Sunday, June 24, 2007

Neverwinter Nights Obsession - mild spoilers

I should probably sell this game, even though I got it max 3 weeks ago. It's the diamond edition, so it's got the original campaign, Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark, Kingmaker, Witches' Wake, and Shadow Guard.

Bit of a cheat: If you want to start the NWN normal campaign at level 15 with a lot of money and stuff... Well, you could pick one of the premade peoples, but I'm always partial to my names, selfish I know. Anyway, start Hordes of the Underdark as whatever character you want to design. It'll have you level up to 15. Then, you simply play until you get some equipment from the inn's armor a little longer if you want a few more weapons and such.

Kingmaker is my favorite module so far. I love that it can be replayed in a different way, as there are four choices of henchman and you pick two in the beginning. That's not really a learn it about 2 minutes into the game. Okay, sorry, mild spoiler.

The female voice for Shadow Guard is absolutely lovely. It's soothing. I just like listening to the beginning story. It's a good 3 minute story or something along those lines. The male voice is nice too but I dunno, I think I sort of like the girl's voice better for this tale.

Witches Wake was just annoying...That's MHO. At least in Shadow Guard they gave you a decent weapon... this one... you start out weak as a kitten, armed with rags, will, and a spear plucked off some dead guy. The rats can beat the heck out of you the entire module through. That is so very not fun...rather humiliating to have the rats kick your tail from tunnel to tunnel.

The normal campaign has a decent story. There are plenty of nice walkthroughs out there for those of us who want to do a lot of the side quests but are far too lazy to sit there and figure them all out. Some of those puzzles, esp in the exp pack called Hordes of the Underdark, are irksome at their best points.

I think I'm addicted to leveling up. Yes, that's it.... I love that sprightly sound and the little happy, shooting star type version of the PC. I love picking new powers and such, even though I predictably choose the same thing over and over: Concentration, Parry, and Spellcraft...occasionally heal or something. Concentration so I can beat on baddies with spells, Parry so they can't hit me and Spellcraft b/c it sounded like it would be useful. With that level up cheatingness it might not be necessary to beef up spellcraft quite so high.

If I ever want to get writing done this summer...and lesson plans...this obsession needs to be halted. That's why I'll probably never ever ever get into the NWN online stuff... though I'm pretty sure there are lots of modules I'm missing. *sigh* The sacrifices that are made for an art form.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Memories of The Little Mermaid

I honestly haven't watched The Little Mermaid in ages. In my humble opinion, Mulan was Disney's last animated triumph. Aladin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty, liberally sprinkled my childhood, and I've fond memories of them all. As I strive to write my own stories, be they fantasy, sci-fi, or real world, the simple lessons, good humor, and dose of magic inherent in the classic Disney tales give me excuses to test creative wings.

Ariel made a choice to sacrifice her voice for a time because she wanted something with every fiber of her being. She wanted the unknown, the elusive forbidden world beyond the sea. Evil, of course, had to make a showing or it wouldn't be a good story:-)

There are several types of love demonstrated in the story. Prince Erik has his servant friends, and Ariel has that bumbling bird and the lucky crab. They eventually find they love each other, though the realism, even fairy-talish, is stretched by the whole love on first sight bunk. There's a father's love which is both sacrificial in nature and scarily overprotective at other points.

I'm a sucker for details. So I find myself asking a bunch of questions, such as, where are the prince's parents? What kingdom do they rule? Does he have any siblings? What are Ariel's sisters doing during all her adventures? Part of me always wonders what happened to the "little guys" of a story.

In many ways, everyone is a "little guy" in life. Riches flow over the backs of the ordinary, and many a good story tells the tale of the ordinary in extraordinary circumstances. Well, with a thousand tales to tell and so little time I'm off to dream the dreams of high adventure and ways to bring good old stories back in business.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Review of Karen Traviss' LOTF Sacrifice

Mild spoilers ahead...and I do mean minor.
Like or dislike Boba Fett, Karen Traviss has a mild obsession with the character so he's here to stay. Still, she weaves his story in very nicely, and I see the Mandalorians becoming more that that third cog in this war wheel.

I agree that much of the series, and this book is no exception, ignores key characters - namely Jaina Solo. Court-martialed or not, I just don't see her doing "nothing" about any of the events.

The Ben and Mara moments, specifically surrounding Ben's reaction to certain book events, are touching and pretty realistic for Skywalker family dynamics.

Allana's an unknown at this point; so, for all practical intents and purposes, is Tenel Ka. I've made no secret in any of my reviews that I've disliked what they've done with her character. She had such potential to be so much more, but they shuffled her away to the plushy prison called Hapes to be queen, while the galaxy spins out of control. BTW, where's Tahiri, Zekk, Lowie, etc.? Yeah, yeah, they've got lame excuses to be doing this and that, but honestly, it's like all the Jedi are gone again.

I've got my own wild speculations about what's going to happen in the future books, but I'm happy that - spoilers aside - Karen Traviss throws in some nice plot twists. One comment about the name picked for Mr. newly patented Sith: it really ought to have been better explained. I'll be naively hopeful here and assume they're going to explain it later, but the ending was just plain "cheesy" - dumb - silly - whatever - blah- ish. One thing I tend to like about Star Wars EU books is their penchant for giving just enough backstory. I know the name was chosen in a contest, and I've got nothing against that. There should, however, be some explanation for Mr. Sith choosing that particular name. Some piece of lore, history, whatever to make it make sense.

Negativity aside, Sacrifice is definitely a well-worth-it read.