Tag: pc

Baldur’s Gate: Again

I have this strange relationship with the Baldur’s Gate series.  Actually, this applies to the whole Infinity engine family of games; BG, Icewind Dale 1&2, and Planescape Torment.  But we’ll focus on Baldur’s Gate here first.

I got Baldur’s Gate as a random present from one of my mom’s friends wayyyyy back in 1998.  I was immediately hooked; it was only the second game I had ever played that gave me so many choices (the other was Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar for the NES).  It was top-down, which allowed for incredible strategic elements.  It had dialogue choices that meant something.  It had humor, seriousness, epicness.  It had it all.

Baldur’s Gate 2 was just a continuation, but stacking complex high-level spell combat on top of the already wonderful freedom and storytelling.  It also had one of the best villains in video game history, Jon Irenicus, who was voice-acted tremendously by David Warner.

I consider both of those games heavily influential on my gaming tastes.  I consider them both among the best PC games ever made, if not among the best games ever made, regardless of system.

I’ve never beaten either of them.  This is baffling.

I’ve certainly found it harder in recent years to complete games.  I often reach a point where I go “I get it” and put a game down, regardless of where I am.  I never beat Final Fantasy 9, despite getting to the final area.  I did the same with Final Fantasy 13 (though didn’t get quite as far, but I did get to the point where the game opened up).  I’ve done it with a few Ultima games.  And I did it with BG and BG2.

I’m not sure if they’re too long or what, but I have just never finished them.  I certainly got quite far into BG1, but never beat it, nor did any of the expansion content.  I got somewhat far in BG2 in the sidequests, but never advanced the main storyline past breaking into Spellhold, which is barely halfway, I think.

I’m currently trying to do a full playthrough of both, starting a character in BG: Enchanced Edition, play through it all plus the expansion content, then import the character into BG2 and do the same there.  I doubt I’ll make it, if previous attempts inform future actions.

I think it might be the combat.  It can range from mundane to ruthless, and I don’t think I like either.  I feel that my time is wasted with a fight with a few kobolds, but then my time is wasted when staring down a Beholder and six Yuan-Ti mages, which is pretty tough.

Or it might be all the freedom.  I often restart the game multiple times since I can’t decide which class to play.  I’ve found in other games that I can be paralyzed by choice, and end up putting the game down rather than settle on a certain race, class, or playstyle.

I had a startling thought just now.  Maybe I just want to play actual table-top D&D.

Luckily, I’ll be doing that this weekend.  I’ll write on that as well.


Why Everything Is Bad

Whoa, that’s a broad headline.  So, maybe not everything, but why many things are bad.

OK, what things?

Let’s try this: why every conversation and attempt at critical thought in America is bad.

OK, that’s not everything, but that’s a lot of things.  The way we think?  That directly and indirectly affects many, many things.  I think it affects enough things where “everything” isn’t too far off.

I just had a semantics argument with myself.  Awesome.

OK: Why many things are bad!

So few people really understand the way a democracy works, and even fewer people understand how to think critically in any context, let alone a context where there are multi-layered complex problems affecting an entire society.

Example: the argument over political correctness, a verbal thought war that’s been waged for a couple decades now.  Both sides are populated by many, many dumb people.  These people not only are dumb, but their dumbness continues the argument in perpetuity.

Many people on the “anti-PC” side of the argument are brushing off the PC idea as “soft” and “overly sensitive.”  In many contexts, this is simply wrong.  They are on the wrong side of history, and are resistant to a change that would be so minor and insignificant in their daily lives but very significant to the lives of others.  It’s more than insensitive, it’s crass and insulting.  It demonstrates a complete lack of sympathy for fellow human beings.

However, many on the “PC” side of the argument are so rabid and oversensitive that they may have created much of the argument in the first place.  While eradicating slurs and offensive language should be something we strive for, many people on this side of the argument are blind to the fact that mistakes and accidents happen, and that the kind of change they’re looking for is largely generational, and will not be complete until long after they’re dead.

OK, there’s a rabbit hole here I should probably stop going down.

My main point: everyone looks at shit in a binary fashion, with no respect for the gray area whatsoever.  This would be great if big problems were binary, but they simply aren’t.  There aren’t simple solutions for everything.  There’s actually very few things worth talking about that have a simple solution.

All people have guns, or no people have guns.  All abortion or no abortion.  If it’s not pure capitalism it’s communist.  If you’re Muslim, you’re a terrorist.  All welfare recipients are gaming the system.  These are all idiotic, narrow-minded sentiments that turn blinders to the complexity of life, and the effects any of these issues have on all corners of society.

I don’t think I’m terribly smart.  I think I’m kinda smart.  I don’t have answers to all these problems.  But I do know that no societal problem has a simple solution, and I also know that swinging the pendulum all the way to one side or the other is almost unilaterally a terrible idea.

I simply don’t understand why so, so many people have trouble grasping this, or don’t care enough to try.

It’s an anti-intellectualism that has long taken hold of American society, and I think that’s far more frightening than any of the other problems we face.  It might not directly kill or hurt anyone, but it prevents us from fixing anything effectively.

I weep for the future.