Tuesday, August 22, 2017

EA/DICE's Battlefront II Isn't Looking That Good

Recently, EA & DICE released this trailer for Star Wars Battlefront II. As with the others, this is very well done and did much to build up a hype train.

Some motherfuckers at EA and DICE need to go back to Business School, because they keep fucking up the fundamental rule of Expectations: If you cannot fulfill the expectations that you set, then your customers will take your failure for betrayal and desert you. Yesterday, at a press event at Gamescom, this failure of expectation again appeared.

Yeah, that's actual gameplay footage from the Gamescom event. You had several issues present, but theose that will wreck this if it's not fixed before launch are the following:

  • The fighters aren't fast enough. Go back and watch that trailer again. Go watch clips of the movies, or of Rebels and The Clone Wars (plenty on YouTube alone), where dogfighting happens. Do you not see that speed in action? Compare that to this gameplay footage, and you can see that they're slow and sluggish all around. I know why this is the case: the actual gameplay arena is too damn small to properly recreate the desired experience. They pussied out, again. Attack speed is way faster than what we see here, which is cruising speed at best. Don't tell me that this can't be done; it has been done, decades ago, with the X-Wing/TIE Fighter series. Someone's either cheaping out, or is too incompetent to do it properly.
  • The fighters' specs are WRONG. Bombers are NOT flying tanks, yet that's what we're seeing (especially the TIE Bomber), and some dumbfuck is going to go all "Muh Gameplay!" as the excuse. Motherfucker, that's not how bombers works, and your own source material directly contradicts this bullshit time and again. There's also way too much ordinance flying around; this should be far more about gunnery than missile trajectories, as it uses pre-Beyond Visual Range dogfighting as its inspiration. More Dakka, Less Itano Circus. Let's hope the Clone Wars stuff isn't so bad.
  • Not enough reason to group up. Dogfighting, even in Star Wars is a team sport, but the game doesn't reward this enough (or punish Leeroy Jenkins enough), so you get An Heroes flying around trying to win battles by themselves and then wonder why it ain't working. Especially for TIE pilots, this has to be pushed and pushed hard. This? This is lazy as fuck.
  • Objective focus is not strong enough. Flat-out, the matches need to be solely about getting your job done; all the readouts on individual efforts are not only distracting, they promote Leeroy bullshit over proper teamwork. Not only should you get no readout on your performance until the match is over, you should get no reward for anything that does not directly and immediately push the objective. This is a team effort; work as a team for the team's goal or get the fuck out. (This is also present for the ground-pounder side of the game.)

While this is a clear improvement over the 2015 game, it's still not fulfilling the expectations set by their own marketing, and if they don't fix that right now then the game will meet the same fate as the previous Battlefront: have a pop at its launch, and then crater once word of mouth gets out (especially via livestreams) that it's still a shallow and hollow experience by people who--contrary to marketing--don't know what they're doing and don't care enough to figure that out so they can do it right.

Barring a miracle, this is also getting a pass. Don't pre-order this game; wait for your trusted people to give you the good word before you spend those hard-earned sheckles, and if that never comes then give it the hard pass and punt it entirely.

And when you get the chance, you tell Lucasfilm, EA and everyone else whose corporate brands on this game that they failed to meet the expectations that they set. Until they either stop writing checks with their mouths that they're asses can't cash, or they adjust their hype so they set expectations that they actually can meet, No Money For You!

Monday, August 21, 2017

My Life in Fandom: Good Reads for Your Monday

It's Monday, and for those of you with a normal workweek, it's SuckDay. By now you should be well into the daily de-stress, so if you're not catching up on yesterday's Metro City Boys podcast you may be looking for good news. While I am thrilled that my submission for the PulpRev Sampler Anthology got accepted, that may not boost your morale. Likewise, while I enjoy Vox Day's Darkstreams, that's not everyone's cup of tea either. (By the way, A Throne of Bones is free on Kindle today only. Get on that.) So, here's something good to get your spirits up.

This week is Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. It's the biggest videogame event in Europe, and two of my streamer pals are going to be there as guests of Blizzard Entertainment (because they're World of Warcraft streamers). Blizzard already announced that they're adding Kel'Thuzad to Heroes of the Storm, Junktown is coming to Overwatch, and they've got regional finals to qualify for BlizzCon going on also. EA & DICE have more hype to spread about Star Wars Battlefront II, and SquareEnix just released the announcement for the PC version of Final Fantasy XV.

GenCon was last weekend. I wish I could say there was something truly astounding coming out, but I haven't seen anything yet. (That is not the same as "There is nothing." If you've got something, put it in the Comments below.) What I did see, however, is now on my Wish List for my birthday and Christmas: Fantasy Flight Games announced a 30th Anniversary edition of the original West End Games version of the Star Wars tabletop RPG.

Oh, and if you haven't read Daddy Warpig's post at Castallia's blog on How to Write Pulp, fix that now. Great read. Those who heed this advice will, in time, become the true successors to E.E. Smith, E.R Burroughs, R.E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Walter B. Gibson, and the other past masters of the Pulps.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

My Life as a Gamer: Tabletop Scratches for Mad Max Itches

In addition to Car Wars, tabletop gaming has other offering to get your Mad Max fix, but most of them are not in print anymore. (Which is sad, depending on your tastes.) I'll go over two that I know of, and I'll welcome others in the Comments.

Dark Future was Games Workshop's go at this genre, and like Steve Jackson's Car Wars they decided to up-gun the vehicles for the same of making it easier to design and play. This is a boardgame, and not a role-playing game at all, not even the bone thrown in Car Wars is present here. You're either one of the Outlaws or one of the Bounty Hunters after them. Being a Games Workshop game that wasn't one of the two main Warhammer games, it got some hype and then shelved Because Reasons.

If this sounds interesting, and you're willing to either hunt down used stuff or roll your own, hit up Future Highways and get started. Otherwise, you can wait for Auroch Digital's PC adaptation which they hope to have out this year so hit up the Steam Page.

Maybe you want something else? A proper RPG, perhaps?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Narrative Warfare: Disney Star Wars is a Train Wreck

Recently I posted about a YouTube channel by the name of "Midnight's Edge", as that channel covers the ongoing trainwreck that is the Star Trek franchise and the imminent failure of Star Trek: Discovery. If you haven't checked out that channel and watched their videos on the matter, please do so; the inside baseball alone makes it worthwhile.

Of course I wanted to find one for Star Wars, and--while by no means as informed on the business end as the Midnight's Edge crew--the people at World Class Bullshitters. They're a crude bunch at times, but they are on point. Watch, but not with young kids around.

What got my attention was this video by one of the crew therein talking about how the merchandise is still rotting on the shelves, especially Rey and Finn action figures.

Remember the source of George Lucas' wealth: getting merchandise rights from 20th Century Fox over Star Wars. He had no shame in turning every possible element of the film into something you could be in the store, and we who grew up with it remember that too well. Of course Disney would continue doing that, and--hear me out here--this is a smart idea.

The problem is that you have incompetent twats driven by ideology over data calling the shots. The reason this is not a bad idea is that you can track your merchandise sales to find indicators of what your audience is, what they like, and what they would rather punt down a shaft into the Death Star's reactor. Use that data to improve your product.

I can hear the MBAs going "Basic Bitch Business 101, duh." from here. Guys, Lucasfilm doesn't do this because it's run by cultist ideologues. You'd think the combination of (a) all that Rey merch rotting on the shelves, (b) massive fan hate for Rey, and (c) equally bad mockery of Rey would result in a top-down directive to change fucking course but that's not happening because Lucasfilm's head is a death cultist pushing Muh Feminism as an executive mandate.

In short, you have an irrational business plan being implemented and enforced by an irrational individual working off Muh Feels and not any objective data or other empirical information- other than how to deflect criticism of The Narrative. Comics, games, movies, TV- all the same bullshit, for the same reasons, producing the same results and getting the same reactions: Double-Down! This is textbook insanity, folks, driving by a textbook cult.

And that's why I can only hope that the crash is truly colossal and catastrophic, because nothing less will dislodge the death cult from the franchise so it can be taken up by sober-minded people who know how to run a global media corporation competently. (Yes, that means taking Lucas back on in an advisory capacity; don't force him back in the driver's seat--he's retired, so let him stay there--but listen to him when he talks about his own creation, dammit.)

In the meantime, I encourage everyone who has the skill and the will to do so to fork and replace Star Wars. It's long past time for Alt-Culture to become a thing.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Narrative Warfare: Pay No Attention to the Men Behind the Curtain

The Supreme Dark Lord threw out a great summary of the real axis of conflict in the world now, and did it in a Tweet:

He's not saying anything new. Alex Jones said it years ago, and he was not the first either. What's different now is that the social mood shifted, and--despite appearances--not to the Globalist's favor. This is something few understand, but Vox Day does- and so does the God-Emperor.

Remember that Voltaire quote, the one about knowing who rules over you by what you cannot say? There's a corollary, and it comes as measuring the weakness of a position by the vehemence leveled at those who challenge it. You don't see massive coordinated hits if the threat is not real and viable; that's not strength or confidence. That's fear and anxiety acting out as freak-outs. They're going to the big guns now, because they fear--rightly so--that if they don't annihilate us now then they won't be able to later.

What they don't know is that it's already too late for them. The de-platforming looks potent, but it's not; workarounds and other replacements already exist, already are in place, and already blunt the impact down to inconvenience levels of damage. That's why I said the other day that this will escalate next to SJWs in banking getting activated and deployed to cut off credit and deny access to financial services (including one's own personal accounts); this is a moment that they cannot let pass, so they are all-in with a hand that's weaker than they think it is.

What was true at the time of the Tower of Babel is true today, here and now: a one-world state is impossible, contrary to Natural Law, and doomed to fail no matter how it is attempted or who attempts it. The People's Republic China alone is sufficient to put down this folly, and that government is by no means on the side of the angels. That's before accounting for other countries who are capable of resisting (e.g. Japan).

No, what we are seeing here is an incompetent international body of death cultists freaking out and deploying their disposable cult army (covered by their minions in the media and government) to cover their asses before they get seized and dragged off to courts they don't control to be tried by officials they don't own under laws they did not write and condemned by judges they don't own for crimes they most certainly did commit and get displayed as examples for one and all what happens to traitors and quislings (since it did not take last time).

And once the lawsuits by the Alt-Tech Alliance members against Big Social get going (or, for some, just complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, or its foreign counterparts), that's the point where this rearguard action turns into a retreat to the banking sector (which will bring on more lawsuits and complaints) prior to it becoming a rout. At that point, the physical violence will escalate to home invasions, which will be so badly done that the FBI will immediately get involved and RICO prosecutions ensue.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Narrative Warfare: The Goal of Big Social's Censorship

Today's post comes from a Tweetstorm written by Daddy Warpig. I will not embed the entire thread, but I will quote it in its entirety. Rather, I will quote the first Tweet (so you can click through and read for yourself thereafter), and then blockquote the rest.

The Left wants the new social norm to be "Anyone who criticizes Leftwing violence is a Nazi, and they will be dealt with as such." It's blatant intimidation tactics. They intend that, if you criticize Antifa, BLM, or any other Leftwing violence, you will be punished.

They want you to think that Apple will turn off Apple Pay, YouTube will demonetize you, Cloudflare will drop you, and you will be fired. Not to mention the implicit threat of—and often actual manifestation of—violence.

"Cross us and we will destroy your life."

I'm not saying they can do this, or will do this.

But they want you to think they will.

Self censorship is most effective censorship.

But one thing they can and will do is this:

They will do their damndest to make you socially radioactive.

They will tar you as a Nazi.

They will smear you on social media, at your job, in the news media, to your friends, anywhere they can. It's ugly and vicious, and I don't see it going away anytime soon.

Welcome to the (for now) New Normal, courtesy America's Left.

In short, what this really is comes down to nagging harridans screeching like the harpies that they are. Do you want to know how you handle this problem? You stand up, take a deep breath, and proclaim I don't care! Then you backhand the harridans until they stop, one way or the other.

What they can't do, and they know they can't do, is exterminate their targets' online presence entirely. They know that the Alt-Tech Alliance exists, as they've constantly come at Gab to show that this is true, and they fear the potential for an unassailable parallel Internet infrastructure where their shaming attacks have no power. Why? This makes censorship useless.

Want to know why the Alt-Left escalated to domain seizures and working ICANN? Because that's the next level where they are able to strike with potency, and already there's a move to build a free speech registrar with DDOS protection services. Payment processors are already coming up and gaining purchase. That's why, as I said yesterday, this ends with Alt-Banking becoming a thing.

Anti-fragility is a real thing, and as more people targeted by the Alt-Left see that they can become so by siding against them in this manner, that's going to take the bite out of this censorship- and move the fight into the courts and legislatures while attacks in the streets escalate.

And once that happens, this becomes a fight we will win.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Narrative Warfare: We're Going To Need Alt-Banking

It's going to come down to the banks, and with it the international central banking system. As the Alt-Left continues to freak out and move to silence, de-platform, render homeless, etc. their targets the Alt-Tech Alliance will continue to outmanuever them by their creation of parallels that fork and replace the SJW-converged companies and institutions. This will freak the Alt-Left out further, and compel an escalation of their censorship schemes.

In time, this will move from the tech world to the financial world. The point of departure will be the success of payment processor replacements such as Hatreon and crowd-source alternatives such as Wesearcher and Counter-Fund. At that point, the Alt-Left will lean on the SJWs in the banking sector to cut off all banking service access entirely. The resistance here will escalate to the point where the central banks will sever access to the system, at which point the final nail will be place: the replacement of the global banking system in its entirety.

By that time, the digital balkanization that Vox Day speaks of here will have passed the Point of No Return. I expect that physical balkanization will be close to the same level of development, as that which cannot co-exist will not. Either one side exterminates the others, or they separate more-or-less peacefully into homogenous enclaves to resume peaceful existence with their own kind.

And when that happens, a decentralized alternative to the current global central banking system will not only exist, it will be utterly necessary and proper. If you know some based bankers, now's the time to get them into the Alt-Tech Alliance and get them on the task of setting that up and putting out based alternatives.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Narrative Warfare: The Attempt of Narrative Genocide in the United States

Dragon Award-winner (and nominee again this year) Brian Niemeier had a great post at his blog, Kairos, today. The substance of the post concerns how the Leftists seized control over all of the institutions surrounding the cultivation, publication, and promotion of Science Fiction in the 20th Century. Specifically, the erasure of history therein in order to promulgate a new political narrative so that their cultural corruption can continue with little or no opposition.

Does this look familiar to you?

The death cult known as "ISIS" routinely vandalizes and destroys all cultural relics and institutions in the areas that they seize and hold. The purpose is to erase the culture of the conquered so that resistance to indoctrination and assimilation into their slime mold culture ceases to exist. A people that does not control their past has no future. It does not matter to what those relics or institutions belong; they are not of the cult, so they are Other and must be obliterated. This is celebrated as "justice".

Does this sound familiar to you?

The Alt-Left (Praise be to the God-Emperor for making that term known.), by way of their Antifa front, are no less a death cult. They too seek to destroy the history of the American nation, first with its institutions (see Gramasci's "Long March") and now with the relics placed as physical anchors for our history and heritage.

Why?

The goal is the same: to seize control of the culture by erasing all outside its grasp. This is Narrative Genocide.

It's straight out of Orwell's 1984. Stalin could not have done better than what the Alt-Left traitors--and yes, if you seek to genocide the history and culture of the American nation, while claiming allegiance or citizenship thereto, you are traitors--are doing now. Fortunately, the Attorney General is already investigating the Charlottesville affair; once the charges come for the major, the deputy major, and Governor McAulliffe (all of whom knew of, participated in, and gave orders to support government agents' willful abandonment of their duties) the crackdown on Antifa and their allies will come in earnest.

And such action comes none too soon. We're already pushing perilously close to countrywide political violence, aided and abetted by traitors in city, county, and state-level government. If the Rule of Law is to survive, then the hammer has to come down now and come down like the fist of an angry God upon one and all. Not just charges, but felony convictions with life-ending prison terms in maximum level security prisons. Let's see how well these fools do in a yard filled with hardened gangsters- many of which look on them with utter contempt.

The alternative is Civil War. If that occurs, then kiss the demographic trends goodbye- along with the Republic.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Narrative Warfare: Big Social SJWs Double-Down

The Big Social push to exercise editorial control by choosing, on political grounds alone, what users may exist or do therein will backfire. There are legal doctrines in place that those affected can resort to for remedy, and we shall see lawsuits succeed based on those doctrines presently. Discord, thanks to a rat-out by Laura Loomer, removed the Alt-Right server; this is exactly that sort of control, and it will hurt them badly in Federal court when--under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Communications Decency Act--those affect do bring the pain back to the whip-wielders. (By the way, file those suits as soon as you can; Discovery alone will compel settlement.)

If the management at those corporations were actually competent, they would be as silent as the grave on all political matters; they would not heed any political pushes from without, and ruthlessly purge political agents within. Unforced political activism is bad for business, and not just because it gives rivals and enemies an opening due to one's own unforced errors. (By contrast, when such is forced, it can and does get results; the anti-gun traitors still haven't figured out why they're losing, and it's because they forced the gun industry to be politically active to stay in business.)

The reason I don't take this Big Social threat more seriously is because the Alt-Tech Alliance is already at work forking and replacing every one of these SJW-converged corporations with properly-run alternatives. I'm already at Gab and Minds, and as soon as a non-SJW replacement for YouTube comes along I'll set up there. (Yes, I have a Vidme account; it's as active as my YT account.) I use Brave for my browser, and I'm looking at email replacements. (Once done, the current ones will be depreciated to spam-filters and non-serious use.)

So the big threat of Big Social? Not that much of a threat. But what is a real threat? Legal entanglements. Which reminds me: I live in a state where "criminal defamation" is a thing, so do mind the language and do your homework, lest you fly into my state and right into the arms of the State Patrol with an outstanding arrest warrant for you.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Narrative Warfare: Razorfist Exposes YouTube's Blacklist

The Big Social push to censor WrongThink has been going on for a while, but only recently has it gone from cutting off revenue and some shadowbans to wholesale blacklists governed only by the Right People throwing WrongThinkers of any prominence into a ghetto. It's Google and YouTube right now, but count on Twitter and Facebook doing the same right now.

There was no warning. Neither is there any appeal. No notification of any sort, to anyone concerned, occurred. Someone just put the man on the list, and then the list's barebones functionality did the rest. By exposing this to be the case, Razorfist shows that the senior management at YouTube (as reflected at Google and Alphabet) has utterly abandoned the rock-solid legal protection of the Safe Harbor doctrine in favor of picking winners and losers- and thus de-platforming their enemies.

This is about controlling the context--perception management--in order to shape the narrative, through which the SJW death cult and their masters control language (e.g. the abuse of "Nazi" as a word meaning "anyone we don't like") and therefore thought itself via shame and status-manipulation. (That's what virtue-signalling is about: maintaining one's status with the cult.)

I hope that the emerging Alt-Tech Alliance gets a YouTube fork worth a damn up and running shortly, because it looks like a lot of us will need it. But, quite frankly, the big elephant in the room is this: the finance world is control by the masters of the SJW death cult, and until that gets forked and replaced everyone is vulnerable to bank-based bullshit.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Geek Gab, Superversive, & The State of Short Fiction

Geek Gab Prime and Superversive had big podcasts on today. The Gab gang talks about E.T. and has on blogger Vlad James to talk short stories, their demise as a commercial fiction vehicle, and why that's been bad for both the business and the art of science fiction in the West.

The Superversive SF Roundtable got together to talk about the Hugo Awards (briefly), the Dragon Awards, and plenty of commentary on the respect (or lack thereof) for genre boundaries in the world's markets for commercial fiction. There was some criticism in the live chat, valid ones, about how the roundtable went too far afield and covered material that the audience would already know (and thus wasted time).

This is not the first time talk about the demise of the short story market and its impact on genre fiction of all sorts has come up, and it likely won't abate soon, so it is important to observe that the attempts by Storyhawk, Cirsova, Lyonesse, et. al. to revive the market for short fiction in science fiction and fantasy.

I am not convinced that this is the only option. Themed anthologies are also an option, and can be sold for that $0.99 price that many independent authors of all genres use at Amazon's Kindle store. (But they are competing with huge boxed sets that often go at that price, so there is a risk.)

Furthermore, in the digital realm there isn't much of a difference between a magazine and an anthology. Functionally, they're the same in digital format: a product featuring multiple authors' stories published in a single volume. Only in print does that distinction actually mean anything and thus make a difference, and with digital now taking prominence it may be time to do away with formats that don't recognize that fact.

Just as the Big 5 suffer daily due to the paradigm shift that Amazon dominates, so does everything attached to that legacy model. Borders is done, Barnes & Noble hangs by a thread, and the wave will hit Half-Price Books in due course. We would be foolish to be likewise too-attached to that which no longer serves our interests. If the magazine is not the place for short fiction anymore, then consider that the magazine should go for a good reason.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Razorfist on "The Road Warrior", & the Car Wars Connection

Razorfist continues Mad Max Month with the best film in the franchise: The Road Warrior.

Remember when I said that this series had a big influence on Car Wars? This film is the reason why. While the game doesn't worry so much about gasoline, and the people tend to use firearms (and more advanced weapons) more often, the general idea is the same: limited nuclear exchange lead to economic collapse, civilization is in city-states and the countryside is contested territory, militarization of common vehicles is omnipresent and as such a class of warriors--"autoduelists"--arose to fight the new battles.

While Car Wars is a tabletop wargame (of the cheap sort; paper maps and cardboard chits with standard dice), the setting has plenty of room for tabletop role-playing- something the original edition allowed for by making your Driver into a PC you can use outside of the vehicle. When GURPS Autoduel came along, that potential got explored fast with a series of setting guides by region- itself an outgrowth of a regular feature of Autodeal Quarterly.

That's when the influence of the Mad Max films became clear, and the "V-8 Western" vibe really took shape. There's no world-shaking threats. There's no epic quest narratives. It's more like Conan's pre-kingship tales, where he's just a man making his way through the world. That's your standard autoduelist: an adventurer, gunslinger, etc. doing his best to earn a living with the skills he's got. It's just that his skills often put him into conflict with others, routinely including others like him working for the opposition. Sometimes it's personal, sometimes it's business, and sometimes he's just in the wrong place at the right time. (Compare with Knight Rider, sans the backing of the Knight Foundation.)

That sort of fun has been sorely lacking, and even in the franchise now they've lost that plot to a significant degree (to the point of making Max an irrelevant character in a film with his name on it), but it's never gone away from Car Wars because you're not The Hero. You're Just Some Guy. Gaming works best when this is explicit, because--due to practical realities--it routinely comes across as shallow and hollow when The Hero is attempted (and fails). Gaming and fiction have sicknesses beyond the obvious stupidity of SJW bullshit; that "Save The Cat" crap is just as bad, and it's time it too got hit with all guns blazing. It is time to restore room to more personal adventures, as many of the classics presented. Not everything needs to be Personal and Epic.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Life in Fandom: "Gundam: The Origin V" Comes Soon

I've been a fan of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise since I first saw a bootleg of the first episode of 0083: Stardust Memory without English translation at all in 1993. In particular, I love the original continuity--the Universal Century--and as such a fan I've been quite happy as of late.

The official Gundam YouTube channel uploaded the entirety of Zeta Gundam in translation, and is now doing the same for ZZ Gundam (That said as "Double Zeta", by the way, since we have some new readers.) Some of the other-continuity shows are also up there, subtitled and dubbed, as I have said previously. But the big wins for me have been the recent (within the last few years) production of new Universal Century shows.

Of the bunch, I've adored Gundam Unicorn, but the anime adaptation of "Gundam: The Origin" has been nothing less than stellar. Its first four parts have been a great revenge drama telling the origin story for the One Year War of the original series, focusing on Char Aznable as our protagonist (as this story is very much about him; Amuro Rey just showed up, and he's barely a relevant character).

Well, Episode 5 of "Origin" is ready for release and there's an 11 minute preview available at the aforementioned channel. I'm putting the English dub below, but there is a subtitled version available. The high levels of production quality remain, and so does the depiction of the insane brutality of the events leading into the One Year War- as well as the Zabi family's embrace (sans baby brother Garma) of whole genocide to get their way. (The parallels to World War 2 are not accidental or subtle.) See for yourself.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Honored Dead Is Laid To Rest

Today my great uncle Kenneth Holm has been laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Despite inclement weather, all of us that showed yesterday returned and another few of my many cousins appeared for this occasion. Another of my cousins couldn't make it, but he did find this press release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which you can read in its entirety here. (Much thanks, Randy.)

Navy Fireman 3rd Class Kenneth L. Holm, 29, of Clarkfield, Minnesota, will be buried August 9 in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. On Dec. 7, 1941, Holm was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Holm.

I am honored to have partaking in a small manner by being one of the eight pallbearers that carried the casket out of its place at the funeral home, then out the door and into the waiting coach just prior to joining the procession out to Fort Snelling. It is the third time I've been a pallbearer, however brief, and each time leaves a mark on me that I cannot forget. However, the biggest surprise of the day came from the office of the Governor. While Mark Dayton could not attend himself, he sent an emissary to attend in his place, and by that proxy delivered the following:

I since learned that there will be a memorial monument to the Oklahoma, and my great uncle's internment place will be there along with the others identified and returned. The reverence, respect, and gratitude displayed and appreciation shown touched me deeply. My thanks to everyone that made this possible.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Honored Dead Return Home At Last

Today, I joined my mother and several other kinfolk in greeting my great uncle Kenneth Holm's remains at the airport. Great Uncle Kenneth was an enlisted man aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and died in the line of duty. His remains rested there on Battleship Row until recently when they were found and identified along with many of his shipmates. This is the third such repatriation this year, as many on the Oklahoma were from Minnesota and Wisconsin.

My uncle Blair Holm, wearing his full dress uniform from his Marine days, accompanied the U.S. Navy escort on the flight into Minneapolis. We met the fight on the tarmac as it came in, and witnessed the U.S. Navy detail assigned to escort his remains off the plane. He will lie in state at the funeral home overnight, and then be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetary tomorrow afternoon. Once I have photos and video to share, I'll post a follow-up to do just that.

I am fortunate that I neither saw nor heard not one note of complaint from anyone about anything throughout the entire event. No one on the plane complained about having to wait for the escorts or the casket to disembark before anyone else. No one in the concourse had a word or gesture of disdain. No one on the road tried to break our procession; most people made way without being asked, and several got out and saluted as we passed by--city workers, residents, commuters, young, old, etc.--which I found touching. A manager at a McDonald's even comped my uncle's order and a worker at a Michael's store gave us the best discount he could for my uncle's purchase (he needed a frame for a photo of my great uncle). This is a level of respect, gratitude, and decency I don't see enough anymore.

Tomorrow my great uncle will be buried with full honors, as he is due by right of his sacrifice in the line of duty. This too will occur over the midday, and I will be present to witness it. The American nation cannot afford to forget what made it, and the country it made, great.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Narrative Warfare: The Recent Freakouts Are Good Signs

With the news that Scalzi no-platformed himself in the face of Brian Niemeier's just and accurate criticism of the man, the book he (formerly) got nominated for, and the reason for the push I can sit back and applaud Brian for smacking down another SJW entryist shot. Not that there are not others (most of the tabletop ones, really), but the big threat was from the CHORFs and the SJWs in gaming are smaller fry that can be handled now that Sir Robin bravely ran away. (Time to get him some cannibalistic minstrels.)

With the release of the Google Memo, and the open SJW freakouts on display, more and more people are seeing these people for who and what they really are. I expect these incidents to escalate in frequency, and I expect violence to come as more of them decide they got to be line Antifa and "bash the fash".

I accept their desire for violence against us as genuine. They're freaking out, and they're starting to reach the point where only violence will assuage their anxiety. What's making things worse is that they're starting to realize that they're running out of proxies to use as stand-ins for themselves (because they prefer to do "Let's you and him fight." than risk it themselves), so all of the moves to cook the books so they can wield The State against their enemies are desperation moves. Venezuela is what they fear; what they want is South Africa. Notice the thin line between the two? That's reality telling them they're fucked.

So, it's time to ratchet up the pressure. Lay on, MacDuff. The more they feel pressured, the more they freak out and the greater the severity of their freakouts. Once they get wholly consumed by their delusions in an attempt to stave off the inevitable, they will do the same stupidity as the Persian messenger did in Sparta. Once they've crossed that line--and are clearly seen to have crossed it--no one will care about them when the lawful consequence follows and doom claims them all.

They all go down the well. If they get any mercy, then they don't survive the fall.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

How To Win At RPGs: Be Good At Dealing With Disaster Planning

I'd like to take a post to point out something I see too often when folks start talking about disaster preparation. A lot of this conversation also applies to virtual situations, such as your common Dungeons & Dragons scenarios, so we've got a topic of broad applicability.

Put simply, a lot of such talk displays a dearth of clear thinking, and the tell is a lack of appreciation for focus upon the objective and the logistics required to make that happen. You get people too caught up in the guns and the survivalist fantasy, you've got people who don't think through the scenario and therefore don't prepare properly, and you have naive fools who don't think they need to do more than a token amount.

These fallacies exist because most of these people are urban or suburban people, life-long, and have never been in a situation where that fundamental scarcity exists. The power rarely, if ever, went out. The water was always on and potable. The markets had food and gas all the time. Government services worked, even in emergencies. Someone who never had to handle months out of contact with city life, or had to handle severe weather (such as hurricanes) regularly.

Nevermind the zombies; that's just an excuse to talk about this usefully in a social setting. The real thing to do is to talk about the most likely disaster scenarios, talk through the progress, identify likely outcomes, then come up with a plan and prepare to execute it.

That is exactly what a proper game of Dungeons & Dragons faces: logistical scarcity. Most games in this mode will have the player facing this issue, forcing trade-off considerations that shape decision-making, but always in light of the overall objective.

The skills that make an expert tabletop RPG gamer are the skills that prepare you properly for any disaster.

I'll return to this down the road with more specific follow-ups, but for now hold on to this: the ones who survive disasters are those that keep their head, focus on the objective, prepared accordingly, and follow the plan. Even when they have to adapt the plan, they still stick to it.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why Gaming Isn't Storytelling: Difference In Focus

There is a significant difference between a setting created for use in a work of fiction, and one created for use in a tabletop RPG. Summarized, it's the difference between a focus on drama and a focus on gameplay. Let me show you by example what I mean.

Focus On Drama

The Solador project began about 10 years ago, during my last year as an undergraduate, when I read "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas" again for the purpose of writing a paper on it. It struck me then that the whole "forsaken child" concept would not actually work, but something that actually does go on would do the job: the deliberate creation and destruction of people into living icons that are then sacrificed as scapegoats when things go wrong. We call them today "celebrities".

So I posited a setting where the protagonist is the first such icon, created and promoted by the masters of a post-apocalyptic city-state who are trans-human immortals as a means of population control via fake religion. The icon-hero figure is deliberately turned into a celebrity, and thereby divorced from the normalcy of human life, and the people worship him as a demigod as they pin all of their hopes and dreams on him- and therefore blame him when things go wrong, not the immortals.

The story is how the protagonist breaks his conditioning, becomes the mask in earnest, and turns the tables against the immortals- and he does so by way of the intervention of a long-lost comrade, bearing him the thing he must have to make it possible: The Truth. By becoming in substance what he was only meant to ever be a false idol for, the protagonist takes the false religion and makes it into the true religion. The immortals get their comeuppance by the one angle they never accounted for--and they are not incompetent; they did account for everything that their mindset allowed--and are destroyed one by one because of that flaw.

Notice the emphasis of creation there? We're looking at elements to tell a story here. Some attention gets paid to things that the reader will not see, but only just enough for the setting to maintain verisimilitude through to conclusion. Furthermore, such things are confined to those relevant to the plot or meant to hook into later related works, and developed only as required to fulfill that function. Our primary concern is that all of the elements required to succeed in telling this story to the reader are present, accounted for, and will be ready for use when written.

Focus On Gameplay

When the Old-School Renaissance got started, I created my own setting to emphasize its merits. After reading the "West Marches" series at Ars Ludi, I set about making New Model Colony. Its major historical influences are the Thirty Years War, the English Civil War, and the early colonization of North America. Its major literary influences are Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and other pulp masters of the past- and I deliberately exclude Tolkien (and his would-be successors) from the influence list. Had Jeffro's Appendix N been out at the time, I would've used it to inform my creation.

My goal here was not to create an expansion region, mapped out and nailed down. Instead, all I did was create the first hub from which play goes forth and the area within a day's ride from that citadel. The map, as such, is a handful of hexes (and about half of them are water). Instead, I put time into defining the elements that would go into creating or adapting procedural generation tools (random encounters, climate shifts, where the valuable stuff is, etc.) and then put in the house rules or rule clarifications needed to ensure smooth play at the time regarding Frequently Asked Questions.

After that, it's noting what things are available to players' characters in that first fortified town. Major NPCs, availability of services and goods, difficulty in finding hirelings and henchmen, etc. This is information players need to know when organizing their expeditions into the wilderness beyond; the information here is logistical and economic, with a side of politics (as that becomes important later on), as befits a genre of gameplay derived from wargaming.

Notice the completely different emphasis there. I'm looking at two things: how to make running campaigns in this setting easy for me, and how to ensure that the setting has plenty of opportunities for adventure ready for players to capitalize upon. This sandbox is stocked; all it needs are players willing and able to make their own luck by seeking them out and going for them. No dramatic concerns apply.

Conclusion

Now you see why gamers, by and large, don't care that much for storytelling; the concerns driving gameplay are logistical, strategic, and tactical. They are not dramatic, and storytelling tropes come off as bothersome bullshit at best- and often go over like lead balloons. ("This is when the enemy reinforcements we totally didn't anticipate arrive. Refresh your buffs, and let the tanks pick up the trash before DPS. Lust here to burn them down fast, then back on the boss.") Especially in tabletop RPGs, players--not the GM--have to drive the action. The long-running tendency to push passive, reactive gameplay as if it were a story has done far more to damage gaming than anything the Jack Thompsons and Anita Sarkesians of the world have ever done. It's a fraud, and it's long past time it be punished as one.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Razorfist Presents: "Mad Max Month"

Razorfist teased this for the better part of a week before this video dropped. He's doing a franchise retrospective of Mad Max all this month. All of the films, and the games, and so on. Maybe even some Tina Turner commentary. The first video in this series is live, and embedded below for your convenience.

If you think that these films had no influence on Car Wars, you are sadly mistaken. While the game itself is too high-tech by default, the still-missing "Chassis & Crossbows" variant originally published in Dueltrack (along with the rules for gas-powered engines; by default your cars are electric-powered) nails the car-side of these films and lets you recreate (and iterate upon) the classic climax of The Road Warrior (and that other film the usual suspects crow about).

And yes, "V-8 Western" is the perfect summation of the early classic films. (The later ones, and the games? Not really.) His comparison to Eastwood's Spaghetti Western classics is spot-on, and I look forward to seeing him tackle the best movie in the series next week.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Running the Game: Before You Talk To Players

Are you new to running a tabletop RPG campaign? Let me give you a hand in doing this. Before you talk to players, you should sit down and work some things out first. Your campaign, done properly, is a sandbox that your players play within. It's not a stage, and therefore not a story. It's a sandbox because you define a space, and throw in some toys to use, then let the places loose to make of that as they will.

Some games make this easier than others, but what I'll talk about here (and in follow-up posts) will apply to any such RPG. The big difference will be in additional work meant to get it down to something manageable at the table. I'll walk you through the process, step by step; in writing this looks like a lot, but in practice it's not. You can handle all of this while watching TV after dinner on a weeknight, especially if you look things up during commercial breaks or between episodes of what you're binge-watching.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Narrative Warfare: YouTube Declares Itself "Context Curators"

Yesterday, YouTube announced that it will actively and aggressively engage in thought-police behavior on its platform. It will target channels and videos deemed "hateful" and shadow-ban them. Comments will be shut down. Monetization will be denied. Visibility in searches will be eliminated. Referrals will be shut off. In short, the videos will exist but on a "dark" basis- if they exist at all. Channels can, and will, be likewise handled.

Nevermind the Free Speech issue. This is stupid purely for business reasons, and yet is on those grounds that YouTube does this. By actively intervening in the commerce of traffic on the site, YouTube removes their strongest protection against users' criminality as they heretofore could say--honestly--that they only provided the metaphorical space for commerce to occur and were hands-off on what users did with it. Now they're on the hook for everything, as they implicitly sign off on everything uploaded there.

That way lies madness, as we now see with every little dictator wanting to yoke YouTube to their will. If YouTube were merely incompetent, instead of fully converged by SJWs from top to bottom, that could be easily fixed. But they are, so it's not.

While there's a reasonable shot that sufficient public exposure and negative feedback can put a stop to this, it will only do so for a time before the SJWs try it again with a new costume. Unless and until the company's SJW infestation is cleared out, and then proper safeguards put in place to prevent more entryism (difficult with Alphabet, the parent company, also wholly converged), resisting this is at best a rearguard action to buy time while the Alt-Tech crews get competitors up and running.

Yes, I'm talking about moving your operations off YouTube. For the folks hyping Vidme, the Supreme Dark Lord revealed yesterday on the Darkstream that they're already just as converged by SJWs as YouTube is. Vimeo is also just as converged by SJWs. Dailymotion and Minds are your best bets until a proper replacement for YouTube arises- and I would not lean too hard on Dailymotion either.

There's one big reason to oppose this: You do not define what is "harmful"- they do! The entire point of a Free Speech policy is to put the onus on the users, especially in a medium where you can just not watch what you don't like. By doing this, they're going beyond any actual sense of harm reduction and going into flat-out manipulation of cultural context. To that end, "harmful" means whatever the controllers want it to- and that means that the rule is nothing more than Color of Law cover to let them do whatever they want to you. It's the same gaslighting scam domestic abusers and totalitarian dictators use to mindfuck their victims- and you're a sucker to buy into it no matter the time or place.

For now, most of you can help things best by spreading the word and getting the email cannons primed and ready once more. In addition to sharing this post far and wide, share the videos I'm embedding below (and any others on the topic you find). Oh, and while you're at it start looking at alternatives to Google's other services (that are not converged by SJWs), since Jordan Peterson had all of his Google access shut off briefly the other day- and without that, goodbye YouTube and Gmail.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Gravitational Pull of World of Warcraft Isn't Good for Gaming

It's been a while since I posted about my time in Azeroth, so here we go. (Also, some more broadly applicable observations thereafter; see below.)

World of Warcraft: Legion is about to hit the One Year mark by the end of this month. That's the de facto mid point for an expansion, and we're in the middle of the midpoint in terms of content. The second raid tier just had its World First race conclude with its #3 finisher crossing the line, so the Tomb of Sargaras is now a Solved Problem for the rest of the game's raiders (which, in typical fashion, will not be properly applied by most because ego). The open world content is getting old, and the recent introduction of a new single-player scenario (where gear is normalized, so only player skill and your PC/network quality matters) has likely run its useful course as an attraction.

In short, we're seeing the usual signs of a content iteration reaching the end of its useful lifespan: more secondary characters being played, more returning players catching up, and more lateral moves within guilds and raid teams as folks swap roles or characters (or both) to keep interested while waiting for The Next Big Thing. The thing that's different this time is that the Public Test Realm for the next patch is not only up, but that videos are being made to cover what's being tested with little (if any) restriction.

That's turning out to be significant. By allowing the community of fan YouTube channels, Twitch livestreams, etc. to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to hyping the upcoming content the devs slyly retain the attention of many players who otherwise would let their subscriptions lapse in favor of something else. The cycle of class and specialization adjustments get many players to swap what character they make their main, often involving time spent getting that character up to speed for the current content- and information coming out of the patch in development fuels this by allowing players a warning as to what may be the way to go soon.

The combination is a maturing business model focused around subtle retention schemes, and what we're seeing is that things often considered "mistakes" recurring often enough to cast doubt as to either the competency of the dev team or the integrity thereof- the consistent decisions to adjust character performance, content difficulty, and other tweaks routinely delivered with a "Today's (Hot)Fixes" post on the dev blog points to a deliberate policy of doing such "errors" as one part of a greater retention policy.

Which leads to a series of observations:

  • The MMORPG medium, as a viable business model, cannot exist as a Solved Problem state. The reason is that interest falls off once the community no longer perceives that either the content can be fixed (because nothing remains broken-yet-fixable, supposedly) or the available content is no longer deemed relevant. (Consistently seen across multiple games for years on end.)
  • The business model, therefore, has to have a "soap opera" element of Permanent Unsolved Problems that get "solutions" put forth from time to time to maintain audience attention while preventing despair from prompting the audience to abandon a hopeless or boring situation. There needs to be petty drama to keep things interesting as much as there needs to be relevant content.
  • Game designers in other media are picking up on this and attempting to replicate the model in their media, to varying degrees of success, and thereby expose the salient differences in qualities between the MMORPG medium and that other medium. However, this does not seem to have the conscious deliberation of the MMORPG exxample; it seems more like Cargo Cult mentality.
  • The result is that already extant emergent behavior patterns escalate, and no one that ought to be figuring out if this is even desirable are bothering to figure that out. (Hint: NO!) They're just copying the leader, again, expecting the same results despite disparities of circumstance. Failure follows.

When you have people groping about to find a way to make their gaming business grow perpetually, you run into stupidity sooner or later when reality becomes something you have to deny to justify the insanity. Cargo Cult business mentality is one such way this goes down, and it has to stop. Game businesses must accept that there are limits to growth, and stop fearing the stability of maturity- especially stakeholders. To insist otherwise is madness, no matter what the law cult says. Stop aping; start manning up.