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CommodusIV

A Commodian History

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It's been a while since I thought about using the CMS. I'm not sure what's really changed now. Perhaps writing a lot recently elsewhere has stimulated the right senses. I have nothing against wine making or the appropriate foray into politics, but I feel the section has been overcome with a limited scope of subjects, when the blogging field is filled with such potential. My verbose ramblings are hardly the means to correct the problem, but perhaps they will introduce another thing to stop in and read. Comments, critique, et al are welcome. It's only fair given the writer here.

For lack of any particular subject I care to write about - I don't do well with unsolicited rambling about just things, just feels odd to me, though I take and feed on suggestions - I'll put in a few words on my history with the series, to possibly expand on my impression and philosophies into the future. What I get into next or if I make a subsequent entry is another matter. You tell me, I suppose. But I digress. Not even at the point and I've blown two paragraphs.

I began with Shogun. The context I didn't particularly care for, but at the time I was slightly more lenient towards eastern cultures. Regrettably, I wouldn't call it racist, but I would say my interest in Eastern based material has really gone into 'I could care less', meaning something of Shogun's potential showing up today is something I likely would not be able to enjoy. I think it is anime and the like that's put me off. But to avoid the pitchforks, I'll stop digging a hole and digress. What appealed to me was the style, the fundamental formula that forever drew my impression of what lies at the heart of the series. Total war was an RTS game with a campaign map to give the battles a reason to happen. That was basically it. There wasn't a great deal of immersion, and I played it not because I was an RTS fan, but because that combination was cool. I tried it, I found I liked it, I played it for a while, but no more than a few hundred hours ever.

Then came Medieval. Oh dear, was that one a shock.

Firstly, I enjoyed the premise far more. I was snared by the music. Drawn by the mood. Sold by the vastly improved campaign depth. Kept by the immersion. Oh yes, while I can be easily pleased at times, Medieval was an immersive game, and it was there that my modern style began to develop. Total War was, at heart, a series about battles given purpose by the campaign. Auto Resolve kills this premise for me just as skipping the campaign altogether does the same. That is an attitude that I retained for each future entry. That is how the series began, and Medieval was a fundamentally evolutionary game. It retained the heart and added more, not sacrificing, not 'x steps forward y steps back', no, just a vertical upgrade. I believe this has never again been the case in the series, not truly. But that is a claim to expand upon later, and I already know a good portion of whoever's still reading will disagree. in any case, a few hundred hours became a couple thousand. Not too insane, but suffice to say, I played it a heck of a long time. Heh, memories. I haven't played it in over a decade seriously and only launched it once in the past couple years. But I still listen to the menu theme once in a while.

Rome 1, the great change. I was more enamored with the medieval period than the roman one, but Rome was the great change, and for the most part, I liked it. There were sacrifices, ones that mildly disappointed me; but the basic campaign formula had changed to the point where I didn't especially care about what was lost, rather about the entirely changed dynamic. Sieges and free movement, battle maps drawn right off the campaign map - bloody novel! It wasn't until later that I started missing some of the details from M1, but it was a culture shock all the same, for part of the fundamental experience of total war had evolved. No longer were things pieces on a map. Though obviously limited, there was now a sense of realism to all that went on, of course marred by the absurdities of an AI struggling to cope with that level of freedom. That was when my gameplay began to change. I found defeating the AI simply too easy. It was simple before, but I still got a lot from the game - now it was an active problem to play without feeling the gross inevitability that has been creeping in from entry to entry. I began treating recruitment and battles differently. My entire strategy shifted into my growing desire to integrate my roleplaying record into the series.

Traits, bizarrely enough, became one of the most important features in the series for me starting here.

Instead of playing as detached God, I wanted to see how these characters would behave given the traits granted to them by RNGsus, using my green, but ambitious character parsing ideals to give individuality and purpose to their actions. This is where I diverged from what I would consider 'the usual total war player'. I was no longer motivated by a pure desire for world conquest and various other things considered fun in 'the modern gameplay'. Furthermore, I was antisocial and multiplayer was an experience I saved for another series altogether, in a small group. TWC along with fansites in general weren't my cup of tea, though I still accrued experience working with different kinds of sites. I was weird. I'm still weird. Go ahead and judge me. I know you want to.

Medieval 2 rolled around. I wanted more medieval and I had a taste for the engine, so getting it was an obvious no-brainer. It had glorious medieval battles and a Great™ campaign map (vanilla looks so boring now, god. I'm spoiled), visual bling (shortly before I began to stop caring about graphics upgrades), and traits. I've never been completely fond of the family tree system, but I enjoy the dynamic it offered nonetheless. Interlinking characters and family. I started to consider the wives, the children, the agents. Occasionally, the soldiers. I'd obsessively zoom into battles just to see how Bob the mailed knight was doing and go 'aw' when he was wiped out. "So, who did Bob know and what does this mean..." It got very weird. But I had fun, god dammit, and while I've detached from the series lately, I still can. As I immersed into Medieval 2, my hour count steadily overcame the oldies. Shogun 1 didn't take long to pass. Medieval 1 took a long while, but by then, I had too much going with 2 to go back. As the distinction of Rome 1 and Medieval 2 was the modern day difference of an overhaul mod (with plenty of similarities), Rome 1 became obsolete, and that one I haven't played even longer than Medieval 1. Last time I started it up all I got was a bugged screen in BI. When I wanted to fix it, I realized no, I kinda didn't.

Because, as years went on, mods came out, and roman mods did more for me than Rome 1 ultimately ever did.

There we have it. Medieval 2 became the game where I perfected my total war roleplaying strategies, at the expense of just about any other kind of play in the series. I've had many characters and witnessed many battles. Vanilla is almost unapproachable because I've done every set of starting characters to death in it. I tried hotseating for a bit and eventually came to the (now obvious) realization that yeah, it probably wasn't the right thing for me, even if I'd become more open post 2010. Disclaimer; hotseating is an experience I started with through actual mutiplayer around, I want to say, 2015, though I used hotseat features for an advanced implementation of the above style for a while before. But that is another post altogether.

Oh yeah, and there was Empire, Napoleon, and later entries. I'm sure you lot know what my impression was, though it wasn't all as bleak as one might imagine. The distinction between Medieval 2 design and warscape games has been done to death, so I might not write about that at all. Or maybe I will. Who knows.

Or Hex will realize the kind of blubbering buffoon they let into the CMS and I'll be out the door by next week.
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Comments

  1. Flinn's Avatar
    lol nice blog, and nice bait

    I pretty much share your feelings about Medieval 1 and Rome 1, I remember in particular that Med's music was mesmerizing, but I never really went into roleplaying, though.

    ps. wait for the next series of my blogs to come out, before starting to complain
  2. CommodusIV's Avatar
    You've somewhat made my point Flinn - despite diversity in subject being desirable - that there's certainly a lack of diversity in writers. I didn't really note the latter bit, but it does play into the equation. And again, I take no issue with what is there, but I can only comment regarding what is there, not what is coming Soon™ with no promises of when, what, or who, particularly when the concept of a stream of new stuff to invalidate my point was not made privy to me beforehand. If I waited for every instance where maybe somebody would someday do something or something else (heck, like myself), I'd simply fall into the all too common pitfall of waiting forever more than not. I'd have thought that note of things as they stand and a will to diversify despite that would garner some hex level agreement rather than be taken as idle complaint. But I suppose there's little to be done. The prerogative of a blog is a slightly selfish 'meh, carry on'.

    Makes me curious how a blog on TWC matters from me would turn out. I imagine quite controversial.
  3. Flinn's Avatar
    I'd say that a "take it easy and relax, dude!" is in order, here
  4. z3n's Avatar
    "dynamic it offered nonetheless. Interlinking characters and family. I started to consider the wives, the children, the agents. Occasionally, the soldiers. I'd obsessively zoom into battles just to see how Bob the mailed knight was doing and go 'aw' when he was wiped out. "So, who did Bob know and what does this mean..." It got very weird. But I had fun, god dammit, and while I've detached from the series lately, I still can."

    For sure, it was always sad when my favourite guy in M2TW got wiped out after playing RTW the clone wars.