Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day 1, Countrypersons, lend me your thoughts

Despite a wicked headache, I'm writing a blog post, albeit maybe less than the exceedingly witty I'm shooting for.

I love the steam punk genre. It's always fascinated me. I love the idea of mixing classic settings with technologically advanced elements. It doesn't even have to be a Victorian/steam tech mixture. I don't know if there is an overarching genre of mixing story elements as I described, but there should be.

One of my favorite PC games was called Arcanum: of Steamwork and Magick Obscura. It had a fantastic blend of arcane magic and high technology and just the right amount of Victorian flavor alongside fantasy creatures to suck me into the storyline. One of my favorite bits was the ogre butler you could have join your party temporarily in order to help you do a job for his master. Because of the way I work, I always assess videogames to find any and all of what my dad calls unintentional programming loopholes. Simply put, I'm working the system however I can. With this game in particular, I always found the technological discipline of explosives to be the most useful as the game had what seemed like a glitch where I could drop 3-5 AOE explosives on my enemies every round of combat where they could only attack me once each, allowing me to demolish groups of enemies that far outclassed me in hand to hand combat. That along with the fact I found a black market that I could sell my explosives to at a reasonable profit, limited only by the amount of cash the "clerk" had on hand, which would recoup in a few days in game time so I'd spend time making flash, smoke and frag grenades and sell as many as I could, go do a quest or two and come back to sell more. It was great, it didn't ruin the fun of the game, but still allowed me to progress at a relatively rapid pace financially.

One of my favorite things about the game was its system of magic vs technology. You actually had three general options for character development, which were always left open for you at the beginning. For the first of the two primary options, you could develop magical skills and schools of spells to cast, but as you became more powerful in your magic, all technological items and technological skills of your hirelings would be less and less effective if used by or on you. The reverse was true as well, the more tech oriented you developed your character, the less magic worked for your benefit. Neither of these reduced the damage taken in combat by enemies, probably to keep game balance, despite being logically inconsistent. The third character development option had no effect on the Tech/Magick scale, as it was merely developing badass combat skills and trudging through the game by cracking skulls and shooting baddies at almost every turn. Once I discovered the lure of explosives, it was always too tempting to pass up and try to develop the combat only skills.

This game is 12 year old and as most people who know me, know I love old videogames. I still enjoy the hell out of console games that are 20+ years old. I don't known if they'll ever wear out for me. It helps that I can play a lot of them on my Android phone, but just about convenience, I'd still play them regardless.

All this said, please, tell me about your favorite example of steam punk in particuar, just about your favorite genre that you like to read/play/experience.

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