Pointless Armor: A Rant

I think it should be pretty clear what the purpose of armor is: to defend oneself from the attacks of another. However, in many fantasy works, particularly video games, armor doesn’t seem to do that, not really. I’m not going to complain about fantasy armor designs here, nor about armor-as-fashion. I’m talking about armor that literally does not do what it’s supposed to: protect the user from attack, even in the areas it covers.

And again, this rant is inspired by the current event in Granblue Fantasy. (Major spoilers for the one person in the world that cares about the game and hasn’t played the event yet.) At one point, the character shown at top, Polaris (who is a general-champion, of course) catches up with the enemy prince (who is also a general champion, despite being the usual spoiled evil useless brat prince character). Being a good person, and not overconfident, she gets the upper hand. But the prince uses one of his own soldiers as a shield, which is just enough of a distraction that he is able to kill Polaris. So far, so good, typical use of a friendly npc death to raise the emotional stakes of the story. (I don’t like it – it’s yet another instance of FKHR’s war on non-human characters in this game – but it works dramatically.) And it’s not like Polaris is particularly armored – the only really effectual piece would be the breastplate, and even that’s low, and a stab in the side is completely unblocked.

No, the trouble is how it came. That fellow above was the prince’s human shield. Who the prince ran through with his sword, to get to Polaris. This guy actually has proper armor on his torso. A sword would have to go through at least one point in his armor, if not two or more, to get to the potato. Unless that is quite shiny cardboard armor, that’s just not going to happen. If that’s how it is, why even wear armor at all? Just be like Dancho, who runs around in a short dress.

That was what ticked me off this time, but it happens all the time. How many cutscenes do we have of boss-type people who just clear out armored mooks with just a flick of their sword? How often to players go up against heavily armored enemies, which just seems to mean that they have a bigger HP pool, or perhaps slightly lower chance to hit?

And of course this goes beyond games. The recent Witcher series, among many examples, is terrible with this. One scene in particular, that shows up a lot in reviews (and maybe even the trailers? I don’t remember) just turned me off to the whole show: Geralt is in a big battle, and armored guys are taken out just as easily (and thoughtlessly) as the unarmored peasants in another episode. And even in space, armor seems to be mostly useless: what is the point of stormtrooper armor, if even teddy bears with sticks and rocks can take them out?

The thing is, armor protects, and generally quite well, if it’s well-designed. Otherwise, people wouldn’t use it. Even a thick jacket can protect against sword slashes, let alone proper armor. Those armored knights weren’t quite invincible, but they were juggernauts on the battlefield, which is why they prevailed for hundreds of years. Armor is only ditched when it’s ineffective. So why don’t we see that reflected in games? In movies?

General Champions: A Rant

It’s often a thing in RPG’s, and fantasy in general (especially anime) that the officers are warriors like the soldiers, just +1 for every rank. So your grunts are basically cannon fodder, while your generals are basically armies in themselves. Not just the special heroes (or villains), not just the player characters, but just regular generals.

I have no idea how this became a thing. Maybe it’s from ancient myths, where the leaders (usually princes or kings) were heroes, generally at least a descendant of a god distantly, if not directly. Basically, these guys were already great, so they deserve the power and wealth that comes from being great. And being great and powerful, they are nobility, and naturally have men at their command. I guess that would make sense.

A game where generals and rulers are definitely not Heroes.

Especially when you consider that the officers in the old armies tended to be the nobility. In the feudal systems (which most fantasy is based on), the bulk of men for armies would be provided by the various smaller-scale rulers, as armies are expensive, and food needs to be grown. Even as full-time armies became more common, military leadership continued to be a thing for the rich, especially for non-inheriting sons: education to become an officer is expensive, and sometimes spots were explicitly paid for.

But while those officers might have been nobility, they weren’t more proficient at actually fighting, generally. Knights might have been, but again, they had the money to train, and to get special equipment. And a knight wasn’t necessarily a general, or even a high-level officer.

So we have these generals in fantasy (and sometimes sci-fi) that are supposedly great at fighting. Not just great, but often super-human. And of course they are going out to the front, if they even have an army at all, to be the boss after a bunch of mooks.

But that’s not what generals do. That isn’t what all but the lowest-ranked officers do. Generals stay back, and plan. They lead. They command. None of those things require the generals actually to be up in the thick of things, and indeed are actually counterproductive to their jobs. Sure, the general needs to be close enough to see what is going on, but too close, and that vision becomes both too narrow and too unclear.

They’re called judges, but it’s the same thing.

If these powerhouses are going to be officers (because mooks always follow a strong leader), they should be low-level, like a Lieutenant or a Captain maybe. These are officers that would be up at the front, doing the fighting. It would also give them a significant amount of authority, in the immediate area.

But such a low rank just wouldn’t do for a significant adversary for Our Heroes, now would it? The villain should be someone Important. And therefore they need an important rank. General would do. I almost think that these characters are powerhouses just so that, when the heroes defeat them, the battle is effectively over: without a general, the evil army just retreats.

Even when the general (or ruler) is in the rear where they’re supposed to be, they’re still a boss. Often one of the last bosses. It’s like, Our Heroes fought all this way, through waves and waves of mooks (or went around them), and now they face the real challenge. But why would you hold such an effective warrior back? I can see holding resources back, only spending them as needed, but as soon as the mooks were getting beat, the strong people should have been sent straight out.

The thing that set me off today was the most recent Granblue Fantasy event. The girl at the top (Shura) isn’t even really an officer, she’s a tactician. A brainiac, not supposed to fight. Yet she’s right there with Dancho (who, ironically in this case, is a strong fighter that isn’t in a leadership role in the army) fighting the big boss at the end – said big boss who cuts down mooks like they weren’t even there, who can literally dodge bullets (oh, and he’s also an enemy general). But she’s not the only one – every general in the story is a great fighter, such that the mooks all stand around and watch them fight each other. The rulers, same deal (the young king on the Good Side, and the young prince on the Bad Side). Even Shura’s little sister, who isn’t special in any way besides being the big bad’s girlfriend (a fact the story points out several times) is still leading a decent-sized force.

But obviously not just Granblue Fantasy. Just out of games I’ve played recently, Dragalia Lost does this. Fire Emblem is basically this idea: the game (though to be a little fair, many of them are Heroes in the Greek sense – but not anywhere close to most of them). It’s a thing in ESO. Heck, you could name most any JRPG. Even in STO, the player character is Grand Admiral Awesomepants Death Machine.

What Game Do I Play Tonight?

I just don’t know what to play tonight. Or most any night. It’s not too often that I actually have plans going in, when I’m between games. Sure, technically I have a ton of games I’m currently playing, and a bunch on the backburner, but what to do tonight?

Well, you might say that I should continue that game that I’m actually blogging about right now. And I certainly could do that. It’s not like I’m burned out from it. Quite the contrary, I really like it, and I like the playthrough I’m doing right now. But the problem is that I like it too much. It’s just the nature of CKII that you lose track of time. The usual “one more turn” issue, except there are no turns. I don’t think I got to bed before 5am last week while I was playing. I kinda need to sleep before work.

What about getting rid of some of that backlog? OK, sure. But which backlog? A completely new game? A game I’ve started but haven’t even gone a single playthrough yet, before getting distracted by whatever shiny new game comes up (true fact: yesterday I went to Walmart to look for a new Switch game, though didn’t end up getting anything)? Something else?

And what about the mmo’s? Whatever happened to ESO, that I was playing every night? Thing is, I’ve kinda gotten bored with that. Not enough to cancel my sub just yet, but I’m certainly thinking about it. I’ve just hit a plateau there, in terms of what I can do to advance, and I’ve lost any motivation to go forward. Not with all those shiny new games!

How about actually watching those anime? The ones that I’ve been downloading every week, totally with the intention of blogging about, but haven’t actually watched yet?

I don’t even know. Choice paralysis and all that. Maybe I’ll even go to bed early. But you won’t know about that.

How To NOT Do Holograms: Star Trek Picard

Among other, much more important things (like story, characters, dialog, etc.), one of the things that really bugged me about Star Trek Picard is how the show uses holographic interfaces. In short, it’s bad. Like, really bad. I know what they were going for: “This isn’t your daddy’s Star Trek; this is the future now.” (Implicit in the statement is that it isn’t for Daddy, ie the people that actually are Star Trek fans (the average age for Trek conventions is…not as young as anime conventions, to put it gently), but that’s besides the point.)

Now, not everything they do with holograms on the show is bad – just most of it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having Picard’s room on the ship, where they had the “conference” scenes in the first part of the show, be a holographic recreation of his office on Earth (and the fact that it lets the show reuse the set is a bonus). The whole point of the holodecks in the show was that you could do that kind of stuff. Heck, they could have had the whole bridge be a holographic bridge. Probably should have done that, actually, instead of what they did (and they should have kept using Picard’s room for conferences later, instead of the park tables of later episodes). The bridge set was already pretty similar to Voyager’s or DS9’s holodeck sets; I kinda expected them to go that route, at first (especially since they already have a holographic crew…).

No, where they go wrong is everything else. Look at that. Looks cool, right? Well, it’d suck to actually use it. Look how dim it is. Compare that to, say, Mass Effect:

Easy comparison to make.

A proper interface would be easy to see. In STP everything would be hard to see. In ME the interface is bright, easy to see. And it’s got a dark background, while STP has whatever is behind the hologram, every time. Which is usually something not much darker than the hologram itself. How are you supposed to read anything like that? There’s a reason ereaders and phones these days have high-contrast modes.

Also, specific to the interface used for piloting the ship, that interface tracks head movements. But you’ll notice that it’s a lot larger than a human’s field of vision, let alone the useful field of vision. Remember, the useful field of vision for anything like this is only a few degrees, not even five. If what you’re looking at is only a little bigger than that (like a single computer screen), you only have to move your eyeballs, but if it’s as big as Picard’s interface up there, you have to move your head. Not a huge problem…unless it tracks with head movements. This is shown multiple times in the show (including that above scene) – this would be supremely annoying to use. And of course the center part is completely empty of information, despite the fact that that’s exactly where you’d want to put the most important stuff.

A hologram inside a hologram…

Of course, the reason this was done was purely because it “looks cool”. Sure, the interface makes absolutely no sense from an actual human perspective. But you don’t need “tacky” flat screens, no touch screens that need to be on-set. You can just film the actors waving their hands around, poking at the air, and then try to make what they do make sense in post. It’s yet another example of modern Trek (and Hollywood in general) not thinking things through, but merely doing what is cool and easy.

Cleaning Up My Act

I really need to get my life together. It’s such a mess, all over the place. And my surroundings reflect that. It’s high time that changed, and maybe things can go into reverse.

Let’s start with my room (no, I’m not posting a picture). It’s not exactly like the picture on top, but it’s not great either. The trash can is full. I have a pizza box sitting there. Models have fallen off their stands, some broken, and they sit where they fell. I’ve got the box my computer came in still up next to my bed – where I put it a year ago. Though it’s kind of an end-table, as I have a bunch of papers and such on it. Like stuff that pertains to my surgery, that I had in September. Books and disks are still on shelves sideways, that I put there after they cleaned the carpets…almost two years ago. Everything has dust. My desk has all sorts of sauce packages on it. And so on.

My computer (where half my life is) is at least in a bit better shape. My desktop is clean. My Steam library is mostly organized. But some of my pictures folders are a mess. Sometimes I’ll create a new organizational structure, but never move the old stuff to that new structure, so I have stuff all over the place. It’s not too bad, but having to organize over a thousand pictures per folder is a daunting task, and not something I want to do when I’ve got free time.

And it’s not like I haven’t done it before, so I know of that which I speak. At one time I just had a Touhou folder. That got more than a little unweildy. So I went and organized it. Once it was organized, it was fine, and adding anything I missed just required a little bit more work. But I have it worse now, with some of what I want to do, than I did back then.

That’s just the thing. In my little free time, I want to be free, not work. And I’ve got time during work a lot, but then I’m at work, not at home (and honestly, I’d just play games at home, too).

Perhaps being more organized physically will leave me more organized in mind. Or not. But at least it’d be a start. And I could walk around without fear of knocking something over, or stepping on something.

Crusader Kings II AAR: Part 4

Nomedas is dead, and now it’s time for Sergonis to take over. Sergonis is a pretty good sort. He’s got very high diplomacy and martial, and has good learning and decent intrigue. He’s also got just about every good virtue trait, and none of the bad ones. His only failing is that he’s club-footed. But is he going to let that get in the way of joining the warrior guild? Of course not!

Sergonis has a plan. Being such a good, learned, religious guy, he knows that his simple tribal pagan religion isn’t good enough. Sure, the gods are great and all, but the actual organization of the religion is…lacking. Like, at all. So, he wants to fix that. Trouble is, you need moral authority and/or command of the various holy sites, and Sergonis is lacking in both. Thus, it will be Sergonis’s life-long quest to take those holy sites back from the infidels, and return them to rightful Romuva hands.

One of the bad things about not writing notes: I don’t remember if this is a rebellion or just another kingdom.

Easier said than done, though, since they’re spread out all over north-east Europe. One is out on an island in the western Baltic, one in Riga, one is held by the Serbian mega-kingdom, and one is held by the horsemen. At least we’ve got one of the five, right? I guess all there is to do is expand, expand, expand.

Fortunately, Sergonis is good at that sort of thing. And he’s good at picking when the time is ripe…and just getting lucky sometimes. And relying, and helping out, his vassals. Powerful vassals might be a threat to their king, but they’re also able to handle things themselves, if you let them. So the kingdom is able to expand north, south, and east, getting close to double its size when Sergonis started out. And he discovers he can create a new kingdom (or at least a new title for his current kingdom):

The dynasty, and the people, have always been Prussian, and now it’s official. Sure, it took old Sergonis 20 years, but he did it. And he doesn’t rest on his laurels, either. Nope, gotta keep expanding. But he isn’t just a warrior: he’s a hunter, too. But when you’re that old, and not too careful, sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted.

Sergonis was a great ruler in just about every way possible, but he wasn’t quite able to claim all the holy sites and get ready for a reformation. Unfortunately, his successor Gauronas isn’t nearly the king he was. He tries his best, but unfortunately barely lasts a year, before dying in a war.

Gauronas is succeeded by Ulinniks, who is a perfectly Prussian member of the dynasty, despite his looks. No one really likes him to start out, and he’s not a particularly good guy. He’s also fat and depressed, and has an old wife. He’s on an upward trajectory, though, and keeps up the momentum of his predecessors. Well, until he dies too early.

This new fellow, Karatas, he’s a bit different from his predecessors. While they were all about the warrior lodge, he doesn’t like the fighting so much, not big into arm wrestling and duels. He’s got a big of a foul streak.

Yep, he’s a demon worshiper. Good ol’ Chernobog, all about sex, drugs, murder, and rock-and-roll. Perfect for Karatas. With his acting skills, he’s able to seem like the perfectly devout Dievas worshiper, but it’s all a farce. (Incidentally, this goes completely counter to my goal of organizing the religion, since the events lower moral authority. Oops.)

But besides all the orgies, secret murders, desecration of temples, and whatever. Karatas is a decent-enough ruler. He expands the empire more and more. But it’s not all about him, not in the wider world at least. For the first time, Prussia loses territory: not in battle, but to inheritance. While he wasn’t looking, one of his dukes inherited the kingdom of Austrasia, which then proceeded to blow up.

Fortunately for the world, Karatas eventually meets his end. He is succeeded by Ulitis, who is a much better person, if a bit dull. But he knows how to fight, and he is a competent negotiator. He starts off with grey hair, which basically means he can drop dead at any time, but he just keeps on going. He’s mostly able to fill in those hold-out areas, and expand the realm even further. But, being an old guy to begin with, he doesn’t last that long. Sill got more than a decade of being king, which is pretty good, all things considered.

They See Me Rollin’

In Dragalia Lost right now there is a new banner, and something not done yet. It’s a Gala banner (meaning limited (recurring) thing, and double SSR rates), but this time it’s a dragon. Mars, specifically. And he’s really damn good. This isn’t powercreep, it’s a powerleap. Now, honestly, I don’t care. I mean, sure, it’d be good to get him, since my strongest fire dragon is a SR. But, double rates for every other SSR are definitely tempting. Now, this is kinda bait, since we currently have a limited banner for the colab with FEH, and part two of that colab later on (the first part is a rerun from last year’s FEH colab), but I don’t really care about FEH at all. (I think it’s weird to collaborate with other gacha games, but it happens all the time so whatever.)

I also have a lot of resources for rolling, since I’ve been saving. Before rolling I have 126 single tickets, 11 ten-rolls, and 106,098 crystals. At 120 crystals per roll, that gives me a total of 1120 rolls available. Now, I did say I don’t really care about Mars, and I don’t. But I do have a lot of single tickets, and those will be annoying to roll all at once (since whenever I roll, I use those first), and the more I get, the more annoying they are. So, the plan is to use 100, see what I get, and post that. Just for fun, I’ll also post which ticket got me which thing, just to see the distribution.

But that would be boring (it’s only 100 rolls, and there’s no drama if I don’t have a target)! So I’m going to do some math. While I might be a janitor now, my training is as a teacher, so today I’m going to teach about probability, since we’re kinda sorta gambling here. The gambling fallacy is that, as time goes on not winning, that just means it becomes more likely that the win is just coming up: the longer we lose, the closer the win will be. But of course that isn’t true; each event has the same probability, every time.

HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean cumulative probability is the same. And it’s relatively easy to figure out in this case: either win (SSR) or lose (not SSR), so there’s only two possible outcomes for each event. But as I just said, what really matters is the cumulative probability. Sure, I only have a 6% (.06) chance of winning each roll (and thus a .94 chance of losing), but cumulatively I can figure out odds for any number of successes. The thing to remember is: if you say AND, that’s multiply; and if you say OR, that’s addition.

I just wanted a picture here.

Let’s just take the chance of not getting a single win. This means we just lose, right? .94 chance? But if that were true, no one would ever pay money for gacha. And of course, it’s not true. It’s .94 for each chance, but there are 100 events (in my case). So, the first roll has a .94 chance of failure. But the second has to also fail, and the third, and the fourth. AND. So, .94 AND .94 AND .94 AND so on, a hundred times. Multiply it all, and it comes out to .94^100, which is… .00205, or a 0.205% chance of not getting a single success. Sounds good, right? Seems you’ll almost certainly get your SSR!

Thus, let’s look at the case of getting a single SSR. That means you have one success (.06) AND 99 failures (.94^99). Multiply that together, and that gets… .000131, or 0.0131% chance. But wait, you say, how can that be? If the chances of getting none are so low, how can the chances of getting more than one be even less? And of course, the more successes, the less likely it gets! (Since replacing a .94 with a .06 only makes the probability smaller every time we do it.) Well, we only looked at one case – we didn’t say whether the success was the first, or the 50th. And that matters; or rather, it doesn’t matter which draw was the winner, as long as we drew one. So, it could have been the first, or the second, or the third, or… OR. Remember, with OR we add. So we have to add the probability of each possible group. Since there are only 100 possible groups, and each group has the same probability, we can just multiply that first answer by the number of groups, which gives us .0131, or 1.31%. Much better!

You can of course do this for the case of two SSR, or three, or any number, up to the total number of rolls (in this case, 100). The math to figure all this out is called binomial distribution. The equation goes like this:

P(k out of n) =  n!/(k!(n-k)!) pk(1-p)(n-k)

Where the total probability P of k wins (with a probability of p) out of n trials is all that business. The first part is the number of groups you’ll get, and the second part is the probability of each group.

Now, this can be annoying to calculate out with a calculator, so fortunately you can easily figure this out in any spreadsheet with a simple command. Which is what I did. And doing it this way makes graphing it easy too. So I did. You’ll see I did two graphs: one of each individual case by themselves, to see which is most likely; and the other is how likely it is to get at least that number. The first one is self-explanatory, so I won’t talk about it. The other is a little more involved. Basically, it’s just another OR thing. If you get at least zero SSR, you’ll get zero OR one OR two OR three OR… so you add up each individual probability. Or, you can just do what I did, which is reverse it. Since the total probability is 1, you can just subtract the total probability of all the ones less than what you’re investigating from 1. So, since you can’t get less than zero, than the probability of at least zero is 100%. The probability of one is 1-P(0), or in this case .998; of two is 1-P(0)-P(1) which is .985, and so on. Hopefully your spreadsheet functions also have a way of figuring out that cumulative total as well.

How you all feel right now.

So I’ve said all that to come to this: according to the charts above, the highest probability of SSR’s here is five or six, though even considering all that, it’s still only a bit above 30% chance of that; could be less or more. This shouldn’t surprise us, since the stated rates are 6%, and so doing 100 rolls should get about 6. Indeed, if you had a lot of trials of 100 rolls, the graph would look a lot like the top graph, just smoothed out.

And so, what did I actually get?

When I picked up that Lin You super early, I thought that this would be a pretty hefty haul. Then I went almost 60 more before getting another winner, which was getting me a bit worried – this wouldn’t be much of a post without a decent haul. Then Maribelle came, and I thought that would be the end. But no! Two winners in a row! That’s pretty crazy.

So, a total of five, which is completely expected. Two of them, Maribelle and Ariel, were new, so that’s nice. No Mars, but I really wasn’t expecting or wanting it. Might do this again, if the new FEH characters are desirable.

AAR’s and Playthroughs: A Minor Change

I’ve come across a problem in the way I do these AAR’s and other comprehensive playthroughs: I don’t remember stuff. My usual method is to just take screenshots of important moments, and talk about them. Trouble is, I get so caught up in the game that I forget to take screenshots sometimes. And other times I do take the shot, but then forget precisely why I took that shot. So, the story is incomplete, and a bit messy.

So, I’m going to do something I should have been doing from the start: taking notes! In a game like Crusader Kings II, it’s pretty easy, since everything has a date, and some of the stuff is even recorded in-game. Other games can be harder, but it’s all doable.

The main reason I haven’t been doing it is because of burnout, or at least the potential for doing so, especially in a long game. You see, I’ve gone this route before. Many years ago, I decided to do an in-character blog of a fresh Skyrim run, basically a journal of sorts. I don’t know where I got the idea from, but there it was. Like I’ve said in a post earlier, I got pretty far ahead in the playthrough, compared to where I was in the blog. And as I played, I stopped to take notes. Physically, of course (I might even have bought a journal for this purpose, though maybe not; I don’t remember). This was soon after the game came out, and I’d already played through the whole thing twice. Between the note-taking killing my excitement, and my growing realization that the game was actually quite bad, I just lost interest.

But that won’t happen this time. Mostly because “this time” isn’t a big long RPG playthrough, but individual games and campaigns in a single game. I might do a long report of some rpg in the future, but I doubt it. And it probably won’t be in a “write every day” goal-month. But we’ll see.

My Five Favorite Game Series

We’re going to take a bit of a break from the CKII AAR, because I have this idea now, and I’m getting further and further in my game from where I’m writing, which makes it harder to make relevant posts (this is the same thing that killed my Skyrim in-character blog, all those years ago). But I saw Krikkit’s post on this topic yesterday, and it made me think.

Thing is, many of my favorite games are a part of some series – but I don’t like the rest of the games. Fallout comes to mind: Fallout New Vegas is definitely in my top five favorite games ever, but I’m not fond of the rest: 1 and 2 are just not my genre, no matter how many supposedly great games I try; and I despise the Bethesda offerings. The Elder Scrolls games are similar: I love Morrowind, but the rest are pretty meh (and I have the hundreds of hours of gameplay in each to know!). But I’ve thought about it, and I think I can come up with five series I generally like, which have games I love.

The Legend of Zelda

I’m not the biggest Zelda fan, but I generally love this series. As I’ve said recently, Breath of the Wild is now in my top games ever, and Hyrule Warriors I also love. Ocarina of Time is perhaps the first console game I’ve adored and put a lot of time into. When I got into emulators my top playtime went to the various SNES and GB games. As I’ve said, I’m not a huge fan of the dungeon setup in most Zelda games (and many games I never finish, though I think I’ve at least tried all of them except for Skyward Sword, since I had no Wii or WiiU), but still, every new Zelda game announcement fills me with excitement.

Deus Ex

My favorite game, ever, is the original Deus Ex. This is pretty much the Platonic Ideal of “greater than the sum of its parts” – the game isn’t that great technically, or in story, or in acting, or gunplay, or any individual element. But taken all together, this is a superlative game. The sequels never live up to the original, but I don’t know if that’s even possible. Invisible War gets a bad rap, because it’s doesn’t even come close for various reasons; it’s still a decent game on its own, however. Invisible War was also good, but I think missed the point; still a game I’ve played more than once, which I can’t say about too many games. Mankind Divided is probably the objectively best game in the series…except that it’s only half a game. But besides that, great stuff.

Atelier series

This is another one of those series that get me excited every new game, though I don’t always like many aspects of any particular one. I just like the crafting aspect of it. There are so many games though, that any particular mechanic that I don’t like will go away, eventually. Or at least, there will be something else that I do like, that it makes up for it. And I love a game about cute girls doing cute and dangerous things. Even the PS2 games that had a male protagonist and tried to be a regular jrpg.

The Witcher

I love the lore in this series, and I love the games. Yes, even the first one. Perhaps especially the first one. I know it tends to rub people the wrong way, but I got along with its jank just fine. I couldn’t even get into the second one until after I played the first: it was the first that got me hooked, and gave the motivation to power through some of the harder parts of the second game. The third is one of those masterpiece games, no matter how much /v/ hates open-world games, and perhaps the best open-world game ever: I hate when scale is off for game purposes (because rendering realistic distances is a bit hard, even now), and Witcher 3 comes closest to realistic in any game I’ve ever played, while still being fun to play and having things to do (unlike Daggerfall).

Far Cry

This one came out of left field for me. I had heard these were pretty mediocre, and not too fun. Also, huge, with a beefy computer needed. Eventually I got one of those, and gave it a try. The first one, I mean. And I didn’t like it. Tried 2, couldn’t even get it to run past the first save point. The third one though, that was something special. Not only did it run, but it ran well. And it was a good, fun game. Story wasn’t that special, but it was good enough. Then I played 4, and that was everything the third wasn’t. And then Primal, which was super fun. And 5 was even better. (Not the new one though – super disappointing that they went the Borderlands route with the gameplay).

I guess the thing I really like in a series is a large scope, with quality gameplay and lots of random crap to do. I guess I learned something about myself today.

Crusader Kings II AAR: Part 4

King Klukis Klakis has died, so now begins the reign of King Nomedas Klakis. The game here seems to think he’ll be a good army leader…and he is. His stats are about the same as his uncle’s (remember, elective succession means it doesn’t pass down in a direct line, necessarily), at least when starting out. Nomedas has a bit of trouble with the ol’ stewardship, which means his demesne limit is lower than it could be (ie, the amount of land the player personally owns). That’s troubling, but I’m sure it will be fine.

To start off, we’ve got to set up his initial things. You know, concubines, ambition, focus, etc. He’s stuck on Hunting focus for now, since he set this himself when he was an ai. We do get to set his ambition, which we’ll go ezmode for now: have a daughter (he has sons already). And since he’s a new ruler, and his predecessor hadn’t set any laws for a while, it’s time to continue increasing the centralization…but the council won’t have any of this business:

Centralization is good for me, less so for vassals. Plus, being a new ruler, they don’t like me. (This is normal for any new ruler, but especially for tribal governments – they want to be free, but will trust the ruler who’s established themselves.) And they don’t like me anyways. But that’s cool, we’ll just wait it out.

And Nomedas already started out with friends. Which is good, because when you have friends, they sometimes give you things. If you have the hunting focus, they might give you a puppy (a hunting dog). This is a great event, because there’s literally nothing bad that can happen (as long as you don’t name it after a demon…), and only good things can come of it. Unless you’re a jerk and reject it, in which case you deserve all the bad things that will come.

Nomedas is quite a young fellow, inheriting in his early 20’s. So he has some time to get things moving. Of course he’s going to join the warrior’s lodge, to fight some dudes (and dudettes). And of course he’s going to get it on with any woman who takes a fancy to him, especially if they’re not married already (not that that always matters…).

And the hits just keep on coming for Nomedas. He ranks up in the society, dueling folks and all sorts of other fun things. But he doesn’t just exercise his body: his mind is sharp as a tack as well. He even becomes a renowned poet!

All this exciting stuff, and I am sorta forgetting to manage his household. I like to marry off the concubines (they’re not technically sex slaves or whores, so people are fine marrying them) in their early 30’s, as both their fertility drops off compared to younger women, and it gives some of the unmarried kinsmen a chance to expand the clan too. But I’ve been having so much fun, and the kids have been rolling in, so I’ve forgotten this bit. Fortunately, Nomedas’s virility extends to all aspects of his life, and he even managed the above, which I thought was pretty much impossible in this game.

Being quite the virile fellow, Nomedas rises in the ranks of his lodge quickly, making it to Veteran in his early 40’s (in contrast, Klukis didn’t make it that far until his later 50’s). And in time, with all the fighting and drinking and stuff, he wants even more recognition. It’s time to join the Heroes.

If Veterans are old, Heroes are even older. And yet Nomedas isn’t even 50. And he’s fighting a woman. It’s not even close. Thus Nomedas becomes a Hero. There are serious gameplay advantages to this, which I completely ignore because I’m one of those players that sits on advantageous stuff, but never uses it because I might need it later. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

But all good things come to an end. Despite his incredible manliness, all too soon Nomedas becomes Incapable. All his enourmous strength and intellect, gone in almost an instant. (Probably lost in a duel, or other accident.) At 53, he’s rendered as helpless as a man much older, and his regent (and heir) has to take over. No, this isn’t the end of his gameplay, you have to soldier on until they finally croak. Unfortunately his heir is a really good guy, and keeps giving away the treasury.

And so ends mighty King Nomedas Klakis The Brute, warrior and poet, taken from the world tragically early. He accomplished a lot, expanded his kingdom, and had many, many children. Fortunately his epitaph forgets to mention the last few years of dottery, though it also fails to mention all the great amounts of blood and treasure he’s gone through.