Saturday, April 3, 2010


I'm sure you're all like "omg he never updates."

"Oh inb4 excuse post."

I got a job at Massively, writing their CO column, as well as pretty much whatever they'll let me write about. It's pretty awesome. All of my co-workers are extremely cool. All of them have different MMO tastes, which is awesome. I'm one of the two "hardcore" guys (the other is Brendan Drain, the EVE guy) and the only one who plays fighting games seriously.

In particular, Shawn is really an ideal leader for the team. He's a good mix of casual and hardcore, has a well-balanced and likable temperament, and has an even hand when dealing with everyone. He's pretty much the ideal gamer, haha.

You can read what I've been doing for the last couple weeks (before that I was applying/writing application/interviewing/paperwork stuff, and before that yes, I was slacking) over there.

Anyway, I've been playing a few games lately, mostly CO, some Torchlight (it's really good, but I can't say much about it that hasn't already been said in some other review of the game), and some Mount and Blade: Warband.

Warband is a medieval sandbox game where you play a random dude or dudette who runs around, gets a bunch of people to hang out with them, and goes and ruins peoples' days. Basically, you get your own mercenary group that kind of straddles an ongoing feud between six different kingdoms. You can do pretty much whatever you want, as far as the political things go. You can side with any of the kingdoms, you can start your own kingdom and land grab, or you can support someone else in overthrowing a kingdom. You can even marry into a kingdom.

You can't do much else besides kill dudes, though. There's a bit of roleplaying going on, but most of the game is hacking shit up. You can handle trade goods, and there's a -lot- of money to be made in that venture, but money is mainly for hiring more dudes to go mess with someone's day.

I'm going as RP as I can, which is kind of hard, because I'm trying deliberately not to topple kingdoms or start wars. I'm working on playing the field as a mercenary, and selling myself out to whoever has some cash. This means currying favor towards whichever country is cool with me at the moment, and maybe marrying into a family that is cool. My army is pretty badass, with guys so awesome I can barely afford them. Fortunately I have a number of named NPCs who are all varying degrees of badass for very cheap prices.

The main thing that immediately strikes me while playing Warband is that it is very similar to 'roguelike' hardcore sandbox games. My main experience with roguelikes is Elona, which is pretty easymode for a roguelike, but I've also screwed with Nethack a little.

Warband has the same sort of gameplay - you run around in a sandbox where everything is random, and a lot of whether or not you succeed is how much you've grinded on content beforehand. Also, you're at the mercy of the RNG quite a bit, although not as much as in a roguelike. Still, not getting the right quests or NPCs can make things a lot rougher on you and your fledgling army.

If you've played Nethack (or Elona), Warband has this unmistakable similarity, right down to the emphasis on grinding in the arena until you're level 4 (this is avoidable, btw).

I can't quite get my feelings out into words on it. If you've played a roguelike, the similarity is obvious, but it's hard to replicate the 'fun' of a roguelike into a post. Roguelikes aren't really fun because they are stupid hard and unforgiving, and the beginning of Warband is somewhat like that. It's pretty easy to get captured by bandits and strung around with no cash until you figure out what you're doing.

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