Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
Of course, my companion was a man and therefore, under the rules of the day, we may have taken part in an 'improper relationship'
What a load of shite.
The furore over the relationship between the Foreign Secretary William Hague and his advisor is such a ridiculous framing of the continued deep-seated homophobia that runs through this country that it makes me furious.
We start with the idea that two men cannot be friends without their relationship being 'improper'. We then move on to the idea that two men sharing a room is somehow 'improper'. Not a bed, mind you - a twin room! We then drill down into some of the more murky depths of the insinuation - that somehow a gay man's relationship with another gay man is a threat to national security in a way that a man and woman could never be. Oh no. That somehow by hiding this 'non-fact' that William Hague is somehow showing a lack of integrity?
It gets worse. Max 'Leech on Modern Society' Clifford suggests that questions need to be answered why a multi-millionaire would need to share a room? Well, I'm not a highly trained journalist looking to cover all the angles (/sarc) but I can think of half a dozen possible reasons off the top of my head including the not unreasonable prospect that William fancied someone to have a chat to late at night?
Because, you know guys, being in the same room as someone does not mean you have to slip your slender majority into the opposition benches!
Has there been any implication that the impropriety within the alleged relationship might be adulterous? No. Not at all. Its all about the G-A-Y.
In my mind, the only improper thing around here is the sad mirror this throws up on our society.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Mrs G. and I watched the first episode with almost detached indifference. It was there, doing things, but nothing really grabbed us. It looked like a Rated-R version of '300' done by someone as a college film project and really nothing to write home about. It was only as a freak of circumstance that the series had stayed on our SKY+ planner that we watched the second episode and then were hooked for the rest of the series. Once the show hit the gladiator school, it was addictive viewing.
Its hard to pinpoint what has made the show so good. Obviously it mixes action, intrigue, sex, romance and adventure into one heady rollercoaster ride, but thats not really it. Maybe its because it does it all with such gay abandon. The violence is truly viscerally violent. The action borders on superheroic on occassions, especially with the patended salmon leaps. The intrigue slips beyond twirling moustaches and becomes a genuine web of ambitions and lies. The sex is ... unforgiving. Brutal and wanton and omnipresent. The language is a mix of pseudo-theatrics peppered with coarse swearing. And it keeps you on your toes. Plot threads are raised and dealt with in blistering speed. Characters live and die on a whim, appropriately, and it has an almost Game-of-Thrones-esque disregard for the lives of popular characters.
In fact, its hard to see how they have squeezed so much into only 13 episodes!
The characters have also been a pleasure. Obvious props go to the scheming John Hannah as Batiatus and Lucy Lawless as his desperate wanton wife, Lucretia, flanked by her scheming (and equally evil) nemesis Ilithyia. The niaive Varro, noble Doctore, manipulative Ashur and fallen Crixus all made their mark. And of course, the title character is awesome as well.
What hit home to me in the last episode was that in the midst of the bloodbath, the real conflicts were essentially social.
- Could Spartacus persuade Crixus to be part of his rebellion?
- Could Spartacus persuade Doctore to cast aside years of servitude and rebel?
- Could Ashur trick Doctore to escape?
- Could Spartacus persuade Varro's wife that he was innocent?
The fighting was superfluous in the end - set dressing to the main event which were these conflicts and the one-liners between the various characters as they died, escaped or rebelled.
And in the end, only two of the main characters* died at the end of the show (and then, one was still twitching!) despite it appearing to be a complete cast TPK scenario. Genius. A true feat of televisual sleight of hand.
There is a prequel coming, Spartacus: Legends of the Arena, and then Season 2, now that the actor that plays Spartacus has recovered from cancer. Personally, I cannot wait. Oh, and DVD in Sept. too. Excellent.
* I don't count the Gaul brothers as main...
Manchester Utd 3-0 Newcastle United
BBC View: Manchester United made the perfect start to their title bid with a comfortable victory against promoted side Newcastle at Old Trafford.
SuperMetroFootballPunditView!: Newcastle should have easily beaten Man Utd. With the squad Newcastle has, it should have been easy. If they cannot beat Man Utd away, they are doomed to relegation.
Or how about this one?
Young Boys 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
BBC View: Tottenham's dreams of qualifying for the Champions League group stages hang in the balance after a first leg play-off defeat by Young Boys
SuperMetroFootballPunditView!: Utter disaster for Spurs showing them up for the relegation candidates that they are. Must mock my Spurs-supporting work colleagues about their impending Championship status when I get to work.
Its all totally without a hint of irony either - just two blokes talking very solemnly about football and they way they see the league playing out. Its addictive!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Thursday, June 03, 2010
This was our first midweek game for ages, so it was a bit of a watershed. Turned out to be a good evening all round.
Nigel as Captain Cyrus Vance
Ben as Lady Blackbird
Andrew as Snargle
Dave as Naomi
The characters are deep within the damp, rusting detention cell of the Hand of Sorrow, with Naomi chained to the wall by her slave-control pegs in-built into her collar bones, suffering as a result of a prior beating. (Narrated by Dave, showing his inner masochist). Snargle tries to aid the bodyguard but fails and only makes matters worse. He is ordered by the Captain to open the door but fails at that too and attracts the attention of a burly, heavily armed Imperial marine. Blackbird takes the lead and entrances the marine into changing her cell as she wasn't really supposed to be on The Owl and there has all been a terrible mistake. When he comes to take her to his private chamber she waits for the door to be opened and then unleashes magical hell, frying the two marines. The crew escape after cutting down Naomi, and Snargle makes amends for the earlier failures by successfully mimicing the guards to put the ships Captain off the scent. In the background of the transmission however, he hears someone talking about a spike in thaumaturgical energy in the detention levels and the alarms sound.
The crew try to find their way through the ship to the Armoury, but Vance has never been on one of these Mark Seven cruisers and ends up leading them to the gym. Desperate for a distraction, he uses his Warpblood power to teleport Snargle to the engine rooms... Meanwhile, Naomi tires of his incompetence and hoists him from the ground, threatening him if he doesn't know where to go. At that moment the marines arrive and she throws the Captain at them. [I ruled that his Warpblooded Secret should also allow him a little bit of bullet-time action] and he flies through the air shooting the marines to bits. Awesome.
Snargle, on the other hand, is in the highly corrosive atmosphere of a battlecruiser engine room. The ships use the gases of the Lower Regions to fire the fluids which power the engine turbines and he has to get into a saftey suit or it will kill him. He fails and finds himself desperately trying to break the engines before he passes out. He succeeds in not only stalling the engines but also taking out the ship's main power, sending in plumeting deep down into the corrosive gases of the Lower Depths. Claxons wail, warning tannoys announce falling hull integrity and it all goes very submarine drama!
The crew reunite on the hangar deck where they see their ship and an Imperial shuttle being prepped. The shuttle turns out to be for a House Twilight sorceror who appears (He was the voice on the bridge) and recognises Blackbird immediately. He fires some 'black stuff' at her which Naomi intercepts, taking the magical bullet and falling (presumed) dead. They bundle her on board and make to start the engines .... but they are out of fuel! Snargle reckons they can slide out of the bay if the ship angles down enough and then use the gases to jump start the engines. The ship does angle down more ... as a Sky Squid attacks! The ship falls from the bay, the engines start and the ship flies away to be met by more Squid. It turns tale, flies through a cloud of squid ink, back at the battlecruiser leading the other squid to the larger prey. Succeeding, the Owl erupts into the clean pseudo-atmosphere of the Wild Blue and makes its way to Haven.
Blackbird casts her mind back to her magical training and what she knows about House Twilight. They are a nasty bunch and the black stuff (it was described as carboniting in the blood) was the way they created their ghouls, which they mind controlled. To have it removed would require the attentions of another House Twilight member and Cyrus knew one on Haven... [Naomi was deemed to be able to move around now and was no longer presumed dead... she was just Vulnerable]
Cyrus had his own flashback scene to his time during the Navy and noted that Captain Hollas of the Hand of Sorrow was a lieutenant at the same time as he was and they were both involved in the rebellion which presuaded Vance that the Imperial way was not for him.
Snargle flashed back that he was once in slavery himself and that the former Pirate King (the one that Uriah deposed) had bought his death mark and now used him as an agent. He now lived in Haven and he would have to deliver some illict cargo to him.
Arriving at the planet of Haven, the crew descended past the yachts,merchant vessels and refuelling dirgibles to hit the sprawling city.
Snargle went to see his former master, named Lord Adonis, and arrived just to overhear three bounty hunters (an ex-Imperial marine, a robot and a gene-engineered snake woman) being offered a 50k credit price on Vance;s head. After they had gone, he tried to negotiate his future discovery - and betrayal - of Uriah's location in the Remnants as a price for the release of his death mark. The (former) Pirate Lord suggested that Snargle take a magical tracker beacon, which would plot the route through the Remnants and allow him to lead his fleet against Uriah. If he succeeded and survived the onslaught from the Pirate fleets broadsides, he could have his death mark back. A shit bargain, but one that Snargle took. Now he had to get back as soon as possible to tell his friends of the bounty hunters.
Back at the inevitable bar-cum-pleasure palace, Vance meets with an informant (a Goblin called Fraggle) who works as a courier for the Trades Union but formerly was smuggled out of Ilysium by Vance. He pays him to set up a meeting between them and the renegade House Twilight mage, Nicodemus Retch. They meet the mage in his decadent quarters surrounded by mind controlled slave girls. He shows the power of House Twlight nightblooded magic by sending one of the girls plunging to her death. No-one tries to stop him (Naomi is under orders not to reveal her possession in front of him so she is swaddled in cloth like a desert planeter)
As they barter over the price of teaching 'Nat' (ie. the disguised Lady Blackbird) the secret of the black magic, they make a mistake. Blackbird offers Nicodemus the chance to show her his power by removing the curse from her 'slave' - Naomi - but Nicodemus cannot understand how a commoner like her would have a slave or indeed how the magic had been applied and then the slave was not in the presence of her master. At his moment Snargle arrived to warn them of the bounty hunters who had just started tearing up the bar downstairs (the bar was huge, a massive multi-story tower). He persuades Nicodemus to help them, the mage removes the magic from Naomi and then she punches a hole in his head for what he did to the slave girl!
Snargle helps the now-freed sex slaves to escape only to be confronted with the Snake Mercenary, who turns out to be a gene-spliced slave cut with goblin genes. Snargle tries to persuade her that if he is killed the (former) Pirate King would be pissed, but she reveals that she has another master, House Twilight, and that she wants the Goblin dead. What follows is a Sword in the Stone style shape changing duel where Snargle is trying to lose the hunter and succeeds.
The rest of the crew see off the missile-launching robot with a combination gun fire, magic and masonry! Naomi notices the Marine sniper just before he takes a shot at Vance and the Captain takes him down with a hail of bullets.
With Naomi cured, the Owl leaves Haven quickly.
Will Lady Blackbird ever reach Uriah?
Will Captain Vance, now revealed as an Adept of the Warpblooded, show his true feelings?
Is Naomi truly freed from the influence of House Twlight and why are they involved in this mess?
And as Snargle activates the tracking device, will he really betray the Pirate King, killing thousands for his own freedom?
Tune in next time on .... Lady Blackbird!
The post game discussion rotated around these things
1. Damned fine game
2. There needs to be a consensus about the speed at which XP is gained. We played in pretty fast and loose, with three players earning two advances and one getting only one. It either has to be a free-for-all grab fest or a slower, reflective end of session thing.
3. Trait whoring a go-go, but the use of traits to inform the context of tags meant that this was rarely a problem.
4. The steampunk thing never really caught on and seemed superfluous. Magic in Space seemed an easier hook for us.
5. Snargle is a terrible name and will be changed to something less like something from the Thundercats.
6. Naomi seemed pretty one-dimensional and might get swapped out for Kale in the next game. Personally, I think she has potential, especially if we were to focus a little more on her background and former exploits.
7. They now have many enemies.
8. The game generated a metric fuck ton of background at the table and my patented scrap of paper was full.
9. We will be playing it again.
Lady Blackbird gets the seal of approval. Good game.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
As I was playing it, the game froze and then disconnected and when I went to log back in, I suddenly had an authenticator attached to my account. Bugger.
So I had to do two things - first, get rid of whatever miscreant device had infiltrated my system and second, negotiate the choppy waters of Blizzard customer service. The debugging was pretty easy as a quick update and malware scan found the little bugger straight away. That got smushed. For securities sake, I switched to another computer to do my Blizzard business and then things slowed down a little.
I'm sure its not the case, but the Blizz helpline is apparently (according to the part of the website I looked at) only open during office hours on weekdays. Harsh. They do have a webform though, which looked fine, until it asked you for your CD-Key and the answer to your special question. CD-Key was easy ... Mr Pack Rat FTW! I needed to waltz around my battle.net account for a while to get a hint of my secret question. If I hadn't been able to do this, they would have required me to fax over a copy of my passport. Faff!
Anyway, I made my protestations and waited for the wheels to go into motion. Now, I hit the next snag. Phishing emails. I get around 2-3 WoW related phishing mails per day and they are just spam-foldered and daily deleted. How do you differentiate between the phish and the helpdesk? Well, Blizz have a nice way of doing it involving changed passwords and very plain information about each step of the process. Sorted.
So I'm back (now with added authenticator of my own) and everything on my character reimbursed. EVERYTHING. Even the scraps of fur that the twats had sold. I was impressed.
So, how do I feel? Well, a little silly for being hacked - although for the life of me I cannot work out how, considering my lack of internet adventure - and not in the least bit traumatised. I thought I would be, but I'm not. Its just a thing that has happened.
I think, in its own way, thats kind of healthy!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
- GM enthusiasm drives the games that are brought to the table.
- Buy-in via collaborative campaign so what's important to the player / character is present in the game
- Narrative arc / focus is present which may manifest in 'seasons' for longer campaigns
- If it's narratively complete, don't go back! We tend to consume / burn up ideas / concepts rather than get comfortable with them and return
- Playing with regularity
As we now have a pencilled in end date for the D&D campaign, the conversation was also had about who would referee. In the end, with Andrew and Nigel coming off the back of looooong campaigns it came down to either me, Ian or Dave when he returns. As we are also looking at games with an initial arc of around 8-10 sessions, this choice is essentially 'who goes first' and thus might require a little 'pitching'.
There are two games currently which are sitting in my 'to play' pile: The Dresden Files and Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. (What? No D&H? No BtQ? - I keep my playtesters fresh and keen...) Well, when I say sitting, DFRPG is not even bought yet, although its purchase is inevitable. I thought I would, in public, run through these and see how the Golden Rules apply. It might help the process.
Rule #1: GM Enthusiasm - I'm going to assume that my love of urban fantasy will latch onto the Dresden rules and produce wonderful babies. Dr Who is back on the TV at the moment so enthusiasm for that will probably increase as well. Generally, I've not got a problem with enthusiasm if I feel that the players are into the game too.
Rule #2: Collaborative Buy-in - This is really a given for our group and I think this might be where Dresden (a game which has collaborative building built into the ruleset) edges out Dr Who. Both have pre-determined worlds and I think I would have to cherry-pick some of the initial Dresden stuff to introduce it slowly, whereas Dr Who is pretty much there and in our face.
Rule #3: Arc Structure - Not a problem. Never a problem. I think there is an awareness needed that the length of the arc (8-10 sessions) does mean that the scope of the game and the arc doesn't need to be as all encompassing as previous games. End on a cliffhanger? Possibly.
Rule #4: Accept Burn Out - I'm not sure that, given careful planning, you could easily burn out Dr Who or Dresden out in 10 sessions. I think thats a strength of the semi-established backgrounds - you can delve into one area and have other things left to look at later.
Rule #5: Play with Regularity - Hopefully, this will not be a problem. As the new academic year approaches, I have less work to prepare which should be able to free up time for prep. Dr Who wins here, as from what I gather Dresden has a bit more prep than Who. If the game is enthralling, I think we will have no problem with regularity.
Well that's put it all down and really, it doesn't get it any clearer. Dresden will probably have me more enthused but Who would be easier to run.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Now we know all about this, we have talked about it and in our game planning sessions we have got a pathway of intent laid out to carry us to Level 30 and the End of Time. However, the approaching doom has brought some matters to the fore in my mind.
The first is that there is a finite amount of time to do anything I want to do with this character. I'm not even sure there is anything I need to do, but the pressure of time has made this more apparent in my head. The last thing I would want to do would have the campaign end and something being left loose and flopping.
The second is that we will inevitably start thinking about what we are going to play next and more importantly, what formats our games are going to take. History tells us that we run highly successful long term games (City of Kings, Buffy, Pendragon, Crescent Sea) and have a patchy track record when it comes to shorter campaigns. However, we have a decided desire towards shorter campaigns, I think. As we get older, we have less time to prep and with a table of GMs, we all are willing to have a go. I think we're going to have to have a good hard think about the structure of these games and how we are going to produce things that are (a) runnable, (b) satisfying and (c) sustainable.
The third thing is simply a recognition of the amazing job Andrew has done of taking something as mechanical as D&D4e and turning it into something so smooth and utterly enjoyable. This masterful display of GMing has made me think long and hard about some of the 'theory of roleplaying design' stuff and wonder just how much of the impact at the table of a game is actually down to the players themselves and their ability to play with each other and riff off each others strengths whilst compensating for the weaknesses. This also speaks to the degree that a group, through their underlying social contract will house rule a system, almost instinctively, to suit their needs. For us its things like random death, experience points, money and encumberance - we simply can't be doing with them at all. It might be different things for other players. Hmmm... consider me pondering.
Regardless, this Sunday we go to kill a Primordial and put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons again. Great game.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The question that has been running around my head is why? I think I may have cracked it.
On the surface, its a perfect show for me. Its about American High School Sporting Competition (a particular favourite of mine - see 'Bring It On', 'The Mighty Ducks' and other hidden gems) and it mixes that with musical stuff - and we all know how much I love musicals. Its funny and uplifting and I can watch it with the kids and they love it.
All of that is cool, but thats not the secret.
I think the secret lies very much in the shades of grey that exist in every character. The show has a veneer that it is about goodies (the Glee Club) vs the baddies (the Cheerios) but thats just not the case - a good few members of the Glee Club are still Cheerios! Mr Schuester is the White Hatted good guy teacher - who happens to be falling in love with the school counsellor. Sue Sylvester is the boo-hiss baddie - except when she isn't, like the latest episode looking at disability. The lead good girl is a self-serving ego-maniac, the lead boy is a two-timing dimwit, the greyness is everywhere.
Even two of the less prominent characters - Artie and Tina - have some grey sides. Tina fakes her stutter (how shallow) but Artie now doesn't fancy her because she was faking a disability, but the way he puts it, it sounds more like its because he only fancied her because she was disabled and now she isn't.
These shades of grey make the show wholly unpredictable. It's wholly understandable that the self-centred heroine, Rachel, would consider being with Noah, the bad boy football player who really loves Quinn, the pregnant cheerleader, who is going out with Finn, the idiot football player who secretly loves Rachel because ... its Glee - and nothing is ever set in stone!
Monday, March 08, 2010
The sun is shining.
Now I have occassionally cracked a joke about the weird shining disc in the sky but this is the real thing. Its a bona fide spring day and boy does it feel good. The weather has been officially shitty since about October last year and this is the first day I can remember where I saw blue sky and felt like it was right. Its stupid but true - it makes a massive difference to the way I and it would appear many other people feel.
Of course, this is probably it and tomorrow it will go back to dull, with a side order of crappy - but today, this glorious wonderful day, its bright and sparkling.
(And yes, this is 300 posts on the blog. Thats a lot of shite)
Friday, February 26, 2010
- People complaining about poor weather in the winter
- The proposed BBC cuts and how they make me want to punch someone
- The inevitable witchhunt over our poor showing at the Winter Olympics (see #1..)
Friday, February 19, 2010
So I'm reading the Metro this morning going into work and I scan across an article about a student from Oxbridge (that fictional higher plane that links Oxford and Cambridge despite them being nowhere near each other) has written a sex diary blog about her exploits in bed. It is, the papers say, the next Belle de Jour and images of Billy Piper in a v-necked jumper, Ugg boots and a pashmina drinking Skittles raced around my head.
So I exercised the wonders of modern technology and hunted down this cesspit of human depravity on my iPhone. It took a while because the newspaper didn't give a URL and when I searched for it, I found a lot of newspaper coverage - Guardian, Mail, Telegraph etc. Eventually, I found the site in question.
It has three posts on it - and the majority of the content had been relayed to the reader through the exerpts from the press.
Now we all know sex sells, and posh, literate totty who doesn't mind a quicky sells even better in the broadsheets (bringing back memories of halcyon days for the journalists, no doubt) but three posts?! Its not like its even explicit stuff.
Post 1 is 'I have OCD, I was a latecomer to sex, here's what I intend to do here.'
Post 2 is 'How I lost my virginity in a dignified manner'
Post 3 is 'Rugby lads - ok in bed, wanted anal, as if?!'
I am, of course, just jealous. Said 'closet nympho' has managed in three posts to generate no doubt a gazillion hits and will spiral into 15 minutes of fame. Clearly what I need to do is post something other than gaming and anti-media 'why can't we all be sensible' rantings and start talking about something more smutty.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
The computer literati have a history of suspicion when it comes to having One Big Company controlling all of their resources and this suspicion is mirrored in legal circles by various attempts to dismantle these alleged monopolies. I am, of course, nodding towards the various amounts of litigation against Microsoft and the rise of the small but vocal advocates for 'alternate' browser systems to Windows.
I was pondering yesterday whether the spread of Google was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. Consider this - could you do a complete web-based project using only Google products? They provide a search engine, a chat function, a collaborative tool, a groups tool, a blogging tool, a social networking tool, a shared calendar tool, a photo library tool, a map tool, a video library tool, a website creation tool and even an online checkout tool. Assuming you don't have to do any image manipulation, yes, I reckon you could create a complete web-based project of some degree of sophistication using just the Google tools.
I'm normally the last person to complain about these sort of things as I find it a little funny that you have people profiting from a capitalist society complaining that someone (Microsoft) is a far better capitalist than they are. Sob sob boo hoo. However, something doesn't sit right with me that Google should have this level of integration but for the life of me, I cannot think why. I'm posting this on a Google blog, powered by a Google browser all generated by an account for a Google email. Hypocrite? Moi?
Then again, it might just be that everyonehas managed to link their Twitter, Facebook and Buzz feeds together so that everywhere I turn, I see the same bloody messages!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
This week, Facebook changed its interface again. It moved a few bits around and altered the way that some things worked and there is an extra click here or there. Those people addicted to the various online games that are played on Facebook will have known this was coming because they have been altering how the games interact with the site over the last couple of months, probably due to load issues.
And, like every other time that this has happened, there has been an uproar of people bemoaning the changes that have been made. They are accusing Facebook of changes for changes sake, terrible design choices, ignoring the needs of the user and above all else returning them to the deluge of 'Bobby has just planted some Elephant Corn in FarmTownVille' messages. (Although why, for the life of me, the people that play the games simply don't ignore the offers to post these messages, I do not know.)
And I pondered this for a while, reading the vitriol that the users were pouring onto the newsfeeds and I thought 'Why not just stop using it then?'
And then I remembered - termination costs.
I think a lot can be said about us that we can hate a product (well, for this week anyway, until we all get used to the changes and they become the norm, until the next change comes along) so much that we set up a group to attack that self-same product and yet we simply cannot bring ourselves to cease the usage of that product.
Them's damned high termination costs.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Anyway, this post isn't about me, its about the amazing array of wonderful people who were also running Duty & Honour/Beat to Quarters games. Throughout the convention there was a steady stream of mainstream D&H being ran as well as a number of alternate versions including a WWII Prison Camp escape scenario and a Goblin Tribes scenario. Yes, goblins!
I'd never quite experienced anyone else running one of my games at a convention - it made me nervous - but in the end there were so many that it just became a relentless wave of gaming. What made it more apparent is that the nature of the games and the tension of the card flopping can cause these games to get a little ... noisy. There was much cheering coming from the D&H tables.
I'm still trying to put a finger on the feeling but it really vindicated my publishing aims to see my game being openly enjoyed by so many people. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who took part in any of the games and especially the guys who stepped up to run the games. IndiePete suggested it would warm my cockles? I think you guys made them hotter than that!
I'd heard about this game tangetially over the last couple of months but I dismissed it as a 'joke' game akin to Sea Dracula, but when I actually saw it in play and read it online it is far far more.
In a 15-page pdf, the game delivers characters, system and specific kicker situation for 1-6 sessions of play. It even manages to squeeze in an advancement system as well. The setting is a steampunky-magic-science-opera thing which is beautifully realised within the document. There's art - colour art - that adds to the package. Its really quite inspiring. However, what makes this sing to me more than anything else is that it is Part One.
There will be more stuff and there should be. There are little nuggets of implied backstory within the text - Noble house names, for example - that may be addressed, and promises of further expansion options for the characters. There will be other adventures and I imagine if they are anything like this, they too will advance this newly formed world.
Something like this really excites me as it is a model that is totally new to me and yet isn't. Its a format that has worked for many years in comic and TV format and the drip, drip, drip of information is reminicent of both CCGs and MMOs. From a setting point of view, it allows for a slow burn of creativity and gives the players of the game room to work around the setting thats there and appreciate it fully.
I've been searching for the solution to modular game publishing for a while now. I love the idea of simply publishing a small amount of something over time rather than in massive chunks. This seems to scratch that itch exceedingly well and whats even more impressive for a product of this quality is that the author, John Harper, has not tried to monetise the entire affair. The game is available for free download.
I still haven't played or ran Lady Blackbird but from a conceptual point of view, it excites me no end. Have a look at it and see what you think?
Monday, January 25, 2010
What a wonderful concept eh?
Of course, on virtually every point its utter tosh. Firstly, have these doctors ever looked out of the window? Its not without some truth amidst the sarcasm that we ask each other what the strange glowing sphere in the sky is - I'm bloody sick of being in a dull, grey country with shitty weather. That these scientists are from Newcastle makes this even funnier. Of course, I am being a little hyperbolic, but we don't exactly have a surfeit of sunshine at the moment.
And of course, we still have all of these playing fields and wonderful facilities for our children to use. Or not as the case may be. I met with some of my old school friends recently and we agreed that almost every place we played when we were kids has now been built over with houses or offices. The back lanes that we played football in are now double-parked with very expensive company cars, nose to tail. My children have a garden, but the next accessible piece of playspace is about two miles away.
So take them? Yeah, thats possible I suppose. Of course, in the time when you have to take the kids to their daily frolic in the 'sun' you also have to hold down your job, move around their after-school club activities, do their homework, do one of YOUR five 30-minute exercise routines a day, cooka nourishing family meal packed with the requisite 5-a-day and .... at this point, the clock explodes. Of course, I also snigger at the idea that every parent in the North Shields. Royal Quays and Meadowell area turned up at the park at the same time. It would be carnage.
Well, what about letting the kids 'play out'? Thats a prescribed activity nowadays, as regular readers know. I laughed until I hurt at Charlie Brooker's latest Newswipe re: the 'terror' media and the various hysterical episodes they have visited upon the masses. The fear of paedophiles is still everywhere and the concept of your child disappearing is so chilling, so present and so likely (?) that you simply don't take the risk. Even beyond the Clear and Present Danger of Kiddy Fiddling Inc. there is still the danger of playing with balls (aka weapons of property destruction) and laughing and shouting (anti-social behaviour 101)
Indeed, any grouping of young people is now considered a terrible danger. I was sat in my living room on Saturday when a group of teenage boys passed the house. They were 'hoodies' and having a laugh and lark about with each other. My wife was on red alert, like a meercat ready to protect her young. I asked her what was the matter and she pointed to the youths. I asked, curiously, whether they looked like they were going to turn, form an organised phalanx and storm our house? Indeed, have any group of youngsters in modern history simply decided to randomly attack a brick building like so many modern visigoths? No. So what was the problem? Was the prospect of home invasion imminent? Should we have raised the hearthside terror level to 'severe'?
You want kids to play out and become healthy? How about building some more play areas? How about stopping drawing upon their time with 101 other things? How about becoming more tolerant of the things that kids do when they play - balls, noise, walking and how about setting up a massive solar mirror to bring some more sunshine to our blighted isle?
And why do I think the latter is more likely than any of the former?