I've been playing through the Mass Effect series again in preparation for a review piece for this website. RPGs tend to be a long process for me in general, so three in a row is no small undertaking. As I'm sure I've mentioned earlier (but don't want to dig through my posts to provide the pingback link) RPGs are the kind games I easily and completely immerse myself in while playing. During this time, I'm essentially dead to the world around me. This comes with a certain degree of guilt because it's something my fiance can't directly participate in. Sure, she can play her own, separate instance of the same game at the same time, but that barely counts as playing something together. What I would love to see is the most basic version of a 2-player mode for squad-based RPGs like KOTOR, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age (ok... so I guess I'd like to see it for Bioware RPGs). Player 2 would be able to take control of one of your available party members for travel and combat, and they would just be an observer for cutscenes and dialogue directed by Player 1. There wouldn't need to be any additional two-player specific gameplay or mechanics like you see in the co-op Resident Evil titles or shared dialogue sequences like you can see in group instances of the Old Republic. So the experience for Player 2 would basically be one of support to Player 1, but I think the nature of these games would not only allow that second person to participate in a one-player game, but that second player would also be able to be part of game's story. Many cutscenes involve dialogue (albeit static) with your currently selected party member, and while Player 2 wouldn't have control over their chosen character's dialogue, they would still be involved in the progression of the story. Relationship systems that are now fairly commonplace with RPGs would also be another element that would bring that second player into the first player's gameplay experience. Granted that may make a few moments a little awkward if you're playing with someone who's just a friend, but for someone like me who wants to game with his fiance, it adds something to the game that couldn't be there any other way. Plus, due to the play style and mission/quest structures of these kinds of games, there would be very few instances where a second player wouldn't have anything to do. I know in KOTOR there are some missions that you have to do portions of by yourself, and one of the DLC missions for Mass Effect you're alone the whole time, but these times are pretty few and far between. Some quests switch back and forth between characters (e.g. from the main character to a team member), but that could just turn into switching from Player 1 to Player 2. Other missions require a specific character to be with you, but I can't think of any instance where my entire party was selected for me. Besides, Player 2's ability to be any available characters would keep them from getting singled out of any of those instances. You can gain all of these benefits simply by allowing a second player to participate in the run and gun portions of the game. Granted this would be a shift away from today's standard idea of multiplayer, but co-op modes seem to be getting more and more popular. I see this as the most basic of co-op options for the typically single-player aspects of a game; a way for two people to share a single story and experience. I'd be surprised if something like this actually happened, but I'd still like to see it.
The problem with not posting anything for a long time is that you end up with a ton of potential comics to choose from when you finally decide to write about one again. Unfortunately, nothing really caught my eye until I found an upcoming issue of Batwoman, done by J.H. Williams III. I've posted some of his work on Batwoman before; all of it is pretty incredible. And despite the images he creates being quite different, an almost instantly recognizable style is present in all of his work. Even as a thumbnail image, this particular comic jumped out at me as one of his. I haven't seen Killer Croc featured in a comic for a long time, so that's exciting to begin with, but the cover itself is amazing. I love the black and white background and the space on either side of the red lines with the smearing and splatter. Those minimalist elements with the busy characters at the center give contrast and depth that make for an incredible image. And seriously, if you haven't checked out any of Williams' other work, you should.