I will admit that the amount of games at the MCM London Comic Con surprised me. I really didn’t expect to see so many gaming booths there, or so many people sitting down to play the games. Silly me, really. It’s a geek event so of course there was gonna be a bit for the gamers!
It wasn’t a surprise to see an E-Sports stage at the Comic Con though, it really wasn’t, but it was to see that the first competition of the weekend was Hearthstone! I still find it amazing how this fun online card game’s competitive scene has gotten so big in such a short time. I watched the beginnings of a match between Boarcontrol and Mysterious while waiting for the interview with Tom Mison. My legs and feet were hurting like hell, and I needed to sit down—something I should’ve done a lot more so I wouldn’t end up so wrecked—and what better way than to watch a nice match?
Sadly, the announcers were embarrassingly cheesy and the intro videos for the players were even more so.
Opposite the stage was a giant booth for my current obsession: OVERWATCH! I wanted to sit down and have a few games with the attendants but there were no open spots for me to play, and besides, if I started playing I wouldn’t have interviewed anyone!
And lastly, my biggest surprise in this area was the DXRacer booth between the Overwatch booth and the E-Sports stage. I have one of those chairs, the King Series, dropped over £300 on the thing and it’s a brand that has earned my loyalty over the years.
I mentioned on Monday how it made me chuckle to see one of the EGX Regulars there, a booth selling shirts and having a Street Fighter arcade, but it wasn’t the only regular I saw there. Rising Star Games was there as well, showing a nice lineup of games, of which my favourite was the ever-lovely Lumo, by Triple Eh?, with its cute and quirky magician, though the SHMUP Assault Suit Leynos earned a special place in my heart.
The largest presence in the gaming area goes to God Eater 2, coming to PC very soon. I didn’t have the opportunity to play it but what I saw was intriguing, a mix between Monster Hunter and Pandora’s Tower, with giant monsters and complicated weapons but some of the creatures confined to intricate structures to navigate and explore. It’s a game I’m hoping to play and review when it releases.
They even had a giant inflatable monster in the middle of the place, so I give God Eater 2 the prize for “Most Money Spent” in promo material!
I never played Fairy Fencer F, but the sequel, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force was there as well and from what I saw and played…I wasn’t impressed. The story and world were there and they intrigued me—which means I’m likely to get it, play it and enjoy it—but mechanics felt clunky, even running around felt wooden. Maybe it’s the kind of game worth a second look, but the first one didn’t do much for me.
Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness was a game that the moment I knew it was going to be there I wanted to play. I’m a massive fan of the Anime and love the characters and even more the dystopian setting, one where your mental state is quantifiable and you can go to jail or get killed because of a high “Psycho Pass” value.
But it turned to be a visual novel with nothing but decision points that affect the psychological health of your character and the results of the investigations…so pretty much the same as any other visual novel. For Psycho Pass and the complexity of its world and characters I expected something more, perhaps something akin to Murdered: Soul Suspect or L.A. Noire, where you investigate the crime scenes and even have action moments. Action, exposition and decisions are all part of the Psycho Pass universe and they would’ve been much better representations than the visual novel genre.
It was frankly disappointing.
Shades of Vengeance was a nice surprise. I came up to a booth with posters and titles that all started with the word “Era.” Speaking to one of the guys there he explained they were Pen & Paper Tabletop RPGs using the same system but set in different worlds. Era: Survival was a Zombie Apocalypse game, Era: The Consortium was sci-fi, and so on. He mentioned that the creator, Ed Jowett would be there soon, which was awesome for me. I love talking to developers.
I returned after my chat with Tom Mison—I keep saying it like it was just him and me, and not the round-table thing it really was—and found Ed there so we had a nice chat. I asked him about the different games and the baseline system and it surprised me to find out that each game is just a set of rules modules, so you can mix and match them as you like, so you can play the Superpowered Zombie Sci-Fi of your dreams—though he admits you’d need to cobble together a character sheet for that case.
When I asked him for the games he played that left a mark on him, I was glad to hear mention of one of my favourites, Shadowrun. Paranoia got a mention as well and Don’t Rest Your Head even, a game that doesn’t get enough love to be honest.
He designed the Era system to use d10s, a die that seemingly only White Wolf (and now Onyx Path Publishing) used. But unlike WW’s storyteller system that tends to marry attributes and skills, the Era system, much like its modular design, lets you combine them as you will. In Ed’s words, “If the game master can picture it then it’s a valid combination.” Then we went on to discuss different combinations and how they would work in the system.
He opened with Brawl + Strength being the traditional melee attack in White Wolf’s system. But then said, “What about Intelligence + Brawl?” and I replied, “The Sherlock Holmes films, that’s pure intelligence applied to fighting.” Then we switched to firing a gun and he knew he was talking to a child of the 80s so he pulled a Robocop reference, one of the many trick shots Robocop pulls, and he says that’s also intelligence.
The idea is for the builds you make to be varied, for two archers to be completely different from one another depending on what their focus is. Of course, we only spoke of the combat skills, but having taken a look at the system, it’s pretty evident that you can do the same with every skill out there.
When I asked him which of the games had been the hardest to balance, he said “Era: The Empowered,” the superhero game, because superheroes are always the hardest ones. He explained that the secret to balancing heroes is to look at three heroes as the three scales of power: “Galactus, Superman and Batman. Most systems can balance two of them out but not the third, so Galactus and Superman, but not Batman, for example.” Then he said that after months of tinkering, he finally figured out how to balance them out, though there’s still work to do.
But the games weren’t the only thing they had on show, but also comics explaining the origins of the Era: The Consortium universe as well as a prequel to the demo game they were playing at the booth—which was never empty enough for me to give it a go—and he said they have a Kickstarter going for a new on-going comic series about the first few heroes in the Era: The Empowered universe. It’s currently sitting at £211/300 with over 15 days to go. In fact, as small indie game developers, they have run campaigns for each of their books and all of them have been successful.
Talking to Ed made me realise things about the RPG industry that I hadn’t considered, how big sites like DriveThruRPG don’t exactly value indie companies such as Ed’s Shades of Vengeance. According to him, they’re on the big RPG store but not on their own system but under homebrews, as the store doesn’t consider them big enough and see d10 as a variation on White Wolf’s systems. It was the same story with Roll20.net, which told Ed and his people that they were just too small to be added onto the platform.
Shades of Vengeance has different values than most companies, even other indie and that is that they recognise everyone who works for and with them, no matter how small their contributions are. As Ed puts it, “If you work with us, your name goes on the book.” He mentions this as one of the collaborators is a professional ghostwriter who’s had some bad experiences in the past with not getting his due credit.
Of these, I’m most definitely getting my hands on the Era roleplaying games, maybe organise some online games or gather some mates for a quick demo or two. I always like taking a look at new RPG systems and find ways to make players suffer with them!
Of the video games, God Eater 2 intrigues me…a lot!