Brian Still Hasn’t Beat Pools of Darkness, Part Two – Ignoring the Plight of the Realms for Some Sweet XP

[Hey. This is part 2 in a series. If you wanna read part 1, you can check that out here.]

[Be forewarned: I’m real bad at remembering to take screenshots, so you may have to use your imagination until (and if) I get my act together. I stole some from MobyGames.com so you would at least have a lil’ something to look at.]

Elminster hurled us back through the portal, but it deposited us in unfamiliar territory. Fortunately, our party members vaguely recognized the geography as an area far to the east of Phlan, so we gathered our bearings and headed west. What the heck, Elminster? Why’d you throw us so far off course?! Ah well. 

There are a number of sidequests I normally do at the beginning of Pools of Darkness, but this is the first time I’ve used the class-change feature, and our party is currently stuck with a level 1 thief in Scholtz II. I wanted to level this guy up as much as possible in a fairly controlled environment so as not to get caught unprepared in a deep dungeon with a low-level character. Also, a character can only gain experience points up to one point below the amount needed to gain two levels, so I needed to be able to train frequently to get the most out of my experience, otherwise the points just go to waste.

Go on….

Brian Still Hasn’t Beat Pools of Darkness

Pools of Darkness Title Screen

It all started as an innocent computer game purchase from Babbage’s in 1993. It has grown into a monster that eludes me to this day.

I have what practically amounts to a wrecked semi’s worth of video games at my disposal, and none of them have achieved White Whale status quite like Pools of Darkness. It’s the fourth and final game in Strategic Simulations, Inc.’s original “Gold Box” series of Dungeons and Dragons PC games, preceded by Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Secret of the Silver Blades. I’ve beaten all three of those games. Multiple times. Not Pools of Darkness.

Go on….

My Top 10 Video Games of “2018”

Funny quote from Earthbound

With 2018 being my first full year as a father, the value of shorter games that I could play to completion in just a few hours became greater than ever. While binging a 5-10 hour game over a weekend is a perfectly cromulent option, I only have 45 minutes to an hour to play games, most days. That being said, I can drag a 5-10 hour game out for a week or two and perceive what most would consider a short game as a full, meaty experience. Naturally, you’re going to see a nice variety of these shorter games in this year’s top 10. They are the perfect length for my current lifestyle, seeing as I rarely finish a game thinking, “What? That’s it?”

However, I also filled a good portion of my 2018 gaming time with some lengthy roleplaying affairs. I have to approach games like this as a long-term commitment that might take six months or more, and to be prepared to take numerous breaks from them in order to enjoy a shorter experience along the way. A couple of these games captured enough of my imagination and attention to make the list, however.

This write-up took much longer to compile than usual—waiting five months later than usual to wrap it up and allowing my memories of these games to deteriorate didn’t help. So, what made the list in 2018? I better hurry up and tell you before I forget everything!

As always, the games on this list didn’t have to be released in 2018 (hence the quotation marks in the title), just that I either beat them or played the majority of them in 2018.

Go on….

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Nuked My Video Game “Want” List

Bionic Commando Explosion

In my 2017 year-in-review post, I teased a scintillating future blog about video game-buying habits. I’ve reached a desperate point in my life in which these habits must change, and I’m ready to reveal everything in this exclusive tell-all blog that I definitely didn’t just write on my lunch break.

Some years ago, maybe from 2012-2015 or so, Kickstarter overflowed with crowdfunded video games. Every week (probably every day, to be honest!), a new game with a clever pitch, a sizeable funding target, and enticing stretch goals hit the service. Some were entirely new games, while others were long-awaited sequels, hollow nostalgia bait, or spiritual successors from the creators of long-dead franchises.

The onslaught of new and exciting crowdfunded games was a lot for me to keep track of. I simply have too much professional wrestling knowledge clogging my brain matter to remember all the video games I want to buy. Priorities, man. So, I started a “want” list that included all of the Kickstarter games I eagerly awaited. In time, this list expanded to also cover upcoming games not on Kickstarter, plus already-released games that I did not yet have, but wanted to get. This all seemed perfectly logical and harmless, and the want list became my go-to resource for all of my game-buying decisions. I made a spreadsheet and organized games by platform and scored them as low, medium, high, or very high priority, based on how badly I wanted them. Clearly, I don’t take my hobbies too seriously.

Go on….

My Top 10 Games of “2017”

Donkey and Diddy Kong

You may recall my Top 10 Video Games of “2016” post from last year, which was a pretty easy list to assemble, considering I only finished ten games or so in 2016. But, as you may also recall from my year-in-review post from the beginning of this year, I beat over 20 games in 2017, almost all of which I thought were a lot of fun, so putting together a list of my 10 favorites was as anxiety-inducing as cutting people off a guest list. Despite these hard decisions, I am compelled to make my Top 10 Video Games of “20XX” list a tradition (unlike any other) on this No Good Blog!

Go on….

My 2017: What Worked and What Didn’t

Futurama - Fry about to fall into cryo-chamber

Hey, so 2017 was pretty crazy, right? It was pretty crazy for me, too, with a lot of successes and failures personally and creatively. As a sort of personal therapy, I’m reviewing what worked and what didn’t work this year, both to get it off my mind, and to put it all in a central location for future review and self-embiggenment. Maybe it can help others who happen to stumble upon it, too.

Go on….

The Lone Wanderer

Since Fallout 4 is a new release and all the rage, naturally, I haven’t finished Fallout 3 yet. I bought the game on launch day some seven years ago and played it for maybe a couple of weeks before getting preoccupied and never going back to it. This is why I don’t buy games at launch anymore.

I would have gotten back to it, eventually, but at my friend Kyle’s insistence, I picked it up again recently. He even loaned me his Game of the Year Edition so I could have access to all of the downloadable content, as well. Now I’m hip-deep in a Capitol Wasteland adventure, and I must see it through to the end.

When I play a role-playing game, I don’t really do a good job with the whole role-playing thing. Usually I just play as myself, and how I think I might act in whatever situation my character is in. As such, I’ve put together a character who’s not physically strong and doesn’t have much charm, but is smart, enduring, and has a bit of luck. He’s lousy at speech and bartering (bad social skills), but good at science, repair, lockpicking, and being unassuming. He uses small guns (well, relatively speaking—sniper rifles and shotguns are considered small guns in this game) and a baseball bat for defense, and is polite to everyone—even total scumbags! Well, at least until he is wronged by them. He strives to do good, but his time and resources are limited. He’ll try to help as many people he can, and be wracked with guilt for those he cannot.

Anyway, it’s a good game, but full of ruin and at times deeply depressing. The world was destroyed by a nuclear holocaust, so little has been left intact. Treasures and resources are limited, and danger is everywhere. Aside from a few remaining bastions of civilization and the occasional trader or caravan, everything is out to get you. The game makes you want to feel hopeless about the future. But, I suppose your role as the lone wanderer, who despite all of the ruin and chaos is still capable of doing great good, is intended to bring hope to the wasteland. Or, at least that’s how I play the game.

I’ve put about 45 hours into it, so I’m probably just getting started. That is both satisfying and overwhelming at the same time.