Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sporadic Roundup #2

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and as context is everything, let's talk about the Games I'm Playing Now.


D&D Next: Run by Shieldhaven. This is pretty much it for tabletop right now. We're still playing with the last playtest packet rules, which was a serious de-powering in a lot of ways, largely because this was always meant to be a level capped game, and D&D Next introduced the "Apprentice Tier" of levels 1-3. While I'm kind of glad they just come out and say that you should start the game at level 3 if you want to have established, functional characters, it's still a little vexing. On the other hand, I guess it's all right to have the option to play helpless noobs if that's your thing, but it really, really isn't mine. Also, the introduction of Feats, and changes to two weapon fighting which have had the damage add to the off-hand weapon appear and disappear a few times in execution. Y'know, I am very tempted to remove the flat +1 AC bonus of two weapon fighting and replace it with an optional reaction (so the same slot as Attacks of Opportunity or, in our game, Give Ground) that allowed you to impose disadvantage when an enemy attacks you. Now, there's some quibbling to make whether you should have to make that decision before or after you know if the attack hit, but that's a lot more cool and interesting to me than a flat AC add. Either way, my Veytikka Fighter's claw damage is likely about to go down to 1d4, because of some other tweaks to the damage numbers. And as much as it pains me, it's likely the correct decision, because 1d6 on a weapon that can't be disarmed is boss as fuck. But I have a magic rapier now, so... yeah. I have not played my Warlock in some time, pending either a rebuild or the formal re-release of the Warlock from Wizards. And I should talk about my reactions to Haven's proposed Warlock rebuild in another post. Either way, the last session was incredibly great for character decisions and actual, fun play, and did a great job of reminding me what I like about D&D in the first place.

Vidja Games

Hearthstone-- currently on hiatus because, while fun, one kind of has to cool down from high rage points every season.

 Sunless Sea-- From Failbetter games; a companion to Fallen London. I want to do a post just on this, because I really love it, but it has the growing pains of something that really wants to be overt horror, and punitive, but also wants to reward exploration. This is an incredibly tough balance to strike, and I feel they're moving ever closer to actually hitting it.

Doki Doki Universe-- A pretty fun, extremely well written, and adorable game for the PS3; I spent about a week on this before hitting the end of the basic content. Haven't decided whether I want to pay for more... perhaps eventually.

Browser Games

Flight Rising-- a dragon breeding game, and another fascinating example of player-driven economy. The game presents objects of varying values that it sets, which are mostly irrelevant to the player prices except to set a floor... when you can get a thing by breeding or gathering, you have to sell it for a price that exceeds the vendor sale price, or in the case of dragons, the exalt (essentially, turn into game for money) price. It does some interesting things when the floor drops-- usually self-correcting. Anyway, it's another subject that really deserves its own post. Those are the main things I've been playing; in short, pretty much all of which I should post about more in-depth.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Yes, Video Games are Art. There. I said it.

This is a common question that's come up over and over: Are Video Games Art? If so, what makes them thus? And so on, and so forth. Typically, the argument is divided by people who don't care for games saying, "No! They're silly kids' entertainment, and cannot be Art!" and people who like games saying something that sounds a lot like, "well, I like them, so they must be Art!" and people who like games, but want to be snooty about it saying, "well, what is Art anyway? And some are Art, and some are not," et al.

But what we're actually talking about here, at a fundamental level is legitimacy: should games be taken seriously as a medium and a format, or not?

And yes, I am using Art with a capital A, because it _is_ to be high-falutin' here. Or some junk. And because I am unable to avoid pretension or fulmination, because I am not as awesome as Shieldhaven. But I digress.

First, we have to separate Art from value judgement. That is to say: whether or not you like something has nothing to do with it's status as Art. There's plenty of bad Art. But the fact remains that movies, books, music, and visual art are all Art, and video games combine these elements with interactivity... thus, Art. But there's another reason too... the economics, the production, and the marketing of video games are all consistent with those for Art of various media.

I shall explain.