Nan o’ War CH4: Hitnan Badsolutions

By Rutskarn
on Mar 21, 2017
Filed under:
Lets Play

Historically, respectable critics of old media haven’t considered games to be legitimate artistic expression. This shouldn’t bother me and absolutely does. Half the time I play a well-crafted game you can see me twitching and muttering to myself, expounding on its artistic nuance to an imaginary gallery of now-dead critics.

And sometimes, they lean over my shoulder and cough and ask something like: “So why have you been watching that nun die for the last three hours?”

I’m having some trouble with this quest.

It’s actually only been one hour, but when you spend fifty-eight minutes of it either watching loading screens or running across town, it subjectively works out to about half of your life.
It’s actually only been one hour, but when you spend fifty-eight minutes of it either watching loading screens or running across town, it subjectively works out to about half of your life.

There’s a limit on how many words I can write in my lifetime, so rather than document each of my attempts to assassinate this noble while dressed as a nun let’s just lay out what the game instructs you versus what I’ve painfully gleaned.

You’ll see your target surrounded by bodyguards. Approach him carefully.

You won’t see your target. Your target is on the other side of quite a large map. If you and he both move towards each other at full speed, you’ll meet in a few minutes; if you move in any other direction, you’ll probably fail the mission.

Your target is paranoid, but he trusts nuns. Dressing as one will let you get close to him and his bodyguards.

The target jogs gamely through the city. Since fitness is all about consistent habits, he sticks to his jogging route regardless of who is trying to kill him or with what. His bodyguards have a bitter hatred of nuns and will happily abandon their charge to run you down and kick the shit out of you. Upon rolling your corpse over and discovering you weren’t a nun, but an assassin in disguise, they’ll feel a bit guilty about not giving you a chance.

Your best bet is a pistol shot through his forehead.

I know you’ve probably got your own arsenal, but this awesome “dress as a nun” plan means you can only hide one pistol. No, not your pistol; this pistol right here. We think it belonged to a gentleman of some kind; the shipwreck we pulled it out of looked really fancy.

Also, don’t miss that wildly inaccurate shot! By the time you can reload it your target will have run out of its range, and you will have run all over the pavement, because you’ve been standing around eyeballing coarse grains while the bodyguards go all John Henry on you.

Once you take your shot, you’re going to have to run.

Considering that all you’ve got is your pistol, and you can’t move quickly while reloading it, and as a matter of fact you can’t move very quickly at all, and that man’s vengeful bodyguards are all faster than you, and that the city guard have each of the exits covered, and that they have polearms, the most practical escape route is through that tunnel into the really bright light. While you’re drifting along it, watching the guards play lacrosse with your skull, come up with a really good excuse to give Saint Peter about the whole nun thing.

So, a recap: you’ve got to put on a disguise that doesn’t work and shoot a moving target with your first shot from a bad pistol after his bodyguards have already spotted and charged you. If you hit your target, you get to feel a warm sense of satisfaction before you’re dogpiled and murdered. Otherwise, you are dogpiled and murdered.

Mount and Blade fans might expect that dying would trigger a message like “By the time your companions wake you up later, your target is long gone” and kick you back to the tavern with your health slashed and your quest marked “failed.” Nope! Much worse than that. Dying here carries exactly the same obnoxious consequencesMore on that later, but suffice it to say it’s far worse than dying in Mount and Blade really ever is as dying anywhere else in the game. I have a feeling that the players who picked “Ironman” didn’t get a lot further than this quest before quitting Caribbean!, and possibly videogames, entirely.

But I can save and load whenever I want. And by that, I mean, “I can save six loading screens before the mission and I can load a minute or so after each failure.” Point is, if I’m willing to endure a lot of grim repetition…

...gif unrelated...
...gif unrelated...

…I’ve got endless attempts to break this goddamn mission in my favor.

That’s the one thing I like about sloppily put together games. See, I don’t get a lot out of hedge mazes. Your basic hedge maze is simple and extremely polished; you can only engage with it the way the designer intended. You walk along a path. Try to walk off the path, well, they thought of that–there’s a big hedge in the way.

But sometimes, deadlines or plant diseases or zoning issues come up. Designers can’t get the thing together the way they want, and so some corners get cut–they build security robots to block people from getting through a hole that leads straight to the exit, they give you a plank to get over a trench that’s not supposed to be there, they lay down land mines across a patch where the walls all come in sparsely. Maybe this maze doesn’t sound like fun to you. I understand. So you go back to the other one, and if you need me, I’ll be here with my plank, digging up land mines and throwing them at robots.

Behold this veranda. From here on out it’s Fort Rutskarn.

The moron conga is about to come towards me on the right side, out from behind the covered porch. I’ve still only got one good shot at the target–but the bodyguards have to run all the way around and up the stairs to get to a place where they can hit me. Which will matter, as long as I manage not to miss.

They come along. And…shucks. I missed.

That’s fine. I’ll get it next attempt. In the meantime, let’s test out stage two and hop over here to Castle Rutskarn.

Few facts about this spot. It doesn’t have a clear shot on the idiot parade, so I didn’t discover it immediately, but it nonetheless has a few characteristics I find highly attractive. For one, I can just hop high enough to get up there, there’s plenty of room to move around, and absolutely none of the AI knows what to do with it. They’re all afflicted with NPC degenerative disease and can’t hop, and none are packing, so they’re limited to grinding fitfully around the edge.

Giving me plenty of time to catch up on errands. Such as reloading my pistol.
Giving me plenty of time to catch up on errands. Such as reloading my pistol.

So I’m not going to win, because my target’s out of range and he’s going to reach the gate in a minute. But I might as well play catch-up on some of that gruesome revenge I’ve been planning. Come on down to Mama Rutskarn’s Take-Away Window, serving up hot clamshells of bullets to the head. Bring your friends! Bring your family! Bring the city guard! Plenty for everyone!

Around the point that every law enforcer in the city is a bloody poppet at my feet, I get a popup informing me that my target escaped, and that now I’ve got to escape as well. That’s when it occurs to me that I should have left one of these assholes alive.

Because I can’t load my save until this mission is over, and since nobody’s around to mercy-kill me the only way for it to end is for me to huff and puff my way over to the exit. It’d be slightly quicker–if only slightly, thanks to the tedious loading screen length–to quit from task manager and reboot from desktop.

You know what? Let’s just go take a swim in the harbor. I plod over to the docks and let myself sink into the brine.

Sorry, that’s not quite right. “Plummet.” I plummet through the brine, straight down to the bottom, where I eat a little falling damage and then straighten up casually. I’m making no attempt to swim, probably because I’m meeting no water resistance whatsoever. Did I miss a part of my backstory where I ate a devil’s fruit?

Gomu gomu go fuck yourself, Suspicious Man.
Gomu gomu go fuck yourself, Suspicious Man.

I wait a few seconds, hoping I’ll start to drown. Or just instantly die, which is sort of what I expected. Unfortunately, I continue breathing comfortably.

There’s, uh…there’s no way back up, is there.

Okay, I’m not saying they should have put in swimming animations. I’m not demanding some kind of keelhauling minigame. But is it too much to ask that they put some kind of invisible wall around the giant body of game-breaking water? Could they have done absolutely anything to hide this inescapable pit of, uh…

Of…

What’s that over there? Is that…moving?

Is that…uh…

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Suddenly I am perfectly happy to quit to desktop.

I won’t keep you in suspense. The next attempt goes without a hitch, unless you count the part where I tried escaping the other way out of town and wandered around a wilderness of floating trees for four minutes…

…before realizing you can only “escape” by coming within three feet of a door on the other side of town.

Point is, I’ve got the money for a boat. Which means grab your toffees and your swimsuit, baby, because grandma’s hitting the waves. You know what I love about boats? How they’re nowhere near the sea floor.

NEXT WEEK: SHIT-TO-SHIT COMBAT

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Footnotes:

[1] More on that later, but suffice it to say it’s far worse than dying in Mount and Blade really ever is


2020201676 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.

From the Archives:

  1. ehlijen says:

    I foresee some problems with boarding actions and accidentally stepping/jumping/looking at/being shoved off the edge of the ship if this is how water works in this game…

  2. OMG Ruts, I laffed! SO MUCH.

    That was fantastic. I love how you manage to find this stuff.

  3. Rick C says:

    I bet if you were playing in a VM you could make a checkpoint of the system at a convenient point. If your machine’s fast enough, restarting from the checkpoint might be faster than your other options!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You know,someone else suggested a virtual machine as a trivial problem solver recently.It didnt end well.

    • King Marth says:

      Given a VM is basically a PC emulator, I could see potential for savestates on older games. The main problem is that VMs rarely emulate the idiosyncrasies of graphics cards to videogame levels; in particular with games pushing the limits of hardware and exploiting half-a-dozen undocumented ‘features’ to squeeze those last few frame-milliseconds out at the risk of exploding violently if jostled.

      Also, every game pushes the limits of hardware. Hardware capacity exists to be filled, and if the game isn’t high-performance, then stuff was just tossed into there and only tuned if a) it didn’t physically run anymore and b) the team cared about that.
      (In Nintendo’s case, they took a third option: Majora’s Mask literally shipped with more ram because the N64 couldn’t keep all the models they wanted in the game.)

  4. The Rocketeer says:

    It’s actually only been one hour, but when you spend fifty-eight minutes of it either watching loading screens or running across town, it subjectively works out to about half of your life.

    So, six and a half years?

  5. Philadelphus says:

    Is there really no way to casually stroll up the slope and out onto the beach? Or is the beach seen in some screenshots merely a cosmetic part of the skybox?

  6. Da Mage says:

    Ah yes, I see the ‘hell’ part has arrived in this Lets Play now. Excellent….

  7. Ilseroth says:

    As a fan of Pirates! and Mount and Blade; I am glad I tempered my enthusiasm enough *not* to buy this. I saw it a few times, read a few reviews and thought to myself

    “Well come now, it can’t be that bad.”

    I mean, after all, Mount and Blade kinda feels pretty heavily Pirates! inspired to begin with. You build your crew, you pillage peoples stuff and you try to work for a faction long enough to make some money, before finding a different faction to eventually screw over.

    Seems like a natural fit…

    Side note: Seriously though, why no good pirate games? I like Pirates! but I kinda played my fill of it and it seems like every game that tries to kinda do that kind of thing fails in some major way.

    I guess it is the diversity of gameplay elements? I suppose any decent pirate games needs:
    – Sword Fighting
    -Gun fighting
    -Ship to Ship fighting
    -Crew of some kind
    – A bunch of ships to control
    -Booty to steal and sell, so naturally stuff to buy with said booty.
    -Exploration
    So on so forth; I mean you got Sea of Thieves… but everything they have shown looks… suspect? They keep talking about all these things they haven’t shown, even in a super basic way… and it allegedly comes out this year?

    Anyways good story as always, sorry about the rant.

    • Viktor says:

      There was Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, depending on your standards of piracy and what elements you want to be quality. I’m shocked no one has ripped them off and made a straight pirate game on the same model tbh.

    • Miguk says:

      Pirates! was a very 1980s design. It was a set of minigames strung together. I suspect they did that because they didn’t have very much memory to work with, so it was easier to have just one simple game going on at a time. And back then they were trying to take inspiration from stuff like old movies, not just copying previous games.

      I’m curious to see what a game made now under the same principles would be, but I doubt we’ll get to see it. Now if you made 5 minigames it would just mean your costs would be 5 times as much as a normal game.

    • John says:

      Well, I don’t know about good pirate games, but it seems to me that there must be a lot of pirate games out there. My evidence for this hypothesis is that the bargain bins are full of them every time I go to Microcenter. It looks like there may even be multiple low-budget pirate game franchises. What they’re like, I couldn’t say. I’ve never looked very closely. But they can’t all be pirate-themed hidden-object games, right? Right?

      As for what makes a good pirate game . . . well, I don’t know. Sid Meier’s Pirates! is trying to evoke the spirit of old pirate movies like Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, or Against All Flags. (Or–just possibly–even some movies that don’t star Errol Flynn, hard as that is to imagine.) I’m not an expert on the genre, but other pirate games mostly seem to be evoking the spirit of Sid Meier’s Pirates! only grittier.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I’ve been playing a bit of it recently, and it’s not entirely terrible. Although I must point out that Rutskarn is not exaggerating with anything he’s said on this series, but there are bits that I like, it’s just that the whole game needs a year or two more of work on it to sort out the flaws. Or perhaps to ditch it and start again… speaking of which:

      I bought it way back on early access or something, back when it was called Carribean!, but they decided to discontinue progress on that version and brought out a new version called Blood & Gold: Carribean!. So I have two versions of this in my Steam library for the price of one.

      I’ve never played the older version, and to be honest I would never have installed Blood & Gold had Ruts not decided to play it here. If I wasn’t such a fan of Mount & Blade I’d probably hate it, but I got used to the janky bugginess of that series and it’s various mods, so I was well prepared for this. And for a short trip of sailing around, attacking ships and generally causing trouble, it has its charms. Especially with the right musical accompaniment.

      This seems appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8QvWCjxS18

      • Rutskarn says:

        I think this is a fair assessment. I’ve been trying to rein in any “this game sucks” talk and let the accounts speak for themselves, because honestly, I’m a big enough sucker than I can kind of enjoy it.

  8. Retsam says:

    I think you missed an opportunity to call this entry “Nun Piece”.

  9. Mr Compassionate says:

    Maybe when you make a game based around the OCEAN you should consider how water is going to work. Chances are the players are going to be interacting with a lot of water because it’s THE OCEAN which is, true story, made of water. Sometimes I can forgive a developer for having a blind spot but not when it’s “what is the floor made out of for almost our entire setting”.

  10. Miguk says:

    “So why have you been watching that nun die for the last three hours?”

    Then you turn around and tell those critics that this is like The Song of Bernadette except interactive!

  11. Grudgeal says:

    Ooooooooohhhh…
    Who lives in a bugged state under the sea?
    NO-CLIP TOWNSMAN!
    Undrowning uncaring and fused up is he!
    NO-CLIP TOWNSMAN!
    If watery physics is something you claim!
    NO-CLIP TOWNSMAN!
    Then throw down your mouse and don’t defend this game!
    NO-CLIP TOWNSMAN!
    Ready?
    NO-CLIP TOWNSMAN! NO-CLIP TOWNSMAN! NO-CLIP TOWNSMAN!
    NO CLIP TOWNSMAAAAAAAAAAN!!!

  12. Nick says:

    Wait wait wait

    Does this mean you could do the ridiculously rewarding requests by walking to other islands?

    • MrGuy says:

      We’re not sure yet.

      It takes an hour to walk across the town square. Even the closest carribean islands are 20-30 miles or so apart.

      Some time around 2023, the first intrepid adventurer trying to test this theory should arrive at the next island over, if he doesn’t hit an invisible wall in the interim.

      Whether he can climb up onto the shore or will remain stuck under the docks is a subject of much speculation.

    • John says:

      No. Not unless Caribbean! has made some rather substantial changes to the Mount & Blade engine. Mount & Blade doesn’t model the entire world in 3D. If you try to leave a battle by simply walking away, you will eventually run into an invisible wall. (Fun fact: the AI is unaware of the existence of the invisible wall. Exploit this fact mercilessly when you are facing Khergits.) I’ve never tested it, but I suspect that the same is true of settlements such as villages, castles, and cities.

  13. Syal says:

    I guess it’s fitting that a mission where you assassinate someone while dressed as a nun would end with a cameo from Legion.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh,wow…Those videos you have of this game…Wow…..This game is the best representation of cthulhu universe that Ive ever seen.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Off topic:

    Shamus,your blog keeps crashing for few days now.Its rarely anything longer than a few minutes,but today it was down for about an hour or so.Otherwise I wouldnt have mentioned it.

  16. Christopher says:

    Oh god, this let’s play is great. The trip to the bottom of the ocean is the highlight, naturally(There’s the devil fruit joke too, hahah!), but I giggled all the way.

    I dunno what the fuck is going on with TOWNSMAN here, it’s like a hindu deity, or possibly a Steven Universe fusion of NPCs.

    • Hal says:

      Best guess:

      They intended to populate the map with random townspeople; notice how sparse and empty the maps seem, generally. However, somebody did not get their act together, and all of the townspeople spawn in the exact same spot, underwater, with no instructions for wandering about.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        My guess is that the game tries to save memory by dynamically populating the area around you.But when Rutskarn dropped out of bounds,the whole thing went crazy and spawned all of the people in a single spot.

      • Falterfire says:

        My guess: For whatever reason the engine by default includes townspeople and the devs couldn’t figure out how to make them not spawn. But they also didn’t want townspeople to appear in this quest.

        So to resolve this contradiction, they put the townspeople somewhere the player wouldn’t see them because it was somewhere the player should never be. Ergo, the underwater townspeople brigade.

      • Philadelphus says:

        My guess: those are the poor, doomed souls of the last few people who tried this quest and accidentally fell into the water, only to realize that there is now no hope for them; nothing to do but stand around in a huddle for eternity now.

      • Disc says:

        In the original game (Mount & Blade: Warband) when you have a mission like this where you need to do combat in a city, it’s instanced so there’s never any civilians wandering the streets like they usually do when you’re just visiting the town. My best guess would be that instead of temporarily depopulating the city, they opted to just warp all the townspeople “off the grid” for this particular scenario.

    • Vermander says:

      I’m picturing it saying “I am Legion!” and then trying to absorb you like it did the rest of the town’s people.

    • Viktor says:

      I figure the pathfinding is bad enough that a Townsman will randomly walk off the docks. When that happens, they try to pathfind back to their intended destination, but instead wander to the point in Ruts’ video and then cannot get any closer.

  17. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Absolutely freaking love that bit with the edge maze and how you look for creative solutions, couldn’t stop laughing for a solid 5 minutes.

    Then I read the rest of the post and I’ve been laughing ever since. Keep it up.

  18. Genericide says:

    Sheesh, not even a kill-plane at the bottom? In my limited experience with 3D engines, you don’t even have to place those individually, you can just set them to a certain elevation. It’s literally seconds of work. How do you build an entire town worth of level geometry and not do that?

    Then again, their sloth is extremely entertaining. At least when held at arm’s length. Thanks for acting as our suffering sponge!

  19. Galad says:

    Crossing fingers that this is a piratically-flavored Battlespire LP :>

  20. Geebs says:

    come up with a really good excuse to give Saint Peter about the whole nun thing

    That’s easy! You started the game on Hispaniola, right? Just explain that you’re a Dominican.

  21. Bropocalypse says:

    The “beach party” video has a very odd listing of recommendations for me.

  22. Disc says:

    That’s yet another sounds-good-on-paper game feature overcome either by the eldritch powers of the game engine and/or bad/incomplete scripting. They’re a bit too common with many of the more ambitious and/or less professional mods/games. It’s also showing the kind of annoyingly typical design in that it seems to be also designed for high level characters, who’d have the Athletics score to actually run away. Makes me all the more anxious for Bannerlord and hope that they’ve managed to make the engine smoother for modding.

    It’s been fun to read though.

  23. DigitalSentience says:

    Rutskarn, your Lets Plays are consistently some of the funniest things I read on the internet today. They put me in mind of the heyday of Old Man Murray and Seanbaby, and that is not a comparison I make lightly, or often. Kudos; you deserve to be proud of this work.

    (And if anyone knows of any other good internet comedy out there, particularly Let’s Plays, I’d be much obliged. Big fan of the LPArchive, but proper comedy-minded LPs seem to be a dying breed.)

  24. WJS says:

    Wow. I… uh… what the hell happened there, I wonder? A lot of people are saying “they didn’t bother to implement water in a sailing game”, but that’s not the case. When I was running from the guards after burning some ships, I got lost, got cornered, and tried to escape by swimming across the river (I couldn’t remember if you could swim in M&B. It doesn’t come up much). I sank like a rock (although not as fast as you fall, I noticed) and drowned. It’s not that they didn’t bother to implement it (who “They” is, I’m not sure. As I mentioned, I don’t think there was deep water in M&B, it might be an engine upgrade specifically for Caribbean), but it glitched out pretty badly for you here.

  25. Jarenth says:

    Well, of course they’d keep their nameless, shapeless, maddeningly unexplainable horrors at the bottom of the ocean. It’s the only place you can store ’em so that they don’t go bad.

  26. Cybron says:

    It’s beautiful, Rutskarn. Pure, untarnished shitty beauty.

  27. Steve C says:

    The studio that created this game has just folded today due to an unusual amount of negative feedback.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      They got it for a different game they made.And thats a shame,because eador is not broken.It has its problems,mostly due to how slow it is,but being a broken mess is not amongst them.

      It really is a shame,because I like plenty of things that eador does.But imperium did not refine much on the previous one,and I think thats what led to its poor reception.

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