Fiction, RPGs and Personal Preference

I’ve started a few short fiction vignettes. They are not complete stories so they are not technically flash fiction. This is more about setting mood or illuminating characters. The two pieces I’ve done, each under 750 words, have been inspired by the Borderlands series of computer games. I’ve also been working in fits and starts on a tabletop RPG to emulate Borderlands.

So it comes to mind that I might use the fiction should I ever complete and offer this RPG. There’s a problem, though. I really dislike fiction in my RPGs.

To be fair, I don’t think I am the target market for RPGs. I don’t like settings. I don’t like big rulebooks. I don’t like supplements. I like systems – as pared down as possible. I really liked the True20 rulebook from Green Ronin because it was almost all system, with a few setting suggestions thrown in at the tail end. That worked for me. I also picked up their Game of Thrones RPG Pocket Edition because it excised almost all of the setting specific material.

That’s how I roll.

So just because I don’t like fiction in my RPGs, that shouldn’t influence my decision to include it. Fiction in RPGs seems pretty popular. It still feels really hypocritical.

Then again, I may not need to worry because this game might be going nowhere.

You can learn more about my Borderlands inspired RPG project here.

Posted in Fiction, Role-Playing Games | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weekly Round-Up for 20 July 2014

Hawaii by Said the Whale. It was the song “Willow” that led me to checking out the Said the Whale website. I generally always look to see if there is an option to buy digital from the artist, on the assumption that they’ll get more money. Seeing the album Hawaii for sale on the site, I went to check out the tracks and realized that I’d enjoyed “I Love You” and “Mother” as well as “Willow.” I wish I could have purchased individual songs on the site, but given that I liked three of the songs, I dropped the money for the album. Support talent, right?

Knights of Sidonia. This anime is the general “misfit flying giant robot to fight aliens.” However, four episodes in, and it seems to have a little bit more beneath the surface than many. I am not a regular watcher of anime so perhaps this is the new standard for anime, in which case I might just end up watching a lot more. Attack on Titan is getting good buzz, and like Knights of Sidonia, it’s on Netflix, so that will likely be my next exploration into the genre.

Knights of Cydonia. Since their names are so similar, the anime led to thinking about the video to this Muse song. I couldn’t help but go check it out because it is just so campy and awesome. The execution was likely intentionally campy, taking inspiration from 70s B-movies, but the ideas and concept in this video are frankly awesome, and such a well of RPG inspiration. Speaking of which . . .

Weird West. I don’t think I’m the only one inspired by Knights of Cydonia. This is a very light, very cool little game that aims to hit that Western + Martial Arts + Weirdness vibe. It also comes with a mini-book format so that you can create your own pocket-version, which just adds to the awesome.

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Slate Money

The online magazine Slate has a great set of podcasts, the best of which, in my opinion, is the Political Gabfest. On the strength of the Political Gabfest, I purchased a membership to Slate Plus, which – among other advantages – provides ad-free podcasts. It was through Slate Plus that I found Slate Money.

I am not an investor. I don’t know much about finance. I do know that economics is a driving force in the modern world and that economic decisions made by politicians and business people impact on all our lives. As such, I do have an interest in economics. So I thought I’d give Slate Money a shot.

It is now a “listen immediately” podcast, along with the Political Gabfest. The Slate Money hosts are smart, personable, and have enough of a difference in viewpoints that it provides lively discussion. More importantly, for a dude whose knowledge of finance and the economy comes from mass media with some small amount of theory learned in university, this show holds my interest while educating me.

I really can’t recommend Slate Money enough. If you listen to podcasts and have any interest in our modern economic system, I would strongly suggest trying one episode to see what you think.

I give Slate Money 4.75 bank bailouts out of 5.

You can find Slate Money here.

You can find the Political Gabfest here.

You can find Slate here.

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing vs. Producing: Fight!

It’s true that I’m using time I could be productive to play a computer game. I could be finishing one of my in progress stories. I could be working on improving one of my in progress RPGs. I could go back and improve one of my existing RPGs. But I’m playing computer games.

Here’s the thing: I’m less and less motivated to produce RPGs for anyone outside a very small group of people, mostly my local group – though they likely just want me to stop designing shit and stick with one campaign for more than 10 months.

And there seems to be a very, very small group of people interested in reading my fiction, which is the one thing that I might actually feel guilty for not producing.

PrintDon’t get me wrong. This isn’t a sob story. This is a liberation.

I likely won’t bother with another Kickstarter after Nefertiti Overdrive is done. I love writing and playing RPGs. I am getting really tired of producing them. It is a huge effort to project manage these, especially since I am very personally invested in them. For Centurion: Legionaries of Rome, I got paid less than 5 cents per word for my writing and nothing for project management.

Yes, I love writing RPGs. I also love playing computer games. And they don’t cost as much.

Will I ever publish again? I’m making plans. I’m thinking about it. I have at least two games and a setting I want to get out. I bloody well have stories I want to get in front of readers as well. Do it for free? I might. The effort that goes into getting games or stories presentable makes it just easier to do stuff for myself and hold it close. So I’ll be looking at ways I can get paid something decent and get my work out to people who care.

I’m a mercenary hack. It’s what I am.

Now, back to Borderlands!

You can see the financial for the Centurion Kickstarter here.

Posted in Fiction, News, Personal, Role-Playing Games | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Border . . . lands

So big. So angry. So dead.

If you recognize that quote, you know where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. And what I’ve been doing is playing computer games.

It’s not all I’ve been doing, but it has taken up a lion’s share of my time. And the rest . . . well, for the rest you can go to SEP, because everything else I’ve worked on has been RPG related.

But let’s get back to the quote. That’s from Borderlands, which I picked up during the Steam Summer Sale (oh, how that sale hurt my bank account!). I’m loving it. So much fun. It’s about the right level of challenge for my very limited ability, and it’s got a kind of “Loony Tunes” violence thing happening. It’s oh so bloody, but not quite serious. Wile E. Coyote would fit in perfectly in this setting.

And it is actually a very cool setting. Now, for me, nothing is going to touch the post-apocalyptic western that is Fallout: New Vegas. I loves me FNV. Borderlands has got that, but it’s also got a whole lot of insanity, like a part of the planet that is a massive garbage dump, and people live in this garbage dump.

Yes, things will be quiet here as I spend the time I am not working on RPGs virtually shooting things in the face. I also picked up Borderlands 2, Mass Effect, and the Bioshock trilogy. Lots of SF action and adventure awaits me in the virtual world.

You can find out more about the games I’ve been working on here.

You can find out more about Borderlands here.

You can find out more about Steam here.

Posted in Review, Role-Playing Games | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gone Baby Gone – A Review

I liked Ben Affleck’s directing in Argo and I loved the Town. I don’t think it’s a great choice for a director to also be the star, but Kenneth Brannagh has proved me wrong on many an occasion. Friday night, when my wife and I were flipping through Netflix, I saw Gone Baby Gone in the listings, and I remembered that was Ben Affleck’s first movie. I also remembered critics generally liked it and that it was a neo-noir.

We gave it a shot.

I’m very glad we did. This is very much a film noir. The fingerprints of hardboiled fiction are all over it. Casey Affleck did a great job, and they played up his lack of physicality – though I think I would have preferred Jeremy Renner (who did a great job in the Town) or another actor that could deliver on the acting but could also provide a more physical presence.

The plot is properly labyrinthine, and the character of Patrick Kenzie is an almost perfect modern redition of the hardboiled detective. I don’t think his partner, Angie – played by Michelle Monaghan – is portrayed as well. She certainly seemed the smarter of the two, but it might have been better just to remove that character. She seemed superfluous, used more as romantic link than as a partner. Perhaps it could have been just Angie’s case, removing the character of Patrick. If there only has to be one character, and you want to do something a little edgy, give us a hardboiled female detective.

My wife commented that the movie seemed a bit slow-moving, but we were about to watch the Raid: Redemption until she remembered she had, in fact, already watched it, so I think this was more about her expecting an action movie. For an almost two hour movie (114 minutes according to Wikipedia), I found it went by very quickly. Then again, I was completely engrossed. The movie really held me.

I give Gone Baby Gone 4 taste-bags out of 5, mostly because I think one of the partners was completely wasted, which weighed the movie down a bit.

You can read more about Gone Baby Gone at Wikipedia or IMDB.

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Round-Up for 29 June 2014

When I’m Small” by Phantogram. I said I had to check this group out. On the way to the Canadian Aviation Museum with my girls last week, this came on the radio. It caught my attention and I made a note to try to get the info from the DJ (or whatever you call them now). All I caught was Phantogram. I went through a bunch of songs to find it. Not a waste of time. Phantogram has a lot of pretty cool tunes, and this is one of them.

Dr. Lankov’s AMA. Dr. Andrei Lankov is a Russian expert on North Korea – mostly culture and economy – who resides in South Korea. Having had the honour and pleasure to meet him and chat, he is incredibly approachable and affable. He is also scary smart on North Korea and the changes that are taking place in its society and economy. If you have a passing interest in North Korea, his “Ask Me Anything” will bring you up to speed. His recent book, the Real North Korea, is a great read, but is written for a general audience and in a very conversational tone.

Strike Back: Vengeance. I’m now on Episode 3 and it includes an actor I find very watchable, though because he is of Moroccan-descent (though French-born), he’s relegated to being Mr. Bad Muslim Terrorist. I picked Saïd Taghmaoui to play the Serpent (when that character was male . . . no time to explain) when I first through up Nefertiti Overdrive. Episode 3 is set in Niger, and my willing suspension of disbelief may have been stretched out of shape already, but I was more ready to believe the characters were in Niamey than Mogadishu in the last episode.

Nuka Break. Maybe I haven’t mentioned it, but I was a very late-comer to Fallout, getting seduced by Fallout 3 under a year ago and becoming truly addicted to Fallout: New Veagas. I found this fan-made and very cool series on You Tube through its Kickstarter. I found the rewards over-priced, though others didn’t and it was funded. It’d obviously fan-made, but still very watchable.

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment