I’ve been pretty positive on Depths of Peril. However, I will now enumerate some flaws, according to the ancient traditions and customs we’ve long observed on this site. Affection must not stand in the way of ceremony, or we’ll end up with chaos. Here are my gripes, in ascending order, from the trivial to the slightly-less trivial.
The tutorial is a bit rough. It’s mostly a series of popups to read to tell you where things are and what’s what. It’s better than letting the player fend for themselves, but a more gradual introduction would have been welcome.
It’s hard to tell the various tiers of foods (restore health) and beverages (restore energy) from each other. In other games, you can look at two blue bottles and see one is bigger than the other, and therefore restores more energy. But how would you compare a glass of milk to a mug of ale? Is roast duck better than pheasant? Erm. You can use the tooltips to figure out which is the superior item, but that sort of deprives them of their iconic nature.
There are some single-file passages in the dungeons. This is fine unless you have a covenant mate adventuring with you, because they block your movement. They’re smart enough to back away if you move next to them. They don’t trap you, but they do make it hard for you to beat a hasty retreat if you get overwhelmed. Diablo II had the same problem when it was first released. (Getting down into the Maggot Lair as a Necromancer – with a half dozen skeletons in tow – was maddeningly difficult.) The solution there was to simply allow teammates to walk through each other. (Not stand in the same spot, but just pass.) That could work here.
I have to give Depths of Peril credit for at last giving me a “demand” button on the diplomacy screen. In GalCiv I was often frustrated by the fact that you couldn’t threaten anyone. You could only ask, and the AI always reacted as though I was coming to him as a beggar, even if I had an armada of terrifying potency sitting just outside his homeworld. In Depths of Peril I press the demand button often, and each time I am filled with insidious joy, regardless of the answer I get in return.
Having said that, the diplomacy system is… well, it’s about as good as a lot of other diplomacy systems I’ve experienced, which is to say, somewhat lacking in cunning. Example: A foe will make a demand of me, and I’ll tell him to get stuffed. Then I’ll turn around and demand tribute from him, and he’ll relent. If he had the nerve to threaten war, then he ought to also have the nerve to say no.
The storage system is convoluted. You can’t put things into your box directly. No, you have to put a container – a sack or a bag of some sort – into the box, and then put stuff into the sack. If you want to take the sack out again, you have to empty it first. Your inventory works this way as well. You don’t have a single pack, but instead you can have up to four bags which contain items. The interface can get pretty confusing when you’ve got your four sacks open as well as the sacks inside of the box. You get used to it, but it does seem like more complexity than is called for.
Now, I see the intent here. As you play, you collect larger and larger sacks. The idea is to reward the player with larger storage space as they level up. A reasonable goal, but I think it might have saved everyone (the coder and the players) a lot of hassle if the space just got magically bigger as they leveled up.
Now, all of these complaints are trivial. I’m ashamed to even mention them. (The preceding sentence was an outrageous lie, although I’d appreciate if you would believe it anyway. Thank you for your cooperation.) But this last complaint stands apart from the others. It is not a whine against some irrelevant gameplay minutia or esoteric design commentary, this is a protest against the grievous harm visited on me by Soldak, the Depths of Peril interface, and my fellow covenant members. In that order. My grievance is as follows:
My teammates need to get the flaming hell out of my way when I jump through the portal to our covenant house.
The following drama was repeated several times as I played Depths of Peril:
I have burst forth from the magical gateway into the alluring safety of our covenant house. I appear there on the threshold, having just escaped the clutches of some bone-clad captain of the underworld. His fell magics have left me bleeding, poisoned, and on fire. At this point I am beyond Death’s door. I’m in Death’s foyer, and Death is taking my coat and asking if I had any trouble finding the place.
But! I am only steps away from salvation: I need only touch our covenant lifestone, and it will infuse me with new life, healing wounds and dragging me back from the brink.
My team is all gathered so tightly around the dang thing that I can’t click on it. I have to aim for a minuscule gap of just a few pixels between my oblivious compatriots to hit the stone. If I miss, I’ll end up running up to the team member and opening up a little menu where I can see their inventory, add them to my party, and do a bunch of other stuff I don’t care about right now because I’m on fire. My precious health is still draining away while I furiously hammer away looking for the close button so I can have another go at the lifestone.
Too late. I have dropped dead, going face-down a couple of inches from my goal. The lifestone brings me back to life, and a little tombstone appears where I fell. Right next to me.
Since at higher levels death incurs XP debt (boo) this fills me with murderous rage. I’ve actually taken to running my crew short a person. This puts me at a disadvantage against the other covenants, but leaves a hole in our defensive line so I can click on the blasted lifestone at need.
Ideally, my teammates should clear a path and go cower in the corner when I fly out of the portal. They should stay there until I’ve renewed myself, at which time they can come out and make some uneasy comments about that being a close one. Barring that, I should be able to give them a good shove when they stand there like morons. Barring that, then game should let me execute one of them, publicly, using gallows, as an example to the others.
Other comments on the game, completely unrelated to the horrible, murderous betrayal I suffered at the hand of my senseless teammates:
I liked the foliage. And the wilderness sound effects were nice. (Having played Oblivion recently, I was reminded how sterile and silent Bethesda’s world sounded. Yeah, yeah: I’m sure there’s a mod for that.)
I really liked the skill system. You get five skill points per level. Skills start out cheap, but get more expensive as you go. This means that on level up, you get to make some interesting choices instead of throwing a single point into the one ability you’ve decided to max out. The ability to change things around later means that mistakes won’t be permanent.
I really like that monsters far beneath you in level will leave you alone, so you don’t have to wade through easily defeated but still-worthless foes if you happen to backtrack for some reason.
The only reason I stopped playing Depths of Peril was because I picked up Hellgate: London and I was eager to compare the two. Both games can trace their lineage back to Diablo II, but from that common origin the designers chose to move in very different directions. Specifically, they each had their own ideas about how the genre needed to “evolve”.
Soldak Entertainment is still an indie game company and is still subject to the tribulations most indies face. Lead designer Steven Peeler mentions on his blog that a follow-up game is not a certainty. I hope Depths of Peril does well enough to propel them forward, as I’d really like to see what they do next.
EDIT: In the comments below I learn that the inventory system I complain about above is how World of Warcraft does it. It still think the system is strange, but I guess… people… like it? It’s hard to criticize the most successful game / drug in history, but still: Variable-size objects in variable-sized bags in fixed-size boxes? What the heck?
EDIT II: Other people now comment that the storage systems aren’t as similar as I might make them seem. Okay, so the systems are alike except in how they differ. Whatever. I can’t get near an MMO without destroying this blog so I don’t dare investigate myself.
EDIT III: It has been pointed out to me that I could click on the lifestone icon if my alleged “friends” are blocking my access to it. Fine, fine. But I still think my gallows idea is a good one. Maybe in the expansion pack.
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45 thoughts on “Depths of Peril:
Lord help you with Hellgate. 26 minutes, thats how long it took me to feel like I was robbed.
Heh, and maybe if they do well, you’ll get more review copies, eh? ;-)
In a somewhat related note, your tale of fiery peril reminded me of some gaming stories, here and here. They’re not mine, but I wish they were.
Quit making new games sound so appealing! I might actually have to update my computer otherwise, and that’s just not something I have the funding to do unless I stop going out to eat every other night! I LIKE going out to eat!
So does DoP get the Shamus “buy it” stamp?
I still intend to give Hellgate another shot. After a few more content patches, when my RSI settles down a bit more and when there’s a respec button. It has some potential but the game at release wasn’t even close to production quality. You can’t even tell what half the talents do.
WoW has a similar inventory system. I think the first UI mod I ever downloaded may have been AllInOneBag. I now use Bagnon, which has a *search bar*. Awesome.
The inventory system in Mass Effect is truly hideous. It’s always one big list and scrolling takes approx 0.5s per item. Sacrificing items for omnigel (lockpicks) takes a selection and a confirm dialog, really painful. This is the main way to get omnigel so you do it a lot.
I had no idea how much good icons mattered to me until I played LotRO. It was like they hired Carmack to design them – brown and indistinguishable. Continual squinting at tooltips is not fun.
I don’t think I ever have the nerve to give a game a “buy it” stamp. These sorts of decisions are just too personal and tastes vary too much. Although, I’m happy with the game and I highly recommend at least giving the demo a try.
I downloaded the demo, and it seems to run well on an older system (Athlon XP 2500+, GeForce Ti 4200). I’m having a little trouble figuring it out, even with the tutorial, so I decided to read the online manual, which says:
“If you have a hard time clicking on your lifestone, you can alternatively click on the lifestone/covenant health bar on the right side of the screen.”
I haven’t tried it yet, but maybe that will help. :-)
Many Roguelikes feature a “displace” option if you try to walk through an allied character; you just switch places with him. Not sure how well that would work in real-time, or if the person you just displaced tries to displace you.
That inventory system is EXACTLY how World of Warcraft works it, with the multiple bags of different size and putting them in the “box” (“bank” in WoW) or your inventory slots. (It’s annoying there, too- I mod my interface to merge them into one giant “virtual bag.”)
I suppose it shouldn’t come as much surprise that people are borrowing ideas from the most commercially successful game of all time. >.>
A mini-comic would have been awesome with this post.
Also, regarding the inventory system…yeah WoW uses something similar, and long before that Ultima Online also had a bag system, but not quite as ridiculous.
Bags were convenient places to store items so that they could all be moved. Where things got funny was when you could get around the item limits in bags by putting bags inside other bags.
Until they implemented a recursive item limit system you could nest to your heart’s content.
I also have a feeling the bags-in-boxes system is probably some form of sorting-tree system to make inventory searches faster on MMO databases.
Depths of Peril doesn’t need to worry about that level of optimization, but they were probably just copying a system people already liked.
That last grievance about teammates not getting out of the way while you’re in flames is one of the most entertaining things I’ve read in a while.
But wait,doesnt the pause button work in the full game like in the demo?Cant you just pause and then peacfully search for the stone?
And Im still waiting for the game that will correctly implement item size.Im so sick of not having place for a sword because I have a few sheets of paper to carry.
I am a huge fan of your blog and have always admired your insights, honesty and writing style. I’m a bit abashed to have my first comment be a negative one, but your edit of your original post in which you described the World of Warcraft inventory system as “variable-size objects in variable-sized bags in fixed-size boxes” is completely inaccurate.
I read the comments that you based your edit on, and I honestly can’t tell whether the commenters played DOP or if they are comparing the inventory systems in the two games based solely on your description of DOP’s inventory. I’m not a WOW fanboi by any means, but I have been playing it off and on for the past couple of years, and its inventory system doesn’t have variable-size objects, nor do you ever use containers inside other containers.
All objects in WOW, from potions to polearms, take a single inventory slot. WOW does have multiple containers of variable sizes (from 4 to 20 slots) but you can open all containers with a single keypress to see your entire inventory and easily use, move, delete or (if you are at a merchant) sell any or all of your possessions. You mentioned that the DOP inventory system is convoluted, which sounds like the exact opposite of WOW’s inventory system.
Love it or hate it, World of Warcraft has achieved a level of success that can be described without hyperbole as beyond anything any of us could have imagined. One big reason for that is that the folks at Blizzard got just about everything right when it comes to gameplay and the user experience, including inventory management.
Hope that helps, and keep up the good work!
I have to nitpick the comments that say WoW has the exact same system: It uses *fixed-size* objects (1×1) in variable-sized bags in fixed-size boxes.
So yeah, not the greatest. But still beats trying to squeeze in that 6×2 great sword alongside your 4×4 tower shield.
And Im still waiting for the game that will correctly implement item size.Im so sick of not having place for a sword because I have a few sheets of paper to carry.
It’s been awhile, but Ultima VII did that and it wasn’t pretty. Each item has ‘weight/size’ value and each container has a limit to how much ‘weight/size’ it can hold. Or maybe the character just has a limit.
Anyway, this meant that you could store either 5 swords or else 1000 gems in your pack. Or you could store 2 swords and 600 gems. Efficient in a way. Well, until you wanted to find that specific ruby that you needed for whatever.
It was a fantastic game, but inventory management became somewhat tedious. I think Ultima Online used the same system. It’s been years since I’ve played it so maybe it’s been improved since then. (It *is* still running, right?)
[My teammates need to get the flaming hell out of my way when I jump through the portal to our covenant house.]
Ah, yes, that whole piece of manure where your teammates are crowded around the vital healing fountain when you are slowly dying. I remember one part in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon where a Pokemon I had just recruited got surprised by a bleeding monster house(a whole bunch of Pokemon ambush you in a small space) and I couldn’t get to it fast enough to heal it before it died and disappeared. Bleeding hell.
I don’t care if this game had a Pokemon variant, if this is the trouble I’m going to face playing it, I’m not playing it. I don’t like dying because I couldn’t get to the healing center through the crowd. :(
BTW, Shamus, I’m thinking of getting one of Bioware’s older D&D games for the PC after seeing a modded playthrough of Baldur’s Gate II. Have you played the Baldur’s Gate series, Icewind Dale, or Neverwinter Nights? I have NWN but it’s a mess so I may just spring for the collector’s pack if I get it.
You got five skill points every level? I tried the demo and only got two of them. So much better if I get five though, my characters became pretty much one trick ponies.
Does the class balance improve in the real game? The classes were everything but balanced in the demo.
Anyway, that demand option sure sounds great. If I only had paid attention tot hat option when it became relevant…
it actually changes, level dependant. so level 2 is worth 2 skill points, but level 50 is worth 12ish. also, what rod said is accurate. i think it works anywhere in town, though going to the gate before clicking on it is a good idea. that complaint was so common the CEO came down from on high to tell people about the life bar click. okay, i distorted that a bit, he has somthing like the sixth post of every thread at the latest. they aren’t yet sure an expansion is viable, so it’s not like he has anything else to do, but it’s still nice.
What’s wrong, exactly, with class balance? i’ll admit some of them get off to slower starts, but they simply occupy seperate roles. admittedly, the glass cannon problem is a major issue in the small but open confines of a house under attack.
Actually, there’s a mod for that. In WoW, I mean. I always used a mod that would “unite” all my bags as one.
What's wrong, exactly, with class balance? i'll admit some of them get off to slower starts, but they simply occupy seperate roles. admittedly, the glass cannon problem is a major issue in the small but open confines of a house under attack.
In the demo you are limited to level 7. This means the slower start you are speaking of is pretty much everything. I’m however glad to hear this won’t be an issue in the full game.
Daemian Lucifer: Castle of the Winds sounds like what you want. You had a backpack slot, that you could stick variously-sized (some magical) backpacks into, with each pack having different bulk and weight limits. It’s a graphical rogue-like, and is free now.
Oh, man… Castle of the Winds!
I remember playing that game (and the sequel) on my 486.
Good times, and a GREAT game…
Worth every hour I sunk into it.
Another good game to try out would be Ragnarok (or Valhalla outside of the USA):
it isn’t that i’ve noticed, and your issues might be poor skill choices, especially if your basis is recruits, because recruits have four skills period, and also they don’t get as many equipment slots. only covenent leaders get the full set of slots, and two of the classes can’t use one of the avalible slots for recruits.
Also, rouges and mages are more complex. they are also better damage dealers, but rouges require aggro management and mages are kinda useless in close combat. further, the mage must have some space to fight in at the start or the sequence of combat goes like this: 1. close combat dude shows up 2. mage begins CHARGING MA LAZOR 3. close combat dude hits 8 and deals 1014 points of damage to mage with 770 HP and light armor 4. mage starts respawning. this is somewhat less pronounced before warriors get plate and the numbers for everything are smaller, but i think it may be there. however, if the mage can move (which he can’t while defending vs. a raid because that would be abandoning the lifestone) or has a meatshield (who can be dodged in a raid) he’s able to deal major damage to 12ish foes at once.
As for preist vs. mage, the mage really shines when he can AoE bomb for massive damage. preist attack spells scale poorly over the long term. eventually, mages have a massive lead in spell power, and it’s time for the preist to become a tank who buffs and heals. they’re weaker than a warrior one on one, as they can’t cast their attack spell on the run and they can’t use plate armor, or swords and axes, as well as lacking fast melee special attacks.
I’m not going to enter into the whole WoW is good debate – I play it, I like it, but its sure not perfect – but it sounds like DoP needs one tiny little trick that WoW does have. You get a bag, you put it in one of your bag slots, you fill it full of shite. You find a bigger bag, and you do _not_ have to take everything out of the old one, so you can move it, so you can put the new one in, so you can put your shite in the new bag; you just drop the new bag on the old one and it swaps them, automatically putting all the stuff that used to be in the old bag into the new one. Might be worth trying in DoP too – maybe it’ll work? (I’m stuffing around with the demo a bit, but I think I only have 1 bag…)
One thing that might solve the issue of party members getting in the way is to go into the game options and check the box next to “Disable Party Member Dialog”. With this option enabled, you need to select a party member by clicking their health bar vs. their character model for the menu to come up.
It’s been a while since I have played, but I’m pretty sure that solved the problem for me.
The bag system is how WoW does it – but at least half the players I know download a mod to make it just one big sortable bag.
Finally! A game with a reasonable DRM scheme, a demo – so i can test their wares before i buy (and teases me on to some extent) and (from what i have seen) a well oiled and put together title to offer many hours of enjoyment. I wish more games had all three of these elements, at most i have settled for one recently.
Hey all, thought I would join in again.
Shamus: You can actually click on the lifestone’s health bar on the right side of the screen instead of clicking on the lifestone itself. Your character will run over to the lifestone just like if you had clicked directly on it, but it’s a lot easier to click on. Looks like a couple other people mentioned this also. :)
JFargo: You should try the demo if you are interested. Compared to many games these days our min specs are pretty reasonable.
Daemian: Yes, you can pause in the full game just like the demo.
A few people: in DoP each item takes up 1 slot just like WoW.
In regards to the lifestone icon: [facepalm.]
I wish I’d figured that out. I’ve updated the post to reflect this.
Tried the demo after reading posts about it here, bought the game.
Like the gallows idea just for the plain dictatorial fun it would be.
I tried the demo and bought the game as well. It’s an entertaining game.
Class balance seems to be skewed in favor of rogues so far. I can take a rogue out in my party and clean up. I think rogues’ dodge is an issue, as they seem to take even less damage than warriors.
My biggest frustration so far is bag space. All I’m seeing is pouches – tons and tons of pouches.
Oh,man,and Ive skipped ultima..Maybe its not late for me to start,if only I can figure out with which sequel to start…
Icewind dale is basically diablo with teammates that can be paused.It has crap of a story,and no personality.But the gameplay is good.BG is excelent from every aspect,so this might be your best pick(planescape: torment is also excelent).NWN is…well,its weird.Basic NWN is crap,but it has excelent online comunity,and you should focus just on it.The second expansion,however,is a pure gem.Both gameplay,and story wise.I dont know about NWN2 though,but shamus ranted a lot about it,so…
I might just give that one a try.
I thought of that one too,but unfortunatelly when I tried it,I ended up with putting my bag in the pouch.Dont know about the full game though.
@Guy – wow, they have a cosmetic as a class? That’s… different. (“Rouge” is make-up. I suspect you meant “rogue“.)
pendantry won’t make bad spellers better spellers, so why do you persist?
Aelyn: You will eventually start finding larger bags. The largest bags in the game hold 16 items each.
1) you didn’t misspell a word, you spelled a different and totally unrelated word.
2) you didn’t typo the word, you deliberately spelled it the same way every time.
3) it is one of the most annoying and apparently viral misspellings in nerd-dom, and thus deserves opposition.
4) some people actually don’t seem to realize they even made a mistake and thus need to be corrected; in my experience, almost all others do it on purpose, which is stupid and needs to be stamped out (and corrected for the sake of those mentioned above). Choose whichever applies to you.
I’m actually grateful when people let me know I’ve botched a word or done something foolish with the English language. Like summerizing an article, rolling up a rouge, or going into a dragon’s liar. The spell checker is a powerful ally, but it will turn against you if you place too much trust in it.
Better to be called a fool once to your face than a thousand times behind your back.
Usage of spell checkers should be banned for anyone under 25. You should learn proper spelling and grammar before you should be allowed to ignore it. That way maybe you’ll understand the purpose of proofreading, and learn to do it properly.
Anyway, I agree with some of this post, and some of it I guess I’ve just discovered ways to work around within the game. Dealing with bags in your stash though is very tiresome, something that’s been thoroughly discussed at the DoP forums. Upgrading to a new bag in the stash is… rather a lot like playing Scrooge McDuck and fondling all your shiny treasure. But it’s not bothersome enough to detract from playing the game, at least for me.
Waaaaaay back in the day, Master of Magic had a “demand” button. It was literally years before I figured out exactly how to use it though:
The A.I. would get pissed if you used it for no reason, and it was always advantageous to keep your allies happy even if you plan to betray them later. So I “learned” the hard way early on to just ignore it. However, if you paid attention to the circumstances under which friendly or neutral un-allied rulers would get pissed at you (almost always because you sent your troops too close to their cities), it was hinting at how the player was supposed to do the same thing.
Sometimes non-allies would send their troops too close to your cities and just sit there for several turns(not necessarily getting ready to invade unless it was an “aggressive” AI, just ignoring territory issues). What you’re supposed to do is pick that turn to threaten whoever’s sent their troops too close and they’ll almost always back off and offer you some kind of apology in gold or spells. They’ll do this even if they are “aggressive” and in some cases threatening them correctly makes it easier to ally with them because then they’ll respect your “aggressive” stance!
I wish this was a feature of all similar games.
It’d be nice if you could move a bag without unloading and reloading it. Or if you could put a new bag in your stash and have all the old stuff go in the new bag. Either way would be an improvement.
As for good indie games: Aquaria. Great looks, decent gameplay, absolutely great soundtrack. But sucky save-system (1 save-point every ten to thirty minutes or so), the second-to-last dungeon is utterly boooring (and has no save-points) and no widescreen resolution support at all.
Oh, and one is supposed to pay again for the Mac version should it ever be released.
@Daemian: I wouldn’t recommend starting much earlier than 7. I tried 4 once and gave up very, very quickly.
Me: “WoW has a ***SIMILAR*** inventory system”
As another commenter says, the objects only take a single slot unlike in Diablo, reducing the amount of time spent on NP bag packing problems. However…
All-in-one bag mods are popular, so please continue dissing separate bags. Other features modders introduced to inventory systems are search and ‘smart bags’. Smart bags reintroduce the separate bag system, but with virtual bags that automatically sort themselves. So your virtual armor bag has all your armor in it, your virtual vendortrash bag has all your vendortrash in it.
It turns out to be tricky to divide the itemspace effectively with a reasonable number of divisions. Some people like smart bags though, and only having search select certainly has flaws.
My deep apologies for starting a WoW balance conversation on your blog. That was not my intent >.< It's simply a very rich environment for comparing UI features, given the groundbreaking mod system. 'buy it stamp': By showing the pros and cons I get a balanced view (as far as is possible from one reviewer) but it becomes less clear whether overall it's a thumbs up or down. I can make up my own mind just fine, I would like your final choice as data.
Re: Hellgate – I enjoy Hellgate well enough. I went in to it knowing that choices were permanent, and spent a day or three on the forums, reading about various abilities. Since then, most have been changed, and respecs have been given as needed, so I’m fine. It gets a lot of hate, but give it a shot.
That being said, DoP sounds like it’s exponentially more fun, so I’m grabbing the demo asap. Heck, I installed D2 on my laptop last week while I was traveling, so I’m certainly a fan of the genre.
I’ve just discovered that this series of articles is a news item on the Depths of Peril website itself. See here.
How powerful you have become, Shamus.
I know some MMOs give you the option of right-clicking anywhere on screen, and it’ll pop up a little menu of everything you can do with that piece of on-screen space. So if a dire camel is standing between the camera and the river of double-speed mustache growth, you could left-click to punch the camel, or right-click to open a little menu:
Sounds like that would fix the problem.
Well I love this game , I got into lvl 78 in 2 months lol. Yeah its quite a problem with the bags but when you get all those 16 item holded bags then you won’t have to reload ever again :-). I play as a Warrior , they can use almost all weapons except staffs and MY max damage dealt at once is 3580.
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