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Real Name SMA   
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Nickname Scottish Martial Arts
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Homepage http://
Signed On Jun 16, 2002, 23:16
Total Comments 2695 (Senior)
User ID 13410
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News Comments > On Fallout 3
25. Re: On Fallout 3 Jan 27, 2009, 01:57 Scottish Martial Arts
Writing doesn't need to 'resonate with one at an emotional level', in order to be good.

Perhaps not, but it certainly needs to engage you with the story. Stories are about people, and in order for those people to be interesting, there needs to be conflict. There is nothing interesting about a story of a man sleeping peacefully. That story only becomes interesting when that man is disrupted from his sleep by a strange sound coming from the basement, or when he begins to dream. Sometimes it is enough to pique our curiosity (what could that sound in the basement be?) in order for a story to have drama. Often times though, stories depend upon our caring about a character. If we don't care about Frodo and Sam, why would be interested in their journey to Mt. Doom? I actually didn't like the LotR movies for this very reason: Frodo and Sam as portrayed in the movies were whiny martyrs with a bizarre homoerotic undercurrent to their interactions. As a result, whenever the scene shifted away from Aragorn and Gandalf, I lost interest.

If we can't connect with characters and their struggles, then we cannot connect with the story. Such a story become mere data to be absorbed, sterile plot points that exist only to setup the next special effects sequence or action set piece. Good writing tells a story that we want to hear. Great writing tells a story that we want to hear, and presents us with characters and situations that make us think about bigger issues, i.e. themes. The best writing treats themes that touch the core of what it means to be human, transcending time and place and becoming something that speaks to all people everywhere at least on some level.

I don't expect the best writing from video games. Honestly, I don't think video games and video game makers are capable of such writing. I don't even expect great writing from video games. I do however expect good writing, at least from story driven games. Daddy, Project Purity, and the Enclave didn't engage me on any level, more often inspiring audible groans than anything else (Mom's dialogue at birth, I'm looking at you!).
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News Comments > On Fallout 3
17. Re: On Fallout 3 Jan 27, 2009, 00:10 Scottish Martial Arts
Writing? You mean like spell mistakes? I didn't notice any.

Major spoilers for Fallout 3 and Half-Life 2: Episode 2 ahead.

I wasn't referring specifically to usage, mechanics, and spelling, although there were errors along those lines, but to dialogue, character motivation, pacing, narrative tension, etc.

Consider your relationship with your father: it is integral to the plot, yet has absolutely no emotional resonance. Did anyone actually care when "Dad" died? Writing a character so that you actually care about him or her is incredibly difficult, and I won't claim to know how to do it. That said, I can tell when a story is asking something of me emotionally that the actual content of the story doesn't support. We are asked to care when Dad dies, but the story never gave us reason to invest ourselves emotionally in his character.

Contrast this with the end of Half Life 2 Episode 2 when Eli gets killed. Eli's death resonates emotionally because, over the course of 3 games, Valve has given us reason to care about Eli, Alyx, and their relationship. It is abundantly clear that Eli and Alyx loved each other very much; when they expressed affection for each other, it wasn't something you merely heard and understood on an intellectual level -- you felt their love on an emotional level. When Eli dies, it's not emotionally traumatic because you're losing a likable character, although that certainly is a consideration, but because you're watching Alyx lose her father. Eli tells Alyx to close her eyes and not to watch what is about to happen because, even seconds before his gruesome demise, he wants to protect her from something horrific; he cares so much about her that he doesn't care that he's about to die, only that his death not be quite so painful for her. This is very good writing; in one short line we get all of that insight into two characters and their relationship. Consequently, as the screen fades to black and Alyx weeps over her father's body, we are left with a powerful reminder of what sort of a father Alyx has just lost, and how heart broken Alyx, a character we've come to care for, must be.

This is the difference between good and bad writing: one resonates with you at an emotional level, the other just sits there, inert, and undramatic.

Crappy NPCs? Fawkes... Dogmeat... Diego... Allistair Tenpenny... all memorable.

And all one dimensional outlines that come nowhere close to resembling a real human being. You'll have to remind me who Diego was though as I seem to have forgotten him.
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News Comments > On Fallout 3
2. Re: On Fallout 3 Jan 26, 2009, 19:29 Scottish Martial Arts
And what about crappy writing, storyline, quest design, and NPCS? What about the same cookie-cutter, bland content that has been a problem since Daggerfall?  
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News Comments > New NWN2 Expansion Possible
21. Re: New NWN2 Expansion Possible Jan 12, 2009, 20:44 Scottish Martial Arts
Interesting interview with the SoZ devs:

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News Comments > Out of the Blue
15. Re: Fall Out 3 Jan 12, 2009, 02:18 Scottish Martial Arts
"Which one should I get: Fallout3, Left4Dead, or Dead Space"?

Fallout 3 is Oblivion with Guns. If you liked Oblivion, and the idea of playing Oblivion again but this time with guns, then you'd enjoy it.

Left4Dead is just plain fun. Some have complained about the relative shallowness of the gameplay, which I definitely noticed the first time I booted up the demo. On the other hand, I'm still playing it on a regular basis and am having a blast, so that shallowness hasn't yet impacted the game's longevity, to me at least.

Dead Space I haven't played, but my understanding is that it was ported particularly well (big surprise).

My advice? If you really enjoyed Oblivion, get Fallout 3. Otherwise get Left4Dead: you won't regret it.
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News Comments > New NWN2 Expansion Possible
4. Re: New NWN2 Expansion Possible Jan 11, 2009, 13:04 Scottish Martial Arts
SoZ was good (I can understand the complaints against it, but the game clicked for me).

Same here. The game had very clear and noticeable flaws, but despite them I still had a whole lot of fun with the game. Exploration plus building a merchant empire was pure win for me.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
9. Re: Out of the Blue Dec 31, 2008, 15:14 Scottish Martial Arts
15 Reasons PC Gaming Beats All. Thanks Digg.

Ugh, Matt Peckham. He's the asshole who wrote the infamous pulled review of NWN2 for 1UP, in which he argued that DnD-based games are antiquated because they arn't like Oblivion. That's the kind of shit that has ruined PC gaming, so I think I'll pass on his PC-evangelism.
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News Comments > Fallout 3 DLC Interview
26. Re: High level content Dec 17, 2008, 17:25 Scottish Martial Arts
You show someone a screenshot of Fallout 2 and they'd probably say "Beirut?"

That doesn't look like the post-apocalypse to you? You'll get no argument from me that New Reno is out of place, although it is an excellent location filled with great quests and characters. That said, the game looks about as post apocalyptic as you're going to get with 2D tile-based graphics.
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News Comments > Game Reviews
4. Re: Fallout 3 review Dec 16, 2008, 16:41 Scottish Martial Arts
It's really obvious when a reviewer hasn't played Planescape Torment or any classic RPGs.

Or read a genuine work of literature. There are things to praise in Fallout 3, but the insipid writing isn't one of them.
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News Comments > Fallout 3 Editor (GECK)
17. Re: Fallout 3 Editor (GECK) Dec 11, 2008, 21:21 Scottish Martial Arts
Yes, but even though we know what's going to happen it's still crazy fun

Uh, what's so crazy fun about it? The explosion? Because the quest consisted of pressing your use key and then selecting between "disarm bomb" and "rig bomb to detonate". Not exactly a pinnacle in gameplay there.
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News Comments > Ghostbusters Dated, Baldur's Gate & NWN to be Revisited
12. Re: Ghostbusters Dated, Baldur's Gate & Dec 2, 2008, 16:55 Scottish Martial Arts
An Obsidian developer is dropping hints over at RPGCodex that they'll be doing BG3:
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News Comments > Fallout 3 Editor and DLC Coming
53. Re: Fallout 3 Editor and DLC Coming Nov 26, 2008, 13:07 Scottish Martial Arts
Super Mutants are perfectly fine as they are now, too.

Except that they can easily be killed by second level character playing on very hard difficulty. What was once a major threat that took skill, tactics, and a little luck to overcome -- at least until you found hardened power armor and a modified plasma rifle -- is now a common, unremarkable enemy that is easily dispatched. At least Deathclaws didn't turn out to be total pushovers.
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News Comments > Fallout 3 Editor and DLC Coming
42. Re: And so Nov 25, 2008, 19:57 Scottish Martial Arts
I bet some of you feel pretty stupid now?

Fallout 3 plays nothing like Fallout 1 or 2 and retains all of the flaws of Oblivion. Wasn't that exactly what we said would happen? A great PC franchise has been consolized, just like us "whiners" said it would be, so I'm not sure why exactly I'm supposed to be feeling foolish.

This comment was edited on Nov 25, 2008, 20:02.
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News Comments > Fallout 3 Editor and DLC Coming
33. Re: Fallout 3 Editor and DLC Coming Nov 25, 2008, 16:19 Scottish Martial Arts
It's really not worth comparing Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3, they are completely different types of games in almost every way.

Well both games have you exploring a post apocalyptic environment, fighting mutants/zombies from a first person shooter perspective, while searching for items that will help keep you alive.

In all honesty, you're right that Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3 are pretty different, but you have to admit that the actual gameplay of Fallout 3 has a lot more in common with your average first person shooter than your average cRPG. I suppose that's what bugged me most about Fallout 3: it played nothing at all like it's predecessors. Well, that, and the insipid writing, cookie cutter dungeons, weak character system, and boring, uncreative quests (although the replicant one was pretty cool). That said, it was fun for the first 10 hours or so, and I did actually finish the game, so I guess it was worth 50 bucks, but on the other hand I doubt I'll still be returning to it and still finding new stuff a decade from now.

This comment was edited on Nov 25, 2008, 16:20.
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News Comments > Ships Ahoy - Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir
7. Re: Ships Ahoy - Neverwinter Nights 2: S Nov 23, 2008, 01:23 Scottish Martial Arts
So is this good or not?

I haven't played that much of it yet, but so far it looks pretty good.

Death is now functions according to DnD rules: if you hit 0HP then you are incapacitated, losing additional HP every round, until either a teammate heals you or you die. If you die, then you have to pay for a resurrection back in town.

Combat is quite a bit more challenging now, partly due to the new death system and partly because the encounters are just tougher. It took me a half dozen reloads or so to finish the opening battle.

There are skill checks everywhere: every dialogue so far has had multiple skill checks. Likewise, the two short quests I've done so far both made liberal use of skills. Furthermore, Overland Travel relies on skills such as survival, spot, hide, and diplomacy extensively.

I'm really, really early in the game so this is all I can comment on so far. I spent about 3 hours crafting my party so I very little of my play time has been spent advancing the plot.

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News Comments > Game Reviews
6. Re: Game Reviews Nov 11, 2008, 01:31 Scottish Martial Arts
you suck at games

Seriously. The only challenging area I've encountered is Old Ohlney which is infested with Death Claws. At least Death Claws are still fearsome and dangerous as hell, unlike the emasculated Super Mutants. Now that I have T-51b Power Armor and a Plasma Rifle however, I kind of doubt even the Death Claws will pose much of a challenge.
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News Comments > Fallout 3 Patch
34. Re: Fallout 3 Patch Nov 7, 2008, 12:53 Scottish Martial Arts

Mostly because it doesn't play much like a Fallout game. Most of your time in Fallout 1 and 2 is spent in towns, talking with NPCs, getting and doing quests, and solving puzzles. Compare this with Fallout 3 where there are only 2 towns of a any size (Rivet City and Megaton), which you really only visit to sell off loot you picked up either fighting monsters in the wastes or exploring dungeons. Likewise, every quest I've encountered so far has been a dungeon crawl, usually with some item you have to retrieve at the end of it. Fallout 1 and 2 certainly had quests like that, but they were few, and the dungeons themselves had puzzles, NPC interaction, and a storyline. Given that all the quests seem to be dungeon crawls, it's no surprise that about 85% of the game is spent either in combat or immediately between fights. Fallout 1 and 2 simply weren't this combat focused.

When I play Arcanum I feel like I'm playing Fallout: Steam-Punk Edition. When I play Fallout 3 I feel like I'm playing Elder Scrolls: The Oblivion of Post-Apocalypse. Fallout 3 simply doesn't play much like Fallout, no matter how often you see the Vault Boy. In other words, it plays like an Elder Scrolls game. Admittedly I think this is the best Elder Scrolls game since Daggerfall, but nevertheless it's an Elder Scrolls game regardless of it's post-apocalyptic setting, just like Arcanum is a Fallout game regardless of it's steam-punk setting.
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News Comments > Fallout 3 Patch
27. Re: Fallout 3 Patch Nov 7, 2008, 02:00 Scottish Martial Arts
If you dont like this, frankly just fuck off and quit playing games.

I'd tell you to go fuck yourself but given how far the game industry's cock is up your ass that would just be redundant. If you want to champion mediocrity be my guest. But don't tell me that I have give a blow job to a game that doesn't hold a freaking candle to it's decade old predecessors. A Fallout game Fallout 3 most definitely is not.
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News Comments > Fallout 3 Patch
9. Re: Fallout 3 Patch Nov 6, 2008, 17:49 Scottish Martial Arts
It's more or less bug free on my end (PC.)

Seriously? I get regular crashes on saving or exiting the program. Additionally, there seems to be a scripting error that prevents me from progressing now that I've just entered the Citadel. I guess that means I need to either reload an old save or call it quits on this game. At this point I've seen what there is to see, and I highly doubt a couple more dungeon crawling fetch quests will change my opinion. Given that Bethesda says that the isometric perspective and turn-based combat of the originals were only due to technology limitations, I can only assume that good RPG design must also be unnecessary now that we have radiant AI and bloom to make up for it.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
96. Re: Out of the Blue Nov 6, 2008, 02:32 Scottish Martial Arts
I think that voting is for the ignorant and we should just pull the shadow-government out the fucking shadow install a goddamn Empire.

I shouldn't even bother responding to this, because you either didn't read what I wrote, or didn't bother to understand it. Whatever, I like talking about Rome, so here we go.

Fuck it if the Roman Republic turned into an Empire, thats the way the US republic should go too!!!

You are aware that Julius Caesar was a Populares, right?

It would take way to long to go through the fall of the Republic step by step but here are some key themes:

1. The wealth of empire was overwhelmingly benefitting the senatorial class. Meanwhile, the small land holders were losing their farms after years of overseas service (during the Republic the army was a propertied militia).

2) The land redistribution legislation proposed by the brothers Gracchi marked the introduction of political violence.

3) Gaius Marius reorganized military recruiting to allow the poor and disenfranchised to serve. Since these new poor soldiers were dependent on their commander for getting payed, their loyalty was to the general and not the state.

4) Beginning with Scipio Aemilianus, we see Roman politicians leveraging popular support in order to force policy through.

Combine the above factors, and you have a situation in which Roman politicians, in order to achieve their political goals, leverage their armies and their supporters among the people, offering such incentives as land reform or, after the Social War, voting rights for the Italian allies. The result was essentially a mob turf war, starting in 133BC (need to double check that date, whenever Tiberius Gracchus was assassinated) and not ending until the Battle of Actium 100 years later.

The point here is that the Republic didn't fall because Octavius woke up one morning and decided he wanted to be emperor. Rather, there was extreme discontent among the ever-growing class of urban poor, which folks like Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Cinna, and Julius Caesar were able to leverage to achieve their political goals, often resorting to mob violence, assassination, and ultimately marching on Rome. Likewise, conservative politicians like Sulla were not above using their essentially private armies to knock some heads among the Populares. Over a century of civil war, Roman statesman were killed off one by one, until only Octavius was left standing, allowing him to take control.

Look, I'm not proposing genocide or something here by saying that there isn't supposed to be a popular vote for President. It's in the US Constitution for crying out loud: Article II Sec. 1, check it out if you don't believe me. All I have tried to say in the past few posts, is that I believe that what is in the Constitution is a little more coherent and well thought out than the mishmash of electoral procedures we currently have.

The Founding Fathers didn't have blind faith in democracy, and, honestly, that's because they thought a little more seriously about its implications than most do today. Most of us have been raised in democracies, and been taught since early childhood that democracy is the one, true, best way to govern a country. If you want to cling to your enculturation, fine. But the Founding Fathers didn't take your faith in democracy for granted, and accordingly they thought more seriously about what the dangers of letting a simple majority decide everything might be, and designed the US government accordingly. You don't like it? Fine, but it's what's in the Constitution, and I happen to believe in that document and to believe in the thinking that went into it.

This comment was edited on Nov 6, 2008, 02:36.
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