Back to the Roots

Having the wisdom of a sage comes with its downsides. Namely, it’s a lot harder to broaden your horizons. There’s a certain joy in going outside your comfort zone. And when you’ve already got a knowledge of so much, it’s harder to find it. But lately, I’ve gotten that. I’ve found something that properly stretches my sphere.

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I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Which is not a completely new thing. I’ve dabbled in it, with a group of friends who were all new to it with me. And I’ve done a fair bit of tabletop gaming in more structured games. This is my first time taking D&D seriously, however. I’ve got a ‘character’. I’m in the middle of a ‘campaign’. I am getting ‘involved’ with ‘other people’ to the point that they express disappointment when I’m not able to make it.

Yeah, I never thought I’d see the day.

There’s a lot of modern gaming that has its foundations in tabletop, of which the originator is good old D&D. The version I’ve been playing is a few editions removed from the classic that everything sprang root from, but even so, there’s a lot of familiar ground there. My gaming experience actually leaves me feeling relatively comfortable in D&D. I’m able to analyze the options available to me, navigate the rules in play, strategize, etc., the same way I would in a similarly-styled video game.

Almost like the good old Vidcons and D&D are cousins or something.

For that matter, I wonder how much they continue to influence each other. The similarities are way too strong for them to have been a straight divergent growth, two branches starting at one point then heading in two completely different directions. And I’m not educated enough in the matter of D&D to track its development. Hell, I haven’t played any of the ‘good’ versions of the game, which according to the internet, seems to be whatever one OP isn’t playing at the moment. Even so, there’s some cues, some balances I’m picking up that do seem to be remarkably familiar, specifically from video games that came out well after D&D had it’s big impact.
It’d be easy to say that D&D still continues to inspire video games. And honestly, that’s probably very true. I can’t imagine it’s a one way relationship, though. They may be in different mediums, but any developer worth it’s salt is going to be picking up inspiration whenever it arises, no matter whether it comes from within or without its sphere. I’d be very, very surprised if video games didn’t inspire tabletop the way tabletop has inspired videogames.

But then could you imagine if D&D was up for review in video game publications? The game millions have passionately enjoyed for decades? “The graphics leave much to be desired. Success or failure in any given move seems arbitrary, and player skill doesn’t seem to have much place here. Also, the main character is completely off putting. Who would think of putting someone like that in the game? 6 out of 10.”

I’m having a good time with it, though. Lame newbie though I am. It’s fun being out of your depth every once in a while.

Random Thoughts on What I’ve Been Playing

Batman Arkham Knight

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I said that the similarity between Shadows of Mordor and the Arkham games made me a bit less interested in playing Arkham so soon after Mordor.  Turns out, I was right.  I’ve loved the Arkham games, but Arkham Knight already feels a bit stale, just because I’m trying to pick it up so soon after an extended run with what’s pretty much the same engine.

There’s been a lot written about how the Batmobile sections drag the game down.  This is true.  The developers had this new gameplay component that they devoted a lot of time, effort, and segments too, and it wasn’t as good as they expected.  They took a risk, it didn’t work out, and you know what?  I’m fine with that.  What is really odd to me about the Batmobile is just how much they have to stretch to still fit what they wanted to do in the whole “Batman doesn’t kill” deal.  Drive into a mob at 140 MPH?  Look, they’re twitching with electricity, they’re only stunned, not dead!  Your cannon?  It’s a good thing you’re only fighting drone tanks.  Ramming cars around at high speed until they flip end over end?  Eh… you just forget about that.

You know, if they just put people in those tanks, rather than using drones, Batman would be able to do nothing against them. Continue reading