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Working full time sure puts the pinch on the time I'd like to spend gaming, and this leaves even less time to blog.  Still, I would like to put out at least a weekly digest of what I've been up to lately.

Gaming: Dragon's Dogma

A week ago, I picked up the PC version of this Capcom-made open world RPG after reading an article on Rock Paper Shotgun about how charmingly oblivious the players' NPC followers are.  Since buying it, I've been steadily plugging in hours every evening after work.  Now, having put that and weekend into the game I am about level 25 with moderate ranks in each of the three basic vocations.
What sets this game apart from the other open-world RPGs like it?  The answer is a bit strange because Dragon's Dogma is, at heart, a hybrid.  They tried to borrow a bit of Monster Hunter's epic monster battles, item crafting, and class balance, Dark Souls' art style and movement, and a smidgen of the Elder Scroll's world scope.  More than anything, because these are the same developers behind the Resident Evil and Devil May Cry series, it ends up being a bit of the former's survival horror and puzzle solving, and the latter's frenetic, over-the-top combat.  So, paradoxically, this game is unique only in the exact mixture of borrowed elements, no mean feat to pull off, and also the aforementioned inclusion of pawns, three NPC follower adventurers.
Overall, I find Dragon's Dogma to be a likable mongrel.  True, as a port of a 2012 console title, it's not as pretty as newer games, and the control scheme is a tad hobbled by consolitus, but there's still a lot to like about it.  The inadvertent quirkiness of the NPC followers ("pawns") provide more camaraderie than their flawed functionality would suggest.  The combat is fun even on the small scale, dispatching the likes of bandits and goblins with over-the-top flair.  

Dragon's Dogma is at its very best when fighting against larger monsters.  These range from terrors the size of small houses all the way up to majestic juggernauts as big as the village you started in, and you can even try to grapple up their sides and molest their appendages like the gnat you are.  Truly "epic" in ways beyond typically utilization of the word when describing other games.
This casting of the Grand Miasma spell gives you an idea of the epicness to be had in large encounters.
(Gif property of the Dragon's Dogma wikia.)
I can see myself potentially burning out on Dragons Dogma soon because, speaking as an altoholic, none of the nine vocations available to the player seem like they would satisfy in the long term.  The problem is that the console user interface limit hobbled the number of buttons the developers had to work with.  Consequently, no matter what vocation I am playing, I am limited to only six slotted skills to activate, plus a strong attack, a weak attack, a jump button, and sometimes a button I can hold down to enter a blocking or archery mode.  Perhaps between the fast paced combat, the three NPCs followers, and the epic large monster battles, it will prove entertaining enough.

Indie Game Development: Trying to come up with a concept.

After completing a few basic tutorials on the use of Unity, I now consider myself good enough at it to consider making a game.  However, on some level, the engine was never really the problem.  The problem is I need a game concept I'm excited enough about creating to see through to completion, and that's a pretty tall order for a guy who has played as many games as I have.

The best I've up with so far is I'd like an RPG where nothing is instanced, everything has consequences, all the bad guys have to come from somewhere, it's possible to wipe them out, and it's possible more bad guys can arise from bad conditions somewhere.  In other words, taking the virtual world RPG to the next level by creating a complete and functional adventuring ecosystem with next to no extrapolation.

If that is my current goal, Unity is doing less for my game concept than I hoped, as its focus on multimedia excellence is brawn and beauty, but what I want in a game is brains and personality. 

But this is no fault of the engine; the responsibility of coding game logic to make an original game happen should obviously fall to the aspiring creator of the game, and the engine need only be flexible enough to accommodate.  Unity's coding IDE (monodevelop with a robust C# implementation) is more flexible than anything short of creating my own engine.   

Lets face it, I've been chickening out, and that won't get a game made.  I need to find an hour in each of my busy days to disseminate this difficult task and whittle away at it, or it will forever remain undone.


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