Browsing the blog archives for July, 2008

4th Edition Campaign

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Games, Personal

My gaming group is finally considering starting up a 4th Edition campaign. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to put into GMing a campaign myself, but I won’t complain about getting to play a system I don’t know first.

For the past couple of weeks the guys have all been reviewing the rules, and I think I’ve finally got a decent handle on things. I felt like I was stumbling through the dark because of the organization of the book — It throws all these options at you first, races and classes, skills and feats, and it wasn’t until later on in the book that I felt like I was understanding the choices that were presented to me.

However, I think I’ve finally hit the clicking point. I was sitting down the other day making up sample characters, and I realized how interesting levelling up was going to be in this new system. The whole character sheet is mutable since almost every derived stat has Character Level / 2 as part of the formula. And then add on top the large numbers of feats you’re getting, and the frequent stat boosts. Yeah – I think levelling up will be cool. Not to mention that simple level 1 characters are already cool, having 4-5 powers to use in combat, instead of 3 spells for a Wizard or Cleric in the old edition (and about 1 attack for everyone else).

All that said, I think the 4th Edition PHB could really use some changing up. Coupled with the fact that they released a somewhat substantial errata already, I really hope they print another edition. Of course, I say this because I haven’t actually bought the books yet – I think I might be a bit more miffed if I had.

Ubisoft Patch by Pirates

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Games, Technology

I was linked to the following news article by a friend who was plagued by issues with his Direct2Drive installation of Rainbow 6: Vegas 2.

The setup: A patch to the game added DRM which forced a CD check on installations of the game. This is obviously a problem for people who bought the game through services like Direct2Drive that provide downloads but not physical discs. So what happened?

Apparently a Ubisoft employee found, and made publicly available, a patch for the game executable that allowed it to be run without the CD, fixing the error and allowing paying customers to enjoy the product that they paid for. As a minor side note, the patch was a game crack released by the release group “Reloaded.”

From the Ars article:

The game broke, and the easiest way to fix it was to turn to the very pirates that the PC gaming industry vilifies at every opportunity. The uneasy truth is that DRM is an elaborate way to say something is being done to combat piracy, and the publishers have long relied on the piracy groups to “fix” their games that ship infected with these often-invasive programs. Anyone with even a passing interest in technology knows that technological measures do little to stop hacking by determined users: new PSP firmware is cracked in hours, games are cracked and leaked before the retail versions hit the shelves, and anyone who reads Apple blogs knows how to jailbreak their iPhones. The harder companies try to lock their products down, the more likely they are to test the limits of legitimate customers who look on enviously as the pirates enjoy a superior user experience.

Kind of funny how the synergy works out here.

Who watches the watchmen?

Legolas Skynyrd – Freebird

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Games, Technology

For quite awhile I’ve been hoping that, one day, there would be a game that would allow people to write their own music. I mean, after all, modern computers have sound cards, and can generally run complex music synthesizing software. Sending a string of MIDI signals across the internet is not any more outlandish than sending real-time physics data for fifty or so people and potentially hundreds of projectiles (see: almost any multiplayer First Person Shooter).

So recently I came across this video from Lord of the Rings Online:

Very cool! Although it does bring up the obvious flaw that I never thought of – What happens when people use this music-synthesizing utility to break in-game character. I mean, from my impression, this sort of thing is purely a roleplay / fluff feature (no tie-in to mechanics), so the fact that something that’s intended primarily to improve immersion is seemingly used almost exclusively to break it is problematic.