On Reading

Now that school is over with I am slowly (ever so slowly) starting to have a life again. Part of that untangling is getting back into reading and tabletop gaming. This post is about where I’m at with the former.

I’m trying to explore the modern supernatural genre, surely inspired by my acquisition of the Dresden Files RPG at Origins earlier this month. And I’d already read Storm Front, the first of the Harry Dresden books, a couple of years ago (it’s not like I got no reading done while I was in school). I stalled out on Fool Moon, which is the second volume, but the crowd seems to agree that the series doesn’t even start accelerating up to full speed until book 3. So with the RPG books at hand I muscled my way through book two, and went farther.

I’d agree with the general notion that the Dresden books start really rolling in book three; Fool Moon is chiefly interesting for continuing the novel world-building Butcher began in Storm Front, and it plants seeds that begin to sprout in Grave Peril. By book four, while the narrative is self-contained, a full-blown inter-volume arc is in place, with elements streaming in from the preceding three books.

The Dresden Files books (now numbering sixteen) are grim and moody with a splattering of whimsy and humor. Some might consider them an ideal mix in this regard; they’re dark but not relentlessly so. And they’re light, breezy reads. In that context I can’t help but compare them to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Although I think Rowling is the superior proseweaver and storyteller out of the gate, Butcher does get better with each book at least through the fourth volume, Summer Knight, which contains his best writing to the point I’ve read — even though the convoluted plot makes no goddamn sense at all. The next book in the series, Death Masks, is on deck, but after crushing out three Dresden books in half a week, I’m trying to mark out some additional territory as well.

With that in mind I set upon Stephen King’s On Writing, which has lingered on my to-read list for quite a while. It’s very engaging, less a book about writing than about King as a writer, and his process. This was very illuminating, because I’m not really that big a reader of King’s books, in part because of his choice of subject matter — I’m not really a horror fan. I acknowledge King’s mastery of the craft and did very much enjoy The Stand… but I felt The Gunslinger was an interminable turd and am still staggering clubfooted through The Shining. On Writing showed me why King’s work sometimes seems to me to meander plotless through a featureless landscape, and at other times, when the characters are human and crisply drawn, to be extraordinarily compelling despite that. I therefore took On Writing as incisive criticism of King’s own work, in the best sense of what criticism is supposed to be: not to tell you what to like but to shine a light on some of the machinery and therefore on your own interaction with the work.

Next up, again in an effort to read in a number of different areas, was Leviathan Wakes, the first in a series credited to James S. A. Corey. “Corey” is actually the nom de plume of two writers: well-regarded veteran Daniel Abraham and (at the time of its publication) newcomer Ty Franck. The book is written in alternating chapters with their own viewpoint characters, with Abraham taking one set and Franck the other. I could tell who was writing who even before confirming it; early on the Holden chapters, penned by Franck, are less fluid than the Miller sections authored by Abraham, even though Franck’s part of the story is closer to the central narrative and he gets a number of the choicest scenes for himself. Holden himself is less interesting than the tortured, half-insane Miller, but Franck grows in ability even through the course of the novel and by its end the story seems nearly seamless.

Now I’ve moved on to Charles Hazen’s hoary old The French Revolution and Napoleon. Written during the throes of World War I, it was not the definitive work on the subject even in its day, but it’s a good short treatment of the period written in a dense but unscholarly style. I’m about 15% through it and France has barely received a mention except in relation to Prussia or England; Hazen spends lots of time on Frederich and Peter the Greats. But that’ll change as La Révolution unfolds and Napoléon emerges. I figure that the book will be a nice warm-up to an eventual reading of David Chandler’s massive and definitive The Campaigns of Napoleon.

Next on the nightstand will be, I think, finishing The Shining, followed by Abraham’s The Dragon’s Path, an epic fantasy and also first in a series. I have the next Dresden book, Charlie Stross’ The Atrocity Archives and Benedict Jacka’s Fated on deck as well, but I’m going to try to mix the order up a bit, so I’ll toss the next Expanse novel in along with some other dusty old history book.

Origins 2014 Wrapup

The 2015 iteration of the Origins Game Fair has concluded. So here’s my big rundown of the whole event, sans pictures because WordPress is unhappy today. But if you want ’em, they are HERE.

On Wednesday, I spun down to the con early after work to get the registration thing done and but tickets for events. Which was good strategy, because there was a snafu whereby they didn’t have me in their system — even though I was in their system. There had been some crosstalk about this over on G+, so I kind of saw it coming, and the onsite staff bent over backwards to make things work out. A bunch of my events were, predictably, sold out, but I managed to schedule stuff for that evening and the following day, with the intention of doing Games on Demand on Friday and spending the day in the Board Room on Saturday.

The first game was a fine little World War II game called Quartermaster General. This is a very high-level grand strategic game aimed at six players. We had three, which was only slightly awkward. But I enjoyed it and am contemplating picking it up at some point. This is not by any means a game for the hardcore grognard, but it was sufficently wargamey to be suited to my tastes. Had the opportunity arisen I’d happily have played it again.

The second game was supposed to have been Traveller: The New Era, but I misread the start time and missed it, alas. I’ve always felt that TNE is a bit under-appreciated, and would have liked to have fired it up again. So instead, I hit up the Board Room but didn’t find anything of interest that wasn’t already full.

Thursday was going to be the first big play day for me. In the morning I got to play HârnMaster, a game I like a lot but haven’t had the chance to play in several years. Together, shipwrecked Ivinians Kjartan and Bork used their wits to navigate an ancient cavern and rescue the local lord’s bastard boy — and save him from being killed by his conniving stepmother as well, making friends with an alcoholic Nolah along the way. Despite having only two players (plus the GM) it went very well, ending with a promise from the GM to continue the saga next year, which I’m totally up for.

Between games I again cruised the Board Room with no luck at actually gaming, although I did swing a trade for Avalon Hill’s Fortress Europa, yet another game I once owned but foolishly sold off years ago. Afterwards I headed over to the dealer’s hall to buy some dice and the latest issue of C3i, GMT’s house wargame magazine. I don’t normally buy them, but this one had the errata counters for The Dark Valley, which I own and would like to have accurate counters for. As a bonus, the mag came with a complete wargame: Unconditional Surrender: Case Blue, a mingame about the Case Blue and Operation Uranus campaigns in southern Russia in 1942-43. It’s a micro-version of Sal Vasta’s much larger Unconditional Surrender, which covers the whole of World War II in Europe. This will be a great way to feel out the system to see if I like it, and it’s also a good target for a future wargaming video, since it’s small and can be played to completion in a couple of hours.

In the evening I tried, for the first time, one of those events that I think about doing every year: the National Security Decision Making Game. This is very much a LARP, although there seems to be a general reluctance to call it that, in which you play as segments of some real-world historical faction. In our case we played various internal factions within the USSR at the height of the Cold War. It was a ton of fun, and I did end up as the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, kind of by accident. It was very worthwhile and I got the chance to talk a lot of Soviet history before and after the game with some folks very knowledgeable on the subject, which was almost worth the price of admission by itself.

I would absolutely play it again, with one caveat: the game I played was the “short form”, four-hour version of the game, and I was pretty wrung out by the end of it. I’m not sure I could take the full eight-hour game. I wore bad shoes that day, a bush move that I have no excuse for (this was my 19th Origins,) which may have contributed to my discomfort. Also the room was approximately the same temperature as an actual Siberian gulag. The game was enjoyable enough to get me through it, but I’m still leery of an eight-hour marathon.

On Friday I arrived at the convention relatively late; there were some real-life things that needed to get done that day. Nevertheless, I did arrive in time for the 2 PM slot of Games On Demand. I landed in a session of Ken Hite’s Night’s Black Agents, sort of a vampire thriller game powered by Robin Laws’ Gumshoe system. The seesion itself was very enjoyable but I have reservations about the themes of NBA in particular; I like vampire stuff but the corporate espionage thing leaves me a little cold… but I’d like to read it to be sure.

In any event, when I spun down to the dealer’s room between events, I did my earnest shopping of the con. I picked up Crown of Roses, a block game and GMT’s answer to the classic Avalon Hill Kingmaker and Caesar’s War, a minigame from Decision Games that I’ve heard positive buzz about, and something else that’ll make a nice video at some point.

On the RPG front, I picked up the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, which I’ve had my eye on for a bit. To my surprise the massive hardcover was substantially cheaper than I expected, so it didn’t take much convincing. And I picked up Torchbearer and its accessories; it’s a dngeon crawling game based on Mouse Guard, which is in turn derived from Burning Wheel, a game I like a lot and consider a major inspiration.

Afterwards I hiked back up to the Hyatt for the 8 PM Games on Demand slot, where I got into… Dungeon Crawl Classics! It was great to see the game in action so quickly, and I had a great time; of our fourteen zero-level characters, about two-thirds of them died due to a single fire trap. It was glorious, and surprisingly, nobody else died for the rest of the session. DCC is a game I may do a separate post on once I’ve had the chance to digest the rules a little better; offhand it does some really nice things to baseline D&D, but I do retain some leeriness over the funky d14s and such.

Saturday was my #2 big gaming day, and started bright and early despite me oversleeping a bit. I started out again in Games on Demand, playing Microscope, an interactive Worldbuilding game that was a riot to play. The setting we came up with was a weird Meso-Polynesian society where the young spoke a different language than the old and ended up dying out, before the whole place was conquered by an Alexander-like foreigner who came in and settled the nearly depopulated islands.

After that: dealer’s room again, to pick up Trail of Cthulhu and the Dresden Files RPG, along with a couple more odds and ends. Both are fantastic reads, and my experience playing Night’s Black Agents earlier in the con sold me on the Gumshoe system, while Dresden was yet another piece in my Fate collection.

That night, again at Games on Demand, I got into a playtest of Wrath of the Autarch, run by its designer Phil Lewis. This is a Fate-powered kingdom building game, something that is incredibly up my alley, and it works wonderfully, although It does depart considerably from Fate Core. It was a joy to play, and probably my game of the whole con.

And that was Origins 2015. There was Sunday stuff happening, but I typically elect to go Wednesday and save Sunday for a day of cooldown before returning to the real life grind. And thus it was. Now, on Monday, I’m still tired.

Notes for Next Year

  1. I think this is my last go-round with the Board Room. It’s a great way to go for folks who want to play general-interest boardgames all con, but I have access to all I could ever want to play of those kinds of games (through CABS) and the kinds of things I’d want to get into at Origins tend to just not happen there. So barring something set up specifically in advance, I think that I’m just going to stick with roleplaying events from now on.
  2. On that subject, every year I tell myself that I should run games next year, but this year it feels a litte different. If there’s something I would specifically like to see, I should probably just run it myself, whether that’s some particular wargame or the kind of under-represented RPG that I like to get into at cons. Games on Demand can be a good vehicle for this, depending on the game — and even old school stuff like Classic Traveller and Dungeon Crawl Classics saw play there this year.
  3. My immediate thoughts on what to run would be old (but not OSR) stuff like Classic Traveller or Rolemaster. Or maybe have something of my own design ready to go by then, but we’ll see. It’s not like there aren’t several things in the pipeline.
  4. In a similar vein, I think that most of my RPG play will happen in the context of Games on Demand, which I felt was a huge, huge success this year. As this effort has grown the people running it have done a bangup job of keeping things organized, and even the last folks in the incredibly long lines tended to get into something cool.
  5. Wear good walking shoes every day. Dumbass. Also, maybe invest in some kind of wheely thing to carry stuff around. That damned messenger bag gets heavy after carrying it around for several hours.
  6. Socialize more. Gaming-wise I think my Origins was wildly successful despite considerable idle time. But I didn’t get to hobnob nearly as much as I’d like, or hang out with some of the people I wanted to hang out with. This is my own social anxiety aggravated by the logistics of having to drive in every day, so I had a reason to bolt promptly before midnight when my parking expired. Next year I’d like things to work out so I can stay later at least on Friday and Saturday.
  7. More and better forward planning. I was particularly bad about it this year, not even looking over the events listing until the day before the show. I’d also like to plan meal times better; I did make it to Bareburger, but otherwise made do at the Hyatt food court, which, aside from Subway, is about the same price as eating at North Market and not nearly as good. The issue is that RPG stuff happens in the Hyatt, which is at one end of the whole convention, and the High Street places like Barley’s and North Market are just past
  8. Since the amount of cosplay at Origins grows every year, I’m thinking of checking out the costume contest next year. I myself am very unlikely to cosplay (I have enough hobbies, thanks) but it might be fun to check out.
  9. Sunday will probably remain a stay-home day unless I take the following Monday off, which is probably not happening. I like to have a day to cool off after all the hustling of four days of con, so even if I have the extra day I’m more likely to blow it on Wednesday, where there is now plenty of quality gaming to get involved in.

Tips for Recording Gameplay (re: Distant Worlds: Universe, w/Let’s Play)

In trying to record my Distant Worlds: Universe game, I hit a number of snags, so I figured I’d put my experience up here to help out anyone else who may have similar issues. For that matter, I may as well mention some other tips for folks wanting to record video for YouTube.

First and most important: get away from using Fraps. It’s not the only game in town anymore. In DW:U’s case it doesn’t work because the game natively renders multiple desktop windows; Fraps will only pick up the main one, so your video will be missing key panels, popups and so forth, and it won’t capture any of the game setup screens at all. I am now using Open Broadcaster, a free and open-source alternative that is also much more powerful and useful for reasons I’ll describe below.

Specifically for Distant Worlds: Universe, you’ll want to set Open Broadcaster to record your desktop, not the game window, for the reason described above. I also tested it with DOTA2, where recording the game windows works fine, but you have an option here that Fraps does not provide. Which you can also use to record non-game video, if you want to do something like programming tutorials or games that only run in a window, like Aurora. It will also capture output for streaming.

Other alternatives to Fraps also exist. Nvidia’s Shadowplay looks somewhat promising, if limited — I have friends who swear by it — but not every video card supports it. There are of course also paid alternatives; the one I looked at was XSplit, but that throws a watermark on your video, which I find unacceptable, and I think it has other limitations as well, only resolvable by paying a subscription fee. Which I think is preposterous; at least Fraps and Bandicam only have to be paid for once.

Open Broadcaster also has other advantages. It can save your video in a single, compact .flv file. Fraps saves in multiple files that then have to be stitched together using a video editor like Windows Movie Maker. For me, this is a huge timesink and adds a lot of overhead to the whole video-making process, even though I normally don’t do much if any actual editing to my video. An hour of recording could take 2-3 hours of editing and rendering even if WMM doesn’t choke on the source files — and for longer videos it often does.

My typical process under Fraps: Record the video. Fraps, to its credit, does make this very easy, and the onscreen FPS counter does show whether you are recording or not. Once finished, I have a pile of video files that are each roughly two minutes long, and add up to about 1GB per minute of video. This caps my ability to record, as I only have about 600GB free for storing raw video. I then stitch these files together using Windows Movie Maker. The resulting output is much more compact than what I put in, so I delete the source files.

On my system, rendering the finished video takes longer than the total runtime. So a half-hour video might take 45-60 minutes to render. This is time not spent playing or recording, and doing other things on the PC at the same time will slow it down — especially anything that’s also heavily using the video card. Uploading the video to YouTube takes potentially many hours; figure maybe 2 hours per 20 minutes of video at my upstream speeds.

The new process under Open Broadcaster: Record the video. You might have to fool with the video sources a little bit, and there’s no onscreen recording indicator. But at the end you have a single .flv file that can be directly uploaded to YouTube if you don’t want to edit it. Uploading is significantly faster because the compressed .flv file size is much smaller. The time savings is enormous, literally tripling the available time I have to actually play and record.

One final tip, again for Distant Worlds: Universe specifically: disable the music. First of all because it’s kind of terrible. And second because, if you’re going to upload your video to YouTube, YouTube will automatically scan it for recognizable copyrighted music, and get hits because DW:U’s music is cloned from a bunch of different stuff. While these are technically false positives, they are in my judgement not worth fighting over.

Now, one thing I have not done yet is to sit down and compare the video quality between Fraps and OBS… but at a glance I don’t see any notable issues with the latter, and YouTube degrades video quality anyway, so I’m not sure it would matter even if Open Broadcaster video was slightly lower quality.

Galactic Civilizations III Impressions

Galactic Civilizations III is the latest incarnation of Stardock’s venerable turn-based space 4X franchise. You can buy it through Steam and you don’t need to bother with Impulse. But mind the system requirements, which include 64-bit Windows 7 at least. Me, I was a bit concerned how well it would perform on my aging system, but it turns out to run just fine, aside from a nagging memory leak that’s likely to get patched out fairly soon.

There’s a lot to like about GalCivIII. It’s visually attractive, boasting not just good graphics but excellent art direction as well. Race and ship design are quite robust, especially the latter, which you can easily sink hours into. The addition of Ideology is welcome; it gives your empire some personality. And as advertised, the largest map sizes are indeed enormous. They way I see it, space is big and playing space 4X games on tiny maps feels wrong and lacks the appropriate grandeur. While GalCivIII does give you small map options, it also lets you play on truly vast maps; in one of the games I have rolling right now on an Insane map, I’m 350+ turns in and have yet to meet another civilization. Which probably means that I should have opted for more during game setup.

On the con side, I’d have liked to see more options for customizing the physical layout of the play space. As it stands the available choices are kind of shallow. Also, the diplomacy system, in the grand tradition of Civilization-style games, is almost game-bustingly terrible. Non-player factions have two diplomatic modes; pay them tribute or they’ll declare war, or accept shitty trade deals or they’ll declare war. Similar offers by players are of course impossible — not even laughed off by the NPCs, but disallowed by the interface. You can disable tech trading when you set up your game, but all that does it take options off the table, and it’s very difficult to get a decent relationship with another empire without granting concessions and payola that you really don’t want to part with. This may be by design but it feels gamey and unnatural to me.

The UI is very intuitive if you’re familiar with this genre, although the tooltips aren’t all they could be, in a couple of places.

I’m also finding the tech trees a bit too heavily pruned; I’m close to topping out more than one in my 350+ turn game, and, while that’s a lot of turns, I don’t feel I should be that close unless I have a very narrow tech focus, which I don’t. I also dislike only being able to work on one technology at a time, but that’s more a quibble with this particular subgenre, where that’s very common.

This is stuff that might well be fixed in an expansion — and indeed largely was fixed over GalCivII’s development lifetime, but that’s part of the issue with this kind of iteration: steps forward are taken, but so are steps back toward some nebulous default un-expanded state. Features that we grew to see as necessities end up cut as superfluous in the crunch of getting the sequel out.

In general, too, I see GalCivIII’s current state as a couple of steps down in depth from the very mature Paradox grand strategy titles like Crusader Kings II or Europa Universalis IV. But it’s also way easier to get started playing because of the conventions of the space 4X genre at this level of abstraction; you start with one planet and a very small handful of other assets and it’s natural to learn as you go.

Despite these complaints I think GalCivIII is quite solid overall and a great deal of fun, and even my biggest problem with it (diplomacy,) can be alleviated by making adjustments in game setup to minimize the issues, by choosing the right map size and opposing empires. That it’s not a hardcore strategy sandbox in the vein of the Paradox titles isn’t a fault but a stylistic choice that many gamers will probably prefer. It’s a game I can see playing a lot of when I’m feeling a lack of patience for those richer games.

All that said, feeling the space 4X bug of late, I also picked up Distant Worlds: Universe at 50% off yesterday, and that’s more the Paradox speed, with enormous depth, a daunting interface and map sizes that are a match for GalCivIII’s largest — and with far more detail in each star system. So I expect to have a report on that at some point in the near future as well.

A New Venture: DOTA 2

One video game genre I have steered clear of is the MOBA — the so-called Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, as descended from the Warcraft III mod “Defense of the Ancients” and its relatives and descendants. This genre has largely taken the place of the MMORPG as the big moneymaker in the world of PC gaming, and has stolen much of the spotlight as well.

I did try. I played Mythic’s Blood of Heroes WAR spinoff when it was in beta and dabbled very briefly in Funcom’s Bloodline Champions and even League of Legends. The former was… well, it was obviously a pretty half-assed piece of work that never even made it to launch, but it wasn’t the worst thing that I have ever played. Had it actually been released I would likely have fooled with it a time or two.

League of Legends, on the other hand, I just couldn’t get into. I can’t even say that I disliked it, but I found even the tutorial needlessly opaque. I ditched it after maybe an hour. Bloodline Champions, which, as a then-subscriber to Age of Conan I got a beta invite to, had an even shorter lifespan on my hard drive. I’m not sure if it’s even still alive.

Still, anyone paying attention to the online gaming scene in general can’t help but be vaguely aware of what’s going on with the major MOBAs, which to my ignorant and increasingly nearsighted eyes look like LoL, Heroes of Newerth, Smite and Valve’s DOTA 2. Smite in particular looks kind of appealing for thematic and control-scheme reasons.

Still, even knowing how these games basically work, watching anything resembling gameplay footage or commentary is completely baffling. It’s like watching a game of Cricket — I can see that stuff is happening but it all looks more or less random and the commentary uses English words but is not recognizably English in any other way. For a genre as popular as this is, these games strike me as complicated, user-unfriendly and anything but accessible to lowly casuals. In that sense they kind of remind me of Advanced Squad Leader — games narrow in scope but so packed with fiddly bits that it’s hard to imagine those who play them having the time or mental energy to get into anything else.

So, yeah, I gave DOTA 2 a shot. Superficially it’s not as attractive to me as Smite but it’s playable through Steam (something that has developed a considerable value to me,) and has Linux support. Between the new (I gather) tutorials and some carefully-selected YouTube videos for total noobs I think I’ve kind of got a handle on the rudiments of it. I’ve haven’t ventured within whimpering distance of a human player, of course. I will probably try my first actual match against bots this weekend, and we’ll see how that goes. The single-lane tutorial matches went pretty well once I got used to the character I was playing.

But there’s a lot to learn, between the 110(!) different characters, all with completely different attributes and abilities, the synergies between them, the huge array of items, most of which you have to build in play, and the subtleties of the map. Which, thank Christ, there’s only one of. This thing could probably be played regularly for months or even years without ever reaching the level at which you’d be confortable facing human players.

On the other hand, my experience with playing PvP matches in WoW and other MMOs, as well as playing FPS games in the vein of TF2 implies that the majority of players are actually disorganized imbeciles rather than the savants you see in the video streams. So what’s one more imbecile, then?

What’s Next

The Ardwulf clan bought me a shiny new copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition for Christmas, and I’ve spent about an hour playing it so far. Coming directly from Dragon Age: Origins it’s a significant shift; the controls are just different enough to create confusion in the easily confused (i.e. me.) But it has jumping, which I appreciate.

From the various holiday sales I also acquired Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 3, so there may be LPs of those coming. I’ve fooled about a bit with DAII so far and like it quite a bit. I would also like to pick up Banner Saga if it comes up for a Daily Deal on Steam before the sale ends; otherwise I don’t have quite enough in my Steam wallet to afford it. I’d also like to grab the latest Crusader Kings II expansion, Way of Life,” which is new enough that it almost certainly will not be discounted.

The Dragon Age: Origins will continue, of course. The candidates for the next Let’s Play that are already in my library are:

  • Crusader Kings II, up through the Charlemagne expansion.
  • Dragon Age; Inquisition, if I can get the fucking video to come out.
  • Europa Universalis IV, with all expansions enabled.
  • Mass Effect Trilogy, a mega-LP of all three games with the same Commander Shepard.
  • If you have an opinion on which of these you would like to see, speak up in the comments!

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    The New Ardwulf’s Lair

    For the last year or two, as school pressures and other responsibilities have increased, Ardwulf’s Lair has not been especially active. I’d been posting here and there, but mostly I wasn’t even playing, and it’s hard to post regularly about an activity you’re not doing.

    As school finally starts to wind down, though, and I get more time to play (and there will be even more after the holidays,) I’ve also been thinking about how to revitalize the blog. There are some idaes I’m not yet ready to talk about yet, but the immediate impact has already started — the return of regular posts and increasing development of the Ardwulf’s Lair YouTube channel, both anchored firmly in the bedrock of actual play.

    The old focus of Ardwulf’s Lair, on MMORPGs, is basically no more. While I have not abandoned that genre entirely, much less permanently, it’s disappointed me more than it’s pleased me for the last couple of years, and I think that its brightest lights on the horizon are semi-MMOs like Shroud of the Avatar and Elite: Dangerous. I hope to start talking about those soon, but there are other types of games that appeal to me. Many of these fall more or less into the single player RPG or strategy genres.

    So what games do I think I’ll be playing and posting about in the near future? As you’ve seen, I’ve already started a playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins, and I plan to stick with that. I’d also kind of like to replay the Mass Effect series, and if I’m doing that I may as well do a grand tour of recent Bioware RPGs, to include Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition as well. (The latter you will definitely see sooner or later.) In the strategy theater I’m thinking of stuff from Paradox, in particular Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, and maybe a last go at Hearts of Iron III before its successor comes out. Potential odds and ends might also include Mount & Blade: Warband and the Witcher series. I may even finally tackle Assassin’s Creed, which I’ve owned for ages but never managed to play. There will also be one-shots in the Ardwulf Presents series — Banished is what I’m thinking of for that. I offer nothing concrete at this time, with the one exception noted above, but these are the possibilities that are swirling right now.

    That’s a lot to do, and I surely won’t get to all of it. But I’ll have fun trying, and I hope that you’ll enjoy following me along the way. For now, back to Dragon Age!

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