Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marriages vs. Friendships

We shouldn't have to choose between the two. But for three of my closest friends so far (hencforth to be referred to as L., A., J1., and J2., respectively), getting married meant cutting off the relationships we've had for more years than they'd been married now: hanging out, okaying boardgames, and most importantly, playing role-playing games.

L. was one of the best players in my home game group: showed up every session, was enthused enough with whatever setting we're playing in at the moment as well as with his character, and took care of reminding players about the next game session. On top of that, he was also a very good friend who I hanged out a lot with. All of which promptly changed when he got married. 

Mr game group which has stood intact for nearly 20 years fell apart, although L. was not fully to blame for that. Now, we're trying to rebuild the group and start a game of D&D 4E (as well as Savage Worlds, I hope). Most of the players are quite tied up with Real Life(tm) and things are further complicated by geographical separation. Still, we've got about four players that can be rounded up, L. included.

What strikes me as funny is the fact that these people claim not to have difficulty finding time out for gaming. Surely you don't have to be with your spouse 24/7! That's be hell. Would it kill people to have a little afternoon off each week for gaming? 

I'm all for my friends' happiness(-es), but surely anyone can see that eschewing hobby time is very unhealthy. Things shouldn't suddenly change just because you're married. Dumbasses.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yet Another Quitting Attempt

I'm currently on hour 18 of yet another attempt at quitting my smoking habit.

I have no idea if this will follow through or how long it will last, Even now, the craving is pulling at me and it is all I can do to resist it.

Wish me luck, everyone!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dragonball Z: The Director's Cut

Just watched the first three episodes of the new "remastered" Dragonball Z...

And it's awesome! I was actually disappointed at first when I saw that the animation was still the same (I thought it was actually a remake or reimagining as is common these days). But as I continued watching, the wonder of the past Dragonball Z seized me, and I was aching to see more energy-blasting action.
The pacing's a lot quicker now too. They're taking out most of the grunting, staring fillers, and cutting straight to the chase. As episode 3 ended, Goku and Raditz just died from Piccolo's Makansanpo (sp?) and everyone's dreading the arrival of Vegetta and Nappa in one year.
Can't wait to see the next episodes!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Animax Asia pwned!

I downloaded the fan-subbed episodes of this FMA: Brotherhood (I'm a pirate, yaaahr!) released by Eclipse and found them superior in localization than Animax Asia's televised episodes. Looks like Animax's voice actors aren't the only ones who're incompetent, their subtitlers are fine candidates for the Darwin Awards as well! Not only that, but Eclipse releases the fansubs more than few days earlier than the Animax episode.

Animax pwned. Hahah.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Fighting Fantasy RPG Collection

At long last, the circle is complete!

I've been hunting down the missing parts of my Fighting Fantasy Roleplaying Game collection for years, and it has only been last week that I've finally found the two books that have been missing: Out of the Pit and Titan: The Fighting Fantasy World.

Out of the Pit

Out of the Pit is the Fighting Fantasy "Monster Manual," with stats for 250 monsters. This was actually released for the basic game but was later re-released as a sourcebook (in a largely unmodified form) for the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG.


Titan: The Fighting Fantasy World details the campaign setting for the role-playing games. Not only can information on the popular continent Allansia (setting of most of the FF Gamebooks) be found, but those of other continents and places as well. Like Out of the Pit, Titan was also released during the same time as the Introductory role-playing rules, but was also subsumed as a valuable sourcebook for Advanced Fighting Fantasy.

I've played the heck out of what Fighting Fantasy gamebooks I could find at the local National Bookstore and Booksale branches way back in the late '80s to the early '90s. I remember Rebel Planet as the first Fighting Fantasy I've owned. I borrowed Deathtrap Dungeon and Seas of Blood from my friends. And later on was fortunate enough to stumble upon The Warlock of Firetop Mountain--the book that started it all--in one of my Booksale hunts. Since then, my collection has grown steadily; I have most of the 50+ books in the line already.

But it wasn't until a few years ago that I learned of an actual role-playing game based on the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. Once I found out though, I lost no time in acquiring the first two books in the series: the first was simply titled Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Role-Playing Game...

... and the second was an adventure module with additional rules entitled The Riddling Reaver.

The Riddling Reaver

The Advanced Fighting Fantasy Series

The Advanced Fighting Fantasy line was revised the basic rules given in the two books above, and greatly expandad upon them, making the Fighting Fantasy system more of a role-playing game. This series started with Dungeoneer, which gave the base rules for Advanced Fighting Fantasy...


... and continued with Blacksand! which expanded the rules in Dungeoneer (adding Priestly magic, among others) as well as laying down guidelines for city adventures...


... and finally, there's Allansia, which provides Fighting Fantasy adventurers the means to explore the wilderness of Titan.


To Savage or Not To Savage?

Now that is the question. Do I convert the world of Fighting Fantasy to my favorite role-playing system, Savage Worlds or should I run it as is, with the Advanced Fighting Fantasy system. Both systems have their merits: Savage Worlds is fast, fun, and furious, and is certainly "old-school" enough to retain that FF feel. Running it using AFF would be a purer experience but the system, though light and old-school enough, has more than a handful of flaws.

Either way I decide, a new group of adventurers would soon be setting foot on Titan, to fight their way through their own fantasy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did my D&D Tiny Adventurer Just Score?

I've just joined Facebook a few days ago. I've held out so long because I thought I only needed one personal networking site (in case you're curious, mine was Friendster). Turns out I really needed only one: Facebook. It was like love at first sight...

But this post wasn't meant to be a rant about Friendster like that site's a bad ex-girlfriend. No, this is about my only reason for finally getting a Facebook account: to try out the D&D Tiny Adventures app I've heard so many wonderful things about.
So I got the account, and immediately started playing the game. It was easy enough to get into, even if you have no idea what D&D is; you just pick a character out of the eight offered, give him (or her) a name, and your D&D Tiny Adventurer is ready to be sent out on adventures to earn gold (every adventurer wants the shiny, of course), nifty gear (hopefully magical and ones he can equip), and experience points (so he can level up, to tackle on greater adventures).

You don't have to be slaved to your monitor during all these. D&DTA was designed for "sporadic gameplay" (as the designers described it): you pick an adventure and you can come back later to check if it has ended. Each adventure takes a number of encounters--challenges that test your adventurer's various traits and abilities (like his combat prowess or intellect or even his defenses)--and your hero will go through these encounters one by one, at a rate of about 10 minutes in real time. Each time your adventurer completes an encounter, reports posted to provide you with running story updates of what's happened so far.

These are most often amusingly written, like this, the final encounter of the Level 7 adventure, Hidden Shrine of Nahautl:

So did I just score? XD
Hmm. I started out just wanting to post this amusing screenie and ended up doing a review of the app, and this post had gotten quite awkwardly long. Í think I'll have to end it here with the recommendation that this app is not for D&D fans with lots of time to waste; with the "sporadic gameplay" design, everyone with access to these Internets should be playing this.

So get it now, add me as a friend (friends can heal and buff you!), and start leveling up!

Drakensang: Tne Dark Eye

Finally got a copy of this latest PC role-playing game based on the popular German pen-and-paper RPG, Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye). The tabletop game was first published way back in the early '80s but it wasn't until 2003 that it was released in English. Back in the 1990s though, a trilogy of CRPGs called the Realms of Arkania was published, along with English translations of the 3 tie-in novels.

Drakensang ("The River of Time") is thus the fourth CRPG in the Realms of Arkania trilogy, and could have been named as such, but I think SirTech took that license to its grave. 

I'm excited to try this game out. It's Germany's D&D, so to speak. From what little I've read of the actual mechanics, there's a steeper learning curve than D&D, as well as a lot of dice-rolling (3 rolls to make one skill check!). But since there's the game engine to handle all that, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

I think the game finished installing already. Have to play now. More later.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Avernum 5

I've stayed away from the Avernum series since I failed to finish the first installment; finally burned out on the clunky interface and sub-par graphics, then lost interest. I'm a hardcore old-school CRPG fan, but maybe not that much.

Now, several years after, I've returned to Avernum, intending to playing through the fifth in the series. And what a pleasant surprise to see that while it still looks like the same engine, there has definitely been a lot of improvements, particularly in the ease-of-play department: a great tutorial and prologue, online help, streamlined GUI, and fun gameplay.

Avernum 5 definitely addressed most of the negative issues since the first game, opening up the old-school RPG style to a wider audience (i.e. me, hahah). 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sam & Max: Season One

Finally got around to playing Sam & Max: Season One. This time around, the crazy duo is back in a 6-episode adventure that brings a lot to both hardcore and casual adventure gaming fans everywhere.

Installed this baby about a week ago, and now, I've breezed through all six adventures in a mad whirl of week-long gaming.  I think this is the first time in months that a game has managed to keep my hyper-active attention span till completion, so that's something. Granted, each episode can be easily completed within five to six hours, so there's that too.

But still Season One is a solid game: the puzzles are a bit on the easy side (it wasn't until Episode 6 that I began to get stumped, although that could be more from getting tired and not paying much attention than anything else) and the stories are hilarious and entertaining.

Best Episode of Season 1: Episode 5 - Reality 2.0. With its spoof of online gaming and a surprising homage to text-based adventure games along with references to fantasy roleplaying games, this episode stands out as the best out of all six for me.

I'm about to start Season 2 once I've installed it, and I'm also looking forward to playing their classic old game, Hit the Road. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is Infinite Interactive's latest connect-three/role-playing game hybrid, a science fiction follow-up from their previous fantasy offering, Puzzle Quest: Quest of the Warlords.

Instead of a square board, the playing field has been redesigned with hexagonal gems, and the battle system is intended to simulate two ships having a dogfight in space. Different gems power various tech installed on your ship, with blue gems regenerating your Shield energy and mine gems representing direct attacks on the enemy ship. Play continues back and forth with you and the enemy ship alternating turns.

I've just installed it today on my HP notebook running Vista Home Premium, and so far, its working great. It does load a tad slow when you start the program, but maybe my box is to blame partly for that (or, more to the point, Vista is). So far, I've clocked in several hours' worth of play already; this game, like its fantasy predecessor, is quite addicting!

Other things to do include mining, where you attempt to connect a series of three resources before running out of moves; resources can then be sold at ports for money. Ports buy resources at different rates, so you have another "mini-game" trying to find where it is best to sell your Food, Isotope, or Gold cargo. And then there's the stargate hacking minigames, where you need to connect a sequence of gems before the timer runs out; stargates allow access to other star systems, which you'll need to have in order to move around and complete the game's various quests.

There's also several different factions in the game, and your quests and actions alter your score with each faction. Initially, there are four human mega-corporations, but soon enough, relationships with other races and factions, like the Pirates, will also be added and tracked. 

All in all, Galactrix is a solid science fiction RPG with a puzzle combat system, a game that's highly recommended whether you're an RPG fan and/or a puzzle fan, and whether you're a hardcore or a casual gamer.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

KiVa ends, Decade begins

A couple of weeks ago, Kamen Rider KiVa ("King of Vampires") ended. I've followed the masked tokusatsu series for 40 weeks--a mad fun romp between two eras (1986 and 2008), between father and son, between laughter and tears. And through it all, I've witnessed KiVa and IXA's battle against the Fangires (vampiric stained glass monsters that feed on human lifeforce) and their ruling council: the Checkmate Four.

A year ago, I tuned in on KiVa because Engine Sentai Go-onger's pilot left me feeling cold. Sure, these are kids shows, but even I must draw the line when the show's got more than one cute animal-esque mascots. Magiranger wasn't like that! My beef with the Kamen Rider franchise is its solo heroes, although recent series (particularly Ryuki and now, Decade) feature more than just one or two Riders. I've always preferred an ensemble as opposed to a single protagonist.

But this time, I didn't mind as much. And so I started acquiring KiVa over the course of some 40 weeks. And enjoyed the show immensely.

With Kiva ended, the franchise moved on to its latest title--Kamen Rider Decade--the very next week. From the pilot I just viewed, I think it's got something of a Sliders-esque vibe going, with the masked hero traveling to the 9 other Rider worlds, parallel universes that were the homes of the previous actual Riders of the series. Episode 1 ended with Decade appearing, and being given an identity, in Hyuuga's (1998 series) world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Notetaking and Organizing Has Never Been This Fun

I just got a new laptop (an HP Pavilion) last Tuesday and I haven't finished fiddling around with it. I plan to make it my PC-away-from-home as I expect it should be, so I've basically setting it up for work-related stuff, although I've also installed some games like Fallout 3 and Dungeon Siege just because. I'll also be using it for my writings, that dream job I keep plugging at on the side.

Anyways, it came with Vista so it's also a new experience for me. Vista's almost just like XP anyway, but with a slightly better-looking interface, and a decidedly anti-game-installing bent (hahah).

One of the coolest applications that is installed right now on my new notebooks is Microsoft OneNote. I just fired it up earlier tonight and I'm still giddy with the awesome potential of this little program. It's included as part of the Microsoft Office 2007 suite, and it allows you to organize notes into electronic notebooks. The niftiness can be applied to everything: work, personal stuff, research, and, most of all, RPG campaign planning! It'd probably also be great for novel writing notes.

Over the course of the next few days, I suppose I'll be tinkering with it a bit more, entering RPG stuff and all.

That's it for now.