Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dungeon Siege II

When it comes to video games, I'm way behind the curve. I've only recently been playing Dungeon Siege II on my old PC and pondering it's utilities for gaming.

1. Betrayal is a good motivator. At the start of the game, your character, a mercenary, is betrayed by his employer. Ah, the old classic. How many times has its use favored a movie or comic you've enjoyed? There's even the old tag line, "Curse your inevitible betrayal."

2. Loss is a motivator. The character's home comes under attack and losses mount up. This is a classic ranging from Batman's loss of his parents to Superman's loss of his people.

3. Magic is everywhere. Sometimes this takes the form of shrines, other times portals. In a game like 4e, there could be several types of shrines. The first would be one that allows a reactivation of daily powers. In DS2, you can select from several 'big' powers but they take time to charge. The shrines however, allow you to bypass that. Next up, would be another type of shrine that would allow the use of a ritual, perhaps without the associated cost, as long as you do the ritual at the shrine area itself. Lastly, there are the old portals. There are two types in the game, those that allow transportation between local spots, teleporters, and actual gates that lead to other lands.

4. Magic Items are commonplace. This is one of those things that tends to work for new gamers and that members of the OSR tend to look down upon. I can see it going either way. The best thing about the game though, is the horde of names that come up. If you're terrible with names, play for a little while and get the naming conventions down. In addition, there are some great visuals on the items. Various types of weapons ranging from serrated two handed blades to great mauls along side kite shields and various types of throwing weapons ranging from knives, shuriken, axes and daggers.

5. Remember the little things. This is going to sound strange, but the game does a nice job with some little touches. For example, after a disaster strikes one region, there are monsters feasting on the cattle. The water runs down the falls. These little things add up.

6. Vary the quests: Trying to save the world all the time can get, if not boring, someone lacking in variety. In the game, the character is approached by individuals of various worth and type ranging from scared travellers to mighty mages. Give the players different types of quests with different types of rewards, make some of them even ones that rely on the players (gasp!) being heroic.

7. Share the spotlight: Even though your main character is the one with the destiny and other bits, the other characters have dialog and sub plots that relate to them. Try to tie in all of these various activities into one cohesive whole unit and make things flow for all the players, not just the ones who put together the most interesting backstory.

Dungeon Siege II has a lot of things going for it in terms of story telling and visuals and it's far from the heyday of computer games.