Randomly wanting to stat Grimm Shado as a 20th Level Warlock for 3.5e D&D. He would then be a Warlock…and a Witchalock. God help us all.
I have been busy! I’m really not a blogger, I’m really not, it sucks because it doesn’t help my company not WALLOW IN OBSCURITY FOR ALL TIME AND FOREVER. I’m no marketing guru, but even I know that our near-absolute lack of a digital presence on the intarwebs is, as one playtester once commented with famous eloquence, “less than good”.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is bad, but not terribad as some would have you believe. I have been psyched for this game to come out since I was 10 years old, so it’s difficult to retain intellectual honesty in the face of 16+ years of hopes completely dashed. I think that a lot of the gaming media feels the same way: it’s not that the game is THAT BAD, it’s that it could have been SO GOOD. But it’s hard to maintain that dispassionate, objective intellectual honesty when your child dreams have been directly pooped on.
My warmest childhood memories are of my (awesome) dad watching Aliens with me over and over–one of the reasons my dad is so awesome is because he showed me Aliens when I was around 9 or 10. It is literally my favorite movie of all time, and I have every line memorized. It was born the same time as me, after all (1986), and I grew up with it. It’s my primary fandom, and I’m in love with/obsessed with every single aspect of it.
Aliens:CM isn’t a completely unfun game. It’s not totally broken and unplayable. It’s just…unforgivably sloppy for a full budget, full retail title, it’s lacking in fear factor compared to dead space (Alien Acid doesn’t even deal damage, it just stops you from regenerating). The bugs (the technical kind, not xenomorphs) are offensive, and there are some design decisions that made me grit my teeth in rage (you can put a red dot sight on your pulse rifle and a custom paint job too, because as one reviewer put it, this is Aliens: Black Ops. It gets worse, though, because a bunch of boring, silly, apocryphal weapons are added to the roster: you get an SMG, a battle rifle, and an assault rifle to unlock on top of your pulse rifle. Why would I want to use that when the super-iconic and awesome pulse rifle is available from the beginning, and mechanically better?
But really what’s most surprising is…ok, apart from the bugs, this is a good looking game. I don’t think the sound design is lacking. Even if the alien AI is retarded and the mechanics badly balanced, the xenomorphs LOOK good. The environments look amazing. The flaweless recreation of the Hadley’s Hope colony practically gave me chills. But the writing is so godawful it made me want to vomit, on every level, from sentence by sentence characterization and dialogue to the overall plot and storytelling. I don’t get it, guys. You sank how many millions of dollars into this license? This property? This game? And you couldn’t afford a writer with some idea how to handle the property? Fuck, I would have done it, I work cheap. I can’t say I’d have done an awesome job, but I could have at least got it somewhat closer to the AAA job this title deserved and not the aborted mess we got.
I don’t know, on some level I should be grateful. As a creator, it is useful to have an opportunity to dissect an absolute creative failure…
(Is that a good or bad segue? Probably bad…)
Speaking of failure, a helpful potential fan just shot me an e-mail asking me what the Races of Splinter were. Which reminded me that I have been promoting Splinter for the better part of a year now while being unintentionally cagey about stuff players might want to know…like the PLAYABLE RACES. So I should do a Races of Splinter thing here or on the ETG Tumblr soon now. This is a note to myself: do that.
Have I mentioned I’ve been busy? As I mentioned, I’ve been busy. I have not been working on the expansion books for SPLINTER as much as I should have been. I haven’t been promoting EtG online at all. I certainly haven’t been taking good care of my health, kicking back, or relaxing. But when I haven’t been struggling with my worsening Galactic Civilizations II and Dwarf Fortress addictions or Christmas-binging on Halo 4, Hitman: Absolution, Far Cry 3 and company…
Well, for starters, I worked as one of the developers on a little game you might have heard of called Shadowrun 5th Edition for much of last year. Of course, the life cycle of Fourth Edition isn’t up yet, so last year I also worked on some plot books, some adventure books, a supplement about Street Samurai, and a HUGE upcoming plot book that I don’t even think I’m technically allowed to talk about (it’s gonna be BIG, and is the largest explosion of a corner of the Sixth World I’ve been greenlit to detonate yet). And now I’m currently working on the first, introductory adventure of Fifth Edition. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I am writing the introductory adventure for Fifth Edition Shadowrun. All by myself. I am the guy. I wanted to be the guy, and now I’m the guy. It’s awesome…it’s also very scary. Being the guy is scary. My eloquence reigns supreme.
But for every hour I’ve put into Shadowrun, I’ve put another hour into End Transmission. I’ve got a whole new IP/title/game/game line getting ready to launch, along with multiple expansion packs set to go live within a month or two of launch. It’s called The Singularity System, a highly customizable and streamlined toolkit for science fiction roleplaying with a focus on kickass vehicle and starship combat. You can read my overly enthusiastic ramblings about it here.
I think that’s everything. I did it. Even though everything about my nature is anti-blogian. Sure it’s a rambling mess with all of the structural nicety of an exploded corpse but I blogged. Can I have a cookie now?