Bullets and You: A Love Story

rolandIn Stephen King’s seven-part opus The Dark Tower, his main character Roland is a “gunslinger” who is traveling through a post-apocalyptic world on a singular quest.  One of the challenges he runs into in the first few books is the shortage of bullets for his twin six-shooters, which is of particular concern seeing as how it’s hard to be a gunslinger without, ya know, working guns.

I’ve thought a lot about The  Dark Tower as I’ve tromped through Fallen Earth, as I imagine quite a few other King fans have as well.  My character is a gunslinger of sorts, relying almost exclusively  on a pair of sidearms (as well as a sawed-off shotgun and a revolver) for defense and attack.  And as Roland struggled with finding enough ammunition, so the acquisition of bullets is a constant struggle in FE.

As a result, my character has honed ammo-making down to a science.  Light ammo is not too difficult to make, although you do need to be diligent in gathering the mats and producing large batches of it, since it’s easy to go through bullets like crazy in even a single play session.  There are four mats to get or buy:

  • Weak Biologic Material – drops off critters, particularly if you harvest them after looting them
  • Weak Geological Material – can come from scavenging nodes or geologic nodes
  • Scrap Lead – geologic nodes, as well as various drops from creatures/people
  • Scrap Copper – ditto

Two of these are pretty cheap if you want to buy them (copper/geologic material), but the biologic and lead will certainly cost you,  especially when you start buying them in large bulk.  Therefore, as always, it’s a good idea to scavenge all the mats for free.

It’s important to time your bullet crafting well.  Making gunpowder is quick — a minute or less for each.  I usually focus on doing a lot of gunpowder while I’m playing, making as many batches as I can.  Crafting the actual bullets is considerably longer (10-13 minutes each, resulting in 80 bullets), so I queue those up at the end of a play session to build while I’m offline.

So I just wanted to drop a tip — the town of Coppermine has a (guess what?) mine nearby that holds all four of these resources.  Geology nodes and ants abound, and if you spend a lot of time in there, you’ll come away with full bags and a happy heart.  The great thing is that the nodes respawn quickly, and an even greater thing is that there’s a quest chain that sends you into an instanced version of the mine that you can harvest to your heart’s content.

The Fate of Torchlight

fateLike many of you, I’ve been gorging a bit on Torchlight, and feel absurdly pleased as to what it accomplishes — it looks great, runs even better, and is a delightful mindless Dialbo-esque experience.  Since several of my peers have jawed about this at length, I’m going to leave my review as “great game, can’t go wrong buying it”.

But there is something that bothers me while playing it, and although it might seem petty to bring it up, up it shall come.  I knew that Travis Baldree was head of Torchlight’s dev team, a guy who also headed up Mythos and Fate.  This being his third action-RPG, it’d be logical to assume that he’s going to stick with what works and not throw everything out the window just because it’s a new game.

However, I didn’t realize before playing Torchlight just how much Baldree and company borrowed from Fate.  It doesn’t just use some of Fate’s same concepts, it is Fate.  As in, the same exact game from 2005, ported to 2009 and updated with new artwork and new skill trees.

I really thought I was going mad, because the Torchlight experience is, beat for beat, the same that I had back when I paid $20 for Fate.  Now, don’t get me wrong — Fate was a great game.  A terrific game, even.  But I didn’t really want to buy the same exact game twice.

Running down Torchlight’s features and then cross-comparing them to Fate’s, it’s like a severe case of déjà vu:

  • Randomized dungeon levels
  • A pet — dog or cat — that holds an inventory, fights with you, and runs back to town to sell your stuff
  • Your pet can be transformed via feeding it fish
  • Fishing
  • A Fame meter
  • The death penalty — you can choose between a hefty penalty to be rezzed on the spot, a lighter penalty to be rezzed at the start of the level, or no penalty to be rezzed in town
  • You can retire your character and pass down perks, bonuses and an item to your next character
  • Standard Diablo concepts – isometric, socketed items, level up grats you attribute and skill points, fetch/kill quests given by the town you start in

Again, it doesn’t make this a bad game.  Just a carbon copy.  And that, to me, is disappointing; I was really hoping that Torchlight was going to advance the Fate/Mythos formula, but instead it remains firmly rooted in the past, albeit with enough polish to envy any brass maker.

Star Wars Shocker: You Can Play A Jedi!

jediWait — that’s not so shocking?

Like, that was so obvious as to be a no-brainer?

As in, even TOR’s devs have referenced Republic Jedi in the past?

And there was the trailer, with numerous Jedi fighting Sith?

Ah well, you know the big “reveal” had to happen sooner or later, and several sites have dug up what they assume will be the major TOR news this Friday: the official word of the Jedi Knight class.

The rest of us may be dismissed.  Wake me up when they tell us what the other three classes are.

Positive Peer Pressure and Torchlight

peer pressure.cc
No! You can't pressure me into playing the trumpet too!

I really wasn’t planning on getting Torchlight right away, but the constant and seemingly unceasing stream of comments and exaltations and gushings and general swooning in the blogosphere has convinced me otherwise.  So as of right now, a copy is downloading to my computer, which will probably finish five minutes before I have to go.

I’m just generally excited and proud of the Runic team.  They’ve had a really rough go of it, with the Flagship/Mythos going belly-up thing, and I was just a huge fan of Mythos last year, so I can’t imagine what it felt like for them to have to abandon their baby and essentially start all over.  I also like the fact that they brought on board the guy who did Fate, because some of his mechanics (namely the pet system) called for being used again in a future game.

I am going to take Arbitrary and Spinks’ advice, and do the game on hard instead of normal for something resembling a challenge.

Speaking of peer pressure and former Flagship employees, it seems as though even Bill Roper isn’t immune to the comments and skepticism romping around the internet about Cryptic’s C-Store, costumes and retcons.  He posted a pretty detailed State of the Game, in which you can clearly read the subtext of “Don’t freak out!  We’re giving you free stuff!  We do listen to you!” underlying everything.