Jonas Kyratzes is an indie designer who enjoys pushing the boundaries of game design. He's got a lot of great projects under his belt, including The Museum of Broken Memories, Alphaland, Last Rose in a Desert Garden, and much more. Using a more "chat like" format than usual, Jonas and I discuss a range of topics including art, politics, entertainment, and of course, gaming.
Watch above or Download the mp4.
I've always been a bit divided on Bioware's games after they abandoned their compromising "real time with pause" gameplay and sacrificed their babies to the god of Twitch. If you listen to some people, they would have been doing this all along, but the technology of the time wouldn't allow it (rubbish). The real goal here is to cater to the widest possible demographic, which everyone seems to think means focusing on spectacle and instant gratification (look, mommie, this button makes him chop!). The only concessions to adults is usually some vague notion of "difficult choices" you have to make at a dialog tree or two, and perhaps a lot of boring text here and there that you can find and read if you're so inclined. You know you've come a long ways down a dark road when the closest thing you get to the tabletop experience is clicking through (not reading) a dozen such screens of text and earning an Xbox Live achievement about being "learned."
But anyway, back to Dragon Age 2. I was one of those poor bastards who actually pre-ordered the collector's edition. I sprang for the PC version, which was apparently a mistake. Still, while I was probably more frustrated by the combat and party AI than anything else, I did enjoy other parts of the game, particularly the characters. Yeah, I know it's a bad when the thing I like most about a CRPG is the drama.
What are the ten worst CRPGs? This is a question that takes a lot of thought, because terrible games typically do not sell well and are quickly forgotten. What I think most of us have in mind with questions like this are high profile disasters--games that received a huge amount of hype, had no excuses to be bad, and turned out to be so spectacularly awful that it was more fun reading and writing the scathing reviews than the game would have been in the first place. We're not talking about low budget, small-team productions that you wouldn't expect much from anyway. These are the big budget games that stank so badly you not only flushed them three times but actually went to the store for a giant can of industrial-strength Lysol. With that as my build up, let's crank up our Roto-Rooters and dredge these crusty wads back up to the surface.
#10. Lands of Lore III. The Lands of Lore series was created by Westwood Studios, the legendary developer responsible for Eye of the Beholder and plenty of other epic CRPGs. The original Lands of Lore debuted in 1993 to critical acclaim, offering an interface similar to Dungeon Master or EOB that holds up well even today. The franchise was brought to an intestine-blocking halt in 1999 with the arrival of this boring game with terrible graphics and enough bugs to keep an entomology department busy for decades. Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that the game tries to be an FPS, ratcheting up the "action" because that's what all gamers want, righhhht? Uh, nope. Don't worry, though, it's a pattern we'll see repeated. And we all know that the definition of genius is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, right?
Sorry, folks. I forgot to put episode 109 up last week. Here it is! You don't want to miss it, either, since Jon talks about his failed project Sex'n'Drugs'n'Rock'n'Roll, which would have probably been the Guitar Hero/Grand Theft Auto of its generation.
A lot of peeps have been asking me to compile a list of my top ten favorite CRPGs of all time. Like most fans of the genre, I have many favorites, and these will shift around as I come in and out of different phases. Also, this is just a personal list of what I either enjoy now or look back on with the most fondness; I'm not worried here about what is most influential or innovative. It's just my top ten favorite CRPGs, as of this moment. I'm also going to skip hybrid games that try to cross genres, such as Mass Effect and Deus Ex, as well as MUDs and MMORPGs. Okay, enough disclaiming already! Here goes the list:
10. Knights of the Old Republic. I have to admit the bulk of my appeal for this game comes from its setting in the Star Wars universe, which I love almost as much as Middle Earth and Krynn. There were times playing this game where I felt I had actually entered that universe and was a part of something bigger than the game itself. It seems to me that after this game, Bioware cut the cord and went Action, Action, ACTION. There's some of that tendency here, but compared to Dragon Age and Mass Effect, at least this still reminds me of a true CRPG.
9. The Bard's Tale. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure to love this game so much, since it was heavily derivative on Wizardry, but what can I say...It didn't take me long to really want to explore the town of Skara Brae and get my pack of wimpy, glass-jawed heroes up to snuff. I also really like the Bard as a class and character; it seems obvious today, but back then it was really fun to think about a guy out strumming a lute as the rest of the party fought for their lives. I also really like the artistic style, which adds a certain character that really is unique. It also has a great box that you can fold out and see a lovely map of the city. Good stuff.
8. Dungeon Master. Another game that I am deeply saddened to have missed out on when it was fresh. I know I would've absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, it required 1 megabyte of RAM to play, and my Amiga 1000 was limited to 512K. That still frustrates me to this day! Still, when I finally got to play it, I was really impressed with the interface, and it's obvious at once how the real-time elements set it apart from its predecessors and contemporaries. It's a bit hard to get into today because of the magic system, which definitely requires some reading, but overall it's still lots of fun. I remember the ads stressed that you need to wear headphones and only play the game at night. I don't know if that was necessary, but it was a neato game for sure.
Here's a venerable classic from the archives: Betrayal at Krondor! I was inspired to review this game after stumbling across Feist's novelization at the used books section of a local thrift shop. I played this one back in the day, but only because I received it free with the purchase of the sequel, Betrayal in Antara. I think both games are worth playing today, but decided to go with the earlier one since I'm also a fan of Feist. Enjoy! If you do decide to buy the game from GOG, please use my link so I'll get a kickback (no extra cost to you!). It's only $6 for both games with full manuals and no DRM, so there's really no excuse not to pick them up.
Hi, folks. I thought that today, in the spirit of the "top" lists that are so ubiquitous these days, I'd offer you a list of five reasons why you should care about Armchair Arcade. Many of you may not even know what it is or how it got started, but even those of us who've been around since the early days might like a little refresher and a personal view. So, here goes.
Reason #5: Founded in 2003. That's right, folks, Armchair Arcade has been around for eight years. Actually, its birthday is in September. There's not many non-commercial websites that can make that claim, especially not many dedicated to vintage games and computers. You should feel comfortable making this your home base, because you can rest assured we are here to stay. You can read our about us page or our FAQ to learn more.
How'd you like to hear Jon Hare himself perform the awesome theme song to Cannon Fodder? In the fourth installment of my interview with famed C-64 and Amiga designer Jon Hare, we talk about his most famous games after Sensible Soccer: Cannon Fodder and Mega-Lo-Mania, as well as the monumental but ultimately failed effort to complete Sex, Drugs, & Rock'n'roll. And, oh yes, we get to hear Jon break out the acoustic and do a one-off live taping of the famous Cannon Fodder theme. No true Amiga fan worth his Paula would even consider missing this one.
Download the MP4.
Another great episode, this guy is very interesting to listen to.
By the way, somehow I had missed Sensible were behind Wizball, loved that game :o