Lego Age. Or, Dragon Rock Band

4 11 2009

Two of my big November game drops hit last night, Dragon Age and Lego Rock Band. Let’s make with the impressions.

Lego Rock Band I was greatly anticipating, and it both pleases and disappoints. It provides AMAZING levels of character design, letting you not only redesign your entire band but also your manager, your roadies, your stylist, your music video director, etc, etc… but it doesn’t let you change the skin tone baked into the clothing you buy, 80% of the good stuff is Yellow Skin, but there are no female Yellow Skin heads to go with it. It has a much more compelling World Tour mode, featuring tighter focused gigs and a better navigation system and new event types like recording an album… but the music is dodgy, with plenty of songs I’ve never heard before or outright loathe.

In general I’m quite happy with the game, but the spotty soundtrack and occasional glaring usability problem do ding the experience. I’ll definitely keep it around, for family-friendly Rock Banding and for the auto-kick feature on the drums (I plan to get a new drumset after I move into my new house).

Dragon Age I wasn’t anticipating much at all. The toolkit seemed like a massively complicated pro-level tool, not the sort of thing for a game writer hobbyist to make use of, and I’m not that into Ye Generic Western Fantasy RPGs With Lots Of Little Numerical Bits To Concern Yourself With. However, playing through the origin story for my character, it wasn’t all that difficult to play and was quite enjoyable. Having a video card juuust capable of running it well certainly helped.

One nice thing is that it doesn’t seem to be that obsessed with feeding you Good or Evil karma points. You can be nice, neutral, or an asshat, but the game doesn’t care; it’s all just flavor and maybe influences if people you chat with like you or shoot you in the face. Do what you want, without any in-game bonuses being critically tied to how often you say Good Morning to people. This may change as the game goes on, but I’m finding it relieving so far.

Overall I’m happy with both games. They have their downsides but there’s a lot of fun to be found here. I’d recommend them both, if you have the cash and free time and interest.

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21 responses

4 11 2009
phenyx

Inquiring minds want to know: which origin did you pick?

4 11 2009
jengagne

So does this get you more interested in writing for DA, or rather are you just saying that the provided game is very playable?

4 11 2009
hit_people_guy

Man, I wish Rock Band in general would get the auto-kick thing going.
One of the drummania things I loved, but can’t get on the games at home.

4 11 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I went with city elf rogue.
* Rogue because initially I wanted to be an archer with good persuasion skills (rogue)
* Elf because I wanted to be aesthetically pleasing (the dwarves are lumpy; no offense to my native phylum)
* City because I’ve never been into treehuggin’ hippie elves in the other origin option.
The whole Bravehart dealie was amusing but really, REALLY over the top. I find it hard to believe the ruler of the city was such a blatant lecherous sadistic mass rapist without someone objecting, regardless of how downtrodden the elves are supposed to be. I mean, c’mon, they were practically moustache twirling and going “I like this one. She’s got SPIRIT! Nyaahahaha!”.

4 11 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Provided game is playable. Apparently it’s also 80+ hours long so I don’t anticipate ever being able to finish it, but hey.
I don’t mind the idea of writing for DA. I mind the idea of writing, map designing, combat balancing, scripting, and cinematographing for DA. I don’t have the time or skill to one-man-band a toolkit for a game this incredibly complicated.
I could join a team, but don’t I have ENOUGH projects right now? We’ll see how I feel as time goes on.

4 11 2009
Anonymous

On Yellow Minifig Heads
Well, there’s -sort- of a way to get a yellow female lego head in the beginning — if you start your character design straight off from the ‘create a band’ level, then one of the initial heads, “Queen”, is a female head in classic yellow. Just be careful, though! If you go into the creator later in the Rock Den, if you decide to change that character, DON’T change the head (at least at first) or replace with a full minifig — you won’t be able to change back because at that point, the “Queen” head isn’t available.
-However-, given that more fig part options appear to become available as you buy the full earned figures, it may be possible to get that face back, once you buy the “Queen” (not QUEEN) or “Princess” minifigures. I have yet to really check this, I’ve only gotten up to the speedboat so far….
I will admit, having lots of DLC already still provides a nice spread of amusing weirdness when you select random playlists… I’ve already played Kryptonite in the middle of the train station. And there is just something cooly surreal to have a minifig singer singing AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” in the middle of a haunted mansion.
AS for the unchangability of the minifig flesh tones, I imagine they took that out because, well, you can’t change the color of the base brick in real life, but you can change the printing on it… and so it goes in the game. Annoying but *shrug*.
— Philip Moyer
(Now, just to recreate my bands in full — pity LRB does NOT have the ‘stand-in’ functionality, you have to get othre customs through editing/renaming the seperate NPC’s… which given how I do most of my play Vocals solo, is kinda a bummer. But I think I can still work with it, I’ll just grumble all the while.)

4 11 2009
Anonymous

Torchlight
Heard about Torchlight? I picked it up yesterday after reading all the great reviews. It was an easy impulse buy at $20. There’s supposedly a toolkit about to be released anytime now.

4 11 2009
ranneko

I picked the same origin (female character though). Which is itself unusual as I typically hate elves and refuse to play them. But the City elf origin sounded the most interesting Rogue origin.
A minor point though, it wasn’t the ruler of the city, it was his son, I am curious as to how far the downtrodden elf thing extends to the rest of the game. I somehow suspect it will not be as extreme.

4 11 2009
mtws

Technically, it’s not the ruler but his spoiled son.
While it may be over the top, it’s also not without a long pedigree. It’s pretty obviously riffing on the old legend of droit du seigneur and quite possibly also the legends surrounding Pope Alexander VI (family name, Borgia) and his infamous children (this should be a warning sign already), which while doubtless exaggerated are also very old.
Also of notable similarity is the plot of Rigoletto, itself based on Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse, in turn alleging to be be about Francis I of France.
In the realm of the better documented, I call your attention to Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, who, while not so far as I am aware a rapist, was a multiple murderer, sadomasochist, and possibly literal babykiller, who kept servants to beat him whilst he was sitting on the john. (The wiki article neglects to mention the servants employed to sleep in his bed to “keep his back warm.”)
Short version: people in power could and did get away with some whacked-out shit in a world without internets, or, indeed, any mass media at all.
Note, also, that as in Dragon Age most of these peopled died violently, and for those that didn’t, it was not for lack of trying :p

4 11 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Okay, so, realistic.
But still RIDICULOUSLY tropey and silly, the way it was depicted as being a stronghold of slavering, greasy sex fiends who share pretty much the same “Muwahahaha” attitude. If I’d found even ONE PERSON in that place that was even slightly thinking “Y’know, maybe periodically kidnapping women and brutally raping them to the point of being maimed is not the bee’s knees” it’d probably have been easier to swallow. It’s just… so totally one dimensional and eye-rolling.

4 11 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: On Yellow Minifig Heads
Yeah, someone on the forums told about the Queen trick. I don’t get why those figs are available at the start but never again until you manage to unlock them. I suspect a bug. I’ll just have to wait until I get to the castle to give my girls proper faces. Sheesh.
I do solo vocals, and I had no problems making Stand-Ins. I just had to edit and rename the house band (Quentin, Sir Thomas, and Penny, I believe). I swapped their parts around and had a decent likeness of my RB2 band right off the bat.

4 11 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: Torchlight
A toolkit? Isn’t Torchlight a story-free Diablo clone style game?
A lot of my friends are playing it, but if it’s basically like Diablo / Borderlands (run around killing things and getting loot and… that’s it!) then I’ll pass. What else is there in the game?

4 11 2009
Anonymous

Re: On Yellow Minifig Heads
Yeah, I read that that was the way to go, on the mainline forums. I was just more concerned at the time that I’d -need- to have swappable members in order to properly get points/studs distributed (like in RB2, where only those who are actually -performed- get the moneys); but since it appears that the studs earned are actually part of the -band pool-, regardless of playing, then I should be good to go … I’ll just have to have a seperate grouping for when I want Aeri to mainline vocals instead of myself. ^_^
— Philip

4 11 2009
mtws

Granted, although the captain of the guard is at least somewhat sympathetic. (If you pick the “Yep, that was all me” option, anyway.)

4 11 2009
pyromaniac_ks

Re: Torchlight
You get a pet!

4 11 2009
pyromaniac_ks

Re: Torchlight
But seriously. Demo’s free on Steam. Check it out if you so desire. From what I’ve seen, it is pretty much Diablo 2 with a shiny makeover and a couple new features. There’s a story, but it’s the fairly usual “Oh noes, these magic rocks are evil, but also incredibly useful. Yonder wizard mentor has succumbed to THE TAINT, punch him head!” fare.

5 11 2009
cmdr_zoom

“She’s not DEAD yet!” *stab stab stab*
Whoa.

5 11 2009
cmdr_zoom

Re: Torchlight
Who may or may not be skimming off the top.
(Though personally, I don’t believe a dog – even if it had the temperament to come up with such a scheme – could pull it off without giving it away on the first go. A cat, sure. Cats are bastards.)

5 11 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: Torchlight
“Oh noes, these magic rocks are evil, but also incredibly useful. Yonder wizard mentor has succumbed to THE TAINT, punch him head!”
We need an actual game where this is the only bit of story you ever, ever get. That would be awesome in minimalism.

5 11 2009
pyromaniac_ks

Re: Torchlight
Reproduced verbatim from a conversation between myself and Meagen on this very subject:
“Man, what is a dog even gonna spend four hundred and fifty gold on?”
“Bitches.”
“… Oooh.”

28 11 2009
Anonymous

Mother of Dragon Age Origins?
You know, the way you can get on the good side of your team mates through conversations in Dragon Age Origins actually reminded me of the HeX coda NWN module (great memories). This is actually the first game after HeX coda where I really felt it’s worth investing effort into your relationships with your team mates.

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