61 – Planescape Torment club?, Zest update, Gothic II

So I’ve never played Planescape Torment because I’m obviously a terrible person. I didn’t play a lot of CRPGs growing up–missed Ultima entirely, played and hated Might and Magic II, didn’t play Fallout till college, have never gotten past chapter 1 in Baldur’s Gate. Weird, because I can tell you pretty much everything about every JRPG released in the states till about two years ago. Torment is one of those big holes in my gaming life: I’ve played through a chunk of it, but it’s such a big Thing in some ways that I’m nervous to approach it.

Well, I’ve reinstalled the game and I’m going to be playing it in the next couple of months, and based on some preliminary talk on Twitter, it seems like there’s a lot of people who’d be interested in some kind of Book Club thing. Now, I don’t know quite what form this should take. I don’t want to do the “okay let’s all play this much of the game this week and all discuss it”, particularly because it seems like one of those sprawling RPGs that isn’t conducive to that sort of thing. Maybe it would be enough to just encourage a ton of people to play and write about this game on their own blogs and we can link each other. Perhaps Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance could be convinced to give up some real estate in his forum for discussion.

Either way, if you’re interested–let’s say July-ish?–let me know, and if you’ve got an idea about how this thing could work, please, I’m all ears!

–In Zest news, the basic flow of the game has been outlined. The flow of the game is going to consist of  about a half dozen “time blocks”, each of which essentially has a different “deck” associated with it. The player’s stats influence a degree of randomness–we’ve actually been throwing out the tern “narrative roguelike” to describe the basic feel. My current goal is to come up with a couple dozen basic cards in all the separate categories; once that’s done, I’m handing it off to Lectronice and PaperBlurt who will respectively finish programming the card system and come up with some preliminary CSS. I’m shooting for a hundred cards int he final version–like TWEEZER, I want it to be a game that encourages many very short play sessions. We’re targeting an early July release–that’s part of the reason I’d like to do Planescape around them–so watch this space.

–Again, for a game with comparatively few verbs and stats, there’s a lot to learn in Gothic II. I keep learning new tricks for playing it–where I need to stand in order to pull certain enemies, the timing on how to chain certain attacks, what stats I need to increase to effectively kill things–and there’s plenty more. I still haven’t begun to figure out whether there’s a more efficient way to buy and sell things.

At this point I’ve done a broad survey of the bulk of the island–there’s a lot of stuff I certainly haven’t found, and I’ve only really seen the surface of most of it, but I’ve been, at some point, on every corner of the map, even if there’s only about a quarter of the game I’m able to navigate without trouble. What keeps striking me is I’m just on the first *chapter*.  There’s a lot to see and do in this game, and not all of it consists of doing quests–again, it’s the kind of game that’s rewarding just to poke around in.

–My save–which I’m going to get to as soon as I finish typing this post and will play until it’s time to go to work, I love this fucking game–has me in the middle of an area I have never been to in the middle of the night. Night is scary–or, rather, it’s more threatening than the rest of the game is, and the rest of the game is pretty threatening. While I wouldn’t say Gothic ever becomes a horror game, the sense of vulnerability never quite goes away. The game is like Dark Souls–I’m sorry, I’m sorry!–in that even beginning-of-game enemies can kill you at any point if you’re being too cocky. ANd while Dark Souls has much better creature design, there’s something hilarious about how my Gothic II character ran, panicked, from two chickens–who never fucking give up pursuing and who run fast–and accidentally pulled aggro from two boars, only to run headfirst into a lizard who killed him instantly. Props to the sound department, too: Each enemy has its own cry, and usually–there are a ton of trees–you end up hearing them long before you see them, and so it’s one of those games where the second you hear an animal howling at you, you either relax, though not completely, and maneuver into a position where you can be at the advantage, or you realize there’s two of them and you can’t take on two of them, or it’s something you’ve never heard before and you just run the fuck away.

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4 thoughts on “61 – Planescape Torment club?, Zest update, Gothic II

    • Yeah, I think it would be cool to get some more writing about the game–like I’ve been talking about recently, there’s so much focus on whatever games are coming out, and games crit’s focus on present and its lack of understanding of the past makes it seem fairly myopic. All of the talk of Watch Dogs doesn’t question whether or not the game’s worth spending the ink on–will people remember it in five years? Planescape Torment isn’t the most obscure game out there, but I think it’s a great place to start. And now I have no excuse to not play it.

  1. Happy to provide space and a Torment-a-long category, just let me know. I think Michael Abbott ran Torment on the “Vintage Game Club” thing and there were specific goals each week. Obviously, there was someone with prior knowledge setting those goals.

    If you want, I could dig around a walkthrough and put together a potential set of checkpoints? It’s up to you. That would almost make me the showrunner =)

    • I’m going a little back and forth on whether I think everyone should get into playing certain sections at certain times or whether this might simply be, let’s get everyone I know to play this game and write *something* about it. There’s a degree to which this is simply, let’s get a bunch of thoughtful people to play and talk about a good, classic, beloved game rather than whatever AAA crap is problematic at the moment. I know I’ve never done well participating in game clubs like that because I want to go through games at my own pace—and certainly there are going to be people who are making their way through the game their third or fourth time as well as people going through their very first time–they’re gonna have different experiences, and I’m not sure if setting a schedule will go against that or not.

      I did mention this at Brooklyn Indie Games Drinks Night last night and pretty much everyone flipped out with excitement over the idea–I think people who’ve played it already are looking for an excuse to replay it, and people who havent need a little extra encouragement. That all said, could the game be divided into regions or “Acts” in some way, in a nonspoilery way to give first-timers an idea of the scope of it?

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