games, that is graphic adventures with combat, puzzles and platforming.

      Delete
    4. Yeah I'm sure we are both aware they are not CRPGs. The context of innategamer's message wasn't about Zeldas being CRPGs and my response wasn't about that either.

      @innategamer: I see. Makes sense.

      Delete
    5. Speaking about games that are not rpg, I'm beginning to wonder whether Star Control 2 is an rpg, since there's no experience points in the game. The game is sooo awesome though, that it has to be played, if only I could play it again, but I've already seen everything.

      Delete
    6. There's a handful of questionable titles on the list. Star Control 2 seems more like a space / trade simulation than a CRPG. I haven't played it myself though.

      Delete
  33. Battletech is pure awesomeness. A hundred-ton steel beast shooting plase, you just cannot get better than that :). Battletech is a really good wargame, and the mech sims and strategies created for the PC are the best in their categories. This little RPG is not the epitom of the RPG genre, it is quite a fun of an RPG, albeit a rather short and a rather easy one. So innategamer, don't misjudge Battletech. It always targeted a hc audiance, which wargame did not? But in the same vein you could judge the dnd crew as bollocks, many of them who were playing actively wargames before.

    There was a children's cartoon from Battletech, but there are several DnD children's cartoon too. Even if DnD was planned to be banned by religious groups in the 80s.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The game I really want to see you play is Sorcerian. Though I don't think that thing is remotely winnable without a FaQ.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You mean this game: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2011/01/game-42-sorcerian.html

      Delete
    2. Did you really mean Sorcerian? I didn't find anything terribly confusing about it. I just didn't like it.

      Delete
  35. Since nobody's mentioned the developer here, I will. This was one of Westwood Studios' first games. They went on to bless us with Eye of the Beholder 1 and 2, the Legend of Kyrandia series, the Lands of Lore series, and the Command & Conquer games, among others. Too bad they aren't around today, but at least they gave us a whole bunch of really excellent games.

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  36. Canageek- Crescent Hawk's Revenge(sort-of sequel, which switches to real time top-down strategy game format) has midway through the invasion of the Clans.

    There is an official BattleTech timeline, from what I have seen they prefer to move forward on the timeline rather than filling in history.

    Innategamer- It could just be that the BattleTech gamers were a different type of gamer. Not everyone approaches games the same way, and different games appeal to different people. BattleTech also has a bit more of a learning curve to it than D&D(new kid? you get to be a fighter!).

    BattleTech is much more on the simulationist end of the spectrum than most fantasy games. Lots of detail and preparation required, so it needs more up front time put into it before you can get to the fun.

    Innategamer- on AI, the problem is not making Perfect AI for a game but making 'Good' AI. The computer is not limited in the same ways of interaction that a person is(it doesn't forget things that are off screen or not in vision unless you program it that way; it can perfectly micromanage timing and planning ahead on build orders for maximum benefit). Things that are tedious for a person to manage are simple for a computer; they can follow a scripted plan perfectly. Generally AI is more about putting limits on the computer's actions/abilities.

    I think Heavy Gear claimed that they took the US Army squad level tactical doctrine and implemented it for their AI rules; it was too hard to be a fair challenge. Far Cry has gamers complaining about guards head-shotting players from almost a mile away though jungle vegetation without warning.

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    1. I thought Battletech: Dark Ages was a reboot/historical setting? What about Battletech: Classic? Things got kinda muddled when the product lines got split, then renamed. @.@

      Delete
  37. СRPG Addict, i need your help a lot, mate.

    How exactly did you start Crystal Dragon with WinUAE?

    I spend 3+ hours trying everything.

    Ty in advance for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CPRG Addict only plays DOS games, and I don't see any record of him playing Crystal Dragon at all. I like to mess around with WinUAE, but I have no experience with that game. My apologies.

      Delete
    2. Steiner, I'm sorry I didn't get to this sooner, but I can't imagine why you thougth I'd be able to help you with this. I've never used that emulator nor played that game.

      Delete
  38. Two bits of CRPG news: Anachronox, a classic CRPG that I've heard good things about was just put up on GoG.

    Also a Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition has just been announced. While people on twitter have been underwhelmed, since we can already get the original from GoG, and GemRB is working on an enhanced edition, it is still showing good things about the strength of the classic CRPG hobby.

    Also when you guys talk about playing Wizardry or Ultima or whatever as a kid? For me that game was BG. I sunk a lot of hours into it, then my computer died. I put 200 more into it, and the same. Was right near the end. Then it wouldn't run on any of our new computers. I should really download it (my disks are scratched) mod it up and finish it this summer...

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    1. More details have emerged about the BG/BG2 updates.

      1. Technical updates - updated graphics, fixed bugs, updated interface, fixed multiplayer

      2. New content - even new characters!

      3. Both games include their expansion packs

      4. No changes to music, still using D&D 2, overall, trying not to "break the fun."

      5. They're trying to maintain mod support.. and save game support from classic BG/BG2.

      6. Baldur's Gate 3 is "part of the plan." I'm guessing if this experiment goes well, and if the new content isn't atrocious.. it could very well happen. Why else update IE? Just for some slight remakes?

      Delete
    2. When that game gets released, you're going to lose me for a little while.

      Delete
    3. Aww, you can't just blog it early? Please? Also: I'm glad it is coming out in the summer, so I'll be at my summer job and can play in evenings.

      Delete
  39. I'm not talking to people who know much about military vehicles or tactics, am I? Powered armour the size of a human makes lots of sense: You are taking a soldier and making them better. Powered armour you drive doesn't, since you are taking a very good design (tank) adding a lot of weakpoints (joints), making it easier to target (tall), raising its center of mass (balance), lowering its speed (Two legs are very mechanically inefficient vs wheels, treads or even four legs).
    Also legs are not actually the advantage they seem; They have a habit of sinking into things when you are that heavy; modern tanks already destroy most roads, now take all that mass and put it on two points? More really, since they have huge surface areas that need to be armoured.

    In space it doesn't make sense; the physics of moving something an irregularly shaped as a person...just don't work. The thrusters are in all the wrong places, the centre of mass is wrong, and a number of other things.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Let's really nerd it up now :D

    You are adding weak-points sure but you are making up for that in a manner of ways. Mecha can presumably move around and avoid large clumsy attacks easier. They can run, jump, crouch, hide, presumably travel under water or in space (depending on the technology involved). They are not limited to the ground or being a slow heavily armored target like a tank is.

    Legs are not inferior to wheels, treads, or four legs. They are actually far more efficient. You can get more speed out of wheels or four legs (and there is a such thing as the thought of four legged mecha) but treads exist for the same reason why two legs are good to be all-terrain. Legs would give the vehicle a better balance and wider range of options to perform tasks.

    How would the thrusters be in the wrong places in space? Space >combat< may be clumsy but there is no reason why a mecha wouldn't be able to maneuver in space decently well. Short range movement around space environments in a large man like vehicle would be useful. You could accomplish a lot of work in such a thing. Actual space combat would be better between ships than mecha but mecha would be good for being dispatched to land on a ship and raid it.

    As for knowing much about military vehicles I'm a big war history buff. That doesn't make me an expert in any sense of the word but I feel I have a pretty good grasp of the advantages of different types of vehicles real or imaginary. It's outdated philosophy that looks at the idea of mecha and dismisses it. The same type of philosophical bias originally dismissed the tank when it was being developed.

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    1. I like that last part, Elijah. A neat little fact I never wondered about before (did anyone think so and so military advancement would be stupid, you know besides all the ones Cracked.com points out in hindsight).

      Also, I can see Canageek's point about real-world probable impracticality. But an ace show like Code Geass (really it's V for Vendetta good and shares a number of perhaps on the surface themes with it. IT'S GOOD CA WATCH IT ALL AND EXPLAIN TO ME OTHERWISE!) can take these elements and weave them into the background of a good story that 'could make you believe in Superman.'

      Well, that's my love letter to great show whose primary military weapon just happens to be mecha.

      Delete
  41. http://crpgrevisited.blogspot.com/2011/09/next-revisit-bards-tale-3-thieves-of.html

    "While I was struggling to get Crystal Dragon to work on WinUAE it was so much easier to start up Bard´s Tale 3 instead."

    And in next blogs he discuss how he play Crystal Dragon.

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    1. It's a different blog, not CRPG Addict's blog. You probably already know that, but just in case. :)

      Delete
  42. Canageek is right in every point. Mech just simply have too many disadvantages to tanks. Maybe Heavy Gear with its smaller sized mechs can be feasable. I love mechs, but they are tall, and prone to fall and their legs put to much pressure on too small area. Why mechs work in their universe is that weapons are weaker than real life weapons. When an rpg can kill an Abrams with one shot, you truly consider whether to use or not to use your tanks in close-combat environments.
    After the WWII there were a lot of discussions about the tanks' battle-worthiness. Developments in reactive and composite armour though improved the survivability of these machines, we can see that military technology is extremly expensive nowadays, and infantry men and remote controlled planes can create inequal damage to cost ratios on the battlefield.

    But it is still fun to look at these mechs, and fun to play with them :)

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    1. RPGs can't kill an Abrams with one shot. You're mistake about that (either that it was an RPG or that it was an Abrams).

      As for whether the mecha would be useful it depends on the technology. Saying it would be too weak for x reason is short sighted when the technology to make it work in the first place doesn't exist. It's the same mentality I mentioned regarding the tank and similar with the aircraft carrier. There were experts that shot them down prior to them being battle proven. There have been a lot of such innovations in war (yippee...). History is rife with people saying "that'll never work out" and then no one remembers those people when they turned out to be wrong. Sure there are plenty of failures (hilarious ones at that) but there are enough outlandish successes as well.

      Do I think there will actually be mechs? I'm not holding my breath (and wars with such machines would be pretty damn frightening). That doesn't mean the concept is unsound or unworkable with the right advances. Accurate bombing instead of carpet bombing was once an unworkable idea until the advent of better technology as well.

      Delete
    2. Elijah: Powered armour would work, however there is no reason to make a mech: It can't do anything you can't do better another way. A tank is a better design on land and it makes no sense in space (Lots of points far from the center of mass = slow turning, large target profile)

      And them flying in atmosphere is silly, the drag is all wrong, and you'd need some fuel source with more energy then I've ever heard of to do it for any length of time. Addmitedly Mech jumpjets are possible, just not flight.

      Delete
    3. You know tanks are becoming obsolete now. They don't carry troops and they can be easily taken out by other vehicles. Lighter ground vehicles armed with anti-tank missiles, helicopters armed with anti-tank missiles, jets armed with high precision missiles. Desert Storm proved that having a large force of semi-modern tanks doesn't mean much. The dreaded Soviet European tank rush people feared in the 80's was a pipe dream that would have been slaughtered by modern technologies such as the Apache helicopter, TOW and Javelin missiles, and the A-10 Warthogs to name a few. Even advanced tanks with composite armors are pretty much becoming obsolete. They need some major advancements to stay relevant against anyone with comparable countermeasures to the ones above.

      Now if you have a mech you do not have a relatively slow ground vehicle that's restricted directly to the ground 100% like you do with a tank. You have a mobile unit that can jump, crouch, change positioning, and move like a giant human being.

      As for a flying mech when I mentioned that earlier I was describing the super high-tech mecha that CHANGE into a fighter of some sort. Which would be extremely advanced mechanical technology a hundred years more advanced than what we have (at least).

      The main technological hurdles for a normal land based mech would be power and how to make the limbs move at desirable speed.

      I would like to point out a fact I have neglected to mention so far; I am not a big fan of mecha. I only ever got into Robotech when I was much younger, I watched like one Gundam show when I was a teenager (G Gundam), and I have also watched shows that featured mecha (such as Code Geass) but where mecha were not the main focus of the story. Other than those examples I have not really been into mecha. Giant robots fighing isn't even something I like as a concept very much. I just don't see it as impossible to ever develop or it being without possible use.

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    4. A mech would be slower then a tank, despite what anime says. The efficiency of continue thrust (wheels, treads) is much higher then periodic thrust (feet), doubly so 2 legged thrust (You have to lost a lot of your momentum with each stride, then re-apply it). This is why it is really easy to build a device that can outrun a cheetah using wheels or treads, but not to do the same with legs (we are working on it, since spider-robots could pick there way over rubble better or such, but legs will never win a speed race).

      Tanks aren't really obsolete: They are still quite useful in the right circumstances: Say, in a region where neither side has air-superiority. Also they can be taken out by hand weapons, but it isn't nearly as easy as you imply. The reason we haven't seen them used in a long time is that most of the wars today are fought between a dominant force and a rebellious force. Tanks don't do well against guerrilla warfare, but then neither do nuclear weapons, artillery, cruise missiles, etc.
      So no: We aren't going to see another Kursk (if you don't know what Kursk was then you don't know enough to discuss this: Head to your local library and get some books, then we can talk). However we are unlikely to see mech for the same reason: It is too easy to blast them to bits from far away. Tanks and mech are both vulnerable to the same thing: Cruise missles, air strikes, etc. You will note that mech combat usually occurs at very close waters (less then 100 m). This is a conceit due to the ranges combat normally occurs at. Canadian snipers are trained to hit targets at something like 2500 m. Most modern infantry weapons were designed to fight at ranges under 300 m, however recent conflicts have shown that to be inadequate, leading to many armies moving to more traditional rifle designs. Tank guns are aparently very accurate up to 1.5-2 km, and that is only going to get better. In aerial warfare multi-kilometer ranges are the normal engagement range, that is, you never see what you are shooting at, only instrumental readings. If you want to go nuclear, small nuclear warheads that were widely available during the cold war (Even Canada had some) meant you could push this way out, and hit targets well over the horizen, since you only needed to get close.
      At these types of ranges you don't care about being able to crouch or jump, etc. Giant humans aren't what you want; Something very non-human that can shoot back is, or something a bit harder to see from the air then a giant human. These ranges are only going to go up. The battleship died because it was too easy to blast them from beyond the multikilometer range of their guns; you needed aircraft or stealth, not raw power. In space you can expect 100s of km engagement ranges.

      What we are likely to see is more armour on your average soldier, more advanced close combat weapons. That is, humans in highly advanced armour (Think starcraft or warhammer 40k, but less ridiculous, or X-COM)

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    5. Also: There is no reason a mech would be able to fly. Flying things don't have armour. How many planes do you see with armour plating? About zero. You might, might, be able to store enough fuel for a brief jump, but even that is pushing it. Also there is nothing about the mech shape that makes it easy to fly: You'd actually do better with a tank or car shape, since at least they are long and narrow, thus creating less drag.

      Actually a mech changing into a fighter is impossible: You'd still have the same mass, which means you would be trying to fly a 100 ton object. It doesn't work so well. You'd need massive hollow spaces inside the plane to store the arms, legs, etc, which is wasted. Also becuse of all the unused armour, ground based movement engines, etc, you'd burn fuel far, far, faster then a dedicated fighter (Even with nuclear power you need some way of turning that into thrust: on the ground that is pretty easy, in space it isn't. For fast manoeuvring I've not heard of anything even approaching the responsiveness of rocket propulsion, most other theoretical and practical methods are about slow acceleration. So you need to carry rocket fuel. That means that the bigger you are, the more fuel you burn. You want to accelerate quickly, you need to be light. This is why neighbouring countries are worried about China screwing around with Beryllium; Highly toxic, but it is a super, super light metal, so makes better rockets and planes.

      If you actually want I can give you some resources written by people who actually understand the laws of physics, not Gundam writers who go 'wouldn't think be cool'?

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    6. No you simply are reacting with extreme bias and short-sightedness. Like I have said repeatedly a lot of things that were "impossible" have come into being. The advent of new technological breakthroughs is to blame for the shelving of old predictions of failure.

      You continually attack the idea from the standpoint of CURRENT technological limitations. Such as your paragraphs dedicated to why a mech could never fly. You mention armor and weight but the main thing about that is superior LITE armor can be developed with the right technology. Guess what such things have happened. This of course is ignoring the fact that something built for SPEED wouldn't be heavily armored in the first place. Jets are not heavily armored and they still serve their purpose. You keep imagining that mechs are just tank-like. Finally I have repeatedly mentioned a type of mech technology to fly where the mech TRANSFORMS into a type of air/space craft. Not just a mech that goes flying through the sky like a stupid Gundam. This technology is a hundred or more years away from what we have now. Breakthroughs in nano-mechanics could make a lot of it possible (the transforming part). Having lite armor of sufficient strength is another. If the M1 Abrams used WWII grade armor to achieve the same level of protection it would have like 3-4 times its current massive weight. In the span of 40-50 years far better armor was developed than previously existed. It's almost like the march of technology opens up new possiblities...

      As for a mech being faster on land than a tank it depends on the mechs design. I already mentioned a design that has hybrid feet with wheels. That's one solution. That's not to mention the fact that a mech is more mobile if not necessaryily as fast. A tank has to move its treads quite a bit in order to turn around and won't turn as quickly as a giant HUMANOID machine would. It can't leap to the side, roll to safety, or jump up onto a structure. It's STUCK on a single horizontal plane and must DRIVE up any surface higher than itself. The mobility of a mech with workable technology far exceeds that of a tank.

      The tank is becoming obsolete with or without good air power. The weakest part of the tank is on its top and it's far too easy with modern infantry or light vehicle mounted anti-tank missiles to target that point. Tanks still serve a purpose now but in very specific circumstances. I say this while being a big fan of tanks personally.

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    7. I attack it from basic goddamn physics. You make a better armour, you can use that armour on better designs then the human body. The human body isn't a good fighting vehicle; nothing is going to improve that. It is slow compared to treads, wheels, etc: Better joints aren't ever going to beat that, since even if you had a perfect joint then you are still limited by the mechanical inefficiencies of the system. This kind of stuff is really easy to figure out: You just set all limitations to 0, then go "what makes the best system?". Physicists worked out the motive efficiency of various bodies years ago. Any change to the ideal system makes it *worse*; You are trying to build as close to the ideal as you can. Therefore it is very, very easy to say that human shapped robots on the ground will always lose in races. We aren't a species built for speed. Even a really well done multi-legged frame isn't as good as constant thrust; again, wheels, treads, etc.
      It is true, legs are better for uneven ground; in which case you would want to go with a spider type design; More legs, in case you lose one, and much more stable. Also lower mass, which is better for uneven ground then a high centre of mass.

      Hybrid feet with wheels again makes no sense: You've got a lot of mass high in the air, increasing your wind resistance. You'd want something low to the ground, like a sled or car. Compare the speed a skier can hit vs a skeleton racer. Also it is harder for a mech to corner at speed, since it has a higher centre of mass.

      The one area that two legs beats four at is turning, and even then, only at low speeds. I'm also not sure if that is a fundamental features, or just a way the legs are built in animals: I think that is something you could fix with ball joints. I think you could also equal this with treads, but varying tread speed to turn in place, but I'm not sure; motive physics isn't my field.

      Climbing on things is an idea, but I've not seen it listed on any military wish-lists. Modern weapons of tank/mech size can be fired without visual sight, and if you go for a ballistic arch, right over buildings. Also you run the risk of tearing the building down around you. Also of the eamy not shooting at your heavily armoured mech, but blowing up the unarmoured building under you. Also: "Hey, everybody shoot the giant mech on top of the tall building".
      Also humans are terrible climbers; We evolved to come DOWN from the trees. Spiders, apes, monkies, lizards would all make more sense then this. But again, this is only good in a very, very limited range of environments, when the size of the mech already limits it. When fighting in a confined space, the last thing you want to be is *larger*. This seems the ideal situation for powered armour; Man sized suits that can hide in buildings, etc.

      Delete
    8. The transformation idea will not be practical without changes in our understanding of physics so fundamental that the mech itself is obsolete, along with all other armoured weapons. Basically you have to totally change what matter is present on a fundamental level. There isn't much (read: any) overlap in what makes a good ariel fighter and what makes a good ground combatant. Therefore you have to lug around *both* systems with you. There is very little overlap in what makes a good spacefighter and what makes a good starfighter (if those are even useful; current indications is 'no'). Therefore a system like a gundam doesn't work. Watch for yourself when they transform; They change in size. That...doesn't work.
      Also: It takes years to become good enough to be a fighter poilet. It takes years to become an ace tank combatant. It takes most of a lifetime to become an astronaut; in wartimes how many people do you think you can draft and train to do all three? Hint; A lot less then you can find who can do one of the above.

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    9. There's no need for you to get so angry or take this so personal.

      Your physics arguments fail flat on their face. I don't care how many times you assert these arguments it doesn't make them true.

      "The human body isn't a good fighting vehicle; nothing is going to improve that. It is slow compared to treads, wheels, etc: Better joints aren't ever going to beat that, since even if you had a perfect joint then you are still limited by the mechanical inefficiencies of the system."

      Right. That's why we live in a world where no human is ever sent against other humans to fight. Right?

      As for treads/wheels being faster generally than bipedal movement that is true. Which is why I repeatedly mentioned the hybrid technology. I also mentioned that while it's true that treads/wheels are faster it is NOT true that they are more mobile.

      "Therefore it is very, very easy to say that human shapped robots on the ground will always lose in races."

      Because you build giant expensive FIGHTING machines to win simple races. Right?

      "It is true, legs are better for uneven ground; in which case you would want to go with a spider type design; More legs, in case you lose one, and much more stable. Also lower mass, which is better for uneven ground then a high centre of mass. "

      A spider design is worse. You have more legs to worry about working properly and losing a leg doesn't mean "Oh I have seven more to fall back on" because you unbalance one side. Especially if you lose more than one leg on that side.

      "Hybrid feet with wheels again makes no sense: You've got a lot of mass high in the air, increasing your wind resistance. You'd want something low to the ground, like a sled or car. Compare the speed a skier can hit vs a skeleton racer. Also it is harder for a mech to corner at speed, since it has a higher centre of mass. "

      It's called crouching down. Yes you still have resistance but you aren't trying to win a race. Most mobile != fastest.

      "The transformation idea will not be practical without changes in our understanding of physics so fundamental that the mech itself is obsolete, along with all other armoured weapons. "

      That's news to me. Something being obsolete before it's ever developed. Did you miss the part where I talked about nano-mechanics? Something that is currently in development now and shows a lot of promise.

      "Therefore a system like a gundam doesn't work. Watch for yourself when they transform; They change in size. That...doesn't work."

      Why do you keep mentioning Gundams? Mecha does not automatically mean Gundam which btw rarely have been shown to transform. This is not to mention that anime mecha do not have to be what real life mecha would be like. Just the same as fictional robots do not have to be what real robots have to be like.

      "It takes most of a lifetime to become an astronaut; in wartimes how many people do you think you can draft and train to do all three?"

      With current training methods and strenuous requirements due to SAFETY concerns. New training techniques, reduced cost of technology, and more access to that technology can all mitigate this concern of yours. They would be training to do two things. Pilot the vehicle in "vert-mode" and pilot the vehicle in "ground-mode". So you break the training up into segments. Astronauts don't spend their lifetime training directly to be an Astronaut. They spend their lifetime training to be pilots most of the time and then move on to being astronauts while they are usually still "young".

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    10. You know what? I'm sick of this. I'm guessing you are about 14 and know somewhere between jack and shit about physics and engineering. Come to university and take at least a couple first year physics classes and I'll be willing to talk to you again. Now if you will excuse me, I have an astrophysics project to work on.

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    11. Actually I'm 27. Really though what is your problem? The only one acting immature here is yourself. Raging and insulting the other party (myself) over something as trivial and stupid as whether mecha are a viable future technology or not. I've read a lot of your comments on other addict posts and I never got the impression that you were as petty or angry a person as you are showing yourself to be right now.

      Delete
  43. Now that we are talking about mechas, have a look what this guy did couple years ago. :)

    http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-05/man-machine

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    1. Also something from years ago.

      http://blog.machinefinder.com/3255/john-deere-walking-tractor

      How sad that it was just a proto, but maybe in future I could gallop around in my own six-legged spider-mecha.

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  44. Over 100 comments! Geez, I guess somehow taking that break quadrupled your popularity somehow.

    I actually kind of like when games make fun of you for being a huge wimp at the beginning of an RPG, because it makes the development your character goes through feel more rewarding, unlike other games where your character is treated like an unstoppable badass at the beginning and... that doesn't really change.

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    1. I agree. Can anyone else think of another game that does that particularly well?

      Delete
    2. Fallout 3
      Baldur's Gate

      I greatly prefer it when you start out competent and grow to be epic. I don't want to play a wimp; Why would a wimp by trying to save the world? However when you start playing as an average solider, sorcerer, etc, and grow to be a wire-fu style fighter that can't be touched by bullets, or an archmage well, that is awesome.

      Game that does this badly? Skyrim. Would it be too much for the archamge of the Collage of Mages to get some respect? Even if you don't like me, stop treating me as a random merc? Or how about you just stop suggesting I join the mages guild, hmmm?

      Delete
  45. The nerdage is reaching critical mass in this post...

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    1. Watch out! We're gonna -- BOOM!!!

      *pocket protectors and spare PC motherboards go flying*

      XD

      Delete
  46. I am both sorry and glad that I brought discussion of the relevance of mechs into this conversation (Canageek, you make good arguments, and I applaud you for not being one of those hostile stop-having-fun guys you might find on someplace like RPG Codex. Elijah, concerning future science, of course it may be up in the air, but you are arguing for something that as you yourself have stated you do not desire, the possibility of even greater all-encompassing devices of war and death. We only make our selves grow bitter with a shameful desire to be 'right.')

    Concerning my original angle (around the posting on 'in fantasy space'), I thought Canageek was conflating the creative fiction of mecha

    (for me they serve as a metaphor for individuality. Characters and their mecha embody values and people into one person to show these things comming into a personal, direct conflict. Rather than technology and cold military tactics or some other impersonal method deciding the resolution of a conflict, media involving mecha put people and the affirmation of the strength of one's values winning out over the gray area of conflict. Mecha, shaped as humans, that win battles is IMHO an effective way of saying, "We, the human race, are both the source of conflict and the only way to resolve it.)

    with real-life war practicallity. I believe this only came about when Elijah began defending them on the basis that man would eventually find a way to make mecha a viable way to wage war.

    I also, made a comment about the anime, Code Geass, making mecha seem plausible for that universe. To clarrify, Code Geass has a theme running through it of pacifism and human advancement championed by the main character, LeLouch. The universe of Code Geass is one broken by Napoleon's defeat of the British. Through this divergence in time, the world is less futurist than it seems.

    The mecha, even called Knightmares, are merely a continuation of the feudal eras of lords sending their knights out to conquer more land and peoples. Knightmares are introduced and first used by the antagonist, LeLouche's father and king of the dominant nation, to help ultimately bring about a world where nothing changes and everyone is no more than what everyone else can see and hear (this universe's magic comes heavily into play here). LeLouche and his companions use their mecha to ultimately end this conflict and to continue human progression (hopefully) away from the use of mecha (the main instrument of conflict) toward a peace among all peoples.

    So, as I said before, great show (give the whole thing a chance CA!), but not even most protagonists in these types of shows want mecha to be around.

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  47. The point what Elijah loses, is that by carefully looking at history, one can find, that technology improvements tend to slow down and take new directions. There is a limit on how fast commercial cars can go, how much weight a tank can have, how a ship can be designed. Throughout history, mankind was unable to overcome physics, but was able to use it to their advantage. Mecha though look cool, are just the same as ornitopters: though they look cool, they both turned out to be impractical for serious use.

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    1. To an extent you are right however things do leap ahead. Like my point with WWII tank armor vs the M1 Abrams armor. Having better armor in WWII amounted to making it thicker or angling it (which served the purpose of it being thicker due to the angle of penetration). Yet with the M1 Abrams generation of tank lighter composite armors were developed that give far superior protection with less weight.

      Advancements in technology are not always linear things you can predict or witness far off. Yet you and Canageek are trying to say without blinking an eye that it's impossible that lite highly advanced armor couldn't be developed? That such things as nano-mechanics (which he never bothered to refute and instead chose to start personal attacks like the mature person he is) could change the dynamics of the situation? Nano constructed armor for example is one way to give armor a stronger more durable makeup while also being lighter. That is not to mention memory materials for joint movement and a bunch of other advances CURRENTLY in development that could be applied to the situation.

      No let's just write it off and claim from a pedestal of expertise that it's impossible. Arrogance is quite a humorous thing to behold.

      Whatever though. I'm done spamming up the Addict's post with pointless debate unrelated to CRPGs or the CRPG the post in question actually applies to. It's too bad what could have been a small mature exchange of ideals was instead turned into something stupid.

      Delete
  48. Next I want to find out where you all stand on the cavemen vs. astronauts debate.

    Seriously, it was a fun discussion until it jumped the rails. It's hard to identify the specific point, but please let's try to avoid insults and obscenities in the comments, especially when we're talking about games. Especially when we're talking about games based on toys.

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    1. Sorry; my fault. I've been having a rough time and letting it vent into my arguments. Coupled with the fact that I despise people who don't respect science, I got way too carried away. I'll try not to let it happen again. (I do however reserve the right to insult and belittle anyone who buys into homeopathy, at least if they refuse to let me use my lab full of equipment to demonstrate why it won't work in the slightest.)

      Delete
    2. As long as you don't go claiming that Skyrim is unrealistic because you can't "really make healing potions out of herbs," probably there will be no cause to have a homeopathy discussion.

      Delete
    3. Are you kidding? I mean, sure, the astronaut is in top physical condition, but he's a scientist and the caveman has been hunting all his life. That astronaut will be dead before he's realized the fight's started.

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    4. Of course not: There are obviously chemicals in the herbs that when enhanced with magic heal you.
      Natural product chemistry is actually a truly, truly huge field right now, that I would consider going into if I liked trying to deal with 6 chiral centres, a dozen identical functional groups and a partridge in a pair tree every time I try and do a reaction. Actually, asprin, ASA, is derived from a compound found in Yew bark.

      What wouldn't make sense would be if you started with a healing potion that healed 10 health, then diluted it to make a potion that healed 20 health, since it only has half the herbs in it, then diluted it again and again to make a potion that healed 100 health.

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    5. Oh, come on, Maldeus. You're leaving out a lot of stuff. Astronauts are smarter. Plus, there's a thing called 'teamwork,' not to mention the superstitious terror of the cavemen.

      Delete
    6. By the time an astronaut and a caveman could fight, the astronaut would come from a civilization that had time travel into the past. I wonder what kind of cool weapons he'd have by then.

      Delete
    7. I have met some guys who live in a cave, and I doubt they would be sober enough to take the astronaut. Of course I assume they would bother him for some change though.

      Ohhhhh, you ment a prehistoric human, my bad.

      Delete
    8. Are we having those Dream Match-ups?

      I propose Rick Hunter in his Veritech Battloid versus a fully modified Adam Jensen.

      Delete
  49. I remember this one. what a PITA. I couldn't, however, get enough of it as soon as the floppy disappeared into that 1541. This was one of my very 1st crpg's. I was only 9 or 10 when I first gave it a go. Somehow on the 50-th or so go around my brother and I managed to muck up the beginning so intensely, and wandered around aimlessly for so long that the stocks we had purchased and forgotten about early on had grown to unimaginable values. This was discovered well after the training part and the money made me think i may actually be able to beat this damn game. (It never ever occurred to me that you could just run away from all of the battles. They were my fav part anyway) I remember my heart skipping a beat when i saw all those 9's in my credits slot for the 1st time.
    Still, the game basically took me about 4 years to beat culminating in me wandering into a Babbages and pilfering through a only moments before-shrink wrapped copy of the game guide... to find out it was that stupid map... I never had that map of planets that came with the game. You can imagine my frustration. I had been at that spot for a couple of years! lol. I went straight home and beat it in minutes.
    Even though it took forever to beat and pained me so very much to discover a truly daft ending for what could have been wonderful and exciting, I still have many, many fond memories of it. It would be nice to see a modern take on it, perhaps though bending more towards the true cRPG side of things.
    Btw, the sequel was utter crap .. maybe because i was much older when I tried it and the novelty had worn off.. or perhaps it was simply poo :)

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    1. I wish we had more of this reminiscing on this blog; I suppose we will as I advance in years and start playing the games that more of my readers actually played when they were new.

      I can't imagine having this game on my mind and/or play list for four years, though. Wow.

      Delete
    2. Well we had Bard's Tale 3, B-tech, Fairy Tale Adv, and a couple others. (including a Ultima 4 and 5 but i don't think we were allowed to touch them. We did get the D&D gold box's much later)

      So we basically got to play all the ones that have been so highly rated by yourself.. ;-) (lucky we still enjoy RPG's at all i guess)

      Reading your reviews made me laugh and look back at my bad luck with our selection back then. I agree with 90% of your results, there were a lot of bad games. (We didn't pick them, I think most were garage-sale stuff my Dad bought so manuals/maps were missing)
      We were only allowed to play for about 3 - 4 hours a week unless it was summer so we did not do much planning and careful mapping :) It was more of a Rambo approach, which only worked in the easier games like B-tech. Stuff like Bards Tale had us whipped. The difficulty of that game when you don't really know what SP or AC are is remarkable.

      With a little thought I can see now why I loved them so much. Back then I wasn't just learning how to play Battle-tech, or Bards Tale, I was learning how to play RPG's. We had never touched D&D dice before, and I don't recall even having seen anything to do with D&D before then or for years after. Learning that running out of hit points meant you died, or that strength meant more melee damage or chance to hit. All that stuff was in the manuals we did not have. So, a lot of the fun was just in figuring out the rules, and in doing so, the basic devices used in RPG's. I didn't know BT 1 or 2 were just like BT 3 back then. I just assumed BT 3 was much better, I guess. I didn't know they were repeatedly using the same devices over and over without adding anything consequential into the gameplay. I didn't realize they were copying these basic devices and operations from other games which had also been using them for years. NOVELTY. I think that explains our acceptance of sub par presentations and lackluster stories. I just didn't know any better.

      But I still love'm

      Delete
  50. Battletech.... a franchise I could never understand. I play Mechwarrior games, but not for long. I'm a huge science fiction fan - my top 10 movies-list is 50% science fiction (including the Dune movie!). I loved all the Dune books, though it required a second reading. But I also never felt the appeal of giant robots. Pacific Rim - I have no interest of watching it. Gravity - saw it in its first week.

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  51. Huh. That second screenshot, with the overland view looked very familiar to me—not in its details, but in its general feel—but it took me a second to place why.

    I know you've mentioned Adventure Construction Kit in your post on Ultima IV part 2, but I gather (correct me if I'm wrong) that you didn't actually mess around much if at all with its game creation capabilities. Well, the older versions of ACK came with four different "world kits", and one of which was a Space kit that... had a look fairly similar to the look of the game here.

    Okay, actually, after having looked at a picture of the ACK space kit (there's one on the About page of the ACK site), maybe it's not quite as similar as I remembered. The main resemblance, really, is the particular isometric way the buildings are displayed (and even that is a bit different, in that in Battletech the angle is up and left, and in ACK it's up and right). Still, though, I think there's enough similarity to wonder whether Chris Hopkins took inspiration from Battletech for his Space kit, the same way as he clearly took inspiration from Ultima for his Fantasy kit (and of course even more so in the Ultima kit that comes with the latest version of ACK). It's not necessarily the case, but it's certainly not impossible. Were there any other sci-fi games from the late 80s or early 90s with that kind of isometric worldmap?

    ReplyDelete

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