Sunday, July 22, 2018

Morrowind, Starcraft, Drafts

Been a while.  Currently procrastinating on writing binary patching tools for a big hacking competition coming up.  Gaming-relevant things I've been up to in the last...  oh dear, quarter I guess:

  • Replayed Morrowind using OpenMW and the GoG version of Morrowind's data files.  OpenMW is a straight upgrade on the original engine and worked beautifully.  Looking at it now, the game suffers some pacing issues and the wilderness gameplay is pretty boring (hey, like my campaigns!), but by and large I still think it compared favorably to Skyrim outside of polish / graphics.  The learning curve is steeper, but there's actually complexity there to master.  I had fun.
  • Got Starcraft 2 working in Wine, played through most of Wings of Liberty and the whole of the Heart of the Swarm campaign.
    • Wings of Liberty was OK.  There was sufficient freedom in choosing the order of missions that the plot (such as it was) got kinda incoherent in the middle of the campaign.  I'm a little sad their portrayal of the strategic part of guerrilla warfare / revolt wasn't better, but this is forgivable because ultimately the campaign layer is a wrapper around a series of games of the RTS mode.  In comparison to the SC1 campaigns, it felt like there was less use of heroic units, and less...  emotionally-impactful events (worlds falling and being destroyed, betrayals and deaths of notable NPCs, things like that).  Many of the missions felt pretty gamey / had silly gimmicks.
    • Heart of the Swarm was disappointing.  I did like that they reduced the freedom of mission choice, which allowed sort of coherent subplots to be carried out in close proximity / sequence.  It was, however, shorter than WoL, some of the same gimmicks were repeated, Kerrigan was way over-powered, and at the end of the day it just didn't feel very...  zerg.  Also I dislike the supernatural direction of things, with this prophecy and resurrected xelnaga business - psionics is always annoying to me in science fiction, excusable in small doses, but this is just turning into fantasy.  I have no intention to play the Protoss campaign.
      • Did get me thinking about zerg / tyranids / bugs for Dirtside, though - worms for deep-striking, winged locust infantry, burrowed hidden units in attack/defense scenarios, there're just a lot of interesting thing they could do that mix things up.  Then again, given how well my last conversion attempt of bugs to a Ground Zero game went...  meh.  On the upside, morale is much less important in Dirtside, so that might simplify things a little.
  • Woke up absurdly well-rested this morning, "as if I'd stolen sleep from whatever supernatural entity is responsible for its allocation."  Which would be an amusing adventure idea; characters cursed with nightmares, lucid-dreaming funhouse dungeon to kill or steal something to break the curse, and if you die you wake up (exhausted) and can try again the next night.  Reminds me of the 3.0 Manual of the Planes' dream-planes.
  • Apparently one of our summer interns plays 5e.
  • Re-read Dune.  Meh.  For a book so thematically concerned with ecology, they sure do neglect to explain what the worms are eating to grow to 200 meters / how they sustain the sort of energy expenditures observed.  It's a cool visual, but ultimately sort of dumb - swimming through sand is a lot harder than swimming through water.  Did find it somewhat interesting that most chapters (at least early) were structured around a single conversation between two characters.  Also interesting as an index for how much stuff I've forgotten over the last ten years (measured answer: most of it).
    • I suppose one interesting, gameable note from Dune was that both of the mentioned mentats (Piter and Thufir) were also their respective lord's master of assassins.  Interesting ties to Strategic Thief?
  • Titles of draft posts from the last couple of months that I haven't actually finished or published: