Blog 599: Lightning Never Talks Twice

I recently did something called a Lightning Talk to my work colleagues about the ultimate basics of procedural level generation. I’m scared of, and terrible at, doing presentations, so I volunteered because I need to learn to face my fears. (Be bold, etc.)

A Lightning Talk is when three or four people do very short, five-minute presentations about Something Cool — so I figured that, since I kind of care about this stuff, at least my enthusiasm would shine through if my tongue refused to cooperate (it did).

This was written as an introduction for absolute beginners, because nobody at work gives two figs about game technology (except me), so it should be interesting enough for mildly technical people with a passing interest in the area.

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Blog 598: Human Devolution

At the time, I didn’t blog about Human Revolution because I knew I could never give it an unbiased review. Why? Because it is, quite simply, not Deus Ex. It is a lot of things — a well-made immersive sim, possibly even a good game — just not Deus Ex.

Plot and lore mean a lot to me, and the incongruities in the first half hour alone make me want to spew. I played through the whole game and the wrongness never dissipated, so I just moaned a bit offline and let it go.

Alas, the fancy recently took me that I should replay the game now… And I can hold it no longer.

This blog is not about the game on its own merits. This blog is about why Human Revolution is not Deus Ex — in the same way that Unreal II is not very Unreal. This blog is about why the game “not being Deus Ex” is important.

I will understand completely if you think less of me by the end of this post, and there are spoilers for “all three games in the franchise” everywhere. Continue reading

Aside 47: There Is No Skill


Suddenly, I feel like a student again. I don’t know how to parse the world, I don’t know what it wants from me, I don’t know how to react to it. I don’t know how it’s socially acceptable to react to it anymore.

I can learn how to cook, how to clean, I can learn how to iron. I have the mental faculties and physical capabilities to acquire these abilities, and if I can not do them well, then I will one day at least perform them adequately. That should not be beyond me.

But there is no skill that I can learn that will put another human being in this flat with me. That is terrifying.

Blog 595: First-Time Buyer

The very first time I ever played Baldur’s Gate, I stumbled upon Taerom Fuirim’s Thunderhammer Smithy in Beregost. In his stock, my eyes found a most glorious sight: Full Plate Mail, the most protective armour available in the game. (Actually, I think there’s Full Plate +1 somewhere, but I was only young and somewhat lacking in those completist tendencies that define me now.)

The problem was that it cost 9000 gold. 9000 gold, in a world where I’d barely spent 100 on all my starting gear. 9000 gold was unthinkable. I spent half of the game scrimping and saving, scraping together all that gold so I could outfit Robe the Fighter like a god damn king.

Eventually, I made it, and I gleefully bought that armour.

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Blog 594: The DLC Effect 3 (Part 2)

I’m never quite sure how to feel about scattered little DLC packs as opposed to monolithic expansions; I always get the feeling I’m paying more money for less content. Then again, expansion packs like Warcraft III‘s The Frozen Throne are ultimately more valuable than the base game, making the total infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe expansions have just been underpriced all along?

Either way, I laid down my wonga for all the Mass Effect 3 story DLC packs. Last time From Ashes was good and Omega was unremarkable — so let’s see what I have to say about the other two packs, Leviathan and Citadel…

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