Planescape: Torment Journal - Day 2

Friday, November 27, 2009 at 11:03 PM
Many apologies about the wait. Doing a playthrough of a time consuming game like Torment on Thanksgiving and Black Friday (on which I had to build a computer for my brother) was not the best of ideas.    

But enough of that. Let's take a look at the OPENING MOVIE (Audience: Ooooooo).

 

Opening Movie

 

 

Here is how we begin the game – dead. For a second. But it still a fascinating way to begin the game. How many times can you say that the main character begins the story as a corpse? It tells us one thing, in a beautiful way – Torment is not your average RPG. It is something unique, cool, and as ungeneric as you can get.

 

 

Hey, its Morte! That’s pronounced MORT, not MORTEE. I just realized that today when Qwinn’s Unfinished Business mod revealed a voiced dialogue where Mort said his name.

Speaking of Unfinished Business, you see that 3rd line? That wasn’t there in vanilla Torment. There is also a crap load of new dialogue tree options in this new dialogue with Morte.

We learn a little about our situation. Most predominantly, this!

 

 

Notice the references to mythology? Basically, it is like this. Torment takes place in a big place called the Multiverse.

The Multiverse is essentially every single setting imaginable connected to each other. Real world mythologies count as well. The river Styx is a galactical river that essentially spans between different planes.

Oh, and by planes, I mean stuff like the elemental planes, and moral planes. There is a plane for each of D&D’s moral alignments. I might as well describe them…

 

Lawful Good: Also nicknamed Lawful Boring. Think boy scouts, or God (maybe). It is essentially being a good individual who is very much devoted to oaths, laws, etc.

Lawful Neutral: They pretty much believe in a personal code, and maybe laws, but they don’t feel the need to adhere to either the good or bad of the concept of laws. I guess James Bond might be a good example.

Lawful Evil: I like to call it Lawful Awesome. Pretty much, think corrupt politicians. They know laws, and they have morals, but they are also willing to use them for their own self interest. I think Doom would be a great example here. He won’t hurt the Fantastic Four… but that does not mean he won’t send his minions to do it for him.

Neutral Good: Characters that can see the benefit of laws but see no reason to adhere to them. They just do what their morals tell them is the right thing to do.

True Neutral: So, how can you describe a character that is neither a good nor evil, and does not believe either laws or personal conscience is the best way to do what is best? Me neither.

Neutral Evil: A guy that is after his own self-interest. He just does whatever he sees as being more beneficial to him. He has no honor to abide by, and he is not mindlessly violent.

Chaotic Good: The Robin Hood variation. Also the smarter variation of good. They don’t believe in laws or codes – because they are stupid and get in the way of getting things done. They just allow their personal conscience to direct them.

Chaotic Neutral: Someone who is between downright murder crazy (Chaotic Evil) and someone who does good without following tradition (Chaotic Good). They just try to live their lives their way, damning what society thinks of them.

Chaotic Evil: The Joker alignment. Also called Chaotic Stupid by a many D&D players because most players think this means their characters should not do anything logical. Like killing a mayor of a city just because. In truth, there is a sense of logic to Chaotic Evil. They just want to spread chaos, anarchy – freedom, bestial logic – to the world. No need for order when there is none in the world.

 

Now that we got to know D&D and the Multiverse a little bit more, let’s learn a little bit about TNO and Morte.

 

Interesting how TNO’s bio is so much shorter when compared to Morte’s. I can presume that I because TNO’s will expand as we reach major plot points in the game. Also, I can understand why they had bio’s in Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, where character development and conversation as kept to a bare minimum. But why in Torment where conversation is every and in large quantities do we need a bio when it will just be revealed to us by the characters themselves?

Maybe it was a “nudge” from the suits at Interplay to make it more like Baldur’s Gate?

So anyways, we quickly realize TNO’s first objective – find Pharod. The “book on his back” told him to do so.

But we seem to have a dilemma – the door is locked. TNO’s journey has just begun and already he is trapped.

Lovely.

But luckily for us, we have no sense of moral dilemma about killing mindless zombies for a key with a rusty, well used scalpel.

One (temporarily) dead zombie later, we opened the door. I quickly realized something. The zombies are not attacking me. They are just wandering mindlessly.

This is the second time in 5 minutes the game developers have told us that Torment is not Uncle’s RPG. This is going to be a weird gaming experience, unlike any you have seen before.

Also, another thing. None of the zombies share the same opening conversation text. Here are some examples:

 

 

I really do love it. Some of the zombies have items we can liberate from them. Awesome! The little things really does expand on the believability of the world.

Oh, and we got our first journal update.

 

“UPDATED MY JOURNAL”

 

Greater words have never been spoken.

Shortly after, we run into an old Dustman – the guys who run this Morgue, and one of the dozen factions in the Multiverse – named Dhall.

He is old, nearing his end, and knows TNO all too well. TNO appears to have died many times, and each time his corpse comes to the morgue, only to eventually leave

Dhall assures TNO that his secret is safe with him. He will not tell the other Dustmen of his curse. If the others found out, they would surely throw him into the fires to permanently correct the problem.

If you question Dhall about his kindness, he responds with thus:

 

The highlighted dialogue really resonates with me for some reason. I am a somewhat religious individual, but it seems to me that all around I see nothing but arrogance and ignorance from my fellows. I see so much condemnation on others without any attempt to understand them, or even simply sympathize with them, it makes me sick.

I wish more of any faith were more like Dhall. It’s not right for anyone to be have someone else’s beliefs forced on him. They need to come into it on their own, if at all. If the only way for a religion to survive is through force, then it is not worth surviving at all.

Anyways that’s all for this update. Later.

Planescape: Torment Journal - Day 1

Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 12:09 AM
The Planescape: Torment Journal

Day 01 

From those that know me, they know that I can’t give enough praise for Planescape: Torment. It is a game that some would almost think was made specifically for those that favor the narrative in games over the actual gameplay itself. I am one of the few that strongly believe in the driving force a good story can have in any medium, specifically in video games.

 

Let me put it this way. With most games, the story is determined by the gameplay. For example, let’s take Thief 2 as an example. The levels were made first, and then the story was written to mesh those levels together. “A well created narrative” is not usually one of the defining features you will find on the back of a videogame box.

 

With Planescape: Torment (and a few others, such as the Metal Gear Solid series), the story defines what the game is. The narrative is the reason you play the game. If the story was horrible, you would cease to play it only because the story is the only redeeming feature.

 

Luckily for us, Planescape: Torment has the best videogame story ever created. Period.

 

It helps that it is estimated it has somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 lines of dialogue. In comparison, Hamlet (Shakespeare’s longest play) only had 1,569 lines. And most of them are phenomenally written.

 

Ravel: There is no room for '2' in the world of 1's and 0's, no place for 'mayhap' in a house of trues and falses, and no 'green with envy' in a black and white world.

 

Dak'kon: Endure. In enduring, grow strong.

 

Vhailor: When the injustice is great enough, justice will lend me the strength needed to correct it. None may stand against it. It will shatter every barrier, sunder any shield, tear through any enchantment, and lend its servant the power to pass sentence. Know this: There is nothing on all the Planes that can stay the hand of justice when it is brought against them. It may unmake armies. It may sunder the thrones of gods. Know that for all who betray justice, I am their fate. And fate carries an executioner's axe.

Nameless One: I see.

Vhailor: No, you do not see. Pray you never will.

 

Coaxmetal: Start with a fragment of the enemy. A drop of blood. A crystallized thought. One of their hopes. All of these things tell the way it can die.

 

And these are just a few of the lines.

 

I had finished Dragon Age: Origins (61 hours! Holy crap!) and The Witcher a few days ago, so I have been thinking what to play next. I wanted a good narrative focused game…and then it hit me like a modron being propelled by a mechanus cannon! I’ll play the best narrative oriented game of all time – Torment.

Just playing Torment wasn’t an option, however. I wanted to do something… different. Mostly born out of inspiration from Shadowcatboy’s Let’s Play! thread on SomethingAwful where he practically turns Torment into a book.

 

I’m going to do a journal. Every day I’ll host a bunch of screenshots from the game, explain their context, and maybe say other goodies.

 

So, Day 1 of my Planescape: Torment journal! Let me introduce you to the characters who’ll me joining our merry band:

 

The Nameless One

 

 

“I wonder what it was that made death reject me”.

 

The main character of the game, and whom we express our viewpoints on the Multiverse as well as the plot itself. He was a way for the head writer, Chris Avellone, to express his aggravation at some fantasy tropes and videogame clichés. He was tired of death and loading screens, so he made The Nameless One immortal and turned death into a game mechanic. He was tired of poorly written amnesiac tales, so Torment is a well written story about an amnesiac that barely has a cliché in site.

 

In many ways, The Nameless One is determined by how you play him. You determine his personality and philosophies, a great deal more so than the vast majority of games out there. In an odd twist, you can’t determine a lot of the superficial details about the Nameless One (how he looks, gender, race, not even his name). But more so than any other game, Torment allows you to really forge the Nameless One’s personality and the way he sees things.

 

Morte

 

 

"Oh sure. I'll just swing it with my arms." (When trying to equip him with any weapons)

 

Morte is a floating skull that loves to make witty remarks about anything and everything and loves breasts.

 

Oh, he is also actually funny and acts as the Nameless One’s (ie YOUR) personal tour guide through the Multiverse. He is your closest companion, and probably the closest thing to a real friend the Nameless One actually has.

 

Also, take note that he makes clicking sounds despite the fact he has no tongue.

 

Annah

 

 

"Get yer mitts off, ye dirty wee rat!" (When attempting to remove Annah’s armor from the inventory screen.)

 

“Old Ward. Also known as Wanker City.”

 

A tiefling (half devil) thief, Annah is the only one who is over her head in whole game. After all, most of the characters have either been with the Nameless One in one of his previous incarnations, are well lectured on the ways of the multiverse, are “dead”, or are so crazy that their lives being in mortal danger or not matters naught to them.

 

She is just a simple thief (albeit a damned good one) and circumstances have forced her to accompany this scarred immortal on a quest through the planes to discover his identity. She has no other place to go but to likely oblivion.

 

You almost feel bad for her.

 

Also, customary link to a much finer and *drool* version of her.

 

Dak’kon

 

 

“Endure. And in enduring grow strong.”

 

“When a mind does not *know* itself, it is flawed. When a mind is flawed, the man is flawed. When a man is flawed, that which he touches is flawed. It is said that what a flawed man sees, his hands make broken.”

 

The closest thing to a Gandalf character in the game, Dak’kon is a githzerai. The githzerai were once part of the same race as the githyankai, and both were liberated by the same being, Gith. However, circumstances divided them.

 

What does this mean? This means that Dak’kon is a very devout individual. He is devout to the teaching to Zerthimon. He is devout to his people. He is devout to his hate for githyankai. And more importantly, he is devout to the Nameless One. And his devotion could be his undoing, depending on how much of a bastard you make the Nameless One.  

 

How you treat him also changes his weapon. His feelings towards you will actually change his weapon’s stats and abilities. An interesting take on the Influence System before it was introduced by Obsidian Entertainment (the same guys that made Torment, just under a different company) in Knights of the Old Republic II a good 5 years later.

 

Fall-from-Grace

 

 

“Time is not your enemy, forever is.”

 

Fall-from-Grace is the one character that, maybe even more so than the Nameless One, realizes the dire of his situation. Grace is a succubus, a demon that uses her sexual allure to draw other mortals into hellish servitude.

 

Except Gracse is chaste. Unlike the other succubi, she doesn’t have sex. Period. Also, she is Sensate, an individual that wishes to feel all of the sensations of the Multiverse. There is no one more open minded than a Sensate. Heck, they’ll even willingly experience death (but not without a damned good priest by their side to revive them).

 

Besides Annah, she is also one of the Nameless One’s love interests. Amusing how both of them are devils in their own right, and they are more good aligned than most of the “nicer” races you’ll find in the game.

 

Ignus

 

 

“BUUUUURRRRRRNNNNN.”

 

Hrm, a floathing corpse that is a portal to the plane of fire that is a pyromaniac on steroids. Nothing unusual about that, eh?

 

Oh God. Ignus is insane, and the most evil character who can join your party. I do not lie. To burn things is what he is. He can’t not set someone aflame. He is who he is – a wrecked soul obsessed about fire.

 

But once you find how he got set on his path, and you’ll get all sad panda-like. I promise you.

 

Nordom

 

 

“I think, therefore I am. I think.”

 

So, the Modrons are essentially a race of cubes with four arms and legs that speak in total logic, with a fair use of calculation and logistics for good measure. They are the servants of order, to the extent that emotion has nothing to do with what they do.

 

Except for those that go rogue. Meet Nordom, the origin of some of the quirkiest comic relief in the game. Not to mention he possesses two sentient crossbows. And yes, he is absolutely off of his rocker (but in a totally different direction that Ignus).

 

Vhailor

 

 

"Let my words carry you: JUSTICE is a TEACHER. In your PUNISHMENT, gain STRENGTH. Through your PUNISHMENT, achieve PERFECTION."

 

An animated suit of armor, Vhailor is a Mercykiller, a faction that acts as the Multiverse’s security force. They are totally devoted to justice, and in a way, see everyone as being guilty of something and so all must be punished in some way.

 

 

I’ll be playing with Qwinn’s trio of patchs for Torment: his fixpack, his Unfinished Business, and his Tweaks. This will fix a ton of bugs Torment had, as well as putting in some stuff that was left out.

 

Oh, I’ll also use a Save Editor to give the Nameless One max stats. Yes, this is cheating, but Torment is not about playing. It is about the story. The sooner we skip the bad parts (combat) to get to the good parts (conversation), the better.

 

And that concludes Day 1.

Why am I so excited about Dragon Age: Origins for?

Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 4:03 PM

I mean, it hasn't been that long since I've posted this, right? I mean, not much has really changed with Dragon Age. After all, Bioware is still calling it a "Dark Heroic Fantasy", it still has a combat system that can't decide if it is real time or turn based, and it probably still has characters that are remarkably similar to certain character from Baldur's Gate 2.

In truth, not a whole lot has changed with Dragon Age. But for once, they actually decided to let out some little things - well, a lot of little things, rather - that have changed the picture.

First off, let's start off with the fact that this game is hard. Dragon Age is undeniably a hard game. Reviewers have said it time and time again: you will wipe alot, and you will wipe hard. Higher levels and superior equipment and spells will be a great boost, but they will not be the deciding factor in who wins each battle. You will have to use something that most modern gamers are very much unused to - tactics! Strategies! Using your superior brain matter to overcome the AI!

I know a lot of players are gonna complain on the forums about it. And I am just going to gloat at them like the inferior beings they are. "Of course you died! You don't take advantage of the environment! You don't surround your enemies and use buffs to enhance your characters!"

I strongly suspect that we are going to get a repeat of alot of the brainhurt we got when Storm of Zehir came around - people say the game is too hard because they are idiots. "Enemies keep on ambushing me, even though I invested no points at all in sneaking and I have no rangers or thieves in my party and I have all Paladins!!1!1!!"

Secondly, I like the casual talking that your party members will have while you are just walking around the world. Nothing will trigger it. It adds a dimension to the characters that forced conversations don't possess. And it sounds to be very amusing when the sarcastic Alistair and the wry Morrigan send jabs back and forth as you go across town.

Thirdly, you can have your bones broken! When your party members come back from losing all of their health in a fight, you'll notice something. They'll have wounds. Surprisingly, people don't fight as well when they have a broken leg or a wound across their groan. They can be patched easily enough, but what if you run out of medkits?

Well, the game gets a lot more interesting. 

Lastly, I just need a good party oriented RPG that actually tries to tell a story, even if it is one I have heard half a dozen times before. I just want to recreate that feeling I got with Neverwinter Nights 2, or Knights of the Old Republic. The Witcher is the best RPG to come out this generation, but I still like my RPGs with people to fight along me.

And seriously, I need to stop being so stingy. How am I supposed to love this hobby if I hate every other game that comes out?

Fallout 3 is still a horrible pile of shit though.