Archive for January, 2013

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 17)

31 Jan

I’m trying to imagine a group of people who would be well-informed enough to lay a trap for the two of us, and simultaneously stupid enough to lay a trap for the two of us, and I have to say I’m having a bit of trouble with the logistics. Because whoever they are, they seem to have confused “four or five weedy guys mailed in straps and buckles” with “adequate muscle.” In a bar fight, these people would have less survivability than an empty bottle or a conveniently-placed stool; playing for keeps, I rated their chances at somewhere below “no.”

As it turns out, I wasn’t wrong; I was just grossly overestimating them. Not because they were any weaker than I thought, but because my snarky Nord babysitter can apparently turn into a friggin’ werewolf. In a moment, his six feet of iron-hard muscle became seven feet of diamond sinew, razor claws, and snarling, ravenous jaws. He unleashed a roar that blew my hair back and knocked chunks off the ceiling.

“You’re mine!” yelled one of the bandits, who very quickly and very briefly became my role model.

The fight was over in about five seconds, and most of that was taken up by his nonchalant beast-mode posturing. The actual murdering part seemed practically incidental. When he was done, he turned back to his previous non-murder form and found the switch to open the portcullis.

“So…” I said, evenly.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “We can become werewolves.”

“Uh-huh. Do I get to do that?”

“If you join the inner circle, yes. Until then, absolutely not.”

“What if I just kept pissing you off until you bit me?”

“That wouldn’t work.”

“I don’t know. I can be pretty annoying when I want to be.”

"How do I weapons?" "I don't know, I'm just weapons."

The rest of the dungeon was pretty uneventful. I mean, it was uneventful unless you consider hacking apart the restless dead with a greatsword to be an “event,” which would immediately mark you as a tourist. I don’t think I’ve performed a single errand in the past month that didn’t sooner or later involve butchering some goddamned draugr. This one time, I had a dream where I was killing hordes of draugr, and then I woke up, and I was fighting draugr. I had fallen asleep in midswing. The most exciting part of the dungeon was when I had to pick up the shard of the axe, because it meant handling a dangerously sharp metal splinter. “Whew,” I remember thinking as I fended off a snarling draugr. “That was close. I could have gotten hurt.”

Oh, yeah, and I found a wall that chanted and stuff when I got near it, but it doesn’t seem to have done anything. I could reflect on it, but I don’t like thinking about things that are irrelevant to myself or my interests, so I think I’ll pass.

“So that’s it?” I said on our way out. “I got the shard, now I’m a Companion? What do people usually have to do?”

He shrugged. “Various things. We’ve given a lot of different kinds of tests, each focusing on a different part of the warrior’s spirit and the techniques that rest in…”

“Do the tests involve killing draugr?”

“The tests do generally involve killing draugr, yes.”

“So what can I expect now that I’m in the fold?”

“One might reasonably expect a certain amount of draugr.”

“I’m not sure if you’re kidding or not.”

He shrugged again. The I reflected that the term “Companion” was something of an overstatement.

I’ll be honest, I kind of zoned out through my initiation, which took place as soon as I had the shard returned. It was all very touching—werewolf boy attested how he’d have my back in a fight and sing my praises no matter what, which I thought was touching, considering he’d known me for a day and had spent most of that insulting me. It just goes to show that beneath the veneer of disrespect lies a hidden core of apathy. Or that was how I interpreted it, anyway. To be fair, I thought I was pretty cool, so I couldn’t go make fun of someone else for saying I was cool, could I? It was classier to give other peoples’ tastes the benefit of the doubt.

"Brothers and sisters of the circle, today we welcome a new soul into our mortal fold"? Now I know why they're called the "Companions" and not, I don't know, the "Poetry Slampanions."

Anyway, time to see how much draugr was in my future. Let’s see what’s first in the job queue.

 

Mount and Blade: Recap, New Time

28 Jan

Four concussions, some tax fraud, an a couple caravan harassments later, I’m actually doing pretty alright in Mount and Blade: Warband. For those of you who couldn’t make the stream, you didn’t miss much–I covered the basics of how the game works, got my ass kicked “training” some peasants who could smack me around like a feudal pinata, was snubbed by a king, and did some phenomenally dickish things with my warband until I got enough money not to suck comprehensively.

The recordings can be found on the Livestream channel, which can be found by appending /chocolatehammer to Livestream.com (I never got hyperlinking to work for some reason). Next week’s stream will be Monday at 12:00 Noon PST. Also, new Cahmel’s a little late, since I didn’t get to play it while I was sick.

 
 

SickStream(?); Stream ON, Monday, Jan 28!

21 Jan

(Stream is announced for Monday, January 28th, for 5:00 PM PST. I may be staging it later the following weeks, but tomorrow, 5:00 works better. See you there!)

I’ll cut to the chase. I woke up Sunday morning so sick that I’ve been sitting here for eight minutes and after a dozen edits, I’ve barely managed to write a sentence conveying that information coherently. I spent five of those minutes trying to make the information funny, gave up, and spent another three trying to get the information there. I don’t even have some kind of mutant voodoo South American monkey pox; as best as I can tell, I’ve got a case of a common cold, a headache, not enough sleep, and an immune system as robust as an analogy I cannot come up with.

This is all great and perfect, of course, because today is the day my new stream launches. Real talk, here: I might be able to do it. Or I might be able to do it in some discomfort and without any actual humor value. Or I might be physically incapable of doing it after a day and night of nonstop coughing. Any or all of these might be the case after a good night’s rest and some nourishment, and I’m in no position to speculate. All I can tell you is that at 5:00 PM PST, I will be on my Livestream’s channel, and that this will either be to triumphantly launch the Mount and Blade series or to spit excuses in a voice like the Crypt Keeper and delay it some more.

Anyway, about the stream. I’d set it up for 5:00 PM PST, and today’s affair will indeed be at that time, but as several European readers have pointed out, this time is extremely inconvenient across the pond. The thing is, I can do it at any time on Mondays. 5:00 was when I held the streams earlier, but I’m not under the same restrictions on Mondays this quarter. I’m considering moving it to noon instead. Feel free to chime in on that in the comments.

Alright, that’s enough typing for today. That’s enough consciousness for today. Time to get a drink of water and let my body unruin itself.

EDIT: Hoooo boy. That was a good, solid, restorative four goddamn hours are you kidding me? Yeah, I’ll still show up to see you all off, but don’t count on this one. I can barely talk properly, let alone project. Pathogens are throwing a prison riot in my body. I’ll be fine, but I’ll also be over there, resting, if anyone needs me.

 

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 16)

21 Jan

Short post today because I’m sick and not feeling terribly funny. Check the above post for more info.

“Listen up,” said Farkas, the Companion who’d been sent as the companion from their company that was sent to accompany me on this campaign. “I ain’t your wet nurse. I’m just gonna be following you through this here tomb until you locate the fragment of Wuuthrad, the ancient battle-axe of Ysgramor, founder of our ancient order. With any luck, you’ll die in the attempt. Any questions?”

“Nothing comes to mind,” I said, yanking my greatsword out of the fortieth draugr we’d run into. This place seemed to follow the Bleak Falls school of interior decorating, which was to scatter restless corpses around like they were cherub figurines at a matriarch’s beach house. I had to say that thus far this mission had failed to thrizzle. I suppose I couldn’t complain. I’d fully expected to still be hovering around skeever-stomping territory at this point in my career; the fact that they’d given me a job that required trustworthiness, or even a modicum of sobriety, was pretty unusual. Then again, they did saddle me with a supervisor whose gravelly, dangerous voice and gravelly, dangerous bearing told me I better not try anything, or else he might get cynical and world-weary at me.

“Looks like someone’s been digging here,” he said. “And recently.”

“I can tell you’re more experienced than I am,” I said. “I never would have noticed that.” This was chiefly because I didn’t see anywhere one could dig, let alone any signs that digging had happened, let alone any possible indication that this had been recent, and had no idea how they’d have gotten past the Dandy Draugr Welcome Wagon when I couldn’t breathe without bumping chests with one of them. This wasn’t the only logistical hurdle I was hitting; as far as I could tell, I was running into a bit of a dead end. Ten minutes careful, patient exploration revealed that the only option I could try next was a small niche with a lever in it. Risky, because going near the lever would mean putting a (currently open) portcullis between me and my exit–but hey, I had a job to do. I pulled the lever, and predictably enough, an iron grate dropped between me and my companion the Companion.

“Now look what you’ve got yourself into,” he snarled contemptuously.

“Send me on a quest of dire importance, lead me to a room with one option, call me an asshole when I try it. Classy move, chief.”

“Just sit tight,” he said. “I’ll find the release.”

“You do that. Funny how I couldn’t find one five minutes ago, but being the big badass super-guy, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble pulling one out of nowhere. Hey, maybe you could ask those guys who just came out of nowhere.”

A half-dozen men and women closed in around Farkas, weapons drawn and attitudes crappy. They briefly debated what to do, then agreed to take him on. “He wears that armor,” said one, “he dies.” I’m not sure how he came to that conclusion, since Farkas’ armor was a spiffy indestructible folk-art masterpiece and these clowns were dressed in belts and pot iron. I sat down quietly, prepared to–as necessary–help Farkas find the switch after triumphing after these loathsome blackguards, or pretend that I’d never met him before.

 

Coming Soon: Monday Stream, Mount and Blade Warband

16 Jan

I’ve been going back and forth over what to fill a few of my series slots with this season–the World Creation, for example–but I’ve finally got my stream time and game locked down. Starting this Monday, we’re kicking off with Mount and Blade: Warband. I’ll be piloting Cahmel through pseudo-medieval quasi-Europe on a nigh-immortal steed born of incompetence, unreachable goals, and unreasonable difficulty settings.

That’s right: not only will I be making an impossible grab for the throne of Caladria, I’ll be doing it on a difficulty I’m not at all comfortable with. You can’t actually lose Mount and Blade; you can only get your men slaughtered, be taken hostage, lose your possessions, and generally become the laughing stock of the continent. Which is why I’ll be starting an Ironman game with all the AI turned to 11 and all the combat settings set to the highest–which makes staying on your feet during a pitched battle exactly as hard as it would be in real life. Did I mention I’ve only played a dozen hours of this game? On the easiest setting?

We’ve got a lot of humiliation coming our way, so stay tuned!

Also: Jibar and I recorded some FarCry 3 multiplayer. I’m sure he’ll have that uploaded in no time.

 
 

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 15)

14 Jan

(No update on Mary Sue until the next playtest results come in.)

When I walked into the Companions headquarters, the first thing I noticed was that the red-and-gold handwoven motif embroidered into the linings on the table was unique to this area, and was—therefore—probably of some sort of ceremonial or historical significance. The second thing I noticed were the two people beating the tar out of each other.

A wood elf woman and a dark elf man stood over the rug, taking wild swings while the rest of the room sat and watched. And to be fair, the fight had a certain mesmerizing appeal. Their back-and-forth had the naked savagery and technical prowess of a swinging-ball desk toy; neither blocked, feinted, or grappled in the entire time I watched. They didn’t trade blows so much as share one between them.

Keep in mind that whatever this fight was, it was not brief. I watched for three or four minutes, with an increasing feeling of self-consciousness, as the two prize specimens paced back and forth swinging at each others’ face-spaces with reckless abandon. Sometimes, as if by minor miracle, a blow would connect. This had the same awesome effect as an immovable object struck by a stoppable force. I tentatively placed my money on the one not swinging her bare knuckles at sharp rusty metal plates over and over again, but really, it could go either way–and I wished it would. I’d gone from amused to fascinated to mildly embarrassed. I can’t imagine what it was like for people who saw this sort of thing regularly.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Dead Salesman Update: Mary Sue

09 Jan

I’ve been working on a game called Mary Sue for a little over a calendar year now, and–embarrassingly enough–only managed to get it right very recently. After weeks of watching the trappings of the game be more fun than the mechanics, I’ve finally hit on a radically different design principle that lets the craziness of the concept come through in gameplay. When the game’s closer to release, I’ll have a post explaining what I mean.

Anyway, the most recent playtest has got me terribly excited. The rules should have a candidate for release in another few months, and I can get a lot of the heavy lifting done on the rulebook in that time. This means the game could be less than three months away from completion. Considering that this is a far more elaborate affair than Hobospy, that’s saying a lot.

I do intend to put the game through a Kickstarter once I have a workable website and a few more assets to show off. I could release the game without any money at all, but even a couple hundred dollars could make a tremendous difference in terms of production value.

In other news, I’ve been screwing around with different designs for the Dead Salesman website. I considered switching to WordPress, but was ultimately unimpressed. Some day, I might have the funds to put up my own website, but for the moment, the Blogspot will suffice.

Dead Salesman Games still has not, officially, launched. I’m keeping in a soft-open state until I’m sure I have the website where I want it. But since this is the internet, there’s not a whole lot of difference between a “soft” and “hard” opening, except that I’m not pushing things as hard as I could be. I should be ready to do a hard open within a month or so.

Well, looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. Good thing I’m not graduating in six months or something, or else I’d probably go absolutely guano crazy.

Anyway, this has been another post from King Ruts, Supreme Emperor of Luxembourg, reminding you that turnip rations are being increased by 300% in honor of the Saint Jibar’s Day Festival. Good night, good luck, and don’t let the nightmare bats eat your hair, Margaret.

 

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 14)

08 Jan

Winning guild is Companions, winning submitter is overpoweredginger. Initiate post protocol.

I was in the throes of a paramoral dilemma: through what specific venue should I pursue murdering and looting? I’ve tried to pick out a career before. Back home, everyone assumed I’d take on my father’s line of work after he died of liver disease. Which was always a pretty sure bet, since his position was “town drunk” and he was paid in bar credit.

Torn by indecision, I decided to reach out to an arbiter.

“You,” I said to the redheaded Nord across from me. “I’ve got a hypothetical dilemma for you. Ready?”

He chewed his lip nervously and remained silent.

“I’m talking to you this time,” I explained, “not the axe.”

This didn’t calm him much, but he nodded.

“Alright,” I said, “assume you’re pretty good with an axe. Right?”

He nodded again.

“Supernaturally good. Kind of frighteningly good, actually. Like if the greatest bard ever born discovered a lyre after a lifetime of silence. Where once was an emptiness of the soul and senses, now there is purpose–now there is beautiful form just waiting to be realized. Like that kind of good. Are you getting this?”

Swallow. Nod.

“Now let’s say you need money–”

He ripped his coin purse off his belt, flung it at me, and bounded screaming off of the cart.

Closing the distance and stopping him was tricky, because I had to contrive a way to do it without chopping off his legs. But a minute later, and with a little grace and tact, I managed to retrieve him without harming his legs.

“Where were we?” I asked.

“You were shaying you needed to get shome money,” he said, piling handfuls of snow onto his head wound.

“Right. So what are your thoughts on the matter?”

He mulled it over for a minute, leaning back, staring up at the sky. Well, either he was thinking it over or he was blacking in and out. I’m not a doctor. Finally he said, “I guesh you could join the Companionsh.”

“Yeah, I was thinking about that, but aren’t they kind of…well. Nordish? No offense.”

He spat out a tooth.

“Good point,” I said. “Can’t be too picky in this kind of market. When life gives you Nords, make a bunch of broken, bruised Nords.”

“Huh?”

“Oh,” I said. “That time I was talking to the axe.”

Whiterun is a hold founded in the midst of a half-dozen farms. One can envision it in its primordial state: a tiny village square wherein Nord farmers came to trade their cabbages for other, more exotic cabbages from the next field over. Over centuries of expansion and development, Whiterun has since acquired all the class, urbane sensibility, and grandeur I’d come to expect from Nord society.

“Cabbages,” cried the street vendor, “Get your cabbages right here! Finest cabbages for ten acres! Cabbages!”

“This is Whiterun?” I said to the vendor. “Kind of small, isn’t it?”

She laughed. “Would you believe that’s the first question foreign travelers ask me?”

“You don’t say.”

“Me, I think it’s funny. Whiterun is huge! This is one of the biggest towns in the land!”

I looked behind me at the city’s edge. Then I looked ahead, and–up the hill, just past the jarl’s house–saw the city’s edge. One of the biggest towns in the land, she says.

“Where can I get drunk?”

“Would you believe that’s the second question everyone asks?”

A few steadying drinks later, I noticed a woman in the tavern wearing armor. This was a bit strange because she wasn’t guarding the place, or robbing it, or doing much of anything at all in it, actually. She was just sitting at her table drinking, all the while dressed head to toe in heavy steel plates. This raised the question of what kind of deranged battle-obsessed lunatic wears full armor when she’s relaxing.

She spotted me staring at her, nodded to me. “Nice armor,” she said.

“Oh,” I said. “Yeah. Thanks.”

We ended up in a brief conversation. Brief, in that it consisted of two sections, one after the other. The first section was the “getting to know you” phase, and lasted a sentence apiece. The second was the “challenged to a fistfight,” phase, which, again, was a sentence apiece. Then we played a drinking game that consisted of having a fistfight and then getting completely smashed.

Day six in Skyrim. I made a friend.

 

New Schedule

02 Jan

At the moment, this is what we’re looking at for content:

Monday: New Skyrim LP post.

Tuesday: Update on Dead Salesman games ventures.

Wednesday: RPG Q&A (cross-posted from the Dead Salesman Games blog)

Thursday: (???)

Friday: World Creation

Not yet sure which day I’ll be able to slot in the stream–probably Thursday, probably close to the same time slot it’s been in before. The date should be nailed down within a week or so.

I’m going to work up a World Creation post for the end of this week, and the full schedule will kick in the following week. See you then.