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In response to “Journey Into Darkness” from The Escapist Forum: I was very excited to pick up this game. Excited and nervous at the same time – The Darkness is one of my all time favorite comics. An obscure title, often overshadowed by it’s sister series, The Witchblade (which at least rings a few bells when the title is mentioned). I knew these guys were going to do whatever they wanted with the game because there weren’t going to be enough people in love with it that they felt like they had to make a game like Arkham Asylum.

I was looking forward to fighting the Angelus, maybe even Sonatine or the Magdelina. But it wasn’t meant to be. And I have to tell you, I enjoyed this game more than I ever thought I could have. I was actually quite happy they steered clear of the comic’s more super natural villians while still managing to stay somewhat true to the comics.

I was glad the the Darkness was given a voice. In the comics it’s one part power and one part possession. It usually depends on who’s writing the arc at the time. I liked how the game handled it. How this power that you, the player, had come to rely so heavily upon eventually became the game’s true villian.

Jackie’s a great character. In a world of comic books where the good guys are always good and the bad guys are always bad (and no one ever stays dead), Jackie walks a fine line in between. I wish this game had gotten more recognition. I’d love to see a sequel.


I absolutely love this game. Especially the story.

For my money, that scene with Jenny’s death just may be the single best gaming moment I have ever played. The raw power and emotion that the scene includes and the flood of emotions that overwhelm you (sadness, anger, vengance, helplessness) has not been matched in any other game that I have played before or since. It is that unbelievably good.

It is such a shame that a so many people passed up the experience. However, I do recall an ending left a lot of things wide open. So Starbreeze, where’s that damn sequel!!?



In response to “Curiosity Killed the NPC” from The Escapist Forum: I remember helping the ghouls get into Tenpenny Tower, spending valuable points on Speech skills so I could pass the tests and convince Tenpenny to let them in. I managed to do it, and gave the ghouls the ok to enter.

Everything was sorted it seemed, until I wanted to offload some salvage from the surronding area with the ghoul shopkeeps. I entered into the lobby and all was deathly quiet, save for Michael Masters sitting at a table on his own in the bar.

I entered conversation to see if any unusual dialogue options came up and sure enough I could remark on how everyone seemed to have dissappeared. Michael Masters gave a croaky laugh saying ‘you might wanna check the basement kid. Leeroy’s been busy taking out some of the trash.’

I ran over to the basement already dreading what I knew would be there, dismembered corpses and worst of all Herbert Daring Dashwood. The only person to show some compassion for the ghouls, and wracked with guilt over Rockopolis and the loss of Argyle, now lay dead and mutilated.

I purged the tower of all ghouls, let them burn I thought. My self righteousness guided my aim as I let loose a hail of fire from my Assault Rifle, leaving dead ghouls in my wake.

The article does ring truth, mine and his morals were affected by the in game world and we shared the wrath and strength of conviction, compassion and righteousness albeit in our own way of resolving things. Confliction of justice and corruption, I ignored their protestations of innocece and beggings for mercy. My heroic actions are somewhat less than heroic, becoming the homicidal maniac Roy was and because just as hateful and unreasonable as Tenpenny.


The problem with shaping our characters in RPGs the way we want, is that sometimes it is not a matter of “choosing the right outcome” but “misinterpreting the poorly written dialogue” or “not being given all the sensible options you should have been given.”

The anecdote Hindmarch shares about the Burke/Simms scenario, and the Tenpenny Tower issue brought up by the other posters here, both in Fallout 3 describe not a feature, but poor game design.

In Megaton, you know Burke is up to no good, but if you kill him yourself before he goes hostile against Simms, you lose karma. To some degree that’s understandable–killing someone in cold blood isn’t exactly a good thing to do, even if the person is bad news. You can’t warn anyone else about Burke except Simms, and you can’t offer Simms that you’ll take care of it yourself. You can disable the bomb, but then Burke just leaves, and he never gets punished (why can’t you stop him and turn him in then?). How you resolve that situation is extremely limited, and I find the problem there aren’t enough reasonable choices to begin with, not that you become “forced” to live with Simms’ death if you failed to enter VATS quick enough upon Burke’s drawing his gun–or just let him get away.

Tenpenny Tower is even worse. The dialogue you have with the ghouls is more than adequate to display to the careful player that they’re obviously up to no good, and that your trying to let them in “peacefully” will lead to disaster. But you can’t convince them to leave, and if you fight with them–even if you provoke the ghouls to attack you through dialogue–you lose karma, even though there is blatant indication these guys are bad news, not to mention at that point you’re defending yourself. You can’t talk them out of it, you can’t warn Tenpenny Tower to be on their guard even if the ghouls are let in, even though you can get the information that the ghouls are up to no good. You’re railroaded into two choices that will give you bad karma (in game or in your own mind) for absolutely no reason whatsoever other than horrible writing. The “best” choice you can make is to never solve the quest, but then it just sits in your quest log like a freaking albatross around your neck.

The difference in tabletop RP is that you can talk to your human GM to get clarification on an issue. You can clear up misunderstandings, and most of all, you can explore all options with a storyteller who is capable of reacting appropriately to any solution you can think of. I am absolutely certain that if I ran Tenpenny Tower in a tabletop game, my players would come up with any number of solutions to the problem without getting any innocents killed.

I therefore have no problem with “save and reload” if the consequences of my actions don’t make sense or I am not given adequate choices to resolve a problem in a sensible way.

Of course if I KNOW I’m making a risky choice, I usually live with the consequences. But there’s a difference between risk taking and being “punished” by a problem of limited choices, misinterpretation, or generally thoughtless writing.



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In response to “Batmanalyzed” from The Escapist Forum:

Allen Varney:

Batman is one of the most fascinating, multifaceted superheroes in all of comics … as long as you don’t think about him too much. Allen Varney digs a bit too deeply into the Batman Mythos and unearths some rather unpleasant character traits in the process.

Read Full Article

Good article. I’ve often wished DC would have the brass to do some Batman stories where he takes on white collar criminals, especially as the current world economy stands.

But that’s not the only example of Batman still being, more or less, a character with his feet firmly planted in the 1930s. Batman routinely fights Italian-American gangsters in pinstripe suits and crazy circus folk. These aren’t exactly profiles of a majority of contemporary criminals. I know why DC keeps things going in this vein, and that’s because Batman still works best in the type of universe for which he was originally created. That’s why Bruce Timm wisely went retro-future noir with his animated and comic work, and fans love it because the quality of stories that come out of that universe is very high. But I do worry that at some point Batman’s world will be too different from the contemporary one, and his comics won’t pick up new readers because they can’t figure out what’s going on or why they should care.

Of course, he’s been going strong now for more than 70 years, so maybe it won’t matter. Maybe being Batman is enough. Personally I find that a little unfair, as my grandparents got to see him fighting Nazis, and my parents got to see him taking down pimps and drug-dealers. Why can’t I see him taking down child molesters and white collar crooks? I don’t know if he can’t because DC really thinks it won’t sell, or it will anger their masters. I suspect that it’s simply because they’re keen to go with what they’ve successfully sold before, so they hire artists that love the nostalgia.

I just wonder how long that can be sustained. Because I’m actually starting to get a little bored with it. Batman needs a cell-phone, TMZ invading the Batcave, and a few DNS attacks on his Bat-servers.

But he can keep the Victorian cape and cowl. Because somethings are timelessly cool.


I don’t read superhero comics often, for various reasons, but one is their conservative view of crime. Crime in superhero comics since the 1940s has been about bad people doing bad things. It’s rarely about the situations that leads people to do those bad things. Superheroes beat up thugs, but rarely address the social problems that are the cause of most crime. I’m not a bleeding heart–someone who assaults or murders somebody else should be subjected to the full court press of the law–but most criminals are symptoms of greater problems that are almost never addressed in superhero comics.

I know I’m painting with a rather broad brush here, and that some comics writers have addressed my points above. (I also remember a bit of dialogue in Batman Begins that implied Bruce Wayne’s father’s philanthropic work did a lot to keep Gotham’s crime rate down back in the day.) But I still find it hard to swallow the overall trend in comics, as I’ll explain:

Good article. I’ve often wished DC would have the brass to do some Batman stories where he takes on white collar criminals, especially as the current world economy stands.

But that’s not the only example of Batman still being, more or less, a character with his feet firmly planted in the 1930s. Batman routinely fights Italian-American gangsters in pinstripe suits and crazy circus folk. These aren’t exactly profiles of a majority of contemporary criminals.

OK, I like The Godfather and The Sopranos as much as anybody, but as an Italian-Canadian I’m really getting sick of the shallow mobster typecasting. And I know my people don’t have it half as bad as others do. One Batman trade I read was Batman: Evolution, where Batman has to clean up Gotham after the whole No Man’s Land arc. And who does he have to clean up?

The black gang, the Italian mafia, the Chinese Triad, the Columbian cartel, and the Russian Mafiya. So the subtext is, the rich WASP industrialist is clearing the stereotyped ethnic vermin from “his” streets. Sigh. And this situation was essentially recycled for The Dark Knight, along with heaps more anti-Chinese sentiment, which annoyed the hell out of me.

(This comic also insulted me professionally, given its handling of databases and IT. That it was written by Greg Rucka, who I usually respect, was salt in the wound.)

I guess I’m really irritated because Batman is an intelligent guy. I like intelligent heroes. And Batman should be smart enough to know that while mobsters and muggers and the mentally ill are a problem, they’re a symptom of much bigger problems. The guy can save the earth from Braniac but can’t make a dent in Gotham’s poverty problems?



In response to “For the Horde” from The Escapist Forum: When I started playing World of Warcraft, I picked Night Elves for purely cosmetic reasons. I played up to level 55, and the only thing that I seriously disliked about WoW was the community. People were immature and stupid, calling everyone else in the game “fags” and “retards,” and nobody ever knew how to work in a group. I don’t just mean PvP; they couldn’t even keep a damn dungeon group organized.

At around level 55, I decided to try out a new class, and so decided to pick my second favorite race, Tauren. Trying to troll Durotar’s general channel, I made an tame joke in our discussion about the fact that I’m gay. Nobody had any negative response. They pretty much all typed “lol,” and went on with the humorous discussion we were already having. I was astounded.

I played that Tauren to level 20, and discovered that this general sense of acceptance and maturity was pretty much a constant. People on Horde were people that I could actually communicate with. I left for a year to get the shit in my life straight, and when I came back, I started a Tauren Druid. It’s been about a month since I started again, and I’ve never loved the Horde more. I even bought a damn t-shirt.

For the Horde!

Mirrored Jigsaw

I rolled Alliance at first because A, I wanted to play my customary Paladin and I didn’t get BC right from the get go and B, I like the lore for the Alliance better. Not the Night Elves, but the Humans.

The Humans just saw the loss of one of their major kingdoms to the Scourge. The sole Human homeland in the Alliance is in tatters, with ineffective politicians taking the place of the Child king, while his father is left for dead. There is rampant xenophobia against their old allies, the elves, who have turned to demonic powers after their homeland was eradicated. Their race is on the downfall, while their old enemies, the Orcs and Trolls of the Horde, are steadily on the rise.There are no heroes left of the likes of Lother, Uther, and Khadgar. The Silver Hand is no more. The Kirin Tor are little more than glorified scholars. Their kingdoms are isolationist and full of rot. The de facto ruler of Stormwind turns out to be a Black Dragon. But, out of nowhere, the King returns to replace humanitys’ lost glories, to turn back the Horde. His hate for them has been forged through slavery and bloodshed. My Paladin was disillusioned rather quickly at the state of the world, and the feebleness of the Order of the Silver Hand to stop it. He threw all he had left into the Light to save humanity, and it was with that grim faith he set out into the world to purge its evils with his holy wrath.

I think that the Horde gets a lot more attention than the Alliance *cough*favouritism*cough* but hey, it’s just how you take it. The guild I was with had nary a griefer, with the sad few that appeared on our doorstep quickly thrown our. Trade was full of idiots, sure, but it’s the internet. I made a Belf pally when I finally got BC, but I found it just too much of a change from the Blood Elves of WC3 for me to keep going.

Alliance for me.


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