Archive for December, 2009

Dear Dragon Age, Can I Have My Life Back?

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Yes, I admit it. I am one of the multitude of people who have been completely enraptured by the brilliance that is Dragon Age: Origins. Or maybe I should say enslaved? I beat it over a month ago, yet I am still playing it in most of my spare time. The game is so chock full of content that even when you win for the first time you have only experienced half of everything possible!

On the surface, the game just seems like a mildly beefed up version of Neverwinter Nights or Baldur’s Gate. Better graphics, more cutscenes, a new set of non-D&D classes, etc. But once you peel back that layer of first impressions and start to experience the guts of the game, you will be sucked into an epic, movie-quality story where your emotions are on a roller-coaster ride and you feel a very real vested interest in the outcome. I CRIED at the end of the game. As in, real tears streaming down my face! The full waterworks! ME!!! I’m usually just a gaming drone, trying to analyze the game system to get in the developers brain and then consequently min/max and find the most efficient way of defeating the game to earn my achievements or complete my goals. But not this game! Oh no, I lost myself in the tale that was woven around every decision I made. It helped that I made a character similar to myself, and that I made all the in-game decisions that I would make in real life. By the end, I was so deeply entrenched in this fantasy world in which I had forged myself into a legend through my actions that I cared more about what happened in the story more than whether or not I would get an extra +1 spellpower by equipping this staff or those robes.

And the story is just one of the many wonderful features this game possesses. Every one of the major companion characters (and there are 9 of them that can travel with you for a majority of the game) is incredibly complex. Just like the game itself, each of them seems like a blatant fantasy game stereotype when you are first introduced. But after just a small amount of time with them, they each begin to unfold into something you didn’t quite expect. The nuances of their personalities shine through in their dialogue with you and each other as well as their approval and disapproval of the choices you make. Just like most people I know in real life, these companions are strange compilations of traits that often contradict themselves and offer a deep richness not usually found in games. I grew to care about them even though I knew that their personalities were made of nothing but 0’s and 1’s, and when they disapproved of my decisions I felt genuinely bad!

The game is very dark and very mature, but it’s not all death and serious topics. There are some very humorous parts, things I would chuckle about for days. In particular, Shale the golem (part of the downloadable content called The Stone Prisoner) is an absolute hoot! I can’t tell you how many times I cracked up from some snarky comment spoken in that ridiculous golem voice with a british accent. Shale takes pride in being a cold-hearted killer of “squishier” beings like humans. My favorite line?

Leliana: You aren’t all stone, Shale. There is a person inside of you.
Shale: If so, it is because I ate him.

I still laugh about that one. If you take Shale with you through your adventures (which I highly recommend) you will be treated to all sorts of hilarious dialogues and one-liners.

Bioware also deserves some serious kudos for being brave and including GLBT content in the game. The fact that 2 of the 4 romanceable companions are bisexual and willing to engage in same-sex relationships speaks highly of Bioware‘s maturity and the progressive attitudes of the content creators. While I think the love-making cutscenes are generally cheesy and I couldn’t help but laugh at every single one of them, I am proud that they decided to include the possibility of gay romances without forcing it on the player. Like The Sims, it is up to the player to decide whether he or she wishes to engage in that kind of content.

I could probably write an entire book dissecting all the aspects of this game that I want to talk about–the equipment system, the achievements, the codex entries, the side quests, the talents & spells, the modding tools, etc. But then how would I have time to go experience the rest of the content I haven’t finished? :) This is a game that you do NOT want to miss out on. If you haven’t already purchased it, go out and buy it right now, or download it from Direct2Drive or some other online service. Be sure to get the PC version, as the game is best played with a mouse. I’ve tried it on the Xbox 360 and the controls feel completely clunky in comparison.

Hats off to you Bioware. You have stolen my life yet again. I would classify this as the best storyline I have ever experienced in a game. Ever. I’ll be playing this for quite some time to come. Oh well… off to kill more darkspawn!

Making A Game Company – Part 1: How To File An LLC in Georgia

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Well, I’m officially incorporated. Amazing… After years of not doing it because I didn’t understand the process at all, I finally had a buddy boil it down to the very basics and walk through the process with me. Fruitstrike Games LLC was born on December 22, 2009! Hurray! Super kudos and thanks to my friend Ryan for helping me get this set up. I still don’t understand everything from a tax perspective, but I’m sure I’ll eventually figure it out.

Anyway, here is the detailed step-by-step process for anyone else who is interested in forming an LLC in Georgia. Amazingly enough, there’s only 16 incredibly easy steps that you could easily finish in under an hour. You’d think government bureaucracy would require more, but apparently creating an LLC is easier than creating a cheesecake…

STEP 1: Navigate to http://www.sos.ga.gov/corporations/
STEP 2: Hover over the button “Online Services and Registration”, then in the drop down menu click the link “File Your Corporation Online” (it’s a little more than halfway down the list)
STEP 3: Select the “Limited Liability Company” radio button and press “GO”
STEP 4: Choose a name for your company (you have to include “LLC” or something similar in the name, it lists the possibilities in the instructions for that step). You can skip over the second part that says “Name Reservation Number” since that isn’t applicable.
STEP 5: Fill out the Filer Information with all of your information. I’ll assume you can do this since it’s nothing you haven’t done on Amazon.com or some other online store. :)
STEP 6: Fill out the principle mailing address. 99% of the time this is going to be the same address that you put in Step 5 if you are a freelancer working out of your own home.
STEP 7: Select “Individual” from the drop down list.
STEP 8: Type in your name, and press “Add New”
STEP 9: Fill in your information AGAIN. Make sure it’s YOUR information as an individual, and not the company address if you had a different address for Step 6.
STEP 10: Fill in your information YET AGAIN!!! You are both the Registered Agent and the LLC Organizer.
STEP 11: You should see a chart with your info on it. If you have partners or other people who are involved, you’d need to add them at this step, but you probably don’t so simply click “Save & Proceed >”
STEP 12: I don’t even know what an Optional Provision is, so don’t type anything in the next page’s box and simply click “Save & Proceed >”
STEP 13: Double check all your info, then press “Continue”
STEP 14: Click the checkbox to verify everything is true and correct, then click “Add Signature”
STEP 15: Change your title to “Member/Manager” and put your info in again
STEP 16: Put in your credit card info to pay the $100 filing fee. Again, I’m assuming you can handle this step without hand-holding since you’ve probably done this on Amazon before. :)

That’s it! Save every PDF you get (you should get an Invoice from the GA state government for the filing fee and another PDF with “Articles of Organization” on the top). A few days later (or maybe longer) in email you will receive your Certificate of Organization. Make sure you save that too! This might be a good time for you to secure whatever domain names you would like as well. Remember to nab the .com, .org, and .net versions of them if you can afford it. If you can’t, just grab the .com version.

As I learn more things about this process, I’ll be making more blog posts. Hope this was helpful!