Sunday, November 19, 2017

Metro City Boys: The Best Videogame Podcast You're Not Catching

The Metro City Boys had another great show this week. Talking about the new Final Fantasy XV expansion, EA getting yelled at by Disney over the microtransactions in DICE's Star Wars Battlefront II, Star Wars games you wish we had (a Clone Wars musou game, for example), and Digital Animal Companions. Come get your goof, gang! (And if you like what you hear, subscribe and follow their Twitch channel.) Sundays, roughly 6:30 pm Central Time. Be there and get your goof on.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Justice League: Wait For Redbox

A handful of people who's opinions I trust on films have seen Justice League and now offer their takes on it. Geek Gab was the most recent, done two hours or so ago by the time I make this post.

Then comes the Midnight's Edge crew, with their review and a follow-up on why cinematic universes by people other than Marvel usually fail. (Hint: They do it wrong, all wrong.)

I am paying attention. This is far more than most in film, television, comics, or novels are bothering to do as they routinely fail to get the points put forth in the second Midnight's Edge video. The fact that Hollywood shot-callers routinely get this wrong shows how incompetent they are, which makes more and more sense as more and more scandals regarding their predation upon the vulnerable (and the corrupt culture of degeneracy they foster) becomes too obvious to ignore. (If this is why you're in the business, then you don't care about making good product; you just want to keep the gravy train running, so you might as well be a SJW since you're that bad.)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Get Your Gundam Here! (And Real Talk on Piracy)

It's been a less than happy week in the United States (and several other places), so here's some free & legal Gundam playlists from the GundamInfo channel at YouTube.

I'd like to offer some Macross playlists, but the folks running the Macross franchise haven't been talking to the Gundam people so they don't know how brilliant having an official channel is at cutting out piracy while simultaneously pushing both the hard media as well as the related merchandise. (Or Harmony Gold keeps fucking them in the ass, but that's nothing that couldn't get solved if they were so inclined.)

The only problem is the folks running the channel and its associated site only offer playlists for a time. The Zeta Gundam list is gone, which is a shame as once an official convenience is removed a unofficial one will arise to satisfy that demand. As the Gundam franchise is an international juggernaut, that will happen sooner than later- YouTube anti-piracy measures be damned.

Licensing and paywalls won't work either. No sooner does a Netflix series go live than I can find it on Putlocker or Solarmovie in its entirety with nothing lost. That rather undercuts the appeal of such businesses, and furthermore (for commercial TV series) there are no ads wasting my time; not only is nothing lost, value gets added by the pirates in terms of convenience.

This is where I'm going with the "throw in the towel" approach; you can't beat them and still make a profit purely by showing off the goods. You got to approach your streaming/VOD business as you would running a movie theater: you make your profits on the addons (in this case, the merchandise) and your show becomes a vehicle for the merch. You think this is alien or unworkable? See that Gundam franchise? All about pushing the merch! They do that and still provide high-quality escapist entertainment to an audience that, while its core remains in Japan, is still a global one and they are not slowing down.

Artificial scarcity in online audio and video does not work!. Scarcity in anything purely digital doesn't work; it may take a while, but all that shit gets cracked sooner or later so it's worthless to bother trying. Add your value where scarcity actually means something- Meatspace. That means merchandise, live events, and other things that take advantage of limited space, resources, etc. but tie into the show or film. (Yes, I just found a justification for the convention circuit.)

As for you one-eyed shitlords, keep seeding the torrents. You're forcing Big Media to adapt to you, so keep at it as we all benefit from compelling them to be easier to use and more convenient than what you lot offer.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Time of the Great Forking Has Come

It's becoming increasingly clear that anyone wanting a popular culture that isn't filled with suck and sewage will have to Fork and Replace the SJW-converged institutions, and then seal the doors so those same disease vectors can't poz the replacements. There is not a damn thing to save in mainstream film, television, comics, or novels. The AAA studios are increasingly pushing gambling as a revenue generator at the expense of gameplay, designer reputation, brand strength, even studio existence itself- time to Fork & Replace that also.

All of this is necessary and proper, but it still runs into the great cockblock: financing. Beyond making alternatives to Patreon and other crowdfunding platforms, we have the issue of the banking system itself. SJWs are there in the banks, the credit card companies, and the government agencies meant to regulate them; they can, and have, violated their fundamental mission by blocking a disfavored outlet or individual access to credit or currency. I need not tell you what sort of threat that power presents, which is why I've called for #AltBanking for a while now.

For the Great Forking to succeed, all aspects of commerce must be forked and replaced. The banks are the last of these converged institutions to fork, and making that happen requires more than a bunch of tech-savvy dissidents forming a start-up. The ISPs need to be forked. The payment processors need to be forked. The global central banking system needs to be destroyed in nuclear fire, then replaced with real money in hard coin (for physical commerce) and crypto-currencies no government controls (for virtual commerce).

Otherwise, all of the forks are vulnerable to getting nuked by SJWs in banking by shutting off access to the stuff that makes all of this possible, and if you think that won't start escalating in frequency and severity you don't know SJWs or their masters. Nail this, however, and all they have left is to just kill you and take your stuff- something they will have to do themselves, as more and more would-be pawns dip out as they see what's (not) in it for them. Fork & Replace ALL THE THINGS! Civilization requires it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Electronic Arts Turned a Star Wars Wargame Into a Slot Machine

I could make a shitshow joke here, but Electronic Arts going to Reddit to do Ask Me Anything about Star Wars Battlefront II is sufficient to itself. Here's a summary of the dumpster fire:

Let me do a second-level summary:

  • The devs didn't address shit.
  • The game is set up as a virtual slot machine, using Skinner box techniques, deliberately.
  • Frequency of lootbox acquisition and use determines player performance, not skill. This is Pay To Win.
  • Showing players what opponents have deliberately incentivizes lootbox purchases, contrasting with the deliberately tedious grind that is the default state of play. Gear alone matters, and getting that rubbed in your face incentivizes purchases.
  • Forced artificial limits on acquisition compels players to stretch out their play sessions, making it impossible to just play to unlock everything in a healthy and responsible manner, further incentivizing lootbox acquisition.
  • Lootbox contents are random, further compelling purchases by making a lot of drops utter garbage.

That is gambling. Various gaming commissions are starting to notice this, and they are not happy. When the gambling businesses see someone muscle in on their turf, they get mean and fast. First they'll come hat-in-hand to demand their cut, and EA will be stupid so they will refuse. Then come attack lawyers, outraged media people, and their pet politicians making problems for them in the press, the courts, and in legislatures. This shitshow is just starting to jump off.

If it's not put down soon, then first Lucasfilm and then Disney proper will be forced to deal with EA. The Mouse doesn't like it when someone tarnishes the brand like that, so if it gets that far then more than a few heads will roll. The folks making the fallguys take the blame will be lucky if they only get fired and shoved out of the business for a few years. Big Entertainment is big business, and big business does not like fuckups making messes of easy things- and yes, turning Battlefront into a franchise like Call of Duty is simple from their perspective- and they are right to think so.

Call in the cleaners. This mess is already too big and bad to be left to amateurs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Journalism: You Need Not Be an Expert, But Familiarity IS Required

Remember when journalists bothered to have passing familiarity with their subject matter? Pepperidge Farms remembers. So does the crew at World Class Bullshitters, who came upon this dumpster fire of an article that wouldn't get a passing grade in a high school writing class.

This is, as one should expect from a mainstream culture rag, a shillfest written by someone who has no concept of what writing is- nevermind journalism or ethics, writing. Nevermind familiarity with the material you're writing about. How about familiarity with basic writing skills, since you're trying to pay bills by doing that? If you can't manage that, then you should not be let near any professional writing environment, because you are incompetent and cannot do what is required of you.

Burn it all to ash. There's no saving this shitshow that is "journalism". Just burn it all to ash and be done with it.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Real Talk on the Official Classic World of Warcraft Servers

Over a week ago, Blizzard announced that they are doing official Vanilla servers for World of Warcraft.

I'm saying this here, in this post, and that's all I'm going to say on the blog about it until there's solid information about how the developers--who are a wholly separate team from the Live servers--are going to approach the topic. That said, I already forsee commercial realities intruding on the purity spiral dreams of the Vanilla private server users itching to come out of the shadows.

  • You're going to get full Battlenet integration. There is no way all those new features announced at BlizzCon won't be in Classic.
  • They are foolish to not use the new characters models, new character animations, and as many new zone layouts as they can. Some they can't for obvious reasons (this is all pre-Cataclysm), but if they can use the Live version then they will.
  • They won't make you pay a separate subscription fee. They want it to be used, so it will--at most--be a separate client. The worst to expect is that, like the Starcraft remaster, it's a one-and-done addon to your account. Why? To justify the investment.
  • The mechanics will be a bug-fixed form of Patch 1.12.1. The aesthetics will be as close to Live as they can get. So, in effect, Vanilla Remastered is what to expect.
  • It will never be as popular as Live, but it will justify its existence and be the safety value for Live when Live has a content drought; this is, in effect, the biggest retention mechanic for subscriptions that the company has yet to attempt. Classic will go up and down in participation inversely to Live servers having relevant content to do. So long as overall sub rates are acceptable, this is fine.
  • If this succeeds, expect a follow-on for The Burning Crusade. Classic should go live in 2019, when Battle For Azeroth hits its first big lull, and if it succeeds then the TBC follow-up will be two years later.
  • Expect a lot of the bitchwork of the Classic era to get nerfed or gutted. People want the challenge, not the tedious bullshit.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

There's "Git Gud" and There's "Learn To Walk".

The common man will not do bitchwork if he does not have to. Not at work, and certainly not for fun. The common response is to make them do it.

This is the difference between Git Gud and Bitchwork: Git Gud directly addresses the challenge put before the man in pursuit of some objective. Bitchwork is tedious bullshit that's ancillary at best to that activity. Practicing your rotation on a target dummy is Git Gud, because it directly addresses the pursuit of better gear from tougher bosses. Knowing the lore? Bitchwork.

The problem is that, for a lot of players, they regard knowing how to play their character, how to run the dungeon, etc. as bitchwork and thus cause preventable problems for other players. Why? Because playing the game doesn't force them to acquire and master that knowledge to get what they want (the loot, and with it the power) from the game. I am not alone in my frustration. Mike, the man behind Preach Gaming, has gone on about this before:

Sure, he's talking within the context of World of Warcraft, but I see the same thing happening with other games every day. People who can't bothered to put in the time to learn what the mechanics are, how they work, and therefore how to exploit that knowledge to improve gameplay are legion and they are the lameass legion that makes multi-player gaming into the shitshow it so often becomes online. (Note: World of Warcraft removed the Proving Grounds requirement in Legion, which is why the dungeon queues are so full of suck and fail.)

What these people don't appreciate is that their ignorance, willful more often than not, adversely affects other players. Skilled players, often also possessing the maturity that comes with mastery, know something that isn't said often enough in gaming: Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

This is hardly limited to my MMORPG of choice. I see this routinely exhibited when I watch single-player games on Twitch; the masters (Hello, Oliver!) Git Gud by learning the knowledge required to maximize performance, making each playthrough smoother and thus allowing ever-improving results to come forth. The suck players expect to blaze through it blindly, brute-forcing things as hard and fast as they can, and get mad when it (like real life) doesn't work that way. Call them on it, and they get indignant. This is just as it is in real life; if you try to run before you can walk, you're just going to fall on your face and make things worse.

Not that there ain't a lot of bitchwork, but a lot of people don't have the competency to know what is bitchwork and what isn't; it's Dunning-Kruger in action, and once you see it you won't ever unsee it in any context. Learn To Walk. Then you can Git Gud.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: A War Story on the Edge of Nihilistic Excess

What you're looking at is Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky. This is the movie-length recut compilation of the first four episodes of Thunderbolt, introducing our protagonist and deuteragonist as well as the thoroughly insane environment that was The One Year War and its immediate aftermath. This comes from the Gundam Official YouTube channel, and there is an English dubbed version if you prefer.

The benefit of using a fictional war is that you sidestep all political sensitivities that a real one puts on the table, allowing a storyteller to show an audience what war is really like. The problem is when the creator slips past the boundaries of good taste and narrative discipline to wallow in excess that pollutes the point of the creation (which is, first and foremost, to entertain- no matter the audience). Thunderbolt is not a Superversive story, and it echoes the worst of "Kill 'Em All" Tomino's past exercises in nihilism, but I don't think it goes over that line. Up to it? Sure, more than once, but past? Not yet. It wants to hammer home how tragic this war is for everyone, from those driven psychotically mad to those forced to live with the loss of more than just limbs and everyone in between. Pure Good vs. Evil, as is common for a Gundam series, this is not.

This ain't Unicorn, but neither is it like the downer parts of Zeta Gundam. There is more of this series, but there is no compliation movie of Episodes 5-8 yet, and this film is being made available only until December 8th via the channel so catch it while you can. I guarantee that it's better than watching an NFL game, so make time for it this Sunday.

Friday, November 10, 2017

On the Anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

My home state of Minnesota has some beautiful places, and its share of tragic incidents. This Tweet covers both.

Yes, the same incident that prompted a famous Gordon Lightfooot song.

History isn't all battles and big men doing big things. Every day, in every place, there's things going on due to people living their lives. The culmination of those doings can add up to major events that impact lives well beyond the immediate happening, and the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is one such event.

The changes that occurred with that ship's loss are not obvious to many, as they were neither the families of the slain nor working in any of the business directly tied to the ship's work, so all of the regulatory changes and procedural changes are lost on them- but not the effect of safer delivery of taconite ore to steel mills for smelting into steel bars for manufacturers to shape into cars, planes, computer cases, etc. that common people use every day.

History is not just shit that gets you well-paid on Jeopardy. Knowing what went down before, how, and why (including the consequences affecting your life here and now) is fundamental to building and sustaining Civilization; it's how you get on the shoulders of those giants that you need to do the things that make you a giant in turn. The deliberate falsification of history is nothing less than an attack on Civilization by stealing the roots of one's culture by deception. This is fraud. It should be punished accordingly as the high crime that it is.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Inhumans: Bellweather for the MCU's Decline & Fall

About a month ago, the folks at Midnight's Edge and the After Dark channels got together to talk about the Inhumans series on ABC.

No, things did not get better since. The TV side of the MCU has always been the weaker side, and a lot of us called this series being the first outright failure for the franchise. That prognosis has not changed, and the reason is clear: shit storytelling by incompetent management still smarting over the loss of an internal turf war.

Where I depart from a lot of folks naysaying this series is that I think it, like Agents of SHIELD will enjoy some protection from cancellation as it seeks to carve out a similar niche to the aforementioned series as a TV property intended to be the ongoing franchise engagement between the films' major events and the Netflix shows limited-series melodramas.

The big difference is that this series has ties to Cosmic Marvel that SHIELD lacks, and if this series is intended to survive Infinity War it could replace SHIELD as the primary retention device for the franchise. (Because it sure as hell isn't the comics.) SHIELD approaches the usual end of useful lifespan for a dramatic series, so this may be an option; cast, crew, etc. may want to move on before it's too late (and they should, all of them).

And Cosmic Marvel will take on far more importance in the next few years, with Infinity War being the point where massive talent turnover (and thus narrative turnover) occurs. Films succeeding that film are part of the Cosmic end more often than not, and those post-IW films already show signs of ramping up the poz heretofore kept to deniable levels. (Yes, the shit in the comics is coming to the films; Captain Marvel is the Shtit Test for this, as they are using SJW Cpatain Marvel as the chassis for the film.)

Inhumans is the bellweather. Shit storytelling, bad management, misused talent, and other tells of SJW crapfests are already present here. Expect them to get worse, appearing more and more on screen instead of cringefest PR stunts gone wrong, as time goes by, until cancellation is compelled by higher authories who actually care about profitability and other core duties of corporate management. (Shareholder lawsuits will happen within a decade over this, as we are talking about a legal requirement.)

We're being warned. Time to exit the franchise before its collapse hits in earnest; I recommend staying no later than Infinity War, and withdrawing from the non-film ends sooner. Instead, support clean alternatives such as #AltHero.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Year of Winning

One year ago today, the God-Emperor achieved his Ascension. The enemies of Mankind quaked with fear and knew terror thereafter.

It's been a glorious year of winning, and I am not tired at all.

From my perspective, the Ascension of the God-Emperor did more than get leftist retards to REEEE loud and hard. It broke a hole in the wall of cultural domination, and through that opening a lot of us revolting against that poz broke through to establish beachheads against an invisible empire of evil.

The rise of the Dragon Awards. The fall of the Hugos. The ongoing collapse of Marvel in particular and mainstream US comics in general, versus the outstanding support for #AltHero. The ongoing success of Appendix N, and its influence in both gaming and literature. The PulpRev Sampler's publication following the launch of PulpRev itself, and the rise of Superversive as well as Castalia House's blogs. Successful launches for Brian Niemeier, Jon Mollison, John del Arroz, Vox Day, and many more- all of which continually demonstrating the truth of the claims made against the SJWs in SF/F literature. The lukewarm reception of the new Star Wars films and others so converged exposing weaknesses in Hollywood- weaknesses that (likelly) played into the outbreak of scandals.

And those sweet Antifa tears.

The revolt against the politicization of escapist entertainment media continues, as Nintendo fights against its own subsidiaries to clean out the poz afflicting its Western releases that inhibit their otherwise-successful Switch launch. The wholly unprecedented release of Super Robot Wars V on PS4 and PS Vita to the West (via Singapore) brought in a new audience that never saw such a game before, and renewed its existing fanbase (and the contributing properties) in the process.

And none of us are tired of winning. Sure, setbacks happen, but overall this year's been fantastic for we who support the God-Emperor and look forward to more of the same over the next seven years. As the poz becomes impossible to ignore, expect our success to only grow while pursue a policy of Fork & Replace upon the diseased dullards afflicting our culture worldwide. If you think this year was great, wait until this time next year. It'll be HUGE!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Disney Angling to Dominate Pop Culture Is Not Good

The folks at World Class Bullshitters have something to say about the news regarding Disney seeking to buy Fox properties that include key Marvel properties such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

There is no good to be had from monopolies. There are only times when the alternative is worse, and that merely makes the monopoly an evil to be tolerated so long as it remains the lesser evil with no practical alternative. As soon as such arises, the tolerance must end and the monopoly annihilated with the fist of an angry God. It leads to stupid things like this, on the mild end, and gets worse from there. (e.g. Muh Rey Sue)

For more information, we can turn to the Midnight's Edge crew who devoted a video to the matter.

As one would expect, both channels are getting hit with the demonetization issues afflicting a lot of other channels. Throw them some scratch if you can spare it; they do good work.

We know that Disney isn't Walt's company and hasn't been for decades now. It's converged, pozzed, and maybe even now an active infection vector. Under the guise of being "advertiser" and "family" friendly, they will spread the disease good and hard into every part of the global culture regardless of the consequences. It will do to its subsidiaries as EA does to studios: buy, hollow, trash.

The key will be its assumption of a dominant distribution position, which they are already testing with its demands on theaters regarding The Last Jedi, paired with its PR media dominance via its ownership of key "news" media properties. The use of manufactured demand to create manufactured consent is intended to cement its position as the Leviathan of global culture, fighting only with Eastern (Chinese and Japanese, really) counterparts.

#AltCulture and #AltBanking is now necessary, folks. Otherwise it's like trying to stay healthy while all around you are virulently infectious.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Changing of the Guard at Castalia House

Jeffro Johnson stepped down as Editor of the Castalia House blog. You can read all about this decision at that very blog here.

I am grateful to Jeffro for all that he's done to raise the profiles of many of us who are allies and friends in this grand quest to Make SF/F & Gaming Great Again. Every time he mentioned one of my posts, at any of the blogs I post at, in the Sensor Sweep posts he did to curate and collect the past week's best stuff in the blogosphere I couldn't help but to smile. His doing that directly contributed to the rise of traffic and readership I now enjoy, and for that I am thankful.

I remember when he asked me to write a guest post on King Arthur Pendragon for the Castalia House blog, and I still regard it as a high point in my blogging time this year.

If there is one thing I want Jeffro's successor to carry on, it's the weekly Sensor Sweeps. We who get mentioned appreciate the signal boost of attention that comes to us, and Castalia House benefits in turn by the attention we give to them. This is a mutually beneficial relationship, and the network of bloggers that arises from this curation will serve to foster the revival of a culture of fun centered on what is true.

As for you, Jeffro. Good luck, good hunting, and may God smile on you and yours hereafter. You did great as the editor, and built the blog into a force to be reckoned with. That's a deed that no one can take away from you, and I know you can apply what you learned going forward. I look forward to seeing your byline on more works like Appendix N in the future.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Pile of Links For All Things WOW: Battle For Azeroth out of BlizzCon 2017

For your convenience, I'm putting pertinent links and videos regarding the upcoming battle For Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft here. Most of these will be links instead of embeds for reasons that will be obvious below. I won't be writing a lot about this new expansion (other than as a lead to my actual topic) until more information gets into the wild, so if you're not into the game and worry I'm suddenly going to be All WOW All The Time, don't sweat it.

WOWHead is the place to hit for all things World of Warcraft. If you care, go there and bookmark that site. That said, the promised links.

I may have missed some good video links, and there's a few panels that are not yet out of the Virtual Ticket ghetto (the Boss Design panel was a good one), so I'll append this list later when those become available. As for other info not in a video: Antorus (the final Legion raid) opens on the 28th of this month.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

For All of Videogames' Flash & Cash, Tabletop Still Does It First & Best

I know that the WOW devs don't read this blog, so I'm not going to claim credit for inspiring this, but I am pleased to see that some things I created years ago for my tabletop RPG campaign are being implemented in World of Warcraft.

Battle For Azeroth introduces Allied Races. The idea is simple: these are nations sympathetic to your faction, but not yet members of it, a fact you change once you complete a race-specific quest chain. Once that race formally joins your faction, your account gains the option to play as that race going forward (starting at Level 20 instead of Level 1, and spawning at your faction's capital city).

For my New Model Colony campaign, this is how players can unlock additional race and class options. The differences are (a) it's unlocked for all players, (b) only I know what's out there to recruit right now (players have to actually find it; this is a form of treasure), and (c) the relationship must be maintained to maintain access. I devised this idea many years ago, and I have no doubt that others did it before me.

As I write this post, I have the panel on Boss Encounter design going on. This is Mech Pilot thinking from start to finish, with a side of Storygame wanking, but given the difference in medium that's tolerable (the wanking) and necessary (the boss design being focused on mechanical operation). However, there is an undercurrent going on about context; they don't design with a white room in mind, but rather account for (a) what the environment of the encounter is and (b) what the boss's objective is in opposing the PCs.

That last bit is straight from the old days of D&D, as seen with The Alt-Right DM's posts about his ongoing campaign. Tabletop RPGs think in terms of context first and foremost; who wants what, and what are they willing to do to get it? Because of the human GM, all of the ambiguity that videogames handle poorly can be handled with aplomb at the table. That panel discussion? Sorted in a coffee break by one dude with a scratch pad, or handled on the fly during play.

Tabletop still does things that videogames have issues implementing, did it first, and does it best. Until computing capacity and acumen surmounts those differences in medium, and then makes it dead-simple to use at home, the heart and soul of the RPG as a form of game will remain in its medium of founding: the tabletop. Go grab some pals, some dice, and go adventuring- it's the cheapest and lowest-tech form of gaming you can do, and the rewards are fantastic for the work required.

Friday, November 3, 2017

BlizzCon 2017: Of Course There's a New Expansion

BlizzCon 2017 began today. Being primarily a World of Warcraft player, I expected a new expansion announcement and I was not disappointed. For nuts and bolts and pictures galore, I refer you to WOWHead and its many posts made about as fast as the word got said in various panels this afternoon. (Have your adblocks up.) So I will just talk about the notable stuff mentioned today. HERE BE SPOILERS!

Battle For Azeroth is the title. The expansion goes over a Total World War between the Alliance and the Horde. The Horde loses the Undercity to an Alliance military invasion of Lordaeron that razes to the ground, while the Alliance loses Teldrassil to a Horde military assault that burns the failed World Tress to ash. Both losing fronts are pushed by to their rumps, which forms the first of the Warfront battle lines in this expansion.

The war quickly escalates, requiring not only a global search for resources (and the territory it requires), but also the need for new allies to rally to the banner and join the fight. These are Allied Races, and each side gains three at launch; more are going to be added down the road. The Horde gain the Highmountain Tauren and Nightborne Elves of the Broken Isles as well as the Zandalari Trolls of Zandalar. The Alliance gain the Lightforged Draenei and Void Elves that appeared during the Argus campaign against the Burning Legion, and the Dark Iron Dwarves are fully rehabilitated into the Alliance.

As the presence of the Zandalari implies, the search for allies brings heretofore unseen lands into the game. The Horde begin their expansion in Zandalar, having to aid the trolls there against their enemies to secure the allegience thereof. The Alliance goes to Kul Tiras and must do likewise to return that nation to the fold. Using both states' powerful navies, they scour the seas for strategic locations to secure or plunder.

These are the Island Expeditions, three-man Scenarios where Role is irrelevant. Three PVE difficulties and one PVP option. Meant to farm the new Artifact Power (Azurite, the crystallized blood of the World Soul Azeroth), which is used to empower the one new Artifact we gain (Heart of Azeroth, given at the start by Speaker Magni Bronzebeard on Azeroth's behalf) to make up for those we lose going out of Legion. We slowly gain powerup options on the armor pieces we gain (which are NEVER random in what options they offer).

Those Warfronts? They are 20-man PVE Scenarios, modeled on the play experience of Warcraft 1 & 2- you start at a Town Hall and have to build out a tech tree in order to build up an army and get into their base to kill their mans and gank their general. The first one in the Eastern Kingdoms is Stromgarde in the Arathi Highlands and the map is an all-new HD remake of the live zone map. None for Kalimdor announced yet, but we can expect it to be near the Exodar and Darkshire.

Yes, the level cap got raised 120. No, leveling won't be the chore it is now; a lot of tech rolled out specifically for Legion, as many expected, is going to be applied to the rest of the game: level scaling, zone-agnosticism (level where you like), World Quests and Emissaries, and so on. Dungeons get this too. This will be nice, because once you unlock an Allied Race via its specific quest chain (an account-wide unlock) your new man starts at Level 20 and can go wherever to adventure. If you get that man to 110, you unlock (account-wide) a unique appearance set called "Heritage Armor" and it is NOT locked to armor types.

And that's what's documented.

Undocumented, but seen in the demo available on the floor: a massive stat squish (back to Wrath levels), a massive Item Level squish (ditto), the return of castable buffs (Mark of the Wild, we missed you.), and graphics that mean you ought to upgrade your PC if you want a decent framerate. Potato people, start banking for a new PC now.

And that's about all I have to say for now. Tomorrow I'll get more information (I hope), and I will talk about the other games and features that I think will seriously change the Blizzard end of videogaming (Hint: Overwatch's voice chat will come to Heroes, WOW, and the Blizzard App making outside VOIP apps irrelevant and unnecessary because Overwatch's chat is GOOD!)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

BlizzCon 2017 Is This Weekend

BlizzCon 2017 starts tomorrow afternoon and officially ends late Saturday night, with Muse closing out the show. I have a Virtual Ticket again, so I'm going to watch as much live as I can and then make use of the instant-VOD access to catch what I missed live.

Given the regularity of my posts talking World of Warcraft in particular, this should surprise no one. I've cleared my schedule just so I can do this, and my only regret is not being there in person to meet in realspace many of the folks I talk with online about Blizzard stuff.

Yes, you can expect me to recap the important info out of BlizzCon this weekend here. When I can find good videos recapping that then I will post that video here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

IP Owners, Reconsider Your IP Protection Policies Regarding Fans

Yesterday I posted Razorfist's recreation of a lost episode of The Shadow radio show. In the video, he mentions that he's gotten nastygrams from the IP owner, Conde Nast. The now-infamous Axanar incident shows another IP-related fiasco that, while legal, was neither good optics nor good Public Relations. This isn't new; it's common enough that several such stories a year come up in fan communities online.

The problem is clear: the actions taken, while legal, have long-term consequences that damage the brand. Why? Because the actions attack the core audience of the brand, those who are often most enthusiastic and often (for brand with multi-generational appeal) are the cohort recruited to professional ranks to replace retiring original professionals and keep the brand a relevant concern.

In short, a different approach to such events needs to be taken that reflects a long-term perspective: Cut them in.

The smart thing to do when high-quality fan productions arise is not to shut them down. It's to give them an honorable offer that they can't refuse: authentication. In the case of Axanar, the smart move would've been to give the fan production access to Paramount's distribution network in return for a strict non-profit policy and non-canonical status. In short, an "Elseworlds" status; IP owners are wise to do something like this going forward. Curate the high-production fan works, see which ones will play ball, and sanction them by distributing them. Take away the financial risk to the fans, and keep the proceeds for distributing their work in return for giving them a pass- and an option to buy the work outright under Work For Hire terms.

If Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy had a clue, she'd push this as official policy right now- and not just for Star Wars. Hold a fan film contest at Celebration, reality-show style, and let the winner get that Too Good To Refuse offer using the festival as easy A/B testing. To sweaten the deal, using this as a means for discovering new talent for official productions in all media would make this the desired route for fans wishing to go pro- a route Lucasfilm could easily an readily control thereafter, and thus one that other studios could copy once it proves effective.

Yes, IP owners are right to protect their property. That's not disputed. What is disputed is the methods, as they are deleterious to the health of their property in the long-term. Star Wars, Star Trek, and many other popular properties suffer from incompetent or malevolent management. Others, such as The Shadow, suffers from such management as well as neglect- and yet have the same stupid-level of punitive enforcement done in the name of protection. For dormant properties, going after high-end fan productions is doubly stupid because they're marketing your property for you FOR FREE!

Embrace the fan productions that actually do right by the IP and its brand. Give them legal protection, and assume the proceeds for any sales going forward in return (because you have that right), and if that works then begin assimilating them into the franchise as they've proven capable stewards of it. That's how you satisfy legal issues with the more reasonable fans; with the unreasonable, go ahead and nuke them in court- no one will look askance at clear bad actors preying upon others.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Razorfist Presents: The Shadow: DANGER IN THE DARK (Radio RE-CREATION)

Today being Halloweeen means something spooky should be shared. Well, this is only truly terrifying if you're a criminal, but it's got that spooky factor regardless. It's Razorfist's recreation of another lost episode of The Shadow's radio show, one of Orson Wells' episodes, with the man himself as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow. They even included all of the original advertisements, so get ready for Blue Coal spots along with your Knight of Darkness. Conde Nast, do yourself a favor and just put your blessing on this already; he's done far more to promote your property--for free--than you have in years. (I have a rant coming on this topic, which I will post tomorrow.)

If you missed his previous recreation, The Immortal Murderer, go here. For his two part retrospective on the property, go here and here; he does know his stuff. For more of the actual radio series, it's found on YouTube in various channels, so start here and look for more from there.

The old pulps dominated our culture for a damn good reason: they were good, and few were as good in as many media as The Shadow. His influence remains strong to this day, mainly through his imposter-cum-successor Batman, but you need not go to far to find other threads. Much like E.E. Smith's role in founding Space Opera, Walter B. Gibson (as Maxwell Grant) made superheroes what they are.

We need this back, badly. Fortunately some of us are doing something about that.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The PulpRev Sampler! Come Get the Hottest Anthology of the YEAR!

In case you missed the announcement , my debut publication as an author is now up at Amazon: "The Ghost Fist Gambit", as part of the PulpRev Sampler. The first story in my Space Opera series is here, and you can expect the characters shown and referred to here to return in other stories down the road.

It's a whopping one dollar, so skip that ice cream cone on the Dollar Menu and get this instead. Risk-free as it gets, folks. Get it, read them, and leave reviews. The more (and better) reviews we get, the better things will be down the road.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Geek Gab Talks Speculative History!

The Geek Gab crew had a good show yesterday about Future History and Secret History in speculative fiction, and since it's such a good episode I decided to embed it below for your convenience.

Scientist and author Hans G. Schantz joins us on the show to talk about writing science fiction informed by science history and future scientific development.

This episode had some good book recommendations, including a GURPS title (Timeline), and I expect that by the time you see this post the video's YouTube Description should have links to the relevant titles.

And speaking of Future History and Secret History, pay attention to the Study for a while. That's going to be a regular topic as I get going on developing my own Space Opera stories, so if you're not already following the Study then do so and remember to comment there (same policy).

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Superversive Roundtable Talks Horror

The folks at SuperversiveSF have their monthly Roundtable podcast this afternoon. I'm embedding it below so you can easily catch it live when it happens (or catch the archive after the fact). If you want some writer and reader talk, they've got your fix. Enjoy.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The #AltHero RPG Confirmed!

The other night, the Supreme Dark Lord Vox Day confirmed in the Darkstream that the #AltHero tabletop RPG will happen.

At this point, I don't care who's doing it. I just want to see it done, and played, so that I can slake my thirst on the deluge of SJW tears from the tabletop RPG crowd. If you thought that the response to #AltHero in comics was incredible, imagine how it will go over with superhero gamers. They too are chronically under-served due to the domination of SJWs in the entire category of business, especially in the most dominant titles in superhero RPGs.

So spread the word. Make certain those sad shit-sacks know that the Supreme Dark Lord is coming, and Hell's three steps behind him. Collect their tears, and render unto him as tribute. Once this too hits with the fist of an angry God, the floodgates will burst and more anti-SJWs (such as the Pundit) will find a far more fertile field for their own efforts.

And I, like Ivan Throne, will throw back my head and laugh at their pain. Fuck these shitweasels for fouling the thing I love, sideways, with a rusted and pitted shovel covered in burrs.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How To RPG: Scramble! How To Be Pilots & Crewmen

I like my giant stompy robots, both the "Real Robot" end and the Super Robot end. They, along with anything else focused upon the doing of deeds in vehicles or on mounts, present a problem when put to tabletop RPGs.

The problem is that the focus of the action is on what the pilots or riders do in or on their things, which is even more friendly to wargaming (tabletop and videogame alike) than the skirmish-scale wargaming from which Dungeons & Dragons derived itself. I learned the hard way, years ago, that most gamers who are into mecha properties (robots, fighters, road warriors, etc.) see the point of the game as being the action in the vehicles and not outside of it.

The complaint is that you might as well play a dedicated wargame because characters don't matter. (You get this a lot from the frustrated writer crowd, and others who should be watching soaps instead of shitting up RPGs.)

If you hear this, then you hear the voice of someone who doesn't get how RPGs are to be played; they talk about characters as if this is a drama exercise (e.g. Fiasco) when it's not. Lots of blather online and (formerly) in print goes on about what to do about this, but we already have the solution.

You handle this by making the campaign structure exactly as if it were a proper D&D or Traveller campaign: put the players in charge of what to do and how it gets down. For some properties, this is easy. BattleTech/Car Wars: You're an independent operator (mercenary, autonomous SpecForce unit, etc.) so you have that capacity from the get-go.

For others, this requires a shift. Your standard Star Trek scenario has you has the bridge crew or senior officers; this would also apply to similar organizations such as armies. In this case, the Troupe Style approach is better: you have your man, but you sometimes play the henchmen because your man wouldn't logically be along (for whatever reason). This is good for playing the crew of a ship, or a sizable military unit, because the players (as the leadership) make the operational calls before sending their men out into the field to get it done (playing the field agents then).

This form of campaign, therefore, is a logical iterative shift from a proper D&D campaign once you get to Name Level and start the stronghold-based endgame. At that point, it's not uncommon for exactly this sort of rotating emphasis to occur; one go has the Fighter lead an expedition against a threat in his domain, and the other players are his henchmen because the Magic-User is deep into spell research, the Thief is busy overseeing construction of his underground lair, and the Cleric is off on a crusade for his god. Same structure; only the trappings differ.

The consequence? You often see whatever the vehicle is become an important character in its own right, so to speak, and progression of this vital asset routinely becomes playable content unto itself. (Think of the Millenium Falcon as a thing you bought stock and then upgraded over time into its famous configuration; same concept, differing in implementation.)

This is a solved problem. You need only make simple adjustments to how you would run D&D or Traveller to do a pilot/crew-based campaign properly and have plenty of fun.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Time to Sift Out the Wanna-Be Henchmen

This one's for the folks who are long-accustomed to proper RPG campaign play wonder why the youngin's went wrong.

The reason that proper play went away is because of two major threads. The first is that the founding generation and cohort worked off a set of assumptions that turned out to not be as obvious as they thought. The second is that the succeeding cohorts, especially once videogames took off and became the primary gaming medium, acculturated to a very passive paradigm of gameplay for no more nefarious a reason than because videogames work best that way.

I'm talking about the mission-focused paradigm, where the players are (in proper D&D terms) henchmen to a patron, whose primary purpose is to tell the players where to go and what to do. Sometimes they tell the players why. Adventure modules are naturally inclined to go with this structure.

The reason for this go-to structure stems from Organized Play, which came from Tournament Play, at which time the only fair way to score play was to determine who fell furthest from the door (as Michael Monard puts it). In practical terms, it means who got furthest down a linear path of play. You might as well be playing a videogame. At best you get something like Final Fantasy XV, where you go from hub to hub along a linear narrative path and resolve a bunch of main and side quests before moving to the next hub.

It's no surprise that videogames took to this structure and made it their own. The nature of the medium plays well to constricted playable spaces and the funneling of players down pre-selected paths, events, and outcomes. Sandbox games, by comparison, are very difficult to do and even harder to do well; tabletop is superior in all ways to this mode of play.

If this passive player paradigm is all you know, it's not a logical leap to see it be assumed when you play a tabletop RPG. We've had that for a generation or so now, such that even the folks who ought to know better--the WOTC and Paizo crowd--operate under these assumptions (especially now that we know that this is not the case).

Unfucking this fuckup will not be quick or easy, but it can be done. First, let go of everyone who won't make the switch; let them play videogames and be entertained that way- MMOs and similar multi-player games are a thriving niche of the market, so let them serve it. Second, pass on what you know and get folks who want to play this way up and playing. Yes, this is separating wheat and chaff- that's fine, even desirable, because it's good for everyone in the long run.

The big one, however, is this: forking the culture back to how it once was, and that means Making the West Marches Great Again, something that's best done with Open Tables when playing in public spaces or in game clubs. (Home games? Another circumstance entirely.) Big thanks to The Alt-Right DM for being so vocal about his attempt at doing just this.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How To RPG: This Is How It's Done

If you need another ongoing series of examples of how to run a tabletop RPG campaign properly, the folks over at Castalia House have your back. Their ongoing features document a Traveller campaign, and now a Gamma World campaign, with all of the foibles and victories included. The most recent post (as of this post) is from the latter campaign, and you can read it here.

For you folks far more used to linear Adventure Paths and other piss-poor adaptations of what videogames do far better, reading these camapaign blog entries is a great way to get a sense of how the original--proper--paradigm works in practice. If you take the time to follow Jeffro Johnson on Google Plus, you'll find that he links to other campaign blogs on the regular. Read those at your leisure, and start noticing the patterns of practice across all of them; that's where your gameplay structure builds from.

You will find that the core that drives Dungeons & Dragons does cross over to other RPGs: no linear paths, show up with a plan, sandbox gameplay produces superior results. Yes, even in campaigns that are more mission-focused (e.g. Robotech, Spycraft), because once in the field you're on your own to handle things as you see fit.

This is how it's done, folks. You don't dictate a narrative. You don't run a railroad. You don't sit there and react to events. You have to be pro-active as a player, and as the Game Master you have to be Crom- unyielding and uncaring, favoring none and letting fate play out as it will. Death of a PC isn't anything to cry about; shrug it off, get a fresh sheet, and get on with rerolling a new guy. When players earn their wins, let them have and enjoy them; villains and monsters are there to be slain and looted, not mourned or complained about. Let the survivors tell the tales; the play is the thing at the table- not any pre-determined events or outcomes.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The #AltHero Tabletop RPG WILL Happen!

#AltHero goes into the last week of its fundraising campaign with a big announcement: The RPG WILL happen! Vox Day said so over the weekend in the Darkstream.

This is a big deal for me, what with me being a tabletop RPG guy and all that. You want in? Go here and get your wallet out.

The press release on the matter is here at the Castalia House blog, but the important part is what I quote below:

“If you’re at all interested in role-playing games, I would strongly encourage you to back the RPG rulebook, as I think there is a very good chance that the system we are designing is not only going to be the best one for superheroes yet created, but will provide mechanics that translate effectively to science fiction, fantasy, and even military role-playing. What we’re doing here is more than creating a comics line, as we are building a strong foundation from which future offensives in the cultural war in comics, SF/F, and gaming can be launched.”

As I said previously, it's unlikely that Green Ronin will do this; they're SJWs. HERO Games is unlikely; they're SJW-amenable. Palladium would do it, but Heroes Unlimited is a mess and Vox Day would see this instantly if he read the rulebook. I'm hoping for something new, and the imitations on who's involved make that most likely now. In any event, conversions to your superhero tabletop RPG of choice won't be that hard to pull off. I can't wait to see this on the shelves, literal and digital alike.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Unlikely Planetary Romance: World of Warcraft

If there are any properties that don't strictly adhere to the Silver Age segregation of fantasy and science fiction, and they get any significant popular acceptance, it's likely that this lack of separation will fuel that growth. Star Wars welcomes wonder, mysticism, and other fantastic elements that--in its most popular expressions--allows it to be Superversive as well as firmly in the Pulp tradition.

It's not the only property. Several in Japan likewise go this route, mixing to varying degrees, with similar results- and not all of them involve giant robots. While significant, I'm not talking about those properties here. I'm talking about one about to celebrate another convention and announce a new expansion: World of Warcraft.

The property started as your usual Vanilla Fantasy setting, but started blending when the RTS games introduced Outland, introducing Planetary Romance elements.

The blend became more obvious with the first MMORPG expansion: The Burning Crusade, which retro-actively added spaceships and crystal mystic technology to a property that already had cannon, firearms, powered flight, and industrial production economies on top of the knights-and-dragons core of the property.

This blending trend continued, at varying speeds, ever since. Wrath of the Lich King returned the flying castles of the dead, the Necropoli, and even introduced a new class of them (Acherus, the home of the Death Knights). The narrative revealed the Titans as Ancient Aliens, capable of colossal constructs and the power to make them work; god-like in power, but not true gods, and a lot of the fantasy elements are derivations of either their works or those of their enemies: the Void Lords, via the Old Gods that serve them. The Burning Crusade arose when one of the Titans went Full-Tilt Bozo and decided to burn Creation to save it from said Void Lords.

Now, with Legion, we have a full-on science-fantasy setting and there is no significant complaint about any of it. Not the spaceships. Not the mecha. Not the fighters. Not the souls-as-fuel concept the aforementioned Crusade uses to run its technology. Nothing at all. Instead, people still whine about Pandaren, and hate the RNG-on-RNG hobbling of the game. While it will never go full Space Opera, it's not that out of line with (e.g.) Palladium's RIFTS, skewing closer to its Fantasy line. BlizzCon hits on the first weekend in November, so Soon(TM), and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next.

(And if you object, saying that Starcraft is the Space Opera setting, review the definition of Space Opera that Brian Niemeier gave a few days ago here:)

I see the term space opera thrown around a lot lately, and in contexts that make it clear there's more than a little confusion about what the genre entails. To sum it up, space opera descends from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Doc Smith. Modern Mil-SF follows the tradition of authors like Robert A. Heinlein and Joe Haldeman.

(If you can't see the John Carter of Mars roots in World of Warcraft, you're in dire need of remedial education. Go read those books; Amazon has them for Kindle for free.)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Original GoLion Pulled No Punches

I mentioned the original GoLion series the other day. Guess what? The official Voltron channel at YouTube has a playlist. Only 10 episodes are visible, but that's enough to get a good sense for how different the original series was from the Voltron series we got in the West. Don't have small or over-sensitive kids around. Here's the pitch:

In the future, Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war. Survivors are captured by an evil alien race of the Galran Empire led by the ruthless King Daibazaal to work as slaves or fight in a deadly arena. Five captured Earthlings: the fearless Captain Akira "Chief" Kogane, the silent Takashi "Quiet" Shirogane, the strong Tsuyoshi "Hothead" Seidou, the reckless Isamu "Moody" Kurogane and the small but crafty Hiroshi "Shorty" Suzuishi, will attempt to escape the dungeons of Castle Galra before they are again forced to fight in the arena or worse, turned into massive Beastmen monsters.

Given the time of the series' production and airing, you can argue that the violence--both what is done and how it's handled--is a reflection of the cultural malaise within Japan at the time, especially among animation professionals (this is the heyday of "Kill 'Em All" Tomino), but you risk doing a disservice to the audience.

Don't lie to them; Principles Are Expensive. (Thank you, Oliver Campbell, for that one.) Doing Good isn't free or easy, and innocent people can and do get hurt in the process. It sucks, hard, but no one said that doing Good would be- and sometimes you don't have enough to cover the bill, so to speak, so you don't survive the doing. Not all heroes get their happy endings, and that's the case here. That's a degree of honesty I appreciated as a child, cherish as a grown man, and wish to pass on to succeeding generations.

That's anathema to the SJWs infesting our culture at all levels. They live for the lie, and die without it. Respect to the GoLion team for not lying to the audience. More big productions should be so honest. For that matter, GoLion should be readily available in its entirety in the West.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A RPG Setting For Alt-Hero? Really?

I'm listening to last night's Darkstream, keeping up on Alt-Hero and such, when I hear that Vox got approached to make a RPG out of it. While there are videogame RPGs about superheroes, the ones most superhero gamers talk about are tabletop games so I'll go there for now.

It's not like the tabletop world doesn't know who Vox Day is. The SJWs in tabletop gaming are tight with the SJWs in SF/F, so they got the memos early in the Gamergate lifecycle about Vox and dutifully detest and decry him lest they be cast out of the rabbit warren.

Green Ronin is based out of the Seattle SJW Warren, same as WOTC and Paizo, so it won't be them. They're too woke, so it's not going to be Mutants & Masterminds. It won't be HERO, as they're SJW-amendable (and cucky). That's the two largest tabletop superhero games right there. The third-largest is Palladium's Heroes Unlimited (Misleading: it's quite limited.) so that's our best bet, as Kevin Siembieda is something of an outcast and thus would not give a shit about the SJW narrative on Vox Day. The folks at Steve Jackson Games might go for it as a GURPS supplement, but it's unlikely due to SJG being (a) focused far too much on Munchkin and (b) far too cucky and amenable to SJWs. (Tabletop RPGs are so small a scene that all the major players fit in my house.) No one else has a superhero game of any significance, so there's the best tabletop option: Palladium Books.

It could work, if the entire system got a proper clean-up and presentation fix, because right now the rules for Heroes Unlimited are so muddled that any competent technical writer will scream bloody murder at how sloppy it is. (I can follow this up with a step-by-step walkthrough if enough of you wish.) M&M and HERO would be better choices, as would GURPS, but SJWs ruin everything so this is what's likely to come out instead.

Oh well. At least unofficial conversations can be done and posted online. If I'm wrong, and this is about a videogame, well then I am just as interested as you are about who wants to do it and how likely it will be to not suck. At least it's not a Heroclix thing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Give Me Lightsabers, Super-Robots, Epic Sagas, & Mythic Heroes

Like others, I'm looking to riff on Star Wars for my own purposes. What I see a lot is a shift of emphasis away from the Knights & Wizards towards the more underworld and mil-SF aspects. I'm wanting to go the other way. Space Knights, Space Princesses, castles in the sky, and fantastic powers capable of wondrous things- including wondrous technologies. In short, more like this:

Flat out going good and hard for the Space OPERA, and laying on the myth and fantasy thick (like how I prefer the frosting on my cakes). There's not enough of the fantastic and mythic in science fiction, and I'm fully behind the #RegressHarder mantra. (And yes, you see it in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, straight and subverted.) If you've ever seen the original, non-Flanderized King of Beasts: Go Lion from which we in the West got Voltron, you will know that "Space Princesses" is not code for "Baby's First Sci-Fi". It's hearkening back to John Carter, but played out on a galactic or universal scope and scale.

Not this week, but next week at the Study I'll start sharing my world-building brainstorms on how I'm going about this. Don't you folks who want the more romantic riffs worry; I've got you. It's just going to be a bit.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Narrative Warfare: Alt-Hero Is Where The Superhero Comic Action Is Now

The Supreme Dark Lord, Vox Day, had a very pleasant update on the Alt-Hero campaign today. You can ready about that here. But first, allow me to show you the breakout star of this superhero comic book project: Rebel.

That's the sort of superhero that DC and Marvel used to be openly proud of publishing, because both companies knew their markets and--being competent at business--marketed to it good and hard. That is still the superhero comic audience, which is why Rebel (imagine Daisy Duke as a superheroine) hit like the fist of an angry God.

I am not tired of winning, and Alt-Hero is very much a winning campaign. I fully expect that the comic (now that Chuck Dixon is involved) will be the sort of action/adventure series that the Big Two used to do as their bread-and-butter before the smart money left and the SJWs currently feeding off their decaying corpses like the maggots they are infested them.

Fuck the milkshake tossers. This is the real deal. Looking forward to all of this being published. You want to win the Culture War? You've got to show up and support those shaping it back to health and sanity- and not be like the Cuckservatives that shoot at their own supposed allies. Want in on the Alt-Hero campaign? You can do that here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MAGA 2020 & Beyond Now Up For Preorder (& More)

One of my fellows has a story and an essay coming out with the publication by Superversive Press of MAGA 2020 & Beyond, which you can pre-order . He talks about it here.

This is how we start building parallel institutions, and the cultures that they promote. We form our own publishing houses. We start our own literary movements. We boost our friends and allies (in an ethical manner, of course; Brian Niemeier did this with the aplomb I've come to expect from his blogging now) as best we can.

Like it or not, this is a team effort. We don't have to be the bestest of buddies to be good allies working towards a common goal; we can, and should, argue amongst ourselves as needed- but never at the expense of dealing with common enemies. A unified fleet, a disciplined army, always routs chaotic and disunified opposition and crushes it underfoot. Civilization--so long as it asserts and renews itself--always defeats Barbarism.

And we are doing that now. Fork, Replace, Win. Good luck to Alfred and the others contributing to MAGA 2020 & Beyond, because I am still not tired of winning.

Monday, October 16, 2017

How To RPG: Lore is the Spice That Makes Campaigns Tasty

There's nothing wrong with your setting having some history to it. The issue comes when you got storygame wankers wanting to vent their writing/acting frustrations through a campaign, instead of doing the right thing and actually working on their writing/acting skills so they can actually satisfy those desires properly.

The trick is to put that history where the game is, and then to make it a treasure of its own, one where acquiring such actually makes acquiring the stuff most gamers are after--power and wealth--easier and faster. For my own D&D campaign, I make it clear that you're going to find that stuff only in dungeons and similar adventure sites. You want to know why the lizardmen have a mythology surrounding an exodus from a mother planet. Why? Because you'll never get that Staff of the Archmage without it.

This isn't an excuse to engage in pixel-bitching bullshit. You put the lore into the location that fits the site's original purpose. A temple, being a place of worship, has religious and mythological lore associated with it. Instead of reducing this to a die roll, as too many RPG systems do, putting it in the rooms' descriptions is the way to go; let players take notes, have their character sketch stuff, and run their curious asses to a sage in town to handle the gruntwork of research while they pursue other active leads.

History, mythology, architecture- all of this is the lore that makes campaigns feel alive in ways that mechanics can't handle, and with that in mind you can make the lore immediately and directly relevant without making it boring bitchwork players have to handle to get their gold, wands, and +1 swords. Put practical information into the lore and watch players embrace it, then get enchanted by it.

Summarized: Lore exists to facilitate gameplay in the campaign, not the other way around. It's grease for the gears, spice for the meat, and not the point of the exercise. Keep that in mind, and you will prosper greatly by using it. Too much and Gordon Ramsey's gamer cousin will scream at you while beating you about the shoulders with his dice bag. You don't want that.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

In Praise on the Open Table

If you listen to the surviving old-timers, you will learn that they didn't run their tabletop RPG campaigns the way that is assumed as normal now: organizing a specific group, which plays and acts like a team, that meets at specific places and times to performance as a team for a specific duration (in hours). It might as well be organizing a team for a bowling league with strict attendance rules.

I know, from decades of experience, that this scheme leaves the least committed with the most leverage over the group. If they don't show up, for whatever reason, it's not uncommon to abandon play altogether because some combination of player and GM decisions made the no-show guy a mission-critical element. As with a car without an ignition key, getting going otherwise tends to be beyond many to pull off, and can often lead to other troubles.

The Open Table paradigm avoids all of that. It's a paradigm of Pick-Up Play. The GM shows up, sets up, and runs the game with whomever shows up. You want a (somewhat humorous) example? Go read the posts by The Alt-Right GM about his ongoing Open Table campaign. Very little needed in terms of preparation, no need for narrative elements at all, and self-sustaining once the players start becoming players in the setting because cause-and-effect gain sufficient momentum to keep play going indefinitely.

Which is why more videogame designers and publishers of RPGs--MMO and otherwise--are doing the smart thing and adapting this more and more to their own medium. They have been for years, but business and technical limitations still forbid the fullest degree of implemenation. Especially the MMORPGs with persistent worlds, like World of Warcraft.

Fire the frustrated wanna-be novelists and get more wargame veterans on the payroll instead. Embrace the Open Table paradigm, and its key feature of drop-in/drop-out play, and enjoy adaptation and retention (in both tabletop and videogame media) as people stop being bothered by the fear of commitment to a psuedo-bowling league. Instead, knowing that they can dip out whenever something that matters comes up--job, kids, whatever--they can just go handle it and never leave anyone else in the lurch.

The Open Table is good for players, good for publishers, good for developers, good for retailers and convention organizers (for tabletop, specifically), and good thereby for the community as a whole. No hobby should yoke you like a job. (Yes, World of Warcraft, specifically the Raid-or-Die crowd, I'm looking at you. "Raid Guilds" should not be a thing.) "Schedule Your Fun" needs to be dragged into the street, beaten into a pulp, and then shot dead for good measure- for the good of all forms of gaming.

The Open Table. The superior play paradigm. Adopt it today.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

In Case You Missed It: RazörFist Arcade: ALIEN Isolation: Crew Expendable

In case you missed it, Razorfist played Alien Isolation last night to mark Friday The 13th. Admist the xenomorph survival horror, you get Razor and Terran Gell being their usual awesome selves dropping truth bombs as he answers questions from the chat. Sit back, enjoy, and be informed as you are entertained.

If you are not following this man on YouTube or Vidme, do so and ensure you'll get notified when he goes live. His livestreams are not to be missed; as with Geek Gab and Metro City Boys, the live chat is as entertaining as the stream itself. In particular, when he comments on music or comics the man has golden insights and exhibits a depth of knowledge.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Geek Gab's Game Night: Douglas Cole Talks Adventure Design

Dorrinal hosted Geek Gab: Game Night against last night, hosting Douglas Cole to talk about adventure design. Set the DVR to record and put this one on instead. This podcast goes places, but it's worth it.

I was there live, and it was quite the animated podcast. Doug talked more than Daddy Warpig, and if you've heard Warpig go then you know how impressive that is. Get your notepads ready; you're going to get good knowledge and hard-earned wisdom here, allowing you to skip the pain of making those errors yourself.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Last Jedi: See Through This, Fans Do

The vibe for The Last Jedi continues to sour, outside of the official line promulgated by Lucasfilm. Below I'm embedding another World Class Bullshitters video reading the reactions to the trailer, and Midnight's Edge doing a roundtable on it; the latter crew is far more positive.

But no, after reviewing the trailer and listening to some of the PR shilling, I cannot help but to conclude that this will be a mirror of The Empire Strikes Back- an inferior one. No amount of past brilliance can overcome executive mandates from above when you're a hired gun. Some admixture from Return of the Jedi is present, but otherwise we should expect that we're getting another Original Trilogy recycle.

The more I hear about what the narrative is, combined with what I see and know, the less confident I am that this film will be any good- let alone the creative powerhouse that it has to be to repair the damage done by The Force Awakens (and yes, by Rogue One; the Han Solo film doesn't look promising either). While some narrative events are inevitable due to external circumstances (RIP Carrie Fisher), most of them are the deliberate choice of someone other than Rian Johnson. This may not be a bad thing, depending on who is responsible for what narrative decisions, but I default to "Degrees of Suck".

One thing is clear. The Force is not with Disney. For all the hype, the merch rots on the shelves and opinion turns on their films shortly after they leave theaters. The new, post-Disney games get more flack than love in all media; the Original Trilogy remains the dominant era, followed by the Prequels. Few, by their deeds, want or care about the Sequels. The viewing of films has quickly turned into empty ritual, and the next step is to stop going entirely.

This is what happens when you don't comprehend the property you're working with, no matter if you respect it or not. You can't make good product when you don't know what the hell you're doing with it.

Go read the Galaxy's Edge series by Nick Cole & Jason Anspach, or Brian Niemeier's Soul Cycle series instead. When I have my own stuff to shill, I will not be shy in doing so. Fork & Replace Star Wars, folks. Fork & Replace.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Boy Scouts No More

This happened today:

I was a Boy Scout. I was a Cub Scout. I was one of the first Tiger Cubs. I attended the 1989 National Jamboree at Ft. A.P. Hill in Virginia. While it wasn't all sunshine and roses, my time in the Scouts was a great benefit and I had hoped that someday I'd be able to pass this on to a son of my own.

The best part of my time was that there were no women at all involved. The entire point of the organization is to train boys to become men, something that only men can do. Women--however well-meaning--are fundamentally incompetent and incapable of performing that task. One need only look at the statistics regarding the sons of single-mothers to see this truth in all its horror.

If grown women have no place there, then girls most certainly don't. The few times when women or girls--rumored, not confirmed; it was worse when confirmed--were present (usually the nurse at Many Point Scout Camp) during Scouting operations, it had exactly the deleterious effect on discipline and morale that you would expect for a group of boys. I remember well what co-ed environments were like in school; that it wasn't a thing in Scouting was a great blessing- something whose lacking I noticed when I met co-ed scouts from foreign organizations. (Quite frankly, they're jokes.)

And yes, that Eagle Scout rank means a great deal when entering adult life. Nothing short of holding a military officer's commission (be it through a service academy or otherwise) would trump that on a resume. That the Girls Scout equivalent doesn't have the same level of respect says a lot more on the failure of the Girl Scouts to properly publicize the rank and its requirements than anything else- and yet the resentment goes on the Boy Scouts, instead of where it belongs. Female entitlement to male achievement is once more at work, under the fraud of "social justice", and the cucks on the board folded like cheap suits because they are cowards.

This recent decision reveals that the Boy Scouts of America has betrayed its mission. It is no longer fit for purpose and must be destroyed lest the rot spread further. If your boys are in, pull them out; if your boys aren't in, don't join. Find or form a fork that maintains the mission of the organization--a male-only Scouting organization focused on training boys to become men--and continue the work there, in time to supercede and replace the converged corpse-thing corrupting all it touches.

Why? Because the Boy Scouts of America are no longer morally straight. A corrupt leader cannot pass on a pure philosophy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Last Jedi (Doesn't Inspire)

During Monday Night Football, the new trailer for The Last Jedi debuted.

YouTube has all sorts of reactions and analysis and autistic screeching about this trailer right now. Below is the World Class Bullshitters video on it. Call the boys, crack open a cold one, and have some popcorn handy. You know this is going to be goofy.

The going vibe is that this is a shit remake of The Empire Strikes Back. Nothing in this trailer convinces me that this vibe is invalid; the only real difference is the Prequel-themed emphasis on why Ben Solo became Kylo Ren. Regardless of what the crew at World Class Bullshitters, Midnight's Edge, etc. say all that needs be said is this:

The trailer does not get me excited to see this film.

That, folks, is damning. Even up to Revenge of the Sith, 12 years ago, the trailers got me excited. Now? Nope. It's been a whopping two years since The Force Awakens and one since Rogue One, and I can't get excited for it anymore. The Mouse has managed to fuck that up.

Sure, a miracle could occur and this film turns out to be good. I'm more likely to see Godot arrive than for that to happen. We'll see soon enough, but I'm not bothering to hold out hope. Instead, I'm making my own Star Wars. You should too. Hookers and blackjack optional.

Addendum

The folks at World Class Bullshitters follow up on Wednesday of this week. The video is below. They're reading the comments from the official YouTube channel's posting of the trailer.

Monday, October 9, 2017

How To RPG: Your Setting Needs Interesting Interests to Interest Players

When listening to the old-timers talk about their campaigns, I see something that far too many newer players miss: competing interests at work. It's never a simple You vs. Villain scenario; even in a fight against an Evil Empire, there are competing interests at work who must be dealt with- on both sides.

And the players? They're like these guys:

Yes, even the Monks, Rangers and Paladins. They made it work, somehow; being Lawful or Good doesn't mean being nice or doormats.

This isn't hard to implement. It's easy to do, and in large part because you can do so in small portions as you go; you roll up a NPC, make up somethings he wants done and where to do it, and off you go. A few of those and you will end up with contradictory goals; there's your conflict, and in that liminal space you have a place for players to (a) play the damned game and (b) make consequential decisions that have an impact on the setting going forward.

And it happens emergently, organically, without any need for Storygame bullshit (or any other not-gaming mechanics). Maybe that Goblin band wants something that the nearby Ogre doesn't, like not being the Ogre's bitches. That gives the players an opportunity to negotiate. Start throwing a bunch of these interests together into a setting, and let the players do as they will; they will gladly get themselves into all sorts of trouble just figuring out how to navigate this maze of socio-economic interests you've randomly rolled up.

That's the magic at work: just trusting the dice and letting things happen. Screw plot, narrative, drama, and all that stuff. Just let the game be the game, and the people in your setting be people--be they men or not--as they would be in real life, and things will take on a life of their own quickly. You don't need that Evil Empire, that Overarching Omnipresent Threat, by default; you can, and many have, done just fine with more small-scale. Again: Less Tolkien, More Howard. Less Save The World. More Make Your World.

And in those Evil Empires, you better believe that factions competing for power are a thing. Just because the Faceless Hordes mass on the border doesn't mean there isn't a faction fight going on that players can't find a way to make useful to them. When the players decide to engage a setting like that, Black Knight and Evil Wizard aren't likely to be True Friends- and Evil Genius General certainly isn't. Similarly, Resistance Leader, Sympathetic King, and Sketchy Mystic aren't always on the same page either. If you can't find a way to make that fun, you need to level up as a gamer.

Good settings have compelling and competing interests- it's part of that wargame heritage. Roll with it, literally. It's fun.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Loot Boxes: Gambling By Another Name

Over the last week, I heard--as did many others--that both Star Wars Battlefront II and Shadow of War--will follow the trend of including a virtual loot box system. Furthermore, these will be available for sale online with real currency; you can spend your Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Yen, etc. on these crates. The contents are random, following the model of Magic: The Gathering and its Booster Packs.

This is the micro-payment monetization model that's so popular in videogames these days. The problem is that not only do many games lock away most or all of their high-end cosmetics (which, believe it or not, do drive a lot people), but also actually power upgrades that make the game easier to play. As the contents are random, you cannot guarantee that you will get what you want when you pay your money. You can't even guarantee that you will get anything of use at all. It's a crap-shoot, so what we have here is a virtual slot machine.

That's gambling, folks, and if the gaming companies don't start doing what it takes to stop being so obviously gambling then the State will step in and make them stop. Why? Because actual gambling companies aren't going to put up with competition that is not as regulated as they are, and once they start clamoring for it you can count the days until the State does just that.

Fix your shit, gaming industry, before the other gaming industry shows you how its done.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

On Birthdays: Why Celebration of Yours Matters

Today I turn 43 years old.

For an adult well past 21, that doesn't seem like something to get excited about. There aren't piles of presents awaiting me (and so there aren't going to be pictures of me being thrilled about getting stuff), and the wild party will be me enjoy my favorite pizza as well as a birthday cake (in the oven as of this post) and some coffee, but I still get excited every year as if I were a child anyway.

You're missing the point, folks. Your birthday is the one day in the year where, for all intents and purposes, it IS about you. Specifically, it's a celebration (especially after your 21st) that the Sandmen haven't gotten you yet. No Carousel for you. (Logan's Run, folks. Read the book.) You're still here, and therefore still able to be there for your friends and family. Still there able to fix what you can, work around what you can't, and therefore to Git Gud at whatever it is you care about.

Your birthday is your day to celebrate the fact that you're still here. Still in the game, in the fight, on the scene- that you are Not done yet. Even if you're old, or infirm, or otherwise near that end you're not there yet and until you do get there you've got something left to do.

That is why it's right and proper to get excited, to celebrate, and mark the occasion. Sure, the presents are great, but they are symbols of the real significance of the day: that you are still here, able to love and be love, and Make Life Great Again.

Yes, even if your life is a worse comedy than Jar-Jar Binks, it's still worth celebrating. You're still alive, so you can still fix it. So have that cake, and let that inner child out to make that celebration as enthusiastic as it can get. You can be stodgy and stoic when you're dead. On this day, be that enthusiastic child again, ready to take on the world and pierce the heavens. Be like this:

And be grateful to still be alive. Until you're shot down, you can still be the Ace of Aces, so go for it. Happy birthday indeed.

(On the off-hand that you'd like to throw a gift at me, check the tab above for relevant links to Amazon and Steam.)

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Cinematic Universe Paradigm is Collapsing

The folks at Midnight's Edge and Midnight's Edge After Dark had a pair of good podcasts about the entertainment business (in the United States, of course) this week. Before I forget I'll embed them both immediately below. Slot them into your Watch Later queue and give them both your full attention. The former focuses upon the ongoing trainwreck that is Star Trek: Discovery, and the latter focuses upon the "Dark Universe" of the classic Universal monster movies (which The Mummy, the Tom Cruise film, was meant to launch). We'll come back to that below.

What isn't really addressed here is that DC's attempted at a cinematic universe is also feeling the strain, and I think that Marvel's go at it is about to come to its collapse point now that the decade-long Infinity Gauntlet arc is coming to a close with the final Avengers films.

If it were just DC and Marvel, you could write this off as Superhero Movie Fatigue. It's not. All of them are failing, to varying degrees- even the two that pioneered it (Star Wars and Star Trek) are suffering the fallout. What it really comes down to is that more and more people in and out of the business are recognizing what I said previously: Transmedia Doesn't Work.

What we're finding out now with podcasts like these is that it's not just the audience that isn't buying into the transmedia thing, but also a lot of people on the inside- and by that I mean the key talent cohorts, along with some front office and moneybags people. Filmmakers don't like being constrained by outside parties, including other films that they didn't make; we see that with both the PR spewed by folks like Gareth Edwards as well as the behind-the-scenes stuff revealed in podcasts like this, and they get their way by default- only a Kathy Kennedy can check them. More and more of the two latter cohorts will join the talent cohorts as the failures become too obvious to ignore and they find that turning their coats will keep them in the business as the wreckage clears.

In short, we're watching the decline and fall of the Cinematic Universe as a viable business model. Once the final Avengers film is done, count on Marvel's universe collapsing as the initial fans take their payoff and (emotionally) cash out of the franchise- much as Warcraft 3 fans did with the end of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft. It may go on for a while thereafter, but in permanent decline; the tell will be when the SJW bullshit ramps up hardcore, because (once again) all of the smart money had already left.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Axanar, Alt-Hero, & Why NOW Is The Time to Strike Boldly

Below is another video about the Axanar fiasco. I'm not using this to talk about Axanar specifically; that's for another post. The point here is to bring to your attention the hows and whys leading into the unexpected success and quality of Prelude to Axanar. Compare this with the situation surrounding the Alt-Hero project, which is also an attempt to satisfy an audience that is not being served by the purported holders of that niche of popular culture.

Do you see that now is the time to strike out on your own? To launch new ventures that satisfy demands going unmet? If you do your part properly, get ready for all the success you can handle and more. The hunger for true, authentic culture is ravenous. You need not be a master, though it helps, but rather be eager to learn all of the skills necessary to succeed in your venture- something too many of the "mainstream" converged by the SocJus Death Cult refuse to do because they refuse to Git Gud and confront reality as it is.

You don't need the old institutions. You can--and should--build your own capacity to do all that work yourself, building a parallel structure that forks and replaces your competition over time. You can--and should--embrace the haters and make them do your marketing for you through their inability to stop going "REEEEE!" and antagonize the very audience you seek to serve. Learn from the successes and failures of others, and you get both in the video above, before making your plan and launching your own venture. Sure, you may end up like Jek Porkins, but Death Stars don't blow up themselves either- don't be like the Cuckservatives and not even show up to fight.

The world is yours. Go take it. The culture war is won just by showing up and not backing down.