Thursday, July 4, 2013

Studio d'Artdink's next epic game is... Dragonball!?

A few weeks ago, Namco-Bandai games announced a new Dragonball game--Battle of Z. I don't know about you, but I wasn't very excited about the prospect of a new Dragonball game, despite being a long-time fan of the franchise. After so many terrible games developed by Spike, it's hard to muster much interest, you know?

And even though Spike's rights to Dragonball expired with the whimpering mass of failure that was last year's Ultimate Tenkaichi, the fact that the early material for Battle of Z failed to indicate the game's developer indicated, to me at least, that it wasn't going to be anyone special.

But, goddamn, Battle of Z is being developed by the venerable Studio d'Artdink!

And if you don't know that name, you should. The recent, utterly fantastic PS3 game Macross 30: Voices Across the Galaxy was developed by Artdink, as were all of the fantastic Gundam Battle and Macross games on the Playstation Portable, all of the Hybrid Pack Macross games for the Playstation 3, and Gundam Seed Battle Destiny for the Playstation Vita.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Essential Ideas for the New Roleplaying Renaissance

Alongside tens of thousands of fellow gamers, I have participated in the recent surge of crowdfunding that, I believe, will lead to a very real gaming renaissance. Two of the most exciting of these games are Obsidian's Project Eternity and InXile Entertainment's Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Both of these titles are being constructed along the lines of the greatest classic cRPGs of the "golden era" of PC gaming. Not only are these games being developed in the same mold as Baldur's Gate and Planescape Torment and Arcanum, they are being developed by the same hugely talented people responsible for those classic games. It's all extremely exciting, and perhaps most exciting of all is the new dialogues opening up between developers and consumers--gamers, that's us!--which involve openly asking for gamers' input in the pre-production stages of game development. InXile's forum for Torment has a very nice set of mechanics in place for contributing game ideas--a mechanic I have made full use of in the past several days. My mind has been devoured with thoughts like: What are the things that annoy the hell out of me in isometric RPGs? What are the things that I always want to see an RPGs but never do?

This train of thought led me to propose several ideas both mechanical and aesthetic. Because both Torment: Tides of Numenera and Project Eternity are very much being developed in the vein of classic, Infinity Engine cRPGs, I feel that these ideas are applicable--and, to a certain degree, vital--to both titles. Or, rather, these are things that belong in every RPG of merit. While some may read these notions of mine and think, "that's obvious," or, "that's too simple of a thing to bother proposing,"--and while I may agree with those sentiments--I still believe that some things simply need to be said. Because of that universality, I am incorporating these ideas into a blog post to provide me (and anyone else who feels like it) with an easy resource to point out and say, "I want that."

I will do my best to fully articulate these ideas as best I can--which means I'll be writing as much as I feel necessary to clearly convey both my ideas in specific, as well as their emotional impetus. If you don't have the time or inclination to properly hear me out, please just avoid this essay entirely. Like I said, this is mainly a compilation of different ideas I have that I want to place in a single place, easy for me to access whenever, wherever, for my own personal use. As I conceive of new ideas--and/or find the time to fully articulate them--I will add them to this posting.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition

Baldur's Gate. It is a classic. An icon of the golden age of PC gaming. One of the quintessential roleplaying games of all time. Even gamers who have never touched the game, who have never played a single roleplaying game in their lives, know its name. First released on the 30th of November in 1998 by a small development studio called Bioware, Baldur's Gate quickly became a favorite of gamers the world over and catapulted Bioware to the upper echelons of developer fame. One year after the launch of Baldur's Gate, Bioware graced the world with a sequel, Shadows of Amn, which to this day is regarded as the pinnacle of the Western-roleplaying game genre and one of the finest computer games in history. In 2012 a site went live on the Internet, the domain simply Baldur's Gate. It was nothing but a generic tiled wallpaper and an audio track playing in the background. A small, inconsequential thing--and we saw it. 

Gamers across the globe analyzed the music, the imagery, the website information. Rumors of a Steam version of Baldur's Gate abounded. Rumors of sequels and remakes spread like wildfire. We all dared to hope, dared to voice the greatest desire of our heart--to see the Baldur's Gate series return to the gaming world and usher in a new roleplaying renaissance renaissance.

Ultimately, it was not a re-release or a re-make, but something in the middle. A small company, Beamdog, with much discussion, debate and determination managed to secure the rights to make an enhanced edition of Baldur's Gate. To redesign the venerable Infinity Engine to perform better on modern PCs, to display properly at higher resolutions, and to incorporate touch controls to appeal to the rising market of tablet gaming. One week after Beamdog began accepting pre-orders for the Enhanced Edition, two-thousand people had opened up their wallets and exclaimed, "Yes, please!"

And we waited. And we waited. And now, finally, it is here. Fourteen years after the original release of Baldur's Gate, Beamdog's Enhanced Edition offers revised gameplay mechanics based off the Infinity Engine build used in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal; widescreen and high resolution support; full optimization for modern operating systems; new characters, quests and story content; as well as full translations of the game in French, German, Spanish, Polish and Czech thanks to the tireless efforts of the community. Baldur's Gate was one of the greatest games ever made. By all rights, this offering from Beamdog should be either equally good, or even better. Does the Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate live up to the well-earned reputation of its original incarnation, or does it just make a mess of things? 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Table of Contents

Macross 30: Voices Across the Galaxy Translation FAQ/Guide Version 0.94

This FAQ is meant for personal use only, it may not be sold or distributed without my express permission.

The absolute latest, most up-to-date version of this FAQ will always be available at GoogleDocs; you can also access web versions at my blog, and at

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Introduction

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Menu Translations

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Characters & Story

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Skills

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Field Maps

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Story Quests

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Hunter Guild Quests

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Items

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Secrets & Extras

Macross 30 Translation Guide: Miscellany

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Macross 30: Voices Across the Galaxy (PS3) Preliminary Translation Guide

EDIT: View the most up-to-date version of the (still in-progress) guide HERE.

I'm currently working on a translation for the recently-released PS3 Macross game celebrating the franchise's 30th anniversary, "Macross 30: Voices Across the Galaxy." While I toil away on the text document, I thought I'd share some of the Photo-Translations I've finished so far. (Thank you, Zach Zimmerman, for providing the screenshots!)

These images are in no particular order; I will update this post with additional images if an when I end up making them.

First up, the Hangar Menu. Some notes: Squad Settings will take you to the basic unit selection menu, where you pick out your Valkyrie, upgrade your Valkyrie, and do the same for your squadmates. The Mechanics Room is where you go to "upgrade" Valkyries. I'm not entirely competent with the process, but basically you've consume items in order to unlock the next tier of Valkyrie. Hopefully I'll be able to explain this better in the full guide. The "Bridge" is the "My Ship" menu, by the way; and the Item Box is your item storage (you have a limited inventory capacity).

3D Model: Legend of Galactic Heroes Free Planets Alliance Destroyer

When I first started playing with Google SketchUp, my basic feeling was, "I want to make models of my favorite starships to play with!"

I was fairly pleased with my model of a Free Planets Alliance Battleship, so I moved on to make another FPA warship--this time, a destroyer. And it was a colossal failure. This is the model that made me abandon my initial train of thought, and focus instead on making my own unique, original models. (Most of which have already been uploaded to the 3D Warehouse; feel free to take a look at them, but I'll be examining them in-depth in future blog posts--those models have a lot of little elements and details you may not notice on your own).

You can download the model for yourself HERE.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

RPGs Old and New - Iwata Asks Atlus about Etrian Odyssey IV

Yesterday, Etrian Odyssey IV was released in North America on the Nintendo 3DS. Greatly anticipating the game the night prior to release, I began translating an old (Iwata Asks) interview between Nintendo CEO Iwata Satoru, and Etrian Odyssey series' directors Komori Shigeo and Kanada Daisuke, about Etrian Odyssey IV, the series in its entirety, and RPGs in general.  There's a lot of very interesting stuff here, so I'd recommend giving it a read if you're at all interested in game design or roleplaying games in particular.

With regard to the Interview's translation itself... it's very rough. I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors, misspellings or inaccuracies that may be present. I went through the interview very quickly in a short two-day span, during which I was also writing a 10-page essay on the emergence of French nationalism (exciting, I know) and plowing through a very depressing Toni Morrison novel. Oh--and I also put a good eight hours into Etrian Odyssey IV, which is a fantastic game that I cannot possibly recommend enough. By the way.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

3D Model: Legend of Galactic Heroes Free Planets Alliance Battleship

I'm not sure when or how I first became acquainted with the Google SketchUp 3D modelling program, but I do know that I immediately recognized it as a powerful tool I could use to fulfill a childhood dream: to build my own spaceships!

When I started out, well, I didn't know what I was doing. Some of my early work was... atrocious. Eventually I decided it would be best for me to try and sharpen my skills by adapting other designs into 3D models before focusing on my original work. My first such attempt is what you see before you: adapted from the Legend of Galactic Heroes anime epic, a 3D model of a Free Planets Alliance battleship, based on the design of the Patoroklos that appeared in the first episode of the OVA series.

You can download the model for yourself HERE.

Because this particularly model was created some time ago, I really don't have too awful much to say--and, well, the fact that it's not my own design gives me even less to say about it--but I would like to share some things about the design process.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Classic RPGs (and their Definitive Versions)

(Note: I am compiling this list for my own benefit. It is currently derived partly from my own opinions, partly from the opinions of my friends, partly from the opinions of the online community. I am not an expert here, nor have I played all--or even most--of these titles. This is a perpetual work-in-progress designed to point myself, and others, toward fantastic, classic games that we may not have had the pleasure of experiencing. This is not a "word of God," definitive list--it's a never-ending attempt at creating such a list. As such, all input is not just welcome, but invited! )


What does it mean to be a Classic?

Anything "classic," be it a game, literature, music, film, aesthetic, language, etc., is something timeless. Something that, despite barriers of time and language and culture remains powerful. Something that has, if you'll excuse the cliche, withstood the test of time. As a gamer and an RPG aficionado, I would like to compile a list of the classic RPGs of all time--and, where necessary (in the case of multiple editions of a single game, in the form of ports, remakes and/or re-imaginings) determine which version of a classic game is the best version.

My own experience with the RPGs of yore is, sadly, limited--I've only been able to play most of the best RPGs, not all of them. So I request collaboration: help me fill out this list, to make it as full and complete and accurate as possible. The criteria for this list are simple enough: to be a classic, a game must possess that timeless quality, that potent, unforgettable, indescribable appeal--but it must also be old. Whether a game leans a bit outside of the "genre" matters not; whether a game is of American or Japanese origin matters not; whether a game follows the Western or Eastern aesthetic matters not. For the purposes of this list, I am limiting the titles to RPGs no later than 10 years ago--circa 2006 or 2007. I think it may be prudent, however, to also include a list of newer games that meet the same subjective criteria, but list them separately as "presumptive classics" because we can only presume them to remain in our collective consciousness in the ensuing years and decades.

(Note: games that are NOT playable in English are NOT eligible for this list)