I have found a couple of interesting tabletop RPG game sites: RPG Blog II and Gnome’s Stew. Gnome’s Stew is a multi-author blog and has varied articles, including some nice How-to’s, reviews, and tips. I look forward to reading them in the feature.
October 24th, 2010 — games
September 14th, 2010 — games
I quit for a variety of reasons, and I tried other MMORPGs, but I didn’t find anything that came close to my experience with Everquest. Over the last year, I’ve toyed with playing it again. [Because I first played it over 10 years ago, I guess this might qualify as retro gaming.] As it turned out, some of my original guild and a couple of my fellow D&D game pals were thinking along the same lines. So, about 5 weeks ago, we met, talked about the classes we’d like to play, and set some ground rules to play it casually [1-2 times a week].
Coming back to the game, I found that much had changed [which didn't include the dreadful interface]. I bought into the original vision of Everquest, that forced grouping allowed them to create a difficult game with extreme risk and reward. It was one of the handful of games where I feared dying, that I put myself at risk even trying to go from one zone to another. Yet, when we took those risks, we found great reward in accomplishing what we did.
Yet, returning to the game, I found much that made me think that the Everquest I loved was gone. In sum, I thought the game had itself turned into a World of Warcraft clone, where levels came easily and fast and where everyone could solo. But then I discovered how much deeper the game is than I thought all these years.
easy like sunday morning
At level 10, my paladin had equipment that exceeded anything my old warrior had when he was in his mid and late 20s.
Money came easily. Again, by level 10, my paladin had 7000 plat. [Actually, I made most of that money in about 6 hours. I looted the crates scattered throughout the tutorial to build up to 40plat and used that speculate in the bazaar.] My level 57 warrior had 10,000 plat to his name.
Experience comes fast, whether it’s in the tutorial zone or in the ‘hot zones’ for high levels. Before our guild disbanded the first time, we thought it was good night if we got 1/2 to 3/4 of a level. Now, it’s not uncommon for our starting and high-level characters to level once or twice in an evening.
Players can now rent mercenaries, which they use to solo or to enhance their group. The mercs seem to be overpowered. For example, when our high-level characters had a couple of mercs, including a cleric, they rarely worried about mana levels and hit points for the mercs.
So, I began to think that this return wasn’t going to be as fun as I hoped. But two things changed my opinion.
First, last week, our very balanced group of 5 went out in search of some tough creatures. When possible, we ignored creatures that conned white or lower. We moved along, clearing out a building of its redundantly named undead creatures. Then we went out further, and I thought that we had found a good pull spot. So, we settled in, pulling yellow and red con creatures. The monk and I settled into a groove of chain pulling.
At this point, I realized how we had somewhat tired of the game . . . endlessly pulling and fighting like clockwork. It was too smooth, too monotonous. Someone suggested that we cross a bridge near us and make our way to some caves.
As we crossed, we drew the attention of a tough mob. Once on the other side of the bridge, we parked and fought it, only to find that another creature attacked. And then another. At one point, we had the original creature and 4 adds, which our enchanter was trying to mesmerize. To make it worse, our cleric had a critical phone call that he had to take. Our group was not wiped, but one character died as the rest of us ran for relative safety.
Even without the phone call, we probably wouldn’t have succeeded. In fact, it might have been worse. The key, tough, is that how the game changed dramatically just by moving a few yards in the game.
Second, over the weekend, a couple of the group played their level 60 characters along with two mercs. I won’t go into detail about their weekend-long adventures, but they did things, visited places, and fought creatures that we had never taken on with our characters before. In short, it opened a new aspect of the game.
When we first played the game, we rarely took on named NPCs, especially as we levelled up. The named ones were often too tough for our group, so we tended to fight by finding a safe pull spot and chain pulling what we could. Sometimes, we went into dungeons, but we rarely took on so many red cons. We found back then, that blue and white creatures were often enough of a challenge.
In both of these experiences, though, the key is that while parts of the game were easier, it was still a game of risk. Even with the mercs, the players found many, many close calls, even running for the zone in a couple of instances. The game still had its risks.
What I realized is the original game could be significantly tougher and, thus, riskier if they forced gamers to play in groups and [later, in multi-group raids], allowing them to create significantly tougher monsters than games before had. Yet, 10 years of improved equipment, a vibrant game economy, and various changes to the gamers allowed them to face even tougher challenges. The game now makes the player more powerful, but the player, especially those long in the tooth like my group, has to change, to go beyond the comfortable. Go now and try to clear the Plane of Justice. Those unexpected and exciting back-and-forth fights are what made the game, and they are still there. You can solo to an extent in the game, but you still need mercs, which you have to pay for and which are limited to one per person.
I think the game has some of the old issues as well as some new ones, but I have to credit the developers for building a more resilient, deeper game than I originally thought. And my friends, being who they are, continue to provide good fun themselves.
As a note, we were amazed to see that the changes include the destruction of a city by giants–the very interesting city of Firiona Vie, with its catapult defenses, is no more.
July 9th, 2010 — games
Badly needing a break from work Wednesday night, I asked the kids if they wanted to play another adventure from the Star Wars game that we started. They bolted from the computer, ‘yes!’
I told them the name of the story [Building a Better Dreadnaught], which obviously gave away what was going on in the game. Grace exchanged Ahsoka for a much more powerful Aayla Secura. Overall, this was more of a role-playing adventure session with no combat. I was trying to teach them while in game about what they could do, so I was giving them a few hints, like searching places. They tended to focus on talking to characters as the main means of getting info, as opposed to looking for themselves. They are still trying to gain their confidence and to look at alternatives rather than the first idea that comes to them. Again, I feel that I was trying to get them to talk with each other and agree on a plan, not arbitrarily but for good reasons.
Also, I had a planned story around their undercover attempt, which would fail. But the kids had the dice rolling their way all evening. So, I was scurrying for a plan when Gage provided me a great opportunity.
I thought this session was too talky for them, but, no, they assured me that they really liked the game. They wanted to play more and looked forward to the next one.
The game starts on the Nelvaan snowy plains. Secura and Fisto are wearing the uniforms of the assassins to try to get into the separatists’ base on Nelvaan. I tell that their assignment is to 1] find out what’s happening on Nelvaan and 2] find out where the separatists are building their weapon.
The kids have the Delta Squad clones and Captain Rex with them. I ask them to place their characters and ask them to think what clones, if any, are going with Secura and Fisto and where the others are. At first they wanted to take 3 clones with them into the base, but I mentioned that the Separatists might not want all of them and kill them except for one. The kids talk and decide to take only Sev. The others are in cover further away and track Secura and Fisto. They approach a cave they think is the base and indeed see a T1 loading crates onto a small ship with two commando droids, a chameleon droid, a separatist commando, and a Techno Union Warrior.
Sep commando – ‘Halt! Who approaches? Take another step, and you’re dead where you stand!’
Secura – ‘We are the assassins!’
commando – ‘What assassins? What are you talking about?’
Fisto – ‘We were hired to kill Lem Garon. And we were told to come here.’
commando – ‘Urm. Hold on.’ [summons droid to guard and then leaves for the cave. He returns moments later with General Loathsom.]
Loathsom – ‘What assassins . . . are you?’ [speaks in a halting gutteral, aggressive voice]
Fisto – ‘We killed Lem Garon as hired. Our comm device was damaged in the fight–’
Loathsom – ‘Fight? What . . . . assassins get in a fire fight . . . on Coruscant?’
Secura – ‘There were two Jedi with him.’
Loathsom – ‘And you . . . escaped from the . . . Jedi?’ [His tone is very incredulous.]
Fisto – ‘Yes. I mean, no, we killed them?’
Loathsom – ‘You killed . . . Jedi? You two? Impossible!’ [He orders more droids.]
Fisto – ‘Yes, but we snuck up on them and hit them with grenades.’ [I ask Gage to roll for persuasion. I set Loathsom's doubt very high at 19. Gage rolls a 20.]
Loathsom – ‘That is . . . interesting. Who is the clone?’
Secura – ‘A prisoner.’
Loathsom – ‘Kill him. We need . . . no prisoners.’
Fisto – ‘But he’s a member of the famous Delta Squad. We could possibly get valuable information.’ [Again, I ask them to roll, and Gage throws another high, 19. I'm wishing he could throw my d20 at games.]
Loathsom – ‘Well . . . then, you are . . . in time. We have loaded . . . and are leaving. Your next assignment . . . awaits.’
[We switch maps to a ship interior. Sev is put into a detention chamber and the assassins are told to rest for the journey to Concordia. The NPCs go to assigned stations to pilot the ship, check the engine, guard the prisoner, and man the one canon onboard.
Gage then talks aloud, to both me and Grace, proposing two options--1. Try to take over the ship by throwing the droids in the air locks, or 2. explore the ship for clues. Grace wants to fight, but I remind them of their objectives. Secura and Fisto decide to split up and to look for information.]
Secura [approaching the commando at the reactors] – ‘Can you tell me what’s going on here?’
commando – ‘What? We’re going to Concordia? Do you know how to stabilize reactor cores? If not, you need to leave this area.’ [Secura leaves.]
Fisto – ‘T1, I need to know what were you doing on Nelvaan?’
T1 droid – ‘Sir, all procedural routines are accessible in my data logs. Please refer to the T1 version 683 user manual for access to those logs and any other functions. This T1 unit has completed its routine and is shutting down for hibernation until the ship arrives at Concordia.’
Secura [going to the Techno Union Warrior/scientist, who took something from the crates and is working in the small workshop on the ship] – ‘What are you doing? Can you tell me what is going on?’
warrior – ‘What? Why are you asking such questions, assassin? You have your job and I have mine. You do not look smart enough to put a slave bolt on a droid.’
[Secura leaves and heads for the bridge, going directly to Loathsom. Meanwhile, Fisto addresses the commando who is now in the hangar.]
Fisto – ‘So, we are headed to Concordia? Can you tell me what is the crates?’
commando – ‘You assassins ask a lot of questions.’
Fisto – ‘We can’t be too careful. Besides, I do not trust Loathsom?’
commando – ‘What?! What are you saying?’
Fisto – ‘I’m only saying that I do not–’
commando – ‘You had better be careful what you say. Why are you suspicious? You are a hired assassin anyway.’ [He puts his hand on his blaster.]
Fisto – ‘I am only saying that I do not think killing Lem was wise. We should have –’
commando – ‘ah, I see. A separatist general want-to-be. We all question sometimes what we do, but these generals have a bigger picture. They know things you and I do not. Stay in your place and keep a low profile.’ [He walks away, still somewhat suspicious but needing sleep.]
Secura appears on the bridge.
Loathsom – ‘What are . . . you doing . . . here?!’
Secura – ‘I wondered if you could tell me–’
Loathsom ‘Tell you nothing!!’ [His anger is intense. Gage then Grace, 'Leave! He's getting mad!' Grace isn't quite picking up on the verbal cues as I thought she might. But at Gage's urging, she leaves and then heads to the cannon manned by a droid. She takes the droid and throws it in the shaft. I stop her and explain that if she really wants to do that, I'll be forced to react. She retracts the action and goes back to the rest area where the Techno Union Warrior is asleep.
She picks up on it and goes to the area where he was working. I ask to roll for all three work areas, and she, too, has the god of dice with her. She finds nothing at the first two stations but at third, the display shows the following message that I give them on a slip of paper:
July 6th, 2010 — games
Even though my son and I have enjoyed playing Star Wars miniatures, I’ve wanted to adapt for it a while, to make it more like an rpg. Now, you might ask, why not play a straight-up rpg?
- We have a lot of star wars minis, not to mention some 10 maps. Many of these characters aren’t very useful in a normal Star Wars mini game, but in an rpg, they become very useful.
- The Clone Wars offers very good, strong female characters that my daughter likes.
- The Star Wars universe, especially the Clone Wars, is really quite rich in existing characters, plots, and intrigues. It provides both ready-made resources as well as room for creative ideas.
- The kids know these characters and can play them while adding their own touches. We don’t have to spend gobs of time creating characters and stats.
- Though lacking the subtlety of d20 RPGs, adapting minis allows for simple but flavorful checks and rolls. The story and the interaction are the most important parts of playing while the checks add some element of chance but do not dominate the game.
- My kids love stories and role playing, so giving them the chance to interact in the game in ways other than fighting is a sure success.
I’ll briefly describe what I did to adapt the game and then describe our first session.
Adapting the minis game
I explained to the kids that they could talk to each other, could interact with anything that was logically on the map or on fallen characters, and could take whatever action they wanted as long as it wasn’t impossible or unreasonable. For example, the kids wanted to immediately leave for a planet and started pulling characters to include in their ship, but I reminded them that they couldn’t simply recruit without going through the proper channels, which was the Jedi Council in this case.
Star Wars minis have only basic numerical traits–hit points, attack, defense, and damage. I broke down skills into basic types: physical feats, computer hacks/repairs, stealth/tracking, dialogue/persuasion, demolition/traps. Anyone could roll a d20. To figure bonuses, I used the characters’ attack bonus but only if it made sense for the character to have that bonus. For example, Sev is a sniper and would have stealth or tracking abilities. Fixer, on the other hand, would have computer hacking, repairs, and trap bonuses. Jedi always get dialogue/persuasion bonuses. To make it work, I found that using 1/2 the attack bonus worked well. For example, if Ahsoka was trying to convince a character to talk, she would get a +5 persuasion bonus on her roll–her attack bonus is 9, so half of that is 4.5 which I round up. If a clone trooper tried to persuade, he would get no bonus. [Yeah, there's threaten, but I consider that different and would use it, if the kids called out that specific action.]
Death and dying are a little tricky. Normally in minis, a character who loses all his or her hit points is removed from the game. I adjusted this somewhat but only for major and secondary characters–once they lost all their hit points, they were unconscious. If their surviving party members won or even retreated, the fallen character lived to fight another day. Fallen characters cannot be revived during a battle, however. But I think I need some way to allow the players to render an NPC unconscious, particularly a grunt who might give up information. I think a simple option is to allow them to say they are shooting to maim or stun, not kill, before an attack.
Other than this, I stayed with the standard rules for Star Wars minis. [Unfortunately, Wizards of the Coast no longer has the Star Wars license, and they have removed the minis products and downloads from their site, so I have no active link for the rules. The closest that I have found is this Word doc at the Kansas City Star Wars Minis site. You can still find starter sets and boosters on Amazon for decent prices.]
The result? So far, it’s working wonderfully. It’s fairly easy to get up and running, and the kids really wanted to keep playing it today in our first session. I may tweak it, but I think it’s a great intro to tabletop RPGs without getting bogged down in the details that put off young kids who just want to play. In fact, after we finish our little campaign, I might create something like it to use with my son’s friends. I love the idea of a house full of kids playing some tabletop games, especially if they played together when they’re older.
For those who don’t want to read the following, I really enjoyed when my daughter suggested taking the uniforms of the would-be assassins and pretending to be them to go to the next planet. I wasn’t expecting that at all and it forced me to rethink the next adventure somewhat. It was exactly the sort of thing, though, that I was hoping for, the bit of creative thinking.
As we put up the game, my wife says, ‘You’re making up a story for them? They are really enjoying that.’ Even my 87-year-old mother watched and listened for a while.
Indeed, as we played, we had a time quite unlike any that we’ve had playing any other game. It’s that experience in which we sort of let go of parent-child-sibling roles and interacted with each other as gamers. We didn’t forget those familial roles, but, for an hour, they were less important than the ones we played. I’ve played a lot of video and other board games with my kids but none of them were like this experience. And I think the reason is that the face-to-face gaming had something to do with it, a lack of a screen. But I think it was as much the fact the kids had only a few rules but lots of room for creativity. When my kids play games like Lego Batman, for example, they enjoy just running around and doing their own thing. I’m reluctant to call this minis RPG adventure a sandbox. It was much closer to an improvisational performance. I don’t want to exaggerate what we did, but it was different than games that I’ve played with my kids in the past, except maybe when they were very small and we’d play with figures in some ad hoc adventure and conversation.
But gone were the typical frustrations of computer gaming, of trying to deal with awkward controls, bad cameras, and poorly implemented cooperative action. I can’t tell the number of times someone gets upset about the other going a different direction. There was none of that frustration. Similarly, my daughter normally hates playing the minis because it’s all about moving and combat. But she likes the characters and will occasionally play with them, acting out some scene on the coffee table. This time, she was into the game. More importantly, she had a couple of really big moments that made her feel good and gave her a reason to brag.
I’m no Wil Wheaton, but here it goes. To set it up, my daughter is 8 years old, and my son turns 11 in a month. My son and I had been talking about playing some miniatures for a while. We were at my mother’s with a subset of the minis when I had the idea for a story, something to get both kids to play. I spent the night before thinking through the details of the intro part and the first adventure, collecting my cast of characters, choosing the maps, and figuring out the locations of key characters and objects on the maps.
April 21st, 2010 — wii
At some point about 5 months ago, Capcom put something in my food.
That’s my theory at least.
You see, for some inexplicable reason about 5 months ago, I became very interested in Monster Hunter Tri. And I’ve never been interested in the series before. True, the visuals grabbed my attention at first, but the more I read about Tri and the series, the more interesting it seemed. Having a static character with no leveling has been one of my highly desirable features in an RPG. Yeah, doesn’t seem like an RPG if that’s case, I know. But I think the point should be that the characters get better with a specific thing by using it repeatedly. [Muramasa had a similar approach where you leveled up by choosing different swords.]
Monster Hunter isn’t exactly that, but it’s somewhat close. After playing Tri now for 10 hours offline, it’s more or less what I expected, and I’m enjoying it. The starting few hours are basically a tutorial, but the gist of it is that your character improves weapons and armor to take down bigger monsters. To improve armor and weapons, you need to collect different ingredients.
One significant draw for me is that the game requires that you pay attention to what you’re seeing, especially in fights. And thus, the game is known for being difficult. For example, it has no lock-on while attacking, but the reason is that where you hit the monster is important, as the graphic below illustrates. A lock-on target system would take away a part of the strategy and skill of the game.
You have to mine, fish, farm, forage, and, of course, hunt to collect the ingredients. Reminiscent of my Everquest days, the monster might not drop the needed ingredient every time, so I might need to defeat it a few times–as in tri, tri, tri again. And some fights with monsters might take most of the 50 minutes you have to complete the quest, especially if you’re soloing.
But the fights–that’s where the game shines. You might spend a bit of time preparing for a fight–maybe upgrading your weapon or armor but also collecting materials for health and stamina, for traps and bombs to use against the monsters. So, you have less urgency and the game somewhat slows down. But when you take that quest, the timer starts and the pacing changes. You have to hunt the monster, you see. Isn’t that clever? The map is divided into several zones, and, unless you have particular armor, you might not know where it is. And once you find it and weaken, it can run to another zone, requiring you to find it again, unless you hit it with a paintball so that you can now track it across zones.
This isn’t a hack and slash, though. You can’t stand there and attack a monster. You might spend as much time dodging as swinging. And there’s no health bar to tell how much damage you’re doing. No flying damage numbers with each hit. There are indicators for you and your weapon, but for the monster, you have to pay attention. Is it drooling? When does it attack? How? Does it run when injured? Certainly, it’s a variation on finding the patterns in shoot ‘em ups and other games. But it feels fresh as an action RPG.
I’m not doing the game justice because it has several little things to enjoy and appreciate. Also, it has its share of frustrations. For example, the game has a lot to learn, and if you read the info on Monster Hunter wikia, you wonder how anyone would learn the weapon trees and such on their own. And while the game has shed the Wii Friend Code system, it’s still not easy to add friends, even if they are on your Wii friend list. You can only send messages to people that are online, requiring to coordinate with friends offline. Still, it’s an improvement because adding people you meet online is certainly easier.
Through these 10+ hours, I have more personal investment and satisfaction than I had in 70+ hours of Final Fantasy III. Yes, I can customize my character in many ways, though not as extensively as some games now allow–no getting that particular nose and bottom lip that I’ve always wanted! But it’s more than custom appearances or my selection of weapons and armor.
Maybe it’s that I have a 10-year-old son who’s trying to assert himself and do more for himself, but the game reminds me a lot of that satisfaction of doing something hard, doing it your way, and then enjoying that satisfaction, even though you might have had doubts. The game isn’t holding your hand. You don’t necessarily know the right way to play, but you’re learning a way. Beating diablos is satisfying because of your preparing for it, watching and learning the creature. Who knows if getting that one ingredient to make that one extra dung bomb might not make the difference in completing or failing the quest.
So far, I’m enjoying Monster Hunter Tri, and I’m anticipating some lunch time gaming. My son has created his character and wants us to play together. Once again, gaming brings families closer.
August 12th, 2009 — wii
I’ve been intrigued by Muramasa – Demon Blade for a while, mainly for the art style. But this IGN hands-on preview provided something else interesting–the depth of simplicity. Sounds a little like zen-speak, but I think they’ve possibly applied an aesthetic to controls, something that we tend to think of in logical or usability terms.
. . . the combat is all delegated to the A button. Tapping does combos, pressing A and any direction does stronger attacks, holding A is your block, holding down and A preps for blade-breaking counter attack – critical on the harder difficulty – and holding A and left/right/up will do different air dashes to chain together mid-air combos. Pressing B will unleash a special attack based on which of the 108 blades you have equipped, and tapping up jumps.
Some games have become ridiculously complex in their use of the controls, as if that makes the game deep or interesting.
Add to this the mechanic that the swords wear and eventually break, and you have a combat system that has some interesting depth. I love that the A button is the focus, even when used in combination with gestures or other buttons. I appreciate this kind of thoughtful game design, working from the idea that sometimes less is more.
January 9th, 2009 — wii
In part 1, I previewed action and role-playing games and in Part 2, I previewed other up-market games. I think without a doubt, 2009 will be much better for the Wii core and hardcore gamers. The good thing, too, is that we’re not seeing an isolated up-market game here and there–we’re going to have several come out.
- February -5
- March – 3
- Q1 – 3
- June – 2
And several more are confirmed for 2009 but do not have specific dates announced. Is there a chance we’ll have a repeat of 2008 in which most of the better games come out in the first half? Yes, but if we look at even the unconfirmed though likely or possible games, I think we have good reasons to be encouraged for a solid second half of 2009 as well.
I think the success of the Q1 releases will be important and will perhaps have an effect on more game announcements. The fact is that, although the Wii has been out for 2 years, publishers weren’t on board from the outset. As its sales continued, the Wii was too popular to ignore. As a result, it appears that third-party games are just now catching up and releasing good, up-market games.
Below, I list the interesting but unconfirmed 2009 games or games worth mentioning at least.
January 5th, 2009 — comics
- I played Advanced Civilization with 6 friends for about 13 1/2 hours on Saturday, and it was blast, especially since I’ve not played an all-day board game in ages. It’s amazing how well Advanced Civilization stands up after all these years as an excellently balanced game. At one point, I had 3 calamities that threatened to wipe me out, but I was able to get back into the game and remain competitive. The nice thing, too, is that there was talk of starting up a D&D 4th edition campaign. [The computer game Advanced Civilization is available for download at abandonia, and it's a very near, if not exact, duplication of the board game, unlike, of course, Sid Meier's adaptation.]
- In that game session, I talked to several friends are game developers, and they confirmed not only how steadily the game companies in Dallas have continued to wane but how the recent cuts across game companies is going to affect the games we see, though not until 2010, given development cycles. Plus, the necessary credit for producing AAA games isn’t there. One large publisher is even concerned about the lack of new releases for the fall. [Again, I'm amazed that there's not more interest in producing up-market games for the Wii because of its relatively cheap development costs.]
- I had played through a bit of Zack & Wiki and then stopped to play other things. But I picked it up again on Friday, playing with the kids who were very helpful. Games like this are actually excellent multiplayer games, as even my wife sat down and tried to help with a couple. The reason is that the game, unlike RTS, RPG, and FPS games, doesn’t rely on controlling the character to have fun–a puzzle is a puzzle . . . as long as the gamer listens to others and respects their suggestions.
- I picked up Skies of Arcadia in trade from Goozex, and I’m looking forward to playing it. Having fun with Chrono Trigger has made me eager to play through those RPGs that i really didn’t give time to before. I found that Skies was actually rather available in different game stores as a used game. This could be one of those games that would probably make a good suggestion for a game club such as Michael Abbot’s [which I keep meaning to join].
- Playing games, especially board games, as a family can be tricky largely because my 6-year-old daughter is at a disadvantage. I recently ran across a very promising coop board game called Pandemic, in which all the players work together using the strengths of their roles to prevent the spread of a disease. Below is a video of the creator talking about the game’s design. [It's a little advanced for my daughter, but as a coop game, it's easy to help her along.] I like the fact that the game not only encourages but also requires lots of discussion, which is both good for the family and good to help teach the kids about strategic thinking.
December 30th, 2008 — wii
Is it just me, or does the follow video clip from the Wii game Fragile has something of Spirited Away about it? Or a faint echo of it? It’s not the visuals but something of the basic plot, the odd characters, the placement of a child in a strange place. Maybe it’s the floating masks [also in Spirited Away].
I’ve not been a huge fan of Japanese RPGs, but this one is very intriguing, perhaps because I feel a little inundated in western RPGs at the moment. Exploratory RPGs are fun, but this jrpg has a story hook that’s better than what I’ve seen in a while.
Miyazaki’s storytelling is an interesting blend of very imaginative characters and situations with a kind of meandering, episodic technique, although never boring. [I was amazed when my kids loved Kiki's Delivery Service, which has no real overall plot.] I think his type of storytelling could possibly bridge western and Japanese RPGs, an RPG focused on story but allowing greater non-linearity.
Regardless, Fragile‘s developers have said that the game would take a good 30 hours to complete. I certainly hope this one comes to the west. It would be a great departure from Fallout 3, Fable 2, and Mass Effect.