Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Motivation Monday Mixer

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Apr 08 2013

Please forgive the digital dust–things have been busy and I actually still don’t have time to bring the site back up to date as I’ve been meaning to. Eventually things will be cleaned up and a regular update schedule will resume, but for now I can’t even hazard a guess when that will be.

However, while I have a Monday free I will take advantage of it to submit an entry to Monday Mixer & Motivation Monday–hopefully they don’t mind the double submission, but even if they do it was a good exercise and fit in the time I had available.

 

OLD HEROES

If I could erase one memory it would be the caldera battle—a story carved clearly into my flesh. They say we glorious few stemmed the tide of destruction and saved the world, at terrible personal cost. I didn’t just lose my hand, my eye, or my friends. What you actually lose in a sweltering hopeless slaughter like that is an esoteric essence known only to old heroes.

Coming to the brasserie for frosty ale was a mistake. I put in public appearances when I can. I’m a symbol to the people—I remind them of those things they cherish in themselves, even though most days I have none for myself.

The raging burn of my right stump makes me truculent and ill inclined toward pleasantries. It’s time to return to my demesne, soak my keloids and imagine asking the smith to forge a sheath that didn’t rub so much.

 

150 words

@DavidALudwig

Kingdom Royale

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Dec 10 2012

Well, as I get ready to buckle down and delve into Arel Wars 2–with the intention of writing the strategy guide as I go this time–it seems time to discuss other offerings by the company, Gamevil. Unfortunately, I don’t have much good to report. Arel Wars wasn’t nearly what it could have been–it should have been amazing but small easy-to-fix problems reduced it to okay, which is fine since the game was free, but I still wish it had been worth putting money toward since I would have very much liked to.

That said, as far as I’ve discovered Arel Wars is by far Gamevil’s best effort. Other of their titles I tried lacked even the promise that Arel Wars should have lived up to, and most of them were so bad they didn’t stay on my phone for even a day and thus don’t merit a review.

Kingdom Royale is an interesting middle ground, whose place on my phone is probably going after this review but managed to at least engage me for a time.

Kingdom Royale has an amazing design aesthetic to it–which sadly is all the further too many iPhone Apps seem to bother going–and in the vein of Arel Wars is an all out fantasy war game. I didn’t catch what the storyline was since they give you about one second to read a whole screen of text and I couldn’t find any way to go back to it–but I did catch that there was one and that seemed cool.

I’m not a great strategist, which is part of my chagrin at having to write the Arel Wars strategy guide, so simple effective strategies really appeal to me. In this regard I am very much a fan of Kingdom Royale’s double-layered Rocks-Paper-Scissors mechanic. In true RPG style, your units are defined by a combination of their race and class.

Orcs beat Humans, who beat Elves, who beat Orcs–but also Melee beats Range, which beats Magic, which beats Melee. That seems to me like enough to be really interesting to play with–say an Orc Melee unit against an Elf Ranged unit would be a fairly even match against each other or against a Human Magic unit, but reverse the classes in the first pairing and the Orc gets curb-stomped. Those sorts of mechanics are really fun for me to play with, and figuring out the troop roster to take into any given battle, who assign to guard duty and how many of each unit to keep in reserve makes me happy.

Even better, you don’t have to choose a faction when you play! All players have access to all three races and can produce and maintain troops as they see fit. I don’t mind having to choose a faction, and admittedly my play style heavily favors my elven units, but the completionist in me really loves the idea of being able to get everything–every unit, every structure–on a single play through. So I play elves whenever I can, but sometimes having exactly the right unit for any given job is immensely satisfying.

Now, Kingdom Royale is one of those resource oriented games where the passage of real time–whether you’re in the game or not–is required to build up the resources to build your structures and produce your units. That’s not an inherently bad thing to me, it can be nice to come back with a sense of progress after leaving your phone alone for an extended period.

Unfortunately I believe the actual implementation of resources in Kingdom Royale is one of its unforgivable gaffs. That’s right, I have good things to say about the game but this will not be a positive review over all.

The first three resources you work with are Gold, Wood, and Food. Gold is used in everything you do–and is proportionally easy to come by. Wood is used more heavily in the construction and improvement of structures and fortifications, while Food is significant to the production of units. All three of these resources are actually quite well handled–frequently used but easy enough to come by. Another thing the game does right is the general store in your secure home area where you can exchange one resource type for another if you need something other than what you’ve got in a hurry.

The next three resources I liked in concept, Sapphires associated with Human units, Amethysts with Elven units, and Emeralds with Orc units. These are a little harder to come by and later upgrades demand quantities that can be difficult to collect, but early in the game you can secure sources of Sapphires and Amethysts safe from seizure by other players so even if holding and taking ground against others is proving difficult you can still get the resources you need given enough time. No such luck with Emeralds. The first source of Emeralds is a little further in to the game, and is hotly contested enough I was never able to hold it long enough to have any pretensions about building any sort of meaningful force of orcs. I would have been fine with this, but even humans and elves start requiring some Emeralds once you begin producing 4th level units.

The final three resources are the ultra rare, Diamonds, Opals and “Crowns”–with the latter primarily being obtained by paying real world money into the game. The balance of supply and demand for these resources seems fairly reasonable to me, but I’ll never get far enough in the game to say whether this holds true to the end. I’ve got a sinking suspicion it doesn’t.

See, the difficulty of obtaining Emeralds–one of the core three gem types–throws the whole economy out of balance even before factoring the exponential price increases that far outstrip any sort of resource income I could envision having achieved.

I love the character design of the units, and find the sound from music to effects to voices spot on for the game. I even discovered that it is possible for a unit to gain experience and become more powerful–without you having to spend half a day training the entire unit type, or just buying the next level up of the race/class combination. This is an awesome touch that really lines up with my preference for developing an elite team with as few casualties as possible.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that there’s virtually nowhere to train your units up. The storyline missions are all only played once before moving you on, and the enemies become stronger faster than your units can–and I have yet to meet a player who just offers up their fodder units for you to train on and then take their land. Also, when on offense–as you will generally be–your units can be killed and then are gone along with potentially the vast amount of resources spent producing the higher level ones.

Your main keep has a hospital where defense units, or offense units who weren’t actually reduced to zero health, can recuperate over time. If there were better odds on a unit being sent to the hospital rather than killed then even in loss a player could build their forces up and do better next time–but as it actually stands when you lose you lose big.

It is technically possible to alleviate the deficit of any resource (Emeralds being the prime offender) by building structures dedicated to harnessing that resource on a limited number of vacant land plots within your secure home area. Unfortunately, Sapphires, Emeralds, Diamonds and Opals all require Crowns to build their structures–unlike the others that can be built with in-game resources. Since the game never convinced me it was worth money, and I burned crowns on unit resurrections while I was still learning the game, getting a reasonable supply of Emeralds is out of the question for me, and thus so is advancing through the game.

The challenge curve is the last problem with the game I think is worth mentioning–because between the rapid scaling of challenges and the rapid scaling of costs I found it completely inconceivable that I could ever really get anywhere in the game. If the Player versus Player element happened on a separate map and resources gained on the regular map were retained, or if there were at least a secure source of Emeralds that would be different. But as is I reached the 12th area of Payro with the first real boss enemy and found that no combination of units I could produce could stand up to him without devastatingly high losses (Spoiler Alert: You have to fight him more than once in that area) that would take days of play for me to recuperate from.

So I was stuck unable to get the resources I needed to build up my forces, unable to advance the single-player storyline, unable to complete the side-quests (which advance in difficulty as rapidly as the core missions), and unable to defeat other players in such a way that I gained more than I lost. So at this point the only thing I can do is log in and collect resources from my safe sources, and that just isn’t fun at all.

The good news is that since playing the game is free, there’s no real reason not to try it for yourself and form your own opinion if you think it even might be different from mine–plus you can benefit from my folly and spend your crowns getting an Emerald mine in your home area rather than on unit healing/resurrection.

I give the game 3 of 5 stars–similar to Arel Wars. I’m certain there’s something there, I love the aesthetic and I definitely feel it actually is a game–I just can’t seem to find the way in to it. One difference is that Arel Wars could have easily been a 5 star game if they’d bothered fixing what I felt were obvious errors… Kingdom Royale could probably get up to 4 stars if they fixed their wonky resource availability/expense balance, but getting all the way to 5 would take serious work and require more story and character for me.

Legend of the Cryptids

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Nov 26 2012

I know I teased you about it before, but now I’m going to actually talk about Applibot’s “Legend of the Cryptids”. You can also refer back to my review of Mobage’s “Rage of Bahamut” because they are essentially the same game. The quick version, for those uninterested in the long version, is that there is a genre of casual game out there based around social networking that as I understand it began on Facebook. I managed to avoid the genre there, but have been suckered in no less than four times on my iPhone. The best of them are gorgeous art-collections burdened by unnecessary and uninspired “gameplay”, and this is the category the likes of Rage of Bahamut and the various of Applibot’s applications fall.

Now, the long version;

A quick note before I really dig into my review, as an actual gamer I am clearly not the target audience for these internet based social abominations. I try to divorce that from my review of the application as a matter of fairness–someone who is severely lactose intolerant isn’t the first place to go for a solid cheese review. So when it actually comes down to my star rating at the end of the article I will here–as I did with Rage of Bahamut–give the application an additional star beyond what I think it deserves as a way of compensating for my bias.

Conceptually, “Legend of the Cryptids” is brilliant. It has a lush fantasy world crafted for it, and a more than adequate storyline for any casual gamer moving through it. Like Rage of Bahamut, the name of the game is collecting cards and trying to build your ideal deck. All the mechanics are essentially the same, if you’ve played any game in the genre you can pick up any other one without difficulty. So rather than repeat my Rage of Bahamut review here (you can follow the link at the top of this article if you want to see that one) I’m going to just touch on the differences.

The first difference I noticed in Legend of the Cryptids is that it features decent music and sound effects–which really enhance the game experience. It’s nothing fancy, but still something I frequently found myself grateful for.

Now, it has been a little while since I’ve played now, but Legend of the Cryptids did have one major disadvantage as compared to Rage of Bahamut–though one I’d attribute to being a younger game. The user-interface and menu schemes were often clunky and lacking the smooth navigation afforded by RoB’s many links and buttons. This is something that could easily iron out over time, and maybe already has been–but I did waste a lot of time navigating between menus in LotC where I could have simply used the ‘back’ button in RoB.

In Legend of the Cryptids rather than the “Gods”, “Demons” and “Humans” classification of Rage of Bahamut, the factions are divided as “Water”, “Fire” and “Forest”–which in theory I believe still has a nice rocks-paper-scissors mechanic (and is still a legitimate, if incomplete, classification system based on the Chinese 5 Element approach). Though in practice I didn’t observe any strong tendencies when it came to interactions between the factions, or even necessarily what cards ended up in what faction.

As with RoB, LotC has absolutely gorgeous artwork and more than a little pin-up quality teasers. These are well distributed over the factions, so don’t worry that by picking one faction or another you’re missing out on cheesecake. This does, however, bring us to something I think LotC does better than RoB–and that is card evolution.

Duplicate cards can be combined into more powerful forms as in Rage of Bahamut–again carrying forward a percentage of the stats of the base cards that increases if those cards are at maximum level. However, unlike RoB, only one such combination is necessary to get a card to its ultimate form. This makes evolution a much easier process, and greatly decreases the risk of developing a suboptimal final card as the result of impatience or lack of resources.

One area that I’m afraid LotC loses out to the more developed RoB, however, is the in-game events. LotC seems to constantly have events going on, which gives new players no time to ease into the game through the regular campaign and regulars no chance to recuperate from the more intensive demands of a live event. Events are great for mixing things up, and will generally be a player’s best shot at getting really good cards, but I think LotC would benefit from some downtime between events. The actual quality of the events is actually quite good, merely their constant presence becomes exhausting and leaves no resources for pursuing the regular game.

Before giving my final review I’d like to highlight a couple points that apply to all of these collectible card online social networking games.

  1. They promote an abusive play environment in that deck quality is the primary determiner of victory in player versus player matches–so there’s no point fighting other players who might be able to beat you if you can get what you want from a player you know can’t beat you–and players need to attack and steal from each other to complete treasure collections.
  2. The value for money isn’t there, the return for In Application Purchases of additional cards and items isn’t worth what they cost–unless you put a high price on getting to be the abuser rather than the abusee in regards to the first point.

That said, Legend of the Cryptids is a glorious art collection with a little story and some nice touches that make it every bit as good as Rage of Bahamut. It isn’t my genre of game, and I intend to avoid the genre like the plague now that I’ve become more familiar with it than I could have ever wished, but if you’re the sort of person this game is meant for (interested in art, extremely simplified “gameplay” and somewhere to just burn an excess of time and money that perhaps can’t be collected for the larger investment of a real game) then Legend of the Cryptids is a good example of the genre.

I give it 4 stars, because as a free application that it is perfectly possible to get through without ever spending any money–if somewhat painful–it does deliver a lot of content for potentially no cost.

Now if games of this sort were $6 Art Collections (or maybe $0.99 per release collections) without the burden of sadistically abusive excuses for gameplay then I think I’d enjoy them and have actually put money toward them–something I’m thankful I’ve never done.

If you want a taste of the art and the game you can check out the excellent wiki for Legend of the Cryptids, a superb resource for anyone looking to get into the game. I’d also like to mention Monster Maestro–which will not be receiving its own review and has already been deleted from my phone–and the new Galaxy Saga both also from Applibot. The company knows its genre, and if unlike me you are not put off by the genre then you can expect a very similar experience from any of their products. And if you’re in it for the artwork, the only reason I can think of to be in it, then the variation between the three will allow you to find the art niche that works best for you–with Cryptids being fantasy, Monster Maestro being basically Pokemon/Digimon/whatever, and Galaxy Saga being science fiction.

I’d further like to mention that Applibot does a good job of cross-promoting their products, and give quite handy rewards in each game for progress made in the others–that’s how I wound up with Monster Maestro on my phone even though I didn’t want it, and actually don’t regret the time I spent on it.

Monday Mixer: November 5

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Nov 05 2012

Okay, with Menage Monday finished and Motivation Monday on hiatus, I have made my first foray into the Monday Mixer–partially to keep the creative juices fresh by writing something other than my National Novel Writing Month project which has yet to go well.

So without further ado, I bring you;

 

TIDINGS

Saint Nicholas’ skyscraper pierced the earth like a heaven sent spear, to the euphoric adulation of peoples far and near. From atop the imposing monolith, the holiday harbinger watched the world and judged. Few suspected perfunctory good deeds no longer sufficed to get off the Naughty List. The Saint’s mandate had changed.

The masses burned on their own sinful coals the first Christmas after the coming. People feared God again, recognized the inadequacy of maladroit attempts to live as He commanded. Offerings and sacrifice resurged; pilgrims crossed the icy tundra to the estuary where the North Pole had landed.

The greedy dealt in terms they understood, bringing gold and jewels. The poor appealed to the Saint’s jovial nature, offering holly, verbena, and other decorative plants. The desperate turned to sacrifice, foisting their sins on a goat, a piglet, lamb or even house pet.

All the while, Nicholas watched and judged.

 

 

[trying for Over-Achiever with the entry, since I saw no reason not to]

150 words excluding the title

National Novel Writing Month!

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Nov 02 2012

Okay, so National Novel Writing month is officially here AND I’m officially participating this year. Missed my word target for the first day, and am on track to miss again this second day–putting me further in the hole–but I see the weekend through Tuesday as my real opportunities to make up for scheduling conflicts Wednesday through Friday. With any luck that’ll be enough to get me through to the 50,000 words by the end of the month.

So no treats for you this week with me so far behind already–but my plan is by next Friday, maybe earlier, to have an excerpt from the novel to share with anyone who’s interested. Potentially following up with other excerpts as the month goes on. If I could get some discussion regarding what sort of excerpts you’d like to see from my work in progress, that’d be great information for me–right now I’m thinking character introductions for windows into the core cast.

Then, if anyone feels like helping develop the world of Niar, I’m realizing that having me come up with every single town and city in the world is unlikely to be ideal. So I’d like to open up the possibility for anyone who feels like flexing some creativity and then donating the effort to come up with town and city names for the World of Niar, so that when I’m referencing locations it doesn’t sound like the same individual came up with all of them–even if the story never goes to locations I didn’t come up with, having them in the world will still enhance it. Plus in the event that this novel, or Niar Saga from this site really take off it might be kind of cool to have your location on the official world map. Maybe? I’d like that sort of thing.

On the topic of reader interaction though, thank you everyone who has voted in the current poll! With all the spambots assailing the site and looking for a way in (there is NONE, they all have to go through ME) it’s hard to feel like the page-view counter is representing real traffic, but as of this posting I know there are four people who have looked at my site and cared enough to interact with me. That means a lot.

So thank you.

Artless Halloween

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 31 2012

So I’d like to open by saying that I’d intended to include art with this entry, but it appears that the bizarre failure of my laptop over a month ago now is going to plague me for the rest of the life of the computer. Had to get a new user profile because the old one will no longer log in, and apparently my tablet doesn’t work with the new profile. So no drawings from me anymore.

It’s probably fixable, but I’ve already exhausted the options I know how to do and have other things to spend my time on–which is where this update was going after the art anyway.

Two of my stories have been published in Super Flash Fiction, and I encourage you to head on over and check that out if you haven’t already. Subscribe for future issues or even submit your own dynamic stories or artwork.

The bigger news is that I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month starting tomorrow (November 1)! I’m officially in this year, and I’m going to finally finish a novel! Sign up if it interests you, or just cheer me on/pester me about my progress! The goal is 50,000 words by the end of the month.

It’s likely to consume my free time in November, though I’ll try to keep updating this site–though you can expect most if not all of my posts to be NaNoWriMo related.

And that’s it from me for now! Happy Halloween, and sorry about the lack of artwork… Wait… Maybe I can fake something even without my tablet…

Haha! How’s that for drawing with a mouse in Paint?

 

Happy Halloween!

Diabolical Deeds Wrap Up

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 29 2012

Well, that’s the end of ‘Timony’s Diabolical Deeds Challenge, hopefully the tales were enjoyed here and on the other participating sites–but in the event that you missed it get over to ‘Timony’s site and check out the prompts and participants.

‘Timony Souler – Our Challenge host, and the one who will always be significant to my online writing persona because of challenges like 7 Sins and 7 Virtues that got me started on Flash Fiction in the first place. Undaunted by stringent word counts and difficult/obscure word prompts, ‘Timony delivers strong sensory fiction on a consistent basis–when not waylaid by real world demands. My favorite of her contributions to her own challenge this time was Day Two’s “The Promotion” because sometimes it’s just nice to observe a demon who really values their work.

Lisa McCourt Hollar- Host of the #55WordChallenge, and incredibly vivid writer whose horror stories actually scare me in spite of just being words on a page (or screen), which is an accomplishment because I normally refrain from delving into the genre deeply enough to be affected like that–her words and characters pull me in even when I’m wary of what they’ll reveal. It was her second entry, “Dangerous Games”, that I’m going with as my favorite in this challenge because on top of her usual richness of characterization and setting, there’s a little something sexy there too.

Meg McNulty- A writer I met early in my flash-ficiton experience and regular for ‘Timony Challenges, Meg brings a richness of history and context to her writing that is absolutely compelling. Her second entry, “The Cave”, is especially good this time around because of the balance of fantasy and horror that make it feel like anything could happen.

Jeffrey Hollar- Another longtime contributor to ‘Timony’s Challenges, and another impeccable horror writer–he can almost always capture the dark in life or in people in a way that will turn the stomach or make the skin crawl, but when he feels like it can deliver real fun, whimsy and comedy as well. And, surprise surprise, it was the second entry again that most captivated me. How did everyone else do such a good job with Calu? “A Night Out” really provided a setting and characters I’d love to see more of, even casually with no particular plot line.

Mark Ethridge- A regular on the Flash Fiction scene, this is his first ‘Timony Challenge. His words are poetic and invitingly original, and this time around I think he really gained steam as he worked his way through the challenge. My favorite entry was actually his 4th Entry, “Sthenno”, but a lot of that is favoritism for the strong female lead and Greek mythology, I would argue that his final entry was even stronger.

Stacy Bennet-Hoyt- Another regular from the Flash Fiction circuit, yet newcomer to the ‘Timony scene. Sort of a hidden character since she missed the sign-up deadline but participated anyway, and delivered her usual flash brilliance and power with each entry. Choosing a favorite among such strong entries was hard, but I’m ever so slightly favoring her 2nd Entry, “Calu”, because she gets the sexiness that others captured and also taught me a new word I intend to start making use of.

 

And to my knowledge that’s all the entries. If I missed anyone, let me know and I’ll remedy that.

 

Diabolical Deeds 5: Zagan

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 26 2012

[Previous Deed]

Zagan

Scooping her satiny black cat into her arms, the girl let out a relieved sigh. With Stheno unconscious they were finally together and safe again. Scratching the back of her cat’s head, the girl turned out to grin at the zoic wonders of the cedar forest.

Her reverie was cut short upon noticing the great winged bull winking at them. Her cat tried to wriggle out of her arms—but she held him tight.

“You ought to be ashamed, Blackie! The spiritual zymosis he started you on is what turned you into a cat in the first place!”

 

 

 

And that wraps up ‘Timony’s Diabolical Deeds Challenge. Probably not my best showing in a ‘Timony Challenge, but you can look forward to my summary of the rest of the field on Monday–which altogether should make for some good seasonal reading. Feel free to check out the links to the other participants ahead of time, over at ‘Timony’s Site.

Diabolical Deeds 4: Stheno

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 25 2012

[previous Deed]

Stheno

With Humbaba dispatched, the girl was upset to find her cat had run off during the fracas. She didn’t have to go far, however, to hear a sibilant voice sussurate dire promises pertaining to lunch. A scaly gorgon held the helpless feline pinned with brass claws, and lowered her grinning face of sharp fangs wreathed in writhing red vipers to biting range.

“Unhand my kitty!”

“Of course, I’d be pleased to switch up for something more substantial.”

The gorgon released her saccadic snack and faced the girl, who pushed up her sleeves and went to work.

Diabolical Deeds 3: Humbaba

Uncategorized | Posted by davidludwig
Oct 24 2012

[previous Deed]

Humbaba

She had to shade her eyes, raising an arm against the heavenly brilliance of the cedar forest. How strange a thing the sun seemed, after even a brief time in the chthonic depths.

A feline yowl brought surging habromania that turned the girl’s hair and eyes golden. Then she saw the lion-headed behemoth menacing her poor cat!

“To enter the forest of the Herrenvolk is verboten!”

The giant breathed a torrent of flame and, more terrifying to his victim, raised floodwaters with his roar.

“Get away from my kitty!” The girl suffused her palms with death’s dark glow.