Games

Genderology


In Traveller 5, you can identify as Goatse.

DanMemo, now with less Crunchyroll!


The English version of the picking-up-girls-in-a-dungeon mobile game is no longer co-published by Crunchyroll, but is being directly published by the localization studio now. They transitioned the social media accounts a few days ago, and now it’s the app’s turn.

Today’s update, despite the scary error message, strips out the co-branding and downloads the assets for the second part of the preeeeeeeequel story line set 1000+ years in the past (in which not-Bell is more annoying than Bete and Loki put together, his half/step-sister not-Lefiya is a distinct improvement over the original, and the other analogs are a mixed bag). The previous update also added a way to improve characters who’ve already hit the level cap, making some of the nearly-impossible-for-free-players content potentially reachable.

Traveller 5.10…


I had heard that the original release of Traveller 5 was “more than a bit of a mess”. Chaotically organized, unedited, missing any sort of guides on how to run/play a game, filled with tables but missing simple things like equipment lists, showing no signs of familiarity with changes in both the industry and the audience, etc, etc. But that was years ago, and plenty of reviewers and forum-dwellers made all those flaws clear. So, along comes a new kickstarter campaign to reprint it with all those quite legitimate complaints taken care of, as Traveller 5.10.

Yeah, no. Reading through the recently-released PDF core books, I find no game here, just a construction kit that, with immense patience and energy, could be used to create a game and a universe to play in. Its 888 pages read like an unconscious parody of rules-heavy, table-driven RPG design, and, oddly enough, it ends up feeling kind of like Spawn of Spawn Of Fashan. As a bonus, if you’re nostalgic for early-Eighties game art, many of the included illustrations are actually from the early Eighties. Combined with the fact that neither the table of contents nor the index contain hyperlinks to the associated pages, I’m forced to conclude that nobody associated with this project is familiar with graphics or layout software released this century.

Mind you, in all those pages, there are no real examples of how to use any of this stuff; it’s just tables all the way down (and, no, still no equipment lists; but you can design every possible kind of hand-weapon from scratch and make your own!). No wonder everyone recommends Mongoose Traveller; despite its flaws, it’s actually intended to be played, not weighed.

Seriously, the table of contents for all three books is shorter than the table of charts in each book (124 in book 1, 125 in book 2, and 121 in book 3), but there are no printable pages of forms to make use of any of the supplied generators. Even the sample sector and sub-sector maps are just low-resolution JPEGs (MuPDF’s mutools extract is your friend here…).

For the previous release, they apparently did you the favor of extracting the relevant pages from the books to create a set of “forms”, which was better than nothing but not terribly useful. I’d hope that they’d do better this time, but there doesn’t seem to be any interest in supporting this as a game system.

By the way, how often do you actually need to know each character’s “species scent”?

Update

Just re-read the kickstarter, and it seems the Player’s Manual was promised as part of the original T5 kickstarter seven years ago, and is now promised as a free follow-up to this one, delivery date unknown.

Freebie!

Looks like the closest thing to a modern Classic Traveller is Cepheus Engine. This merges the free SRD from the first edition of Mongoose Traveller (which was deliberately designed to be compatible with existing CT content) with useful ideas from other editions like T20 and MegaTraveller, all wrapped up in an Open Gaming License.

Because it seems Mongoose screwed third-party publishers when they released version 2 of their Traveller, replacing the OGL with a profit-sharing scheme that takes 50% off the top.

So if you happened to find any good ideas in the T5 books, your best bet would be to incorporate them into a CE-based game, with additional content from whatever edition of Traveller books you can find.

Well, this explains a lot…

Which brings to Miller’s point that while he likes the challenge of game design, he doesn’t use the complex game designs he creates. He doesn’t use rules that have rules for everything. He instead uses the simple, straightforward, Referee-driven rules of Classic Traveller.

Not a pick-up line…


I hope the DanMachi spinoffs eventually produce a story focused on second-tier adventurer Anakitty Autumn, who is apparently the only non-insane catgirl in that universe.

(screenshot from the mobile game)

Doctor VR


The BBC has announced a VR-only kinetic novel featuring the voice of Jodie Whittaker and the writing talents of Yet Another SF Newbie, Victoria Asare-Archer.

“Let me get this straight. You took all the money you made franchising your name and bet it against the Harlem Globetrotters?”

“Oh, I thought the Generals were due!”

Dear Fallout 76…


Your appeal is becoming more selective. This is rarely a way to improve sales.

Seriously, do you honestly think there’s a large potential audience that has passed this game over because the PvP isn’t obnoxious enough? That’s the hill you choose to die on in this franchise?

Horseplay


CtrlAltDel’s experience with horse control makes me wonder how anything ever got done in the Old West…

Audio dramas with a side of gaming


One of the things that’s always been difficult for non-Japanese anime viewers is the amount of extra untranslated content that develops the characters and cleans up the stories. The mobile game for the “Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon?” franchise is only moderately interesting as a game, but is absolutely stuffed with story, with music, art, and voice work by the anime staff and actors, and side stories co-written by the original author, making it all canon.

The only downside is that the game mechanics are optimized for deep-pockets “whale” players, and it gets increasingly grindy for free players after a while. You get enough “stamina” credits to play for free for quite a while each day, but unless you get some lucky gacha draws, you’ll eventually stop progressing through the quests, and be forced to spend your time grinding for materials and cash to upgrade your sub-optimal party members and/or replace them with better ones.

Fortunately, by then you’ll have unlocked a number of side stories that flesh out characters who are barely touched on in the anime, some of which are quite lengthy. (seriously; the catgirl waitresses just got a sequel to their previous adventure)

Performance-wise, the game is a real space-hog (3+ GB without the optional extra voice content; make sure you’re on wifi when you run it the first time) and battery drain, and will not run well on older devices with limited memory. For instance, on my iPhone 6+, it’s too big to stay suspended in memory if I switch to any other app, it takes quite a while to load, and it drains the battery very quickly, so I play on my iPad Mini 4 instead. (you can transfer a game between machines using a code/password combo)

It’s fully translated, and most of the Japanese voice content is subtitled (except for combat taunts, etc). The chibi versions of the characters are adorable and well-animated. Many of the side stories are a lot of fun. The main questlines cover both anime seasons and all three novel series, and given the kind of money they must be pulling in, I expect they’ll keep adding more.

The casino “poker” game unlocked at the end of the Ryu questline is really just a slot machine that’s almost impossible to lose money at, but it provides another way to grind for upgrades when you’re bored with the usual ones.

There are a lot of things not made clear in the documentation, and I was kind of surprised that none of the FAQs really cover it well, either. For instance, I was running around with a gimped party for quite a while because I didn’t realize that assistants add all their stats to the character they’re paired with, making it important to level them up just as much as the adventurers, and to pay as much attention to the distribution of their stats as to the buffs they provide.

Also, “White Healer” Amid was my single best gacha pull. I wouldn’t have made nearly as much progress without her in my party, and I’d almost pay to limit-break her right now.

I did make a single in-game purchase (“Syr’s Daily Lunch Box”, which provides resources for 30 days) to reward the company for amusing me, but everything else costs about 10x what I’d be willing to pay, and even paying real money doesn’t let you pull specific characters.