Kudos to Discovery Channel on a kick ass commercial. This may very well be the best commercial of the year and not even during the Super Bowl. Go Figure.
One thing about any new Campaign Setting is that you really need to find a hook for it. By this I mean you need to find something about the world that hasn’t really been done fore, that distinguishes it from the others and makes it fun. You can’t just turn out yet another generic world and expect people to buy into it largely because Forgotten Realms is already out there with such a rich history and large world that it will be impossible for you to be able to compete with it. Not only do you have FR to deal with but you have what is likely hundreds of other generic campaign settings that are out there like Dragonlance, Greyhawk, the GURPS worlds, and all the tohers. There’s a lot of generic worlds, and you can’t be one of them.
For my campaign, after pulling the hood off of the MMO aspects that had been there, I realize there wasn’t a huge hook there. I had a ton of MMO hooks, but not many hooks for the actual world itself outside of a couple new races to play and new categories for old races to be stereotyped as. I do have some however…
The first major hook is that instead of being a world… it was going to be a moon. However, this is one hook that I am strongly considering dropping. Now being a moon could do many cool things, but the negatives of it are equally if not more so huge. Much of the coolness of this I think would largely be graphical, meaning you look into the sky and instead of seeing X moons and X suns, you see X moons, X suns, and a ginormous planet. This changes the visual landscape quite a bit. But this would also have huge effects on seismography, weather, day/night cycles, and seasons. And herein lies the issue… You see though we as humans have been to the moon, we really haven’t stopped and considered these issues as much. As an example… we say there is a dark side and light side of the moon but this is hardly true. When there is a half moon in the sky that means half of the light side is in fact dark and half of the dark side is in fact light. There is a day/night cicle there just as much as here, but it isn’t as regular because it is predicated not due to it’s rotation, but due to where it lies by the Earth in proportion to the Sun. How is this changed when you add a natural rotation to the moon (after all our moon is abnormal that it doesn’t rotate which is why we have our tides). And how does a lunar revolution around a planet affect the seasons? If it takes a month to revolve around a planet… if it is say spring or autumn, is it possible that during one part of the month you have winter conditions and another part summer? Would 50-80 degree differences in temperature in a relatively short period of 1-2 weeks be fairly normal? And what does this mean to the game? These are all interesting questions and would certainly bring an entirely great new hook to any game, but may also take months of research just to come up with a realistic answer. Sure I could fudge this stuff and just say it is “earth-like” which is very popular to do, but I’ve never been copasetic with this type of explanation… or even the explanation that “well it’s a magical world, anything can happen.”
Another hook is a more spiritaul world than deity driven one. In a sense this is similar to what we see in the Final Fantasy games where the magic is driven by the elements. Not that this is a direct correlation, but this is closer to what I am talking about than what we generally see in RPGs where there is a set of Gods ruling over the universe and magic. The idea is kind of to combine the established tradition of Priests and Mages into one where you still get the effects of both. Yet I also still want to maintain the idea of religion oddly enough and want to enforce the dilemma of faith versus magic. It is an odd dichotemy that you don’t often see.
Another hook is a post-apcoloyptic setting. You see these settings quite a bit in modern or futuristic settings, but not nearly as often in a fantasy setting. (Unless of course you see an MMO wanting to find a sequal to get a new land ala Everquest 2 or Asheron’s Call 2). I’m not saying what or how it is happening here… but suffice it to say something happened and now we are in a world where the ruling empires are no more, there are struggles for control, much of civilization is cut off, monsters are resurging, new ones are popping up as magical mutations become rampant, etc.
In truth, this last one seems to be the main hook in the game. But is this enough? Essentially I currently have 1 big hook and 1 minor hook, and 1 hook that I likely won’t use that would be moderate if I did. I could use a couple more decent hooks that really make my campaign one significantly interesting. One that I’ve always toyed around with is some sort of inherent magical manifistation in non-magical classes… Eberron did this well with dragonmarked, I also loved the guardians in Sovereign Stone, but the idea really comes from Shadowrun in reality. Something like this might really give an in play difference to the game. But this may not be enough….
The reason for my fairly long speal on D&D and the OGL yesterday was largely for one main reason. The idea occurred to me a couple days ago that I could work on converting my idea for an MMO, which I’ve largely been working on for about 12 or 13 years, into a pen and paper RPG. I had made similar thoughts in the past but mostly as a form of testing the systems that I had come up with for the world. Read more “My Own RPG?”
I imagine most people know what D&D is, although I bet some people don’t know what OGL is. After all until I started looking into it I really didn’t either. OGL, or Open Game License, is one of two programs that Wizards of the Coast launched when they launched 3rd edition D&D. The other program being the d20 system.
Essentially the two programs are incredibly similar. They basically allow third parties to come in and make products for the D&D license without using the D&D name. These products could then be anything from new modules, accessories, campaign settings, and additional rules. It wasn’t a bad idea because traditionally those other addons don’t get anywhere near the sales of the core products and I bet on many of these products Wizards actually lost money on. This system allowed D&D to get a ton of additional references, without them having to risk the cash to make them.
The problem came up almost immediately when people started making additional rules for sex and drugs and Wizards didn’t want this tarnisioning their product’s name (an understandable issue). They really should have seen this coming though as these types of documents had already been on the net since the mid-90s, years before 3rd edition came out in 2000. There were also campagins and source books being made that actually made fun of D&D and Wizards also didn’t like these (which was actually a little more sad because they should be able to take light of themselves from time to time, after all the best set of MTG was really Unglued).
So they did more to distinguish OGL and d20. The original licenses I believe made it so that the main difference was that d20 was for books that followed the d20 rules systems whild OGL allowed the player to basically branch off and make completely new systems, using some of the same information. With their changes, Wizards added into d20 that you also had to follow community decency standards, and a few other similar rules and then said these rules applied to any products already released under the d20 name brand thus it took a ton of products off the shelves and even put some companies out of business who had been fairly successful previous to this.
The added result was that from that point forward, instead of trying to get the d20 logo on their books, nearly everyone started just using the OGL license instead which allowed them to use the product as they wished without fear of Wizards later telling them they couldn’t do it and pulling a product that had been on the shelves for years.
Well unfortunately fourth edition D&D offered Wizards an opportunity to revise this and many other problems they found with this initial idea. They now are basically taking out the former OGL and replacing it with the d20 standard, but instead calling it OGL since this was the more popular format previously. (They should have just kept d20 and not offered OGL at all but they are trying to deceive third parties into thinking it is the same).
The two other products Wizards noticed was that 1) There were a ton of crappy d20 supplements out there and eventually people stopped paying attention to them entirely and 2) the OGL movement eventually started just copying rules into their new books so that players never had to go and buy the core products in the first place. Well this defies the point of the program which was to raise sales of the core products. So this also offered the company the chance to tighten these problems. Just by not offering the looser program it stops the first problem from happening because people are less likely to get into it because of less freedom, but to help they are giving companies the ability to start early by spending $5k extra which means only an established company will get the head start. This makes it so that hopefully a D&D player would get established with these companies/worlds and stick with them and hopefully stop the other indies from really getting credit. The second problem gets solved by making it so that players are no longer able to copy rules word for word in thir books, they can only reference them such as “please look on page XX of book XX for further info.”
Now both Wizards and OGL developers have equally difficult problems posing them in the years to come. For Wizards they are releasing a new edition where many of the independent developers they tried to maintain will likely stay back in the former edition. This isn’t entirely loss for them as some of their main developers have already announced 4e upgrades, likely just to stay current not unlike how some video game developers are becoming Windows Vista certified in hopes that it gets them a few extra sales. But the real issue is that many RPG players who have tried the new edition are saying it isn’t that great and many are proclaiming to not get it. Another issue they face is that of glut. It has been just 8 years since they released 3rd edition (which is 5 years less than the 13 years between 2nd and 3rd), and a mere 5 years since they released 3.5 (which in itself made a lot of 3rd edition books completely useless. This quick turnout is sure to anger many and offer resentment. With the system already out there and independent developers maintaining new source materials, there is likely to be a large amount of players who just decide to follow the independent movement and not upgrade to fourth edition.
For OGL developers the problem is that of whether to move or not. If you don’t move, you face an ever dwindling install base as Wizards has decided to split the market and people just naturally move on to 4e. This creates a harsh situation for a lot of companies who were already struggling to stay afloat under their current player base. However, some games that have been made under the current OGL are so drastically different than D&D that the entire game dynamic changes because they are no longer allowed such freedom in 4e. Other games (such as those made for adults) wouldn’t be allowed to convert at all without completely ruining the point of the supplement. My answer to these guys is to just keep up with the 3.x OGL development. If the products are really different to D&D, then they likely don’t need to move into 4e anyway. Hopefully their current install base is loyal enough to keep them afloat and they can build their brand with word of mouth and gain some new players in the future. For others that aren’t affected as much, I would personally like to see them update their current source books to become 4e compliant, while still offering their old ones and if possible any new systems they add in the future to have 3.x versions along side (even if it comes later).
This whole battle coming up oddly reminds me of NWN vs NWN2. NWN2 is bright and shiny and on the surface seems better, but most of the community still uses NWN. Why? because the engine was just all around better. It was easier to deal with and it wasn’t as buggy. Now Fourth edition is the bright and shiny newcomer that by many people’s comments is all glitz and no substance, hopefully the D&D fanbase will tell Wizards that they are doing soemthing wrong like NWN fans told Obsidian and just stick with the old version.
In the meantime it may be worth stocking up on 3.x books made by Wizards because chances are they will stop putting more on the shelves in order to promote 4e books.
I should have posted my predictions for the Packers draft BEFORE the draft but I’ll tell you all what I thought we’d do… Initially we had 8 picks so I’m basing my predictions on that…
1) We would trade out of the first round because the value at that spot for positions we really wanted was slim.
*Results – correct
2) We would pick a wide receiver first because that’s what we needed the least (this tends to be how Ted Thompson works… ie last year we picked a DT despite that being our strongest position).
*Results – correct
3) Overall I figured we’d take the aforementioned receiver, 1 QB, 2 Offensive linemen, 1 TE, 1 RB or FB, 1 DB, and either another DB or a LB.
*Results – 2 WRs, 2 QBs, 1 TE, 1 DB, 1 DE, 2 OL…. So 6 out of 8 correct… or I could say 5.5 out of 8 as there were actually 9 picks.
Now I think the draft was ok. My major complaints are the Wide Receivers, the DE and 2 QBs. Now I knew we would take 1 WR & QB, but we hardly needed 2. Hell we didn’t even need one wide receiver, but if we were going to take one high we might as well have taken one that was regarded as top 5. Instead we traded down away from having our pick of TEs and WRs and chose one that wasn’t that great. It seems to me we did this same thing a few years ago passing up Chris Chambers for Robert Ferguson. If memory servers Chambers was largely thought by most to be the better of the two and we reached with Fergy whom really never turned out to be very good where as at least Chambers had some fairly decent years (and was likely stifled by lack of a QB). Still maybe Nelson will work out better.
Second was really that DE. I didn’t mind us picking a DE, but to trade up for one I thought was a little weird. Defensive Line is one of our stronger positions, and while KGB is getting old and our ends aren’t as strong as our tackles, I think trading up for it was a bit of a reach. I think a trade up for a linebacker would be much more appropriate as two of our starters are great, the other is questionable and the depth is near non-existent.
The rest of the guys seem fairly solid and fill needs pretty well. Ya know I really don’t buy into Ted Thompson’s draft for quality not need. He only seems to do this when there is nothing worth taking at our need positions. I have a feeling what he does is he ranks everyone and then gives kind of bonuses based on needs. Therefore we will rate people higher based on our needs and thus we WILL take people that aren’t a need if they seriously out rank other people, but usually we will just draft for need.
I know that it is kind of sad that though I’ve had Zelda for a year and a half now and still I hadn’t finished it. In fact, I had only gone through about two of the dungeons so far. That’s why with this downtime and my computer down, I decided to finally work on the game. I didn’t ever get into the game previously largely because of school interfering with my ability to as well as my interest in EQ2 being at a peak until recently.
So I decided to give it a go again and I did fairly well. Completed the game in about two weeks time with only a few hours a day being allocated to play (also minus any out of town time). I also did it with minimal help from any guide. In fact, I thought the game was far easier than Wind Waker. It was a very straight forward game, I knew exactly what to do at almost any step. Most of the time when I looked at guides, I knew what to do, I just didn’t know how to do it. For instance, once there was a hidden school that I just couldn’t figure out how to do despite the in game help given on it to teach me… stuff like that. This changed a bit towards the end in Hyrule Castle where the game became much more difficult in figuring out the puzzles.
The story itself I thought was rather cool. I know that one thing that this game got hit on from many in the media was the repetitiveness of the story… which is true. Although I did think this one was very different from the last few. I thought the Twilight aspect of the game (including changing into a wolf) were quite different from anything we had seen in the series previously and brought the game an overall creepiness that we hadn’t really seen either. I liked Midna (despite her annoying squeaks when she was riding on the back of the wolf) and the new bad guy (I think it was Zet) very much. In my opnion however, this story would have been ten times better had the game ended with the destruction of Zet… I realize that what would Zelda be without Ganon, after all he is one of the three triforce. However, this is part of the point, it has gotten old to constantly see him. Why couldn’t they have made it in the story that the destruction of Zet foiled Ganon’s ability to return to the world and seen an end there? I thought Zet was a fine enough end opponent to stand on his own and this twist in the story would have offered people something new to the series that would have really changed it. I was also half expecting Midna to be Zet in the end helping Link to let loose Ganon which would have been a nice, though expected, twist as well.
For the Wii aspect, I did think that all the motions went fairly well for the game… I think what it did right was there wasn’t a ton of movements on it. I think the games that haven’t done well with motion capture have tried to do too much. But really there were only 2 movements with the nunchuku and maybe 3 with the controller. I actually thought they could have done with a few more… like I swear in the original demo they had you pulling the bow back for the bow but this was absent, likely because it just didn’t work well. But I think stuff like this would have done wonders. I thought the much touted fishing was very poorly implemented. It didn’t really feel like I was fishing, it more felt like i was holding the pole over the water, and this has been an issue with the three or four examples of fishing that I have toyed with thus far. They for some reason can’t get the motions of the actual fishing correct, maybe the Sega Bass Fishing game does it better since that is full fledged. But I didn’t really bother with it here.
My main problem with the game is the lost opportunities in it. With the early introduction to the hawk, the horse, the monkey, and the wolf… I really expected this game to use animals in a large way. And while we later also added the boar… you never really did much with any of these animals outside of the wolf. I think they could have done something really great allowing you the player to call each of these animals at will allowing more puzzle play with them. Or even better, what if you could transform into each of these after unlocking them? This could have been a really cool aspect of the game that also would have been new. And maybe they really had this intention in the beginning but didn’t have the time to implement. Oftentimes, they do a sequel on the system for these games… there was 2 N64 games, there were 2 windwaker games… I’m hoping that there is a second Wii game that kind of takes this concept into fruition into a full fledged game.
Obviously this game is a must pick up game for the Wii and easily one of the better titles available even now after almost two years. I don’t think anyone would think otherwise as the series has traditionally been one of Nintendo’s best and highest rating.