8 Apr 2002 Krelin   » (Journeyer)

Good weekend. The missing hour totally blows; I'm still jet lagged. Might be jet lagged because of the Harry Connick Jr. concert last night.

How come Advogato doesn't allow <dl> tags?

Went to go see Big Trouble on Friday. It wasn't really as bad as everyone seems to be saying. Some parts of it were pretty silly, but it was humorous... written by Dave Barry. I think the timing of the release (with respect to when it was originally meant to be releaed) will probably kill it off quickly, though.

Went to the Dog Beach on Saturday. It was the first time I have been there at low tide. It's remarkably different at low tide. (These pictures there are of high tide, from a previous visit) At low tide, these really unusual mossy-green rock formations are revealed, and the beach itself becomes enormous. It was pretty cool.

Then we took the dog to a "Do-It-Yourself" Dog Wash... that was an adventure. Then we went to go see Van Wilder. Must've been corny-movie week. It was pretty bad, but there were some funny parts.

Somewhere in there, on Saturday, we went to Best Buy and I bought myself a copy of "Dungeon Siege" and a copy of "Jedi Knight 2" (I forget JK2's subtitle)....

Dungeon Siege is a fun game, an RPG of the Diablo/Diablo 2 breed, but in my opinion better done in a number of ways. Their engine is an excellent one, truly 3D and looks gorgeous. The art itself isn't quite up to par (by which I mean to say that individual elements of terrain, fauna, flora, etc. aren't themselves that great) with what one might hope for in a genre where the bar has been set so high by Blizzard, but the engine compensates by displaying a very detailed and textured world, leaving the player with a very immersed feeling. The camera controls are a little goofy, and perhaps the game doesn't really do enough to automate the camera, so you find yourself spending a lot of your time just aiming the camera usefully. The camera might be slightly better if it worked a little harder to keep your party and immediate opponents in view; fortunately most of the time you'll be grouped closely enough not to care (except when your packmule runs off into the darkness of some dungeon while you're surrounded by angry giant-spiders.)

There's a LOT of hack'n'slash in this game; it might be moderated by slightly smaller "dungeon crawl" sessions in between plot/town visits, but the dungeons themselves are interesting, and the monsters are pretty cool.

The combat system is very cool; far less carpal-tunnel-inflaming than the systems found in games like Diablo (I was crippled for days after an evening or two of the original Diablo: *clickety clickety clickety*) or even Diablo 2. The combat system in "Dungeon Siege" allows you to select individual stances for each of your characters which describe fairly thoroughly all of the possible actions you might plan for them to take during your next fight. For example, you can configure your fighter/tank types to charge into the fray fearlessly, while your archers and mages lay back, staying just close enough to use their ranged attacks. Generally this works exactly the way you'd want it to unless you get surrounded. :)

The skills system is very limited (or is it elegant? I haven't decided for sure). You can improve your skill in melee combat, ranged combat (archery, basically), combat spells, or nature spells. That's it. You have three stats, Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. Your stats will progress relatively slow, most of my characters, for example, cannot make use of a large portion of the loot I've run into, because the armor and weapons that depend on stats require stats higher than my characters have.

The other inconvenience in the game was the unfortunately small shortcut bars provided for players. Only 4 "weapon" choices, one of which is melee, and one of which is ranged, leaves your casters with only 2 free slots for spells! Switching between spells is a real pain, so having an attack spell, and a heal spell in those slots leaves you having to change spells after combat if you need to transmute items or do some other post-combat spell-casting.

Overall it's a pretty decent game; good graphics, decent art, and very good gameplay. It may be slightly lacking in breadth, and very slightly hampered by overly ambitious level-design (it seems like it's been ages since my party has returned to a town, mostly because it would take me a half-hour to walk all the way back to town... I've been hoping instead to get to the _next_ town -- which means I've been transmuting a lot of my loot instead of loading up the packmule and heading back to town); but otherwise it's quite good, with some very unique and well-designed combat mechanics.

Haven't played Jedi Knight 2 very much yet. The single player game seems remarkably hard and I don't much like the "twitchy-ness" of the Quake3-based engine. There is a lot of combat. You can't sneak through levels as you might have in early volumes in this series. I like sneaking. Having a blaster shoot-out with stormtroopers is only really cool the first couple of times, and then it's just frustrating watching the 'troopers dodge back and forth (becoming almost impossible to hit without wasting huge amounts of ammo). Luckily, they still have artificially horrible aim. :)

Went to see Harry Connick Jr. in concert last night. That was an excellent concert! I'm not even a Harry Connick Jr. fan; the wife dragged me to it. But it was really quite good. A good deal of the concert was spent high-lighting the really talented trumpet/trombone/sax/guitar players in the big band by giving them a lot of free reign to improv. Overall, great fun! So much fun, I was torn between enjoying the concert and regretting that when it ended I would have no way of ever seeing it or listening to it again. :)

I'm still the first "Krelin" in Google. :)

Man, that there was a long diary entry.

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