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09 March 2014 @ 07:27 pm
Various thoughts  
I used to write a lot of blog entries that were just random snippets from my life. I've moved away from that and into more themed entries as time went on, but here's another info dump!

Last night I saw Knights of Badassdom, which is the first movie I've seen in almost two years unless I'm counting wrong, and it was...meh. I think part of the problem is that the "characters" in the movie had basically not character at all, and no reason for me to bother with feeling bad when they died. The movie just relied on casting people like Danny Pudi or Ryan Kwanten or Peter Dinklage and they saying "Hey! Hey! You know this person from [famous geek media source]! Isn't it cool that they're here!" And for softlykarou, who does watch [famous geek media source], it did have some effect, but it just fell flat for me.

Also, the ending shattered my suspension of disbelief over its knee. Not an auspicious return to movie-watching.

Oh, something interesting I noticed, I think based on an RPG.net thread. One of the big old debates people had in the OSR movement was the idea of player skill vs. character skill. This is often expressed through ranting about Spot Checks, but I can see the legitimate complaints, where skills are used to surpass immersion in the world. Like, what's the point of describing the room in great detail so that the PCs will look behind the statue to find the secret button if it's all going to mechanically be handled by a Spot Check? Just get the essentials out of the way and roll the check. The downside, which is something that I've fallen prey to myself, is the dungeon with stupid logic puzzles that the characters could easily solve but the players have to actually work out. The canonical example of this is the GM making the players work through the Towers of Hanoi to open a door or something, though I used the Eight Queens.

For CRPG players, though, it's the other way around. One of the big complaints I've seen about Oblivion from Morrowind fanatics is that Oblivion isn't a real RPG, it's an action RPG (whatever that means), because for a lot of things the character's skill doesn't matter. The most obvious example is the lockpicking minigame, where a skilled player can pick any lock without breaking lockpicks at all, so Lockpicking skill just acts as an artificial gateway for what locks the player can even attempt. On the other hand, I can see why they did this, because one of the biggest complaints about Morrowind is the combat. When you base everything on dice rolls against the character's skills, but you can see yourself swinging a sword through the enemy and it not hitting...well, that does a number on immersion. Also, it can be boring. I modded Oblivion to make lockpicking a straight skill roll and it involves me clicking over and over for 10 minutes to pick locks occasionally.

I suspect it has to do with the ability of CRPGs to portray the entire world graphically, whereas TTRPGs have to rely on the theatre of the mind, meaning that entirely different constraints apply and immersion means totally different things. One of my favorite computer games is Unreal World, but honestly, if it were a possibility, I'd rather play that in the Skyrim engine...or at least with Skyrim visuals. Part of the reason I put so much time into modded Fallout 3 is that I turned it into a post-apocalyptic survival simulator, which is a lot more engaging when you can peek through desks and behind beds and so on to find items rather than making Spot Checks or searching the square. Trying to replicate that experience in a TTRPG is one of holy grails, but I'm not really sure it can be done.

It's finally warming up in Chiberia. Enough that softlykarou and a friend and I were able to walk around for over an hour outside and not feel like we should have been fighting off wargs and yeti to get to our destinations. The sun is out too, and now I can tell I'm getting old, because for most of my life I reacted to the sun basically the same way that a vampire would, but now it's a welcome sight. Then again, it might just be that after a few years of soft, weak winters, I'm no longer conditioned to a true Chicago winter and the sun comes as a welcome sight. I guess I've lost my ability to call it the daystar.

Among all the complaining about daylight savings time, I'm actually kind of happy about it, because Ta'anit Esther is this Thursday and this means I don't actually have to get up much earlier than I usually do in order to keep the fast. I just have to wake up, eat, and then shower instead of doing it the other way around. I guess I am kind of the stereotype of the convert that becomes more observant than a lot of others...though somewhat oddly. I mean, if I always say the blessing before meals, but still eat bacon cheeseburgers, I'm not sure where that puts me. (^_^;)

That's about all I can think of for now!
 
 
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