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E3 2018 Day 2: Microsoft Press Event

By Shamus
on Monday Jun 11, 2018
Filed under:
Industry Events

 
 

More connection problems plagued this event for me, so the show was fragmented into several streams with annoying continuity gaps between them. Rather than posting the raw mess, I’ve trimmed it down to the coherent bits and omitted the stuff I don’t care about.

As before, the text version is below for the non-video folks.


Link (YouTube)

Halo: Infinite

The presenter is blathering about “unprecedented creativity” after showing us a teaser about a space marine that shoots aliens. Come on, Microsoft. I’m fine with derivative titles. There’s no sin in sticking to a formula that works. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adhered to a formula and the world loved him for it. But don’t serve me a Big Mac and claim you’ve invented a new type of sandwich.

Ori and the Will of the Whisps

I’ve said before that 2D platformers just don’t do anything for me. On the other hand, I’m a sucker for really good art. And 2D platformers are where you go for the really brilliant art. Which means I’ve got dozens of games in my Steam library that I bought solely on their art and then never played.

I’ll do my best not to buy this one, but damn. That art is amazing.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

The Dark Souls team is making a Samurai game? Not my thing, but I know a lot of people are going to go nuts for this.

Crackdown 3

I’m not sure about this one. I played the original Crackdown on the Xbox 360 and wasn’t impressed at all. I remember it feeling stiff, repetitive, and looking visually bland. On the other hand, I really like Terry Crews and this game looks pretty vibrant. And there’s a pretty big gap in the market now that Saints Row is basically over and Grand Theft Auto became so mean and sullen. I wouldn’t mind an open-world city game that knows how to have fun. On the gripping hand, there’s no way to know if this game will actually be fun or if it’s just Terry Crews shouting over an open-world grind.

I remain ambivalent.

Metro: Exodus

Sold. This series just keeps getting better. Sure, this is still a game about a silent protagonist wandering a linear wasteland, shootin’ dudes. But you can totally make a good game from that. You just need to use the right spices. Metro does for shooters what Witcher 3 does for fantasy: It makes the world feel fresh and new by injecting a bunch of Eastern European stuff. The art, politics, and even the cultural sensibilities of the game feel novel and even a bit alien. I feel like I’m going somewhere new, and not making yet another trek through the rubble of New York.

It looks amazing, too.

Sea of Thieves: Cursed Sails and Sea of Thieves: Forsaken Shores

So apparently this game is light on content but is popular with streamers? This is one of those games that seems to be paradoxically popular yet rarely talked about. I don’t have a lot of interest in it, but I do appreciate that the trailer made me laugh.

Forza Horizon 4

A running theme this year seems to be “Developers have a completely delusional image of how players will behave in a multiplayer context.”

This is an open world driving game. I’ve played open world driving games before. They are always awful. Glitches, rubber banding, and compromised vehicle handling in an attempt to mitigate lag by making everything “drifty”. On top of this, what are the other players for? What do they offer to my experience? Sure, add a mode where the player can invite their friends and everyone can race / cruise together. That’s nice. But what’s the point of randos? We’re driving different classes of cars, interested in different types of gameplay, and at different points of progression within the game. Maybe once in a blue moon I’ll happen to meet a rando, and maybe we can negotiate an activity together. But finding that one person means chatting up tons of people who aren’t into whatever it is I want to do. I don’t need these idiots stuttering or rubber-banding by me while I’m driving around. Their presence is all downside.

The demo was very careful not to show what happens when cars collide. If they crash, then it’s an open world griefing engine. If they don’t, then it just underscores how pointless the other players are to my experience.

I guess the industry needs to re-learn this lesson every few years: Not every game benefits from multiplayer. Here’s to them figuring it out as soon as possible, before they ruin too many games.

On top of this is the hilariously improbable way that randos are depicted in the trailer. Have you developers ever TRIED to play online? Haven’t you heard the stories? Are you new to this planet? Randos are rude, mean, scamming, incoherent lunatics. Why would I want them populating the world around me?

We Happy Few

I know I’m usually critical of titles that use the gameplay / cutscene / gameplay style of storytelling. But if there was ever a game that could be improved by linearity and a greater story focus, it’s this one. This game has a stellar art style and a completely bonkers premise. It’s distilled madness. There’s nothing else like it.

And yet all of that brilliance is walled of behind a completely mundane and repetitive open-world craft-a-thon / bludgeoning simulator, with a goofy-ass roguelite attitude towards player progress. It’s a chore to play, and that’s assuming you can figure out what the game expects of you.

This game has been in Early Access for a long time, but none of the updates seem to address the central problems with it: It just isn’t any fun.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

Wow. They really nailed the look & feel of Anime in the 90s. I don’t know anything about this series, but I’m kinda curious based on the art.

The Division 2

Ugh. I see this game is as tone deaf as ever. And I see nobody at Ubisoft has ever played an online game. Their scripted quasi-roleplay “demos” are some of the most intense moments of cringe at E3. Like Forza, none of this will look anything like what the developers imagine.

They seem to imagine everyone is a polite helpful articulate roleplaying friend, which is profoundly delusional. Or perhaps they’re well aware of how their game is actually played and they’re just being incredibly dishonest. Either way, it’s not a good look.

And anyway, isn’t it a bit early for a sequel? If you come out with sequels too fast you’ll balkanize your playerbase.

Microsoft Game Pass

Huh. It’s the exact same pitch that EA gave the day before: “Over 100” games for a flat monthly fee.

The spokesperson went on to talk about how they’re going to make the network super fast and efficient using cloud networks and machine learning and my jaw hit the floor. Microsoft is SO BAD at this shit. GFWL was, in concept, a pretty simple piece of software. And yet Microsoft never got it working properly. It was seven years of disgrace, incompetence, failure, and shame. It was a service so bad it literally ruined titles.

And not that I’m still sore or anything, but Microsoft never acknowledged this egregious failures, much less apologize for them.

And now the plan at Microsoft is to build a system ten times more complicated than GFWL? Cloud computing? Machine learning? Shit guys, you couldn’t manage to sell me Age of Empires for a dime without wasting hours of my time. Even if we had the slightest reason to suspect you’ve acquired the expertise to build something like this (and there’s NOTHING to suggest you have) you still don’t deserve the trust of the buying public.

I know I’m negative about EA, but I’ll take Origin Access any day over more malfunctioning Microsoft malware.

Jackasses. How dare you.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Ugh. After such a promising start, this series has completely lost its way. The bad guys are too cartoonish to be taken seriously, but too dull to be any fun. Sometimes Lara is a mewling kitten and sometimes she’s Marcus Fenix and the writer doesn’t seem to notice the discrepancy. Sometimes the gameplay has her fighting to keep warm in the snow and then later it has her casually swimming under the ice with no ill effects and the designer doesn’t seem to notice the discrepancy. The plots are obvious, the shooting is rote, the characters are flat, and the portentous world-saving stuff never succeeds in raising the stakes.

About the only thing the game has going for it is the Tomb Puzzles. Those are nice, but not enough to carry the whole game.

Can we just reboot this Lara and try again?

Black Desert Online

I’ve already talked about this game at length.

I’m serious western developers: This is your chance. Give us combat like TERA or BDO, but without the grind, the hassle, the bad translations, and the PVP. Make a western-style game with Korean-style combat. Stop trying to copy WoW. Hotbar combat is dead.

Tunic

I don’t have anything to say about this game,but there’s an aside during this segment where Ross and I talk about 3D modeling.

Jump Force

Dragonball, Naruto, One Piece and Death Note all get together for a brawl, in the style of Super Smash Bros. They did a fantastic job of capturing these characters and preserving their differing art styles, and they ruined the whole thing by having them fight in a photorealistic-ish city that doesn’t match ANY of the art styles on display. Visually, I really hate this.

Dying Light 2

So Chris Avellone is the narrative director of this Zombie Apocalypse game? The guy who wrote Planescape Torment, Fallout New Vegas, and KOTOR 2? And now he’s making the most bog-standard version of the most worn-out cliche in modern gaming? Thirteen years before Last Jedi showed up to stomp all over Jedi mysticism and idealism, Avellone was asking all of these pointed questions about the nature of the force. And now he’s making a copy of Last of Us, but with all the best characters torn out? What’s going on here?

Like I said in the stream, I can’t really dunk on Avellone. I might not like all of his work, but he’s not short on talent or accomplishments. Why is he on this project? Is this really his vision? Or did they hire him to liven up their worn-out cliches?

I have no interest in this game, but I AM interested in how Avellone came to be on this project in particular and what he’s trying to do with it.

Cyberpunk 2077

How long have we been waiting for this? According to Wikipedia, the first teaser trailer hit in January of 2013. So I guess it’s been five years, and we still don’t have a release date.

At first I assumed that the narrator was just a “guy on the street”, or one of the side characters. This game is from CD Projekt RED and so I kind of assumed we’d get another gravel-voiced protagonist. But as people in the chat pointed out, I think this angry young man is our POV character. That’s… not great. If there’s any genre where you need an older, world-weary protagonist, it’s this one. (And I was actually HOPING we’d be able to gender our character in the style of Commander Shepard, although there was never any reason to suspect that was possible or planned.)

So the protagonist is kinda grating. Maybe it’s just his voiceover in this intro. I don’t know.

Aside from that, I love everything about what we saw. Everything. It’s all good. The world looks amazing. The mood is right. I love the music, the technology, and the culture. This isn’t just “Los Angeles, but with flying cars”, this is an alien society and I really want to explore it.

The body tech has this wonderful creepy / alienating feel that feels a bit like the stuff in Ghost in the Shell. This is what the new Deus Ex games should have been aiming for, rather than plastic perfection. These people look dangerous and disturbing, and it’s a lot easier to imagine them being singled out for persecution.

Ross and I actually talked gamedev and development tools at the end, but it’s too much to transcribe here. If you just want that part of the video, jump to somewhere around the one hour, nine minute mark when the Minecraft footage comes up.


 
 
Comments (99)

  1. Axebird says:

    CD Projekt Red had a hidden message in their trailer. It explains a bunch of stuff, including this:

    “You’ll be able to create your own character and… well, you’ll get to know the rest of what show at our booth at E3. Be on the lookout for the previews!”

    So no, that’s not the protagonist. You get to make your own.

    • Ronixis says:

      I’m glad to hear this, but a bit confused as to why important information like this is in a secret message and not indicated in the visible trailer.

    • MarcoSnow says:

      I wonder how much the player will be able to customize the look of the main character. Male or female seems a given, but what about skin facial features, skin tone, and body type?

      I’m curious which of the spotlight characters in the trailer are NPCs vs. variations of V (the protagonist). I think a pretty strong case could be made that the character at the 1:12 mark is a female variation of V (same jacket with big metal studs on its right sleeve and neon collar).

      In any case, I’m extremely excited for Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red’s apparent willingness to actually embrace the “high tech, low life” fundamentals of cyberpunk beyond the superficial should result in something truly special.

      Female V (NSFW due to graphic violence): https://youtu.be/8X2kIfS6fb8?t=1m12s

      • MarcoSnow says:

        Missed the edit window on this one.

        Line two: “Male or female [variations] seem [like] a given, but what about facial features, skin tone, and body type (to say nothing of cyber-bodies that defy gender categories)?”

        • Echo Tango says:

          Yeah, I’m kinda hoping they give you a few options for who to play as. The trailer seems to at least show off these body shapes:
          – average-ish man
          – average-ish woman
          – beefy guy
          – fat dude
          – fat lady

          Then there’s the more cosmetic / cheaper options:
          – normal skin
          – minor cyber-lines
          – shiny metal skin
          – robot-replacement limbs
          – entire heads that look robot-ish

          It’d be a shame for them to have all those models in the trailer, then not let you play as them! :)

      • Vlad says:

        Just got an email through the CD Projekt Red newsletter with more details:

        Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world, narrative-driven role-playing game set in the universe of the classic pen & paper RPG system — Cyberpunk 2020.

        The game follows the story of V — a hired gun on the rise in Night City, the most violent and dangerous metropolis of the corporate-ruled future. A robust character creator will allow players to choose V’s gender, visual appearance, character class, as well as historical background — all of which may influence the shape of the game.

        With dozens of hours of main story arc quests, and many more of additional activities, there’s always something to see and do in Night City. Players will experience all of it entirely through V’s eyes, with an interactive dialogue system that gives them greater narrative agency.

        Returning in Cyberpunk 2077 is CD PROJEKT RED’s hallmark of choices and consequences. As they make their way through the streets of Night City and its sky-scraping megabuildings, players will face difficult decisions that will ripple through the entire game.

        I guess we’re finally getting that true Mass Effect sequel we’ve been wanting.

  2. Gwydden says:

    I can’t say I agree on the “older, world weary protagonist” bit. That’s cybernoir. This is obviously emphasizing the punk in cyberpunk. A youngster that is all style and no substance, a rebel without a cause, trying to stick it to the Man without a Plan and make it big in the shiny new city sounds like a much better fit. I liked Geralt as far as more experienced player characters go, but I think they should go a different route this time around.

    At any rate, the protagonist is most certainly customizable, so we’ll get to play a female V (that’s the name, apparently) as well. I also wouldn’t necessarily assume the narrator is the main character yet, even if that seems probable.

    • Viktor says:

      Okay, none of that is Cyberpunk, and most of it is only punk in the most broadly stereotypical way. Cyberpunk as the original IP specifically had governments and corporations as the primary enemies. You’re not a rebel without a cause, the cause is that existing structures are keeping power, wealth, and safety concentrated in the hands of the few and leaving the many out in the cold.

      That said, I agree that the default protag should be young. A customizable char can be older, but revolutions always start with the youth so that should be the default. People who have been around for a while are used to the world, know how to live with it, and have things like homes or families to lose. Teens and 20-somethings can see how bad things are with fresh eyes while also feeling invincible enough to go toe to toe with the police and military.

      But so far we have no idea if CD Projekt Red is actually going to stick to the way the genre works or not. The trailer was vague on overall themes.

      • Gwydden says:

        A few points! Punk *is* a stereotype. That’s rather the idea. “The system is bad; we gotta fight it!” is not a cause, or if it is, it is the most frivolous, self-serving cause ever. That’s the other idea. It’s one thing to say that the system is bad in x, y, and z ways and a, b, and c changes are necessary to improve it. Or that the system is horrid, therefore it needs to be put aside altogether and replaced with this whole other system. But petty acts of rebellion amount to nothing, change nothing.

        Pondsmith said that it’s not about serving the world, but saving yourself. Punk subculture is about rebellion for its own sake, or rebellion as self-expression. It doesn’t even tout the lofty ideals of the broader counterculture, no alternative to make-love-not-war and the like. The way I see it, cyberpunk protagonists may dislike the system, but ultimately fail to meaningfully resist it and in fact behave as agents of the system, part of the problem. Hence why the subgenre is dystopian and pessimistic at its core. Protagonists are doing selfish things (just like everyone else) they sometimes dress up as revolution.

        Dunno, I’ll grant I’m only casually familiar with actual examples of the genre, but that’s the vibe I’ve gotten from what I’ve come across. When I think cyberpunk protagonist, what comes to mind is savant young hacker doing stuff for these same institutions that are supposedly so evil, and occasionally doing the same thing for their own ends (e.g. the exact same the corporations, governments, and syndicates are doing). If you tell me about grizzled old detectives ruminating on the cruelty of the world and the alienation of modern man, I think hard-boiled and film noir.

        • Wysinwyg says:

          Food not bombs and straight edge are both movements born out of the punk subculture, and I’m sure I could find a lot more if I want on mobile making research a huge hassle. I recommend the Wikipedia punk subculture article. While there’s a substantial amount of directionless rebellion going on in punk circles I think you’re overall misrepresenting the subculture which is home to some of the smartest, most humane, and most idealistic people I’ve ever met.

          • Echo Tango says:

            I think the distinction needed here is “punk in real life” vs “punk in a stereotyped / fictionalized world”. Otherwise, this seems to be arguing past each other.

      • BlueHorus says:

        I’m not sure cyberpunk is about rebellion/revolution at all. Going from what sources I know, usually the society is monolithic and unchangeable – at best, a revolution or movement might bring down one Corp, only for another to take its place. Most people are just trying to get by, day to day; or make money, usually through violence/theft. Cue the narrator of the trailer.

        A kind of general hoplessness and acceptance of the inequality and violence is what defines cyberpunk, at least to me.
        Not sure the protagonist should be old, neccessarily, but they should be jaded/mercenary.

        • mick says:

          This is exactly correct. Case in Neuromancer just wanted to be able to hack again, and he got a lot of people killed pursuing dubious goals that weren’t even his own. Count Zero fit the “young and dumb” protagonist mold even better. The Panther Moderns caused chaos because to them it was a form of art.

          The commentary in cyberpunk comes from the state of the world itself, it isn’t preached at you by the protagonists.

          • mick says:

            For the sake of not only giving Gibson examples: Deckard *was* the bad guy in Blade Runner. In Snow crash, Hiro Protagonist was a conceited, borderline fedora-tipping ass who called himself “Hiro Protagonist”. Name one good person in a Phillip K. Dick novel.

            • Echo Tango says:

              Pedantry note: I think the “bad guy” in Blade Runner would actually be Tyrell, since he’s effectively enslaving a whole class of people. Deckard and Batty are both just pawns, and products of the crapsack world they inhabit. But this is getting several tangents deep, I think. :)

            • Kestrellius says:

              Emmanuel? He was literally Jesus. Herb and Rybys, too. I mean, they weren’t perfect, but I don’t recall them doing anything too horrible. (Except maybe in one of the alternate universe sequences, where Herb was doing the standard weary-husband-with-wandering-eye thing that shows up in like all of Dick’s books that I’ve read. But that was an alternate universe.)

              I mean, granted, Divine Invasion wasn’t cyberpunk, but it’s still fair game. I could say the same for Ormuzd and Armaiti in Cosmic Puppets, though I guess, like Emmanuel, they’re not really human. So maybe they don’t count as people?

              I think there were even a couple decent people in Maze of Death, and that was literally about a bunch of people working off their psychopathic tendencies.

              Anyway. I really like Philip K. Dick — though I haven’t actually read any of his really well-known stuff yet, just several of the more obscure novels.

            • BlueHorus says:

              Does Shadowrun count? I know the creators shoehorned in magic and bog-standard fantasy races into the setting, but under all that it’s still Cyberpunk.

              Kind of neatly, the dragons adapted to the new world and now run the Corps – or some of them.

    • evileeyore says:

      Hopping onto this convo for two points:

      1 – I agree with Gwydden, CyberPunk needs an angry, young, character. One that is fired up and ready to “do something about it”. I’m completely down with an angry, young protag.

      Not that a ‘world weary’ Adam Jensen with his tired-ass “I never asked for this” isn’t also apropos… but we’ve already had that. A few times actually.

      2 – CyberPunk… the ‘punk’ in there isn’t really the same as the ‘punk’ in, eh, Punk. It isn’t so much “Fight The Man” as “Every Man For Himself” set against a backdrop of ‘lowlife, hightech’, ‘Orwellain Corporatism/Globalism’, and rampant crime and decadence.

      • Echo Tango says:

        I think you could also have an older character work too. Someone who’s worked for The Man / The Corps long enough to know how deep the corruption truly goes. Someone who’s sick of all the excuses the people in power use, to justify squeezing the downtrodden for a larger cut. Someone who’s willing to help out the younger punks. Extra starting money from selling their posessions, less agility, higher wisdom or intelligence stat, two bonus insider-connections at game start. BAM! :P

    • Decius says:

      Ready Player One is completely cyberpunk in every sense, and it manages to use a young protagonist.

  3. evilmrhenry says:

    Halo Infinite could also be an open-world game.

  4. default_ex says:

    Well Shamus. Tales of series is a good one and Vesperia is easily one of the best entries of the series. Honestly not sure why they felt it needed to be remastered, the original Xbox360 release was gorgeous on it’s own. It’s a series that has the classic fantasy anime theme down pretty good. The characters start out as typical anime tropes but develop into much more throughout the game. Combat plays similar to Star Ocean games where it’s action oriented but plays so much better than Star Ocean combat does. It’s a fun game that’s easy to loose a few hours at a time to.

    • Fizban says:

      Tales of Symphonia was the JRPG that made me go “holy shit this is what I’ve been missing,” and yeah it occurs to me that Shamus just did a series on FFX. The Tales series follows the same mold of most games being completely disconnected from each other. They are indeed very anime and most people say they can see every twist coming a mile away, so tolerance may very. Some differences from the FF 7-10 era:

      -Real time combat, not street fighter level but more like smash bros with less jumping and no need to synchronize stick movement with button presses: just hold direction+press A or B, nice and relaxing.
      -Less of this “turn around right before the final boss and go do all the sidequests/oh you missed that other sidequest forever/oh you missed this other thing so your characters suck and you’ll need to grind a dozen hours to beat the game. The Tales games usually have some major sidequest you can turn around and do right before the final boss, but it’s not critical to the experience, and permanently missable things are few and also non-critical (at least in those I’ve played).
      -The “skit” system injects tons of little vignettes for windows into character and filling in conversations that ought to happen in-between things but not as pre-placed cutscenes.
      -Wearing it’s heart on it’s sleeve: I feel like FF7-10 got a little. . . pretentious at times with trying to be subtle or ending up being obtuse. The Tales game are pretty upfront about things: they’ve got a story with some character beats and a message and they’re gonna deliver it.

      I’ve been very glad to see them doing PC releases for the Tales series (and FF too), since they were effectively exclusives spread over all the consoles and I was always annoyed at people going on about how good the Tales games were. . . based on one I didn’t even have access to. I played Abyss on the DS port, I’ve got Zestiria waiting for me to get around to it on Steam (and the sequel’s on there too), and Symphonia’s been up for ages (though it apparently looks worse than the Gamecube version because the PS2 port screwed something up and it carried to PC), and hey look now Vesperia’s on the way.

      Now if only Fromsoft would pull their heads out of their asses and put Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne on PC.

      • Ronixis says:

        I also found Vesperia to be one of the series’ high points. I’d also say it’s one of the less predictable; I remember more bits that genuinely caught me by surprise than others.

        I thought the skit system was kind of like the JRPG version of banter in Bioware games (come to think of it, ‘characters stronger than overall plot’ is both another commonality and what makes this work), except it happens with everything else paused. Considering the times I’ve been frustrated with banter being interrupted by something else in ME or DA, I think it’s a better implementation in that respect.

        • PerceptiveMan says:

          I find this comment odd; I found that Vesperia started out strong and ended up…well, it was only “unpredictable” in the sense that the beginning has nothing to do with the end. =/

          It’s a gorgeous game, but I felt it was kindof a failure at what it stated it was trying to do. It wasn’t BAD, but it’s certainly not one of the high points of the series, except perhaps from a visual design perspective.

          That said, if you’ve never played a Tales game, it’s not a bad one to jump into because it will calibrate your expectations at a reasonable level — all the good stuff about Tales games folks mention here tend to apply across the spectrum, and Vesperia’s storytelling…issues keep you from expecting too much of other games.

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      The Definitive Edition is going to bring the updated content from the Japanese Ps3 version abroad for the first time. This includes entirely new characters and subplots, it seems to be significant editions.

    • Redrock says:

      Yeah, Tales games are amazing, looking forward to that one. Absolutely loved Berseria, probably one of my favorite JRPGs ever, as odd as it may sound. The characters are just so impossibly compelling.

      • AncientSpark says:

        Unfortunately, while Berseria is easily one of the best Tales games, it really sets bad expectations for the other games because it’s just so different tonally than a lot of them.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          I’ve heard Xillia is also something of an outlier; Xillia was the first I played, and I highly enjoyed it. I also played Xillia 2, and some of Symphonia, which I know is a perennial favorite of many. Didn’t care for either, although I did at least play Xillia 2 pretty thoroughly for the sake of following up the first game. Symphonia I dropped after a bug ate a couple hours of progress and I realized I’d rather do anything than replay it.

          I actually happen to be downloading Berserkia now; it’s been on my Steam wishlist, and I noticed it was 70% off when I got home from work. Here’s hoping it stands out.

          • Redrock says:

            Oh, it does. I can’t remember a single JRPG where the protagonists are quite so morally ambiguous. Velvet is a true anti-hero, not just a whiny gloomlord like Cloud or Squall. That said, it can still get very anime, sure. But it’s an anime I’d watch in a heartbeat. Oh, and the combat is pretty fun, too. Hope you like it.

  5. tmtvl says:

    So no opinion on Fallout76? Or saving that for the bethsoft conf?

    • Echo Tango says:

      I have high hopes, and low expectations for a new Fallout game.

      Especially since I tried Fallout 4 this weekend, and got to the part of the game where I’m building boring settlement crap, for the boring makes-no-sense Minutemen, having just gone through the crappy opening where I had to look up cheese-strategies, just to kill the goddamn deathclaw that shouldn’t have even been in the opening of the game, arrrrg!

      • StuHacking says:

        Back when Fallout 4 had just come out, I shared the same disappointment as many that it was not a great RPG, and generally not a great entry in the “Fallout” series. However, when I re-framed my expectations that it’s just an open world shooter with crafting mechanics, I started to get a lot of joy out of it. I stopped trying to role play “my usual character”, and just dip in when I want to shoot up some ghouls. And Survival mode added a whole new dimension for me.

        I think there are some genuinely fun experiences: One time while passing through college square with classical radio tuned in, it started to play In the Hall of the Mountain King. Ghouls stirred as I picked off a few with a rifle. As more ghouls started moving around the music rose in a crescendo. By the end of the song, I was throwing grenades to take out groups of ghouls running towards me, and the frantic coda of the song was in almost perfect sync with the action.

  6. acronix says:

    Did you check out Wildstar? It’s an MMO with TERA-like combat and the grind is non-existing until you get to the endgame and are forced to run the same 10 dungeons ad nauseam. But that seems to be part of the genre, based on my time in WoW. The music is pretty amazing, and it has a pretty good housing system on top of that.
    On the other hand, the UI is too crowded and it gets a while to get used to the art style and the sometimes wacky animations.

    Also, it’s Free-to-play. Expect some conveniences to be locked behind money. I can’t comment on how bad the cash grabing is since I had actually bought the game near release, so I wasn’t subject to the F2P restrictions when they changed the payment model.

  7. Grimwear says:

    They’re already making another Tomb Raider game? Darn I’m still waiting for a large enough sale to validate picking up the second one. Also no mention of Age of Empires 4 I see though honestly I’ve lost faith in Relic and being able to make a game after the disaster of Dawn of War 3. I’d like to imagine it was all Sega’s fault but I know someone who works at Relic and what I heard was…not the greatest. Spoilers: it turns out they didn’t have a UI designer for DoW3. Freaking genius. Make an rts then don’t hire someone to design the ui for them. Not like you need to keep track of a vast amount of information or armies and units while playing or anything. Not that I would play it anyway since I refuse to use the Windows Store.

    • Zekiel says:

      +1 about Tomb Raider. I basically really enjoyed the first one (i.e. the 2013 game), but then heard mixed things about the sequel and have never picked it up.

    • Jason says:

      If you’re talking about Rise of the Tomb Raider, I’m playing it right now. It’s on sale at cdkeys.com a lot. I got it a few weeks ago for about $14 for the Steam key. I’ve heard people have had problems with them, but all 3 of the games I’ve bought from them (Mass Effect Andromeda, Nier Automata and Rise of the Tomb Raider) have worked fine.
      So far the game is pretty fun. A bit of a colect-a-thon if you want to get all of the documents and hidden items. I think I’m near half-way done right now.
      Seems like combat was more varied in the first game (lots more melee), where so far this one is just head-shot the bad guys when they start swarming you. Although, like I said, I’m only about halfway through right now.

    • TheJungerLudendorff says:

      They… they don’t have a UI designer?

      Have they actually gone mad? Isn’t there anyone with some overhead who makes sure they actually have the skills they need to make their games?

      • Grimwear says:

        I can only assume that they pulled almost everyone off to go work on AoE4 and just left DoW3 by the wayside. Then they figured they’d have their esports multiplayer hit which would get them allocated more resources. Except it wasn’t a smash esports hit and it flopped. In fact while the plot hinted at necrons being added they were actually working on…Grey Knights? Maybe White Scars? I can’t remember. One space marine offshoot chapter that focused on bikes so that their 4th race would actually be a 3.5 race since it would take way less assets to add them in since they had the space marine models already.

        What I find interesting is that when it comes to rts type games if you look at discussion boards all people talk about are balance changes and focus on the multiplayer aspects and if you bring up the single player stuff people will say, “who actually plays the campaign?” (this happened when I asked how the dlc campaigns were for AoE2). The thing is that those who play multiplayer will constantly go and gripe about balance and needed changes while the MAJORITY of the player base buys the game, plays the single player, then continues on their merry way ignoring all the drama. So they made a crap single player (I never made it past the 4th mission), no one played the multiplayer, and everyone on the team got moved to AoE4 and that sweet Microsoft money. Then they just released a couple skins for a few months to make it seem like the game wasn’t abandoned before finally announcing that yes the game was abandoned.

  8. I wonder how many voices there will be!

    Will there be 1 male and one female, just like in Fallout 4? Will there be pitch/FX sliders? (cheap/easy way to do it)
    Or are they providing multiple (so you can choose a gruff sounding male voice for example or a smokey female voice).

    The more voice variations they have recorded the longer production (and more expensive it gets).

    On the other hand they could just have multiple voices but only used for generic player character grunts and similar, and for key cutscenes (3rd person), and rest of the time the protagonist is “text” only and 1st person.

    This would be a hybrid solution and kinda what I’m hoping CD Projekt RED will do.

    I’d also be fine with a all text player character (i.e no voice).

    I’m hoping for a hybrid. But CD Projekt RED really don’t do half arsed, so it’s probably at least male + female and variations of each you can choose, so probably it will be that.

    • Mephane says:

      Fully voicing a protagonist with a female and male voice actor isn’t unheard of. Mass Effect did it, Saints Row did it, and probably several more. And I can imagine that CDPR can afford it now after the monumental success of TW3.

      • BlueBlazeSpear says:

        Dragon Age: Inquisition even gives you the option of picking between two male voices or two female voices depending on the gender of your character. And it’s not just grunts and groans and yells – it’s a fully-voiced protagonist. More of the same from this game doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  9. BlueHorus says:

    On top of this, what are the other players for? What do they offer to my experience? Sure, add a mode where the player can invite my friends and we can race / cruise. That’s nice. But what’s the point of randos?

    But Shamus, what could possibly make your virtual driving experience more fun than having a stranger called JESUS_DIED_LOL interrupt your race by deliberately crashing into you and then calling you a n00bfag? ;P

    But honestly, you’re just articulating something I’ve always thought about MMOs in general:
    I get why you’d play the game.
    I get why you’d play the game with other people co-operatively, usually people you know.
    I get that it’s a way to keep in touch with friends and something fun to do with them, maybe even meet new people via guilds etc.
    I get why you might want to compete online with strangers in arenas, play deathmatches, duels, etc.

    …but a common shared space, that every player runs around in? Where people infamously put their ingenuity and creativity into ways to be annoying? Where most people you meet will just ignore you and run straight past?

    I don’t get it. What’s the appeal?

    • Echo Tango says:

      I guess if you police it enough, and/or give players the tools to mute / ignore people easily enough, it shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t think any games currently have systems like that, but in theory it could work. (About halfway through this video there’s some potential solutions, which I don’t think many games have started implementing.)

      • Kestrellius says:

        Well, sure, you can mitigate the problems — but what are the positives? Why even bother? What does an MMO offer that a five-person match-based game with an in-game forum wouldn’t? There doesn’t seem to be any point to sticking a hundred people in the same instance, in nearly any of these games that I’ve seen. To be honest I think it’s just a matter of tradition — that is, maybe WoW or its predecessors actually did something with it, and everybody’s just been aping them so they can call their game an MMO even though it’s unnecessary.

    • Tom says:

      Sounds kind of like multiplayer Carmageddon. Which could maybe work if they got the mechanics right? Original Carmageddon was fun. Then again, Original Carmageddon was basically a griefing engine, but you weren’t griefing real people.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      In old-school MMOs, it was about the persistence of the world. There’s a kind of immersion that a world can have when it’s being shared by so many other players. Your sever would be a community; you’d know a lot of the people who played (more than just a couple of your friends), and since those games didn’t have automatic matchmaking grouping up with strangers had an entirely different and more social side to it.

      The server was it’s own little world, outside of your control in the way a single-player game would be, that had its own economy, politics, and social scene. The fact that there would be people there that you didn’t like added it’s own layer of challenged; players could be a genuine threat, and not just an annoyance. The fact that the game had no save/reload, no pause, and things kept moving and changing whether you were there or not meant something.

      There were definitely experiences that I had playing old-school WoW (or, God help us, Major MUD) that never would have come from a single-player or co-op game. Old-school MMORPGs were an attempt to simulate a fantasy world in a way that went beyond a single-player game by involving other players and not making the player the center of the world. This did mean some compromises- such as the grind- but it also meant that going to the Scarlet Monastery had a sense of adventure to it of a flavor that I’ve never had from a single-player RPG. Righting down into Black Rock Depths- well, I don’t think me or my friends would ever have the time to spend that many hours on one dungeon run anymore, but damn does that experience stick with me.

      Modern MMOs have largely neutered the effect with a combination of trying to mimic single-player games during leveling, theme-park design, chosen one narratives that center around you, and making their endgames center around cross-server instanced matchmaking. With most of the new ones I’ve tried none of those things come into play anymore. Now you start a new WoW character and you’ll be playing through zones which and phased to hell and back, have all of the quests arranged in a linear story, blow through them without ever needing anybody’s help, and get to the endgame in a week where you’ll just sit in a major city and queue up in dungeon finder over and over again. The stimulationist aspects are long gone, and there’s no real immersion anymore.

      • Decius says:

        There could be an entire ecology, where rabbits ate the grass and wolves ate the rabbits, and the population would vary emergently until two minutes after players could log in.

  10. Shas'Ui says:

    Quick briefing on Sea of Thieves:

    Sea of Thieves ia a beautiful game about sailing upon a slightly stylized, highly evocative ocean, large enough that you can sit back, play a jig on the in-game instruments, and relax on the longer voyages, but small enough that there is always an island nearby. Its progression is based on buying cosmetic items for your character or your ship, using in game money.

    The main problem is that earning money is slow, and more damningly, unreliable. When you set out on 2 of the 3 possible mission types, the only info you get is how many areas you will need to visit. Once you arrive and spend a significant amount of time either digging, puzzle solving, or skeleton slaying, you are awarded an item of variable value, from a gold & gem encrusted chest which sells for ~ 500 gold, to a rotting one which sells for 1/5~1/10 of that. (It’s usually the latter. Like, 80% or so.) Having collected these, you then have to sail back to a port and sell the items without being attacked by a fellow player.

    Did I mention it’s always online, and there are no safe areas or other PvP restrictions? Playing alone is an exercise in stealth, and, if seen, the speed at which you can flee. Given the low/random rewards for missions, most players find entertainment in attacking others. The chances of successfully looting anything are low, but given that most players don’t bother collecting the low-value chests, any payoff is likely to be larger, and more challenging.

    So, it’s a beautiful game, filled with people whose only joy comes from chasing others to the edge of the map, because there’s nothing better to do.

  11. Grimwear says:

    In regards to Metro, I recall during the Spoiler Warning season I defended the love scene with Anna that the group hated because it showed Artyom having a child so that for the third game they could use his child as the protagonist without having to retcon the “bad” ending where Artyom sacrifices himself. But nope you’re still playing as Artyom in the third game so it was all pointless and stupid making there once again be a “canon” ending. That really irks me. Stop making games with different endings if one is the “correct” ending.

    • Echo Tango says:

      It’s a bit annoying for games (not just Metro) to do this, but I don’t think it’s a huge deal. I just think of it like, these sequels are the games we got in this one branch in the timeline. If the devs had infinite development budget to make all the branches, and a massive flowchart, we could make everything canon. :)

      • Grimwear says:

        While I agree that makes things easier on the whole I still hate it because it feels like I’m being punished for being invested in the story. I’ll still play metro because I really love the ranger mode combat and the setting but I just can’t get over the fact that the best way to get over these issues is to care less.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      I actually prefer the devs picking a canon path to them trying to accommodate all endings, because trying to do the latter means that none of the endings can have any serious consequences. Your ending to a branching RPG was never the only ending anyway (especially if you’ve played multiple times), so at least this way your ending was just not the ending that the sequel is based off of, rather than your ending being watered down by having it be canon that things turned out pretty much the same way no matter what choice you made.

      “So you let the council die and put all humans on the new one? Whatever, you’ll never see the new council, and nothing about that decision will be important to the way the story plays out.”

      • Thomas says:

        You can definitely be a lot more meaningful if you canonise an ending. And sometimes it leads to truly wild sequels (I’m thinking of the Drakengard/Nier progression) where they pick the endings you would never think of, or have multiple games spin off from different endings.

        • Boobah says:

          Err… isn’t the only achievable ‘canon’ ending in any of the Nier or Drakengard games the one from the first Drakengard where Caim plays a rhythm game over Tokyo to kickstart Nier?

          And, IIRC, that ending is incompatible with the backstory for the Drakengard sequels.

          • The Rocketeer says:

            Drakengard had five endings, designated “A” through “E.” Ending A proceeds to Drakengard 2, which has three endings that don’t matter because it sucks and because Yoko Taro didn’t work on it. Drakengard 3 is a prequel and the earliest game chronologically; thus, it isn’t contingent on the endings of any other games, but the first of its own four endings gives rise to the events of the first Drakengard.

            NieR was spun off from Drakengard’s Ending E, taking place in a different timeline and universe from Drakengard 2. It has four endings, which don’t differ as drastically from one another as the endings of the Drakengard games; however, NieR’s endings are also irrelevant to NieR: Automata, which occurs irrespective of events specific to the first NieR’s endings and makes no explicit reference to the first game indicating which, if any, might be the canon conclusion. NieR: Automata itself has 26 endings, one for each letter of the alphabet; however, only endings “A” through “E” are full endings to the game, with the rest serving mostly as non-standard Game Overs.

            Are you with me so far?

    • Zekiel says:

      I don’t have a huge problem with them making the default ending the canon one. (Which is what they did with Last Light – the default ending of Metro 2033 is the bad one.) But its a bit silly wiht Exodus – the default ending of Last Light ends up with Artoym dead. Hmm.

  12. Syal says:

    Dragonball, Naruto, One Piece and Death Note all get together for a brawl,

    …I’m assuming the Death Note characters have no attacks, but automatically win if they can survive for forty seconds.

  13. diegzumillo says:

    I was hoping to see you stream the entire event. I’m sure listening to commentary would make that death stranding trailer make sense. Yeah, that’s what’s missing :P

  14. Inspector Gesicht says:

    Dying Light is actually a really solid game IF you skip the plot. I wouldn’t have played it if I hadn’t seen the video by Noah Caldwell Gervais which praises its mechanical roleplaying. Yes, it has all the trends like zombies, scavenging, parkour and first-person melee; but it executes them extremely well. It’s a pure example of Zero to Hero: going from a scared, inexperienced, easily-winded new guy to a fearless, agile, zombie-shredding veteran is the true arc of the game.

    The plot is nonsense in the base game, though it’s definitely not a Last of Us clone. The sequel-expansion is more original, going into I am Legend territory and ending on an extremely bold and depressing note. Having Chris Avellone and an element of reactivity can only improve matters, and I don’t believe there’s no genre or trope that is incapable of being the foundation of fresh new stories, no matter how trite or cliched they seem.

    • DeadlyDark says:

      Huh. I was surprised to see Avellone on stage for this game. Still, I almost want to buy DL2 now. And if what you say is true – that could be a right decision

    • Redrock says:

      Dying light is one of the very few games that actually use the open world as a gameplay element instead of navigational padding. Getting from A to B is an experience all by itself in this game. That said, I ran out of steam by the middle of The Following. I feel that the urban setting works better for the game.

  15. Droid says:

    Not sure if this has been released in English at all, but German games magazine Gamestar talked to Pondsmith about classes (sadly only available in German) back in July 2017 and he confirmed that all classes from the tabletop game Cyberpunk 2020 will be playable.

    That already includes 10 different classes which they apparently designed to all be viable choices with “some surprises that I’m sure you guys will like”. So character customisation kinda felt like a given to me, since the classes in the tabletop include such varied professions (and “professions”) as cops, dealers, net-runners, nomads (gangsters), journalists, rockstars, assassins, mechanics and doctors.

    • Changeling says:

      Well, he stated that all classes made it into the game – not that every class ist playable.
      I would be happy about getting a fully customizeable PC, but NPC companions of every class seem to be more likely in my opinion.

  16. Liessa says:

    We Happy Few: I don’t really know what to think of this right now. The premise has intrigued me since the beginning, but I’ve always been put off by the randomised world and ‘roguelike’ gameplay. However, the new trailer looks very different from anything they’ve put out so far; I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

    Cyberpunk 2077: World looks awesome, though I’d have liked to see some gameplay. Some people have complained that it looks too bright and colourful for cyberpunk, but I don’t mind that at all.

    Everything else: Meh.

  17. Asdasd says:

    “I have no interest in this game, but I AM interested in how Avellone came to be on this project in particular and what he’s trying to do with it.”

    Finish the gilded tiling around the third infinity pool in his backyard?

  18. Mephane says:

    I just want to chime in praising you for giving us the text version of these, too. Any chance of doing the same for the mailbag in the future? :)

  19. Zekiel says:

    I really don’t know what to think about Cyberpunk 2077. The trailer basically looks amazing (and it seems to have a cool Ghost in the Shell-type plot going on with some shady figure hacking people, which seems like a neat idea). And CDPR are basically awesome. And its an original world (I mean, obviously, its not actually original, but original for videogames) which feels quite rare in this sea of sequels and reboots. And cyberpunk is a genre which feels reasonably underrepresented in games.

    But I can’t feel all that excited about it for some reason… I’m not quite sure why. Maybe its because we haven’t seen what we’ll actually be doing in the game yet. I’m guessing its going to be a cross between GTA, Deus Ex and Witcher 3??

  20. Cubic says:

    Saints Row: There is a sequel of sorts, Agents of Mayhem. Haven’t played it yet, but it looked familiar.

    “And 2D platformers are where you go for the really brilliant art. Which means I’ve got dozens of games in my Steam library that I bought solely on their art and then never played.”

    OK, what games are these? Give me some great 2D platformers.

    • Attercap says:

      Agents of Mayhem is kind of like GI Joe meets Saints Row IV. You don’t get to craft a custom character, but there’s a stable of unique personalities with minor super-powers. Like most open world games, it started to feel a bit grindy (I’ll never 100% it), but I played it through and enjoyed my time in it more than GTA V.

  21. Redrock says:

    Absolutely hated the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer. It looked and sounded and felt like a GTA or Watch Dogs game to me, and Mr Big Dreamer’s narration didn’t help one bit. Did an intern write this? A janitor, possibly? And the whole “here’s a bunch of rapidly cut shots of folks in a city doing stuff” concept of the trailer feels like “GTA VI: Advanced Gangfare”. I realise that cyberpunk doesn’t need to be all night and rain, as, say, George Alec Effinger brilliantly demonstrated in his novels, but still. The fact that they felt the need to include the hidden message seems to imply that they realized that the tone was a tad off.

    I think it’s the abscence of an actual story or interesting characters or intrigue that annoys me most. There’s no hook. The first teaser had a hook – people with implants going crazy, one such person being spared and recruited into a special police unit. Not terribly original, but intriguing. But a cocky wannabe gangster “dreaming big” in a crime riddled sunny city? Not all that interesting.

    Also? The whole “create your own character” thing worries me a lot. Can’t have a decent consistent voiced character that way. Unless it’s a Commander SHepard-type deal with a binary karma system that might as well lock you into a character path from the start.

    • Zekiel says:

      Re: Create-your-own-character – yeah that worries me a bit. I’m becoming more convinced that playing a set character is a superior choice. Having a set personality means that the writers have a better shot at creating a believeable personality (while still allowing the player a decent degree of choice about how to react to things). It feels to me that create-your-own-character games often end up with bland protagonists because the writers can’t assume anything about them. And you also run the risk of massive dissonance by allegedly giving the player the option to play a self-serving barsteward who nonetheless is contorted into having to save the world.

      And of course CJPR did a stellar job of making Geralt a consistent character in spite of repeatedly giving the player meaningful choices.

      • Redrock says:

        Yeah. Mostly because the choices weren’t tied to a caricature karma system, but were actual dilemmas that every person would struggle with.

        Mostly,my worries boil down to the same question I had since Cyberpunk was announced: exactly how good are CDPR without Sapkowski’s writing to back them up? Guess we’ll see.

        • BlueHorus says:

          …exactly how good are CDPR without Sapkowski’s writing to back them up? Guess we’ll see.

          Heh. Good point. Sapowski laid the foundations for almost everything in those games. It’s the difference between writing good fanfic & coming up with something new.

    • Metheos says:

      It’s nice that somebody else shares my dislike for the aesthetic of the trailer. It just looked incredibly generic to me. Maybe it’s because my love for Ghost in the Shell (primarily Stand Alone Complex) and Deus Ex mean that everything in the trailer was stuff I’ve seen before. (Then again, Shamus cited those works, and he still was impressed.) And I also found the writing terrible, not just for the rote premise, but they staggeringly dull way it was exposited. This was especially disappointing for me since the lead writer for the game, Sebastian Stepien, was the lead writer for Witcher 2, one of my favorite videogame stories ever. I guess we’ll see what he does on his own now.

  22. SKD says:

    I wanna play Fuelza Horizon, but… Microsoft Store/XBOne :(

  23. Preciousgollum says:

    “Cyberpunk 2077!!!… but what IS IT!?”

    Oh, it is an FPS…
    https://www.pcgamer.com/cyberpunk-2077-is-an-fps/

    Would have been nice for the trailer to illustrate this.

  24. If you really want to see how tone deaf/clueless The Division 2 is, Polygon had an interview with Terry Spier, creative director of Red Storm Entertainment. The part you really have to see is when the interviewer says “Wait, it’s in DC.” It’s certainly something to see.

  25. Preciousgollum says:

    Sorry, everybody.

    New Consoles Rumoured:
    http://m.uk.ign.com/articles/2018/06/12/next-xbox-consoles-reportedly-coming-in-2020

    Watching E3 coverage is now more confusing than Memento & Westworld Season 2.

  26. MelTorefas says:

    Really enjoying these text versions.

    Hotbar combat is dead.

    I was just talking to my friend about how I am so tired of every new MMO doing action combat and just want another good hotbar based game. I personally find action combat in an mmo really out of place and janky, as well as boring. What I like about hotbar combat is figuring out a rotation and executing it properly; appeals to some systems-oriented part of my brain, kind of like playing the piano[1].

    At least, this is my opinion based on playing several such action based games like TERA, Elder Scrolls Online, and Wildstar. Combat feels far more repetative and less interesting to me than playing WoW, or GW2, or other hotbar based games. Of course a bad game is a bad game regardless of what it uses, so it is possible I have just never found an action-based game I actually liked. Either way, hotbar combat is definitely not dead to me.

    [1] In theory. I never actually got good at playing the piano, but the desire came from a similar place and I have often related the two experiences.

  27. Some minor details on Cyberpunk 2077 character/gender/class/backstory choices
    And how you dress will impact the story.
    https://kotaku.com/cyberpunk-2077-is-a-first-person-rpg-1826775323

    Cyberpunk 2077, as told by Ciri
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OinRDzEbqXc

  28. Redrock says:

    I’ll definitely be getting Dying Light 2, but I’ll try my best to hold out at least a couple of months after release. That’s just the way Techland work – even if it will be good at launch, it will get much better later. That’s pretty much my approach to most new games these days. Even a smooth launch doesn’t mean you get the best possible experience. That’s why Pillars of Eternity 2 is still waiting for its turn and will be waiting for some time still.

  29. Disc says:

    Dying Light had a pretty forgettable story, but with solid gameplay. With Avellone’s track record the story in Dying Light 2 should at the very least be about 1000% more interesting, given his knack for turning cliches on their heads in ways that actually work for the benefit of the games and their stories.

    It’s one of the few games out of E3 I’m actually looking forward to.

    • Tim Keating says:

      Yup. I have played something like 600 hours of Dying Light on 2 platforms over the last three years, and it never gets stale. The story is basically “yup, that Troy Baker done got hisself in trouble again,” but the gameplay is bonkers.

      I don’t expect that there will be much of a story in the sequel. It sounds more like they are trying to build procedural systems that key off what the player is doing. (With “hundreds of decisions,” the scope of work to hand-craft every possible outcome would very quickly get out of control.) And that’s EXACTLY what I want in a next-gen open world game.

      So yeah, I see eye to eye with Shamus most of the time, but I feel like he’s missing the mark here.

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