Saturday, October 20, 2018

Geek Gab Talks About The New Halloween Film

The Father of Battleboars saw the new Halloween, and he has one of hell of a discussion with co-host Dorrinal about it and its context in the wider world of horror films. Well worth the time spent listening to it, or watching us in the chat.

I'll let Daddy Warpig speak for himself on how good (or not) this film is, because it's a nuanced view, but it's got a fatal flaw that marrs its potential to become a classic. There some Pedowood bullshit that taints the film, and some writing flaws that damage the narrative, but it seems to be worthwhile to Warpig if you're into horror films. Good to hear; horror may be cheap to make, but it's notoriously hard to do well because producers and other parties dismiss horror as a cheap cash-grab genre.

On a side note for the tabletop RPG fans: Palladium's offering their annual Christmas Grab Bags again, which you can order here. It's one of the best deals available for buying Palladium's products brand-new in print, and if you like any of their stuff this is a great way to get it. This includes both of Palladium's horror RPGs: Beyond The Supernatural (which you use for Halloween) and Dead Reign (for all things Zombie).

Friday, October 19, 2018

My Life In Fandom: Razorfist Warns You Off Daredevil's Season 3

The Razor rants about Daredevil's Season 3 and why you should give it a hard pass.

The best part? Taking the showrunner's shit-tier excuse for this hackwork apart with the words of a Hollywood 10 Communist--Albert Maltz--writing against doing just this thing.

The MCU is Kill. First the Network TV end, thanks to executive dickwaiving piss-contests. The Netflix (etc.) end? We knew this was coming when SJW bullshit got into Jessica Jones and Iron Fist, so it coming to the one clean show on that end of the continuity was inevitable. We already know what's coming for the films.

Hard Pass. That's what you're advised to do with this season, and with Marvel entirely going forward. DC? Might as well leave them behind also, and instead look for indies (e.g. Arkhaven) and foreign (European and Japanese) books for your comics needs when you're not mining the massive backlog from when Marvel and DC were good.

And if you want to know more about how this shit keeps happening, then Neon Revolt's expose on Pedowood player Franklin Leonard is your huckleberry.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Business: The Supreme Dark Lord Talks Indiegogo

For those wanting an update regarding Vox Day vs. Indiegogo, here is the archive of tonight's Darkstream addressing it.

The man needs no elaboration. If you backed before, but have been out of the loop, listen to this video and heed the man's instructions. If you decided to put down some cash now after what Indiegogo did, do likewise. This anti-competitive behavior cannot be tolerated, and since bestowing peaceful sunsets to the bad actors is not currently an option simply succeeding harder and faster is the best that can be done at this time. (Legal punishments notwithstanding, which is best left to the experts.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: The Failure of Island Expeditions

Battle For Azeroth added a few new instanced content options. One of these is "Island Expeditions", where the premise is that your man forms a team with two others to scout out small islands to explore and exploit for the new resource: Azerite. You do this in competition with an enemy team from the opposing faction, and the first team to collect "X" amount of Azerite wins.

Sounds like a fun competitive scenario, right? Searching out nodes, holding them long enough to exhaust them, occasional combat with the enemy team, and so on, right?

Nope.

What we have here is an adaptation of the Rift system from Diablo 3: enter into an instance comprised of a pile of recycled art assets, fill up a progress bar as fast as you can, and maybe get something extra as a bonus when it's over. Do enough of them in a week and you get a bonus reward that powers up the expansion MacGuffin all men have ("The Heart of Azeroth", the Artifact Weapons of this expansion).

What this becomes in actual play is "GOGOGOGO!" style of play where the team rounds up as many hostile mobs as they can in a single pull, burns them down with Area Of Effect attacks at best speed, and any other objective is ignored because it's slower than just doing that. Since filling the progress bar determines who wins, and doing that fills it fastest, there is no exploration. You just attack the nearest mobs, and murderhobo your way across the map until you're done.

The sole exception is when this is done on PVP Mode; by default this is a PVE mode, where the enemy team are bots (and you can see your sides bots over by the NPC where you queue up to do this bitchwork), but on PVP Mode you actually have enemy players against you and that sufficiently changes the dynamic to restore (partially) the intended mode of play for Expeditions- for now. (Once they figure out that it's better to just race and ignore the other team, this will resume.)

The devs have had to adjust Expeditions several times already, first to fix bugs and other errors reported during the Beta and then to fix rare item drop rates to bribe players to keep queuing up for this snorefest. They are not fun, they don't do what they claim, and there is nothing to explore; if you get bored with the thought of farming randomly-generated dungeons for a slim shot at better loot (D3 Rifts) and the useless prestige of a high score or best time, then this is a flop for you- as is the case with most World of Warcraft players.

The point?

Either the devs are incompetent, despite access to all the data showing them the revealed preferences of the players over years of play, or they're cynically exploitative of the players in service to stakeholders who hold them in contempt (as most casinos do, since we're talking about the same slot machine psychology being used in MMOs). The former would believe that players would actually explore a map before racing to complete the game, while the latter expect that despite it being unsatisfying the Skinner Box systems in place would keep players playing indefinitely.

Nope.

The users define the tools. Tools that have no purpose will be abandoned. Games and game systems are no different, something game designers routinely fail to comprehend; Island Expeditions are superfluous adjuncts to core gameplay modes that actually matter to World of Warcraft, which is why they failed- that they were designed in such an incompetent (and cynically exploitative) manner only makes their abandonment easier. No amount of additional maps, or mobs, etc. will change that until fundamental reformation of the underlying systems actually make players change how they approach playing this mode of gameplay- and the devs are too full of themselves to ever do that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Business: Razorfist Rants, "Fallout 76 Gameplay Emerges! (And It Blows)"

The Eloquence of Execution, Razorfist, put for a brief rant on the soon-to-crater Fallout: 76 and it dovetails nicely with what's going wrong with World of Warcraft and other big properties in gaming.

The thread? Cynical Skinner Box products with equally cynical User Retention schemes meant to squeeze maximum profit per user as the core concern, over gameplay and aesthetics and anything else you might think would be important to the health of a successful intellectual property in the gaming sphere.

Yes, this is a persistent problem. Rather than bother to figure out how to better satisfy your audience with fulfilling gameplay these companies wuss out like the soyboi bitches they inevitably have become and turn their games into gambling simulators cunningly concealed as the games whose corpses they wear as skinsuits. At least the CCG/TCG genre doesn't bullshit you into thinking that it's not about making you act like a slot slut; they're the honest whores here, sad to say. This? This is the hot chick who plays you into being her paypig while holding up her end as little as possible, like camwhores on Twitch.

Listen to the Razor. The only hard thing this game ought to get out of you is a hard pass.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Follow-Up: Asmongold Struck A Nerve

Yesterday Asmongold released a video. It's rather straight-forward (and lengthy).

This video prompted a Reddit thread at /r/wow and the response was huge. Reddit being Reddit, you had to sift for the better stuff, but overall the thread reveals that Asmongold's take was hardly a minority sentiment; the current state of the game isn't that good and the party responsible for its stewardship have failed.

In short, the disconnect between Dev and Player has been only getting worse (despite Legion) for years now- since Wrath of the Lich King. Asmongold calls the live game a Skinner Box for gambling addicts, and he's right; a lot of the frustrating systems changes over the years since Wrath have been just that- to turn the game into a series of slot machines meant to use known psychology to keep players playing for as long as they can before frustration sets in and they quit.

Why does this matter? Because World of Warcraft is what "RPG" means to most gamers world-wide, and that definition even filters back to tabletop RPGs (and has for years now, as D&D's 4th Edition shows). What seems to work here is what others will try to copy in their games, even in long-established games, because they (in cargo cult style) want to get the same results so they ape the forms accordingly. Mix in SJW bullshit, and a bad situation turns into a catastrophe wicked fast.

Is there a way out? Yes. Kill the RNG slot machine bullshit and return the game to a certainty of progress: do x, get y guaranteed. This is why private servers running older versions of the game have their following, such that Classic is officially a thing now:

Classic couldn't come at a better time really, assuming it comes out sometime next year of course. In terms of design and philosophy it's the complete opposite of retail, the negative reception to BfA is pretty much the best advertisement Classic could get. No more theme park and slot machine shit, just an old fashioned adventure with tons of heart put into it, and while that's not to say it doesn't have its flaws (because there are plenty) its core principles are so strong that they more than make up for them.

I await Classic for that reason. Compared to Live, Classic was as close to a proper RPG as any videogame could get. There's another big reason for why everything went wrong, but that's for another post.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: How To Piss Off Your Audience (World of Warcraft Edition)

Late last week, the World of Warcraft team's leader (Ion Hazziikotas) joined Blizzard Community Manager Josh Allen (aka Lore) for another Q&A livestream. The questions answered were already selected, meaning that answers were also likely prepared beforehand. Of course this community engagement went over with the usual grace and dignity, which means that it was a shitshow- obviously. (h/t to Taliesin & Evitel for the catchphrase)

Asmongold (pictured) and McConnell (offscreen) express common sentiments in the playerbase, which is why I'm using this long clip from the former's livestream of the Q&A as it happened. (For something closer to, say, The Alt-Right DM's takedowns of D&D5 and its terrible take on RPGs, HeelsvsBabyface will scratch your itch.)

This is how you piss off the audience that pays your bills and justifies your existence. There is a pattern expressed here that I need to spell out, and this is the pattern:

  • Game Dev makes a thing.
  • Players meet challenges in the thing in a manner wholly unintended or undesired by devs.
  • Devs condescend to Players instead of taking the hint and changing course to cater to clearly expressed Revealed Preferences.
  • Players say "Fuck This" and disengage increasingly until they go play something else that does cater to their preferences.

The key tell here is all about this Azerite Armor issue. (WOWHead's guide on Azerite Armor is here.) Because the devs screwed up the rollout, the intended process--farm up multiple sets, one for every Specialization your man will play--got junked by the Players in favor of going to the Reforging NPC and just re-selecting armor powers as necessary. Due to the escalating costs per Reforge, this got into the hundreds of thousands of gold for the most frequent users very fast; these users were also hardcore top-end raiders.

The Dev response, as seen here and in the Reddit AMA, is tone deaf; the correct response was to accept the players' preference as valid and tank the reforge costs down to trivial levels of expense. (Otherwise known as "Turning into the skid".) Look, when you make a widget and it turns out to be a better hammer than a wrench, you're a fucking retard to refuse to accept the reality that your widget is a hammer, but that's exactly what the WOW Team's doing here- and they wonder why there is so much acrimony over Battle For Azeroth.

The Devs are not fixing the problems because they refuse to admit that they are problems, or that the problems are what the players correctly identify as the actual problems, and this is very similar to tabletop RPG devs being tone deaf to what their audience actually wants (assuming that they're not out to replace the real audience with fakes like themselves).

The game isn't fun when the systems do not work. The error is compounded when those responsible for fixing it refuse to solve the problem properly, which is the case here, and until the circumstances allowing this cancer to persist change then the negative feedback loop will continue- and that means watching the biggest MMORPG ever collapse in real time. The possession by their own egos is the fault here, and until humility returns the problems cannot be solved properly, and if they won't seek it (and they won't) Nemesis will force it upon them.

And when I get to Island Expeditions, you'll see how this is not just about one key feature.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Narrative Warfare: Tragedy & Hope On "A Casual View of America: The Home Letters of Salomon de Rothschild, 1859-1861"

It's been a long while since Tragedy & Hope put out something normie-friendly on their YouTube channel, but that happened a few days ago. It's relevant to our present situation in the United States, and thus throughout the Western world in varying degrees. At just under 90 minutes, this podcast is less than your average Premier League match and a far better use of your time. Not light viewing, so be clean and sober; have your notepads handy. You're going to learn something today.

Book Tour of "A Casual View of America: The Home Letters of Salomon de Rothschild, 1859-1861" Edited by Signumd Diamond and Published by Stanford University Press, 1961.

The video description has links to Richard Grove's sources as well as the gear he used to make this video happen. If you prefer BitChute, there is a link at the YT page to the BitChute account.

This a Narrative Warfare post because the podcast is about how one of the most influential families in world history manipulated what information gets out, how, and why regarding a past event (The American Civil War) and compares it to contemporary parallels threatening a repeat of that event. That is the essence of what Narrative Warfare is, so that's why it has that categorization.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Narrative Warfare: Arkhaven Deplatformed From Indiegogo

I was going to do a post about game design today, built around yesterday's Q&A by the leader of the World of Warcraft team, but then this happened:

That's right. Hours after Bleeding Cool published an even-handed interview with Vox Day, Indiegogo not only shut down the already-concluded and very successful campaign for Alt-Hero: Q, they also refunded every backer (when that money should have already been disbursed to Arkhaven Comics) and perma-banned Arkhaven Comics from the platform altogether. The Supreme Dark Lord decided that this need immediate addressing, and so took it up during last night's Darkstream.

One does not cross the Dark Lord like this and expect impunity. The Vile Faceless Minions have been unleashed with orders to dig, and dig they shall. What they find will only strengthen the eventual choice for reprisal, as it is highly unlikely that what Indiegogo did is wholly legal- not with that much money involved, and certainly not when it should have already been in Arkhaven's hands. SJWs are stupid motherfuckers, so the odds of them being so thorough are slim to none; it's only a matter of time before the crack is found and then leverage can be applied- and I think a crack's already been found (a likely prior example already came up before 11pm Central Time last night).

Get your popcorn and notebooks ready folks. This will be both fun and educational.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Anime Informing #StarKnight: The Mecha

The Giant Robots are on parade here in #StarKnight, and one doesn't need to look long or hard to see both the Real and the Super versions out there. That means that you're going to find influences from the big boys on both sides--Gundam, Macross, Mazinger, Getter Robo--because it's impossible to avoid them; I won't get into them here. Instead, this is going to talk about lesser-known shows/manga/etc. that went into what's going down.

For the Real Robot side of things, the Knights In Giant Robots thing is what you should be noticing. That means Dunbine, Galiant, and Escaflowne (albeit with beam swords) because these heroes and villains get into sword fights in and out of their mecha. Just swap to lightsabers and you can see how and why I did just that with #StarKnight. Juxtaposing them are the GERWALK-style mook units such as the Goblin and Hobgoblin that Red Eyes makes his men pilot into battle (and, like their namesakes, die in droves), taking their cues from Orguss and Srungle.

For the Super Robot side, where some say "They're superhero stand-ins." I went one step further and (following Mazinger) made them mythology references. There's two in Book One, both are not subtle about what they refer to, and they do all sorts of Laws-of-Physics-Are-More-Like-Suggestions sort of shenanigans. Sure, you'll get your blazing swords and rocket punches and called out attacks, but there's a little bonus for those who know their mythology/history. They're at the level of plot-devices in Book One, but you'll see more of them as we go along.

Being that Book One is our introduction, the crazier stuff mecha shows have done are left out; gotta save something for the sequels. I'm doing some avoidance of well-known tropes in many of these shows, Super and Real alike, while changing others to suit my purposes. (If you're looking for Typical Mecha Protagonist, you want to keep an eye on the page--Creton--as he grows over the series; Roland's more like The Shadow or James Bond in that he's an Iconic Hero.)

Speaking of Later Books, here's something you can look forward to seeing, in terms of inspirational images:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Narrative Warfare: Peterson Is The Enemy's Asset

Jordan Peterson is not an ally against the SJW Death Cult. He is an insane fraud and has value only to the cult in the form of discrediting opposition. Once more, this time regarding the Kavenaugh matter, the Supreme Dark Lord hammers this witch good and hard. Tie the bent leaf to a stake and strike a match already.

While Peterson is insane, the rest of the Intellectual Dork Web figures are garden-variety frauds that know full well what bullshit they're spewing. All of them should be dealt with accordingly as frauds engaging in subversion of the nation and the country on behalf of hostile powers, and nothing less will get the job done at all- nevermind done properly.

From the Supreme Dark Lord's own post

Let me make it clear for you: Jordan Peterson is a used car salesman, except the used car he is selling is himself. Okay? He's not your dad, he's not your uncle, he is somebody who is making a lot of money off of you and people like you because you're dumb enough to fall for this guy! Look, I'm a writer, I am an editor, and I knew before I finished the first chapter of 12 Rules of Life that Jordan Peterson was an intellectual charlatan. Now, I will admit that I wasn't aware that he was a complete lunatic until I read Maps of Meaning. I didn't realize that there was something genuinely wrong with him until I read Maps of Meaning and I didn't realize how totally full of bullshit he is until I watched some of his videos.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

On The (Slow) Demise Of Google Plus

Google Plus will be shut down in August of next year. Folks are panicking about finding and getting alternatives up and running, suggesting this or that; I advise caution and making transition plans now while executing them slowly over the next 10 months. There is no need to hurry, folks, so calm down and take it nice and easy.

Most of the groups affected are tabletop RPG groups, who were among the few to find Google Plus sufficiently useful to stick around. Finding another place with sufficient similar functionality, especially if files are involved and privacy is a concern, is not an idle matter. Going off half-cocked, as I'm seeing some folks doing, is ill-advised; fortunately, it's also easily remedied at this point just by slowing down. Take the time to talk and consider your options, folks; you need to handle this like you would buying a car- decide what functions you need fulfilled, then pick the option that best does that.

As for myself, I've been asked for what social media services I can found at; this is now in the Contact tab, with the caveat that Twitter is the only one I'm actually active at as of this post (the rest, for the most part, are to drive traffic here). I don't even use my YouTube account for much other than chatting in others' channels when they're live, aside from the video I made for the campaign. (And yes, I've been told I should do more with it; I don't have a clue as to what.) I'm an old-timer in Internet reckoning, so I prefer blogs and email over most social media tech.

Which means I like a good rant, so here's Razorfist doing one on Ubisoft being Woke. That's where I'm taking off for today.

Monday, October 8, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: Battle For Azeroth - Warfronts Wanting

When I said that the World of Warcraft team consistently nails aesthetics but has lacking gameplay, these two videos showing what's coming in the 8.1 patch demonstrate this with aplomb. These are from the Public Test Realm, put up on WOWHead's YouTube channel, so things are (in theory) subject to change (but in practice it won't until it goes live and users find the bugs) but this looks feature-complete so at most it's tweaking and inserting cinematics.

What is only touched upon briefly, and only on the Horde video, is that all of this is a set up for the new Darkshore Warfront scenario. This requires remaking the overworld version of the zone (which will be phase-locked so characters below 110 won't be affected) into a mirror of what you get in the scenario; this has already been done with the Arathi Highlands. The new version is an end-game content zone, filled with rarespawn NPCs to farm and (hopefully) World Quest targets to kill while you wait for your faction to actually do the scenario.

Yes, Warfronts are a clusterfuck of a new content type. He's hyperbolic about it, but Az of HeelsvsBabyface isn't out of line with his rant about Warfronts.

There's nothing fun here. It's already a Solved Problem, so all you do is follow the known sureshot strategy and speed-run to victory and your welfare epics; you can chain-run scenarios, so you can gear up a character from the 320 item level minimum to 340+ in a few hours while watching Netflix (or whatever). The dumpster fire that is Looking For Raid isn't this easy (or boring). This should have been Player Versus Player, and the replacement for Battlegrounds, but no we get this instead; one look at the map for Arathi (and its clear rooting in Defense of the Ancients, the original MOBA map, down to Creep Waves and the win condition being the destruction of the enemy's core- personified in the enemy commander) makes this crystal clear.

They're a fuckup of a system, and Darkshore won't be any better. It'll just be the same thing with a new skin, and that's what is so disappointing. They could have, and should have, done this as a wholesale replacement for the old-and-busted Battleground system. That they didn't do this displays institutional incompetence far beyond what led to Warlords of Draenor because this was such an obvious course of action to take, and you can count on this bad influence showing up elsewhere.

Like the Island Expedition system.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

On The Occasion of My 44th Birthday

Today's my birthday. Forty-four trips around the sun are now complete.

It's been a quiet day, but a good one so far. My sister bought me tickets to a MN United game (and some buttons), my mother got me a gift card, I've had Chinese for lunch and there's apple pie waiting for after dinner. The Vikings are winning as I write this post, Cirsova's appearing on the Superversive Livestream, and the Metro City Boys will be live in about an hour from now.

I'm enjoying a day where I can truly relax and enjoy this world, flawed as it is, because it's got beauty in it yet despite the works of the monsters among us; that gift card's going to getting me some more of that treasure into my house. Speaking of dinner, that's time is coming up soon, so I'm going to wrap this up.

And I'm looking forward to writing this post a year from now, talking in part about how well Reavers of the Void did as well as where Books 2+ of #StarKnight are doing.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Anime Informing #StarKnight: Space Operas & Starship Action

Anime informed #StarKnight. There's no disputing this. There's a lot to account for, and I've written about many of them previously. You have the Leijiverse, especially its most famous part (Space Battleship Yamato), and of course the best Space Opera out of Japan: Legend of the Galactic Heroes. There's many more, and I've also talked about them previously.

Collectively, these are the shows where the fleet actions and hero ships of #StarKnight come from. Other influences include Dairugger XV (Vehicle Voltron for some of you.), with the bonus of the Super Robot angle, and Tytania. Each of the groups and players in these works have aesthetically and practical distinction that makes audience engagement easy to achieve; the Cosmo Force looks this way, the Free Planets Alliance looks that way, and so on.

It informed Reavers by having the Red Eyes pirates use either stolen ships or very simple original designs, reflecting their outsider status, and then the contrast comes easy by having House Ireton and the Solar Guard have aesthetically pleasing designs as well as superior discipline and coordination in their actions.

While we're not talking in terms of tens of thousands of warships (LoGH), we are talking about small fleet engagements; if you've seen Yamato's 2202 arc, you'll see some of the fleet actions between the Comet Empire and the Earth/Gamillas allied fleets. For hero ships, clearly that's Harlock and Yamato itself. Not that the Gundam guys have been slacking; it just takes time to make quality work, but it pays off when you get stuff like this. (From Origin 6.)

And that? That's a rough approximation of how the relationship between mecha and warships goes, in general; specifics will vary from book to book because each book covers different situations in different locations with different circumstances. (e.g. Macross Frontier's first fleet battle for comparison) Why? Among other things, it's because Super Robots and Real Robots relate differently to the same environment; Kotetsu Shin Jeeg gets into this.

Now combine these influences with the best of the West: Lensman, Star Wars, and others. That's how these influences mix together to create what you're going to see in #StarKnight.

Since some of these are available commercially in the United States, links:

Friday, October 5, 2018

My Life As A Writer: Something From Book Two

It's Friday. Time for something tantalizing to occupy your imagination for the weekend.

Imagine a lightsaber duel, in freefall, on Mars, as the combatants descend in parallel to the beanstalk anchoring a space station in low orbit while their allies scramble ships to catch them. To my knowledge, that's never been done before; it's going to be in Book Two of #StarKnight. Yes, one of the combatants is our man Lord Roland. The other is one of the villains of Book Two--which one is too early to reveal, other than to say it is not a returning villain--Go ahead and draw that if you like; I'm game for some fan art.

And that's not between giant robots. Not even powered armor. No, that's two men (albeit suited up) in freefall trying to kill each other with beam swords.

Yes, this means the plot outline is coming together. Have a good weekend, folks.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Business: Someone Got The Memo

Late last night Person of Wolfness alerted me to this TV series pilot. Now you get to watch it. It's about 30 minutes, so do it over your lunch break.

Besides seeing some old B5 alums get work again, I have this to say: someone, somewhere, got the memo and is at least trying to put out something that isn't utterly degenerate crap. This is crowdfunded, just like Anaxar was, and I hope it doesn't meet the same fate (that is, getting shut down); it helps a lot that this is an original IP and not a fan film.

What I want to point out is that this is another step towards dis-intermediating the extant gatekeepers (and the streaming services that would wish to replace them). Here you have a pilot with production values on part with (e.g.) Andromeda but with far smaller parties achieving those results, and that's a big deal; it means that making satisfactory live action film and TV is increasing within the reach of independent creators.

Don't be surprised if this goes to series, somehow, but that's beside the point. The point is that Pedowood and its counterparts elsewhere are no longer the only viable game in town for we in the West. (And, increasingly, you folks in the East also get the benefit of better indie production capacity.) Other changes need to come about to make full use of the potential, but this technical capacity is nonetheless encouraging; our friends will soon be able to leave Big Media just as we indie authors left the Big 5.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: Battle For Azeroth Summarized

It's been a few weeks since Battle For Azeroth launched for World of Warcraft. Already we've got problems, but first let me talk about the good stuff.

  • The art team nailed it, again.
  • Cinematics are fantastic.
  • The music is just as good.
  • The narratives are satisfactory, and often full of shout-outs to more famous examples of the genres presented.
  • The new hubs are different, distinct, and yet quite functional; you're not going to keep your Hearthstone bound to a location other than one of them (unless you're a Mage).

The problem is that, aside from the last part, those are aesthetics and aesthetics are not fundamental to commercial success in MMORPGs. Gameplay is, and that is what is severely lacking.

As with the past few expansions, the questing experience while leveling to the new cap is both speedy and satisfying. The route has already been optimized, such that an addon--Azeroth Auto-Pilot--is available to skip everything superfluous (cutscenes, non-relevant quests, etc.) to reaching the new endgame as fast as possible. The problem is that the past issue with replayability (with alternate characters) remains and as such the demand for speed-leveling addons remains; this is never a good sign, and that this still persists reveals not so much an issue with Blizzard (as this is an issue in all level-based games) as it is with the very concept of levels. (Which I have posted about previously.)

It's once you get to the cap that you start running into issues. There really isn't much to do. There is one raid, whose hardest difficulty requires stupid levels of metagame wankery to beat, and it's already been beaten. The dungeons are already getting stale, even with the revision of Mythic Plus, and the new content options have already started turning players off due to the lack of effort put into them- Warfronts (not PVP despite the name) and Island Expeditions (which might as well be Nephalim Rifts, as they feels the same in execution).

Crafting has already been revealed to be a joke in bad taste, the deflationary rebalancing of the economy is already taking its toll, and people are reacting with their feet: the unsubscription rate so soon after launch has been higher than expected. "WOD 2.0", a second Warlords of Draenor, is the summary meme for the problem-state the game is in right now. For my part, if there weren't two more playable race options to unlock I doubt I'd be playing either; putting two of them behind content gates from Legion and holding back two more for a future patch has not gone over well with the player base.

And yes, you come into this expansion grounded again, and you need to earn flight back in a two part Achievement- the latter half of which isn't in the game yet. Enjoy being stuck on the ground, despite the zones again being build with flight in mind.

And then there's the new gameplay systems: Azerite Armor and Power.

The Armor takes the place of class-specific gear sets from the raids. Each one has a set of traits attached, which you choose according to your character's class and specialization and limited by the level of your Heart of Azeroth medallion. The latter is your new widget, which are you expected to power up by farming Azerite Power; it levels up as you do so, and its level limits what your Armors can do. This would be staight-forward if not for the fact that higher-powered Armors require higher Heart levels to active; this means that an epic raid drop can be a downgrade in your power until you can activate its traits, which can be identical to an Armor you already wearing.

TL/DR: New system is over-complex, counter-intuitive, and runs contrary to expressed design objectives and thus is rightly shat upon by the players as being bad.

Recommended? Not at this time; if a later patch doesn't fix these problems, it will become a hard "no". For now, if you're not already in then stay away.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

My Life In Fandom: The Anime Informing #StarKnight

It's not a bad time to be an anime fan in the West. Not the best time--that was some years ago--but not that bad either, and hopefully the great days will come again soon.

But what is lacking is an appreciation for the great shows of yesteryear, the classics that defined genres, in the younger cohorts raised on streaming services and the outright glut of material coming out of Japan. It was telling when, some time ago, several of the marks doing reaction videos for Super Robot Wars X didn't recognize Aura Battler Dunbine or Nadia.

And mecha fans? Well, it's no secret that the Real Robot subgenre's dominance--specifically Gundam, with some also-rans--has been nigh-total since Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann over a decade ago. This matters to me because I'm mixing Real and Super Robots with #StarKnight, and I can't just rely on half-assed (memories of) Voltron for maximum impact. That's like writing a Sword & Planet series to an audience that doesn't know John Carter.

So, with a little help from my friends, allies, and associates--you know who you are--I'll spend some posts in the run up to launching Reavers of the Void on the Eastern side of things informing #StarKnight. (Don't you worry, the Western side will get its due.) Not all the time, but at least once a week or so, and if it's available in the US for streaming or sale I'll gladly link to where you can find it.

In the meantime, run on over to TV Tropes and (re-)read the pages on Mecha Shows, Giant Robots, Super Robots, and Real Robots. Oh, and some Space Operas, because those massive fleets didn't come from nowhere. As for some other common tropes, like The Power of Love in Music, that I can do upon request.

We'll come back to this later this week.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Year Four Begins Now

Welcome to Year Four of the Retreat.

No grand plans or goals to announce this time, as the trajectory I'm on makes such a thing moot. I'm making the transition to professional author, and that alone will dictate a lot of what goes into the blog and its sisters going forward. I won't turn this into a blog of relentless shilling; if you read Brian Niemeier's blog, then you know he talks about things of interest to him as often as he does things related to his work. You can expect that here also. In short, I plan no changes to how I go about using this platform, other than to have a backup prepared in case this goes down for some reason.

It's good to be able to say that. It means that I've reached the point where I know what I want to do, and I have a regular audience for it--those "thousand loyal readers"--so I've found my niche more or less and should instead focus on keeping that going as well as I can. In short, I found my footing and I'm standing firm on it now.

So let's get on with the new year then. There's adventures to be had, so let's go get them.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

End of Year Three

This post concludes the end of my third year of daily blogging here at the Retreat.

While the blog's growth tapered off, the readership has more or less remained steady overall; the posts that get the most view tend to be the ones that are most akin to timely clickbait material, which isn't necessarily a good thing (as the glorified bloggers at PolyTakuGN (or whatever front name it is this week) as well as the mainstream media generally demonstrate too well, but the regular engagement I get from the emerging core readers is far more encouraging. In short, the Retreat found its niche and therefore its readership, and those leaning to other parts are now happy that I maintain the weekly blogs for those interests.

I talked a lot about what I'd like to do at this time last year. After looking back at the start of this year, I can say that deciding to commit to writing novels was the only way forward for me given what I've had to work with until now. I had neither the skill nor the tools to do anything else. Furthermore, the streaming environment changed significantly over this past year as did the YouTube style of video channel, making me reconsider those as anything but adjuncts to the writing business.

TL/DR: Don't expect me getting into livestreaming or podcasting anything soon. While I have recently, at last, been able to get better tools I still lack the skills and my time is (for now) better spent on mastering writing than learning another skillset, not when I also have to learn the business side of the writing world.

No point in bemoaning the point any further. I'm going from amateur to pro science fiction author now, and we'll see how well I've done by this time next year.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Narrative Warfare: The Mouse Empire Strikes Back (& That's Good For Us)

While I was enjoying the evening with some pals, word that the Mouse Empire chose to double-down on Culty Kathy got out. The Supreme Dark Lord was amused.

Why? Because doubling down is what SJWs do. After all, they can't possibly admit they were wrong and those evil NaziHaterWhiteSupremacists who said the movies sucked were right, can they?

This is great news, as far as I am concerned. Opportunity beckons....

While it is possible that this is all PR to make her departure look like something else, using this contract as a golden parachute, the proof will be in the Mouse Wars schedule starting next year. I thought she was gone, and I should have considered that her backers had sufficient stroke to use their convergence to keep her in control of the controlled demolition of Uncle George's creation.

But I share the Supreme Dark Lord's sentiment. This is good for those of us already doing #StarWarsNotStarWars. This is good for #AGundam4us. This is good for the #PulpRev scene, and we have got to position ourselves--individually and collectively--to pounce upon this opportunity. There is no way that Culty Kathy can satisfy the Star Wars audience; she doesn't even want to try, and she's out to do a demographic replacement no less severe than the SJW-converged governments of the West wish to execute.

There is no saving Mouse Wars. There is now only the diaspora of dissaffected fans looking for something new to replace it. That's where we come in.

We need to come together and boost each other up, and not just in science fiction novels. We need to boost our allies in indie comics, and get more material across those media lines (as Jon del Arroz and Vox Day are doing). We can't afford to waste this window we've got, because the demolition of Star Wars on the altar to Social Justice will compel people to seek us out. We have to be ready, willing, and able to meet them and bring them aboard.

And that's got to go beyond our own stuff. We need to push the old classics, the other mil-SF/Space Opera guys who do like we do, and otherwise get those disaffected fans comfortable with all of the competing material out there- and get them to remember that it was we who showed them the wider world when they left the reservation. If what I write isn't what Bob's wanting, maybe Cole & Anspach will do, or Niemeier, or Jay Allen, or some old BattleTech books, or Legend of the Galactic Heroes. You get the idea.

Disney has given us an early Christmas gift, folks. Make the most of it.

Friday, September 28, 2018

My Life As A Writer: The XSeed Media Train Stops At Jim Fear's Podcast

Dragon Award winner and nominee Brian Niemeier (and my editor for Reavers of the Void) continued his media tour in support of Combat Frame XSeed with his appearance on The Jim Fear Podcast. You can find that audio-only podcast here and it's guaranteed to be far more interesting than whatever you usually put on to listen to on a Friday afternoon. Again, if you've not backed the campaign then you can do so here.

It's increasingly clear that Brian's got a plan for every stage of the indie publishing game, and his past experience is doing him good service here. If you, like me, are new to the game then you have another reason to listen to Brian's media tour; he's showing how to play the game and win by his action as much by his words, and that's invaluable to going from newbie to paying bills by writing as fast as you can.

It's brief, but a key lesson is here in this podcast: not every editor is for every book project. Brian's a mecha guy like me, so he's good for what I've written; learn to know who's good for what sort of project. More wisdom is within, so carve out the time and put this one on folks. You won't regret it.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: Take Your Propaganda To The Trash, CAH

Today's example of "Get Woke, Go Broke":

Scratch another game publisher off your lists folks. This isn't politics, this is direct activism masquerading as sales, and that means "propaganda". Gaming and propaganda don't mix, which is why "Get Woke, Go Broke" is a thing that keeps happening. Into the trash you go, Cards Against Humanity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Vox Day Talks Alt-Hero:Q

The Supreme Dark Lord, Vox Day, appeared during daylight hours today to talk about Alt-Hero: Q and the waning hours of the successful Indiegogo campaign for it.

The man's doing all the smart things that comics publishers need to do know, and the tell is in the success that Arkhaven Comics has in the field- such that even the Big Two are scared of Arkhaven now. The North American market is getting disrupted, and more readers find this to be good than bad. It's why the SJWs watching that niche are so virulent about attacking Arkhaven and anyone associated with it- whether they want to be or not. (Looking at you, Sciver.)

I note that neither the European nor the Asian comics publishers give a shit, and that's because we aren't dealing with SJWs using comics as Commie propaganda fronts there. (Well, maybe in Europe that could be a problem, but I haven't seen any Japanese comics that do.) They don't have a problem with Arkhaven, apparently, so it's telling that this is a huge problem with the Big Two and the parasites swarming around them.

I knew when Vox Day announced this new publishing business that he'd be successful and hit hard with his launch, much as he has with Castalia House. As of this post there's about 8 hours left in the campaign, so if you're into last-minute backing this is the time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Vox Day & Jon Del Arroz On The Lunch Stream Today!

Today saw the Supreme Dark Lord, Vox Day be interviewed by the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction, Jon del Arroz on the later's "lunchstream" (which is live as of this post, so that time got bent somewhat for this occasion). This is going to be a good time, so fire up your browsers and put this one on as you go about your business. Don't be surprised if you find yourself paying close attention because something of interest gets said and you go "Wait, what?"

Well worth the time spent, folks, especially if you're looking to get into the head of the leading player in independent genre fiction today.

Monday, September 24, 2018

My Life As A Writer: XSeed on Superversive Live!

Continuing his media tour, Dragon Award winner and nominee Brian Niemeier appeared on the Superversive Livestream yesterday to promote his upcoming military SF novel Combat Frame XSeed, and you will have a good time listening to this podcast if you enjoyed the Geek Gab appearance.

If you haven't taken the opportunity to back his Indiegogo campaign, go here and get a guaranteed e-book in November (in addition to whatever else you put your money down for). This man is the editor for Reavers of the Void, so you know he's got an eye for making good stories better, and thus is worthy of your support.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: The Pundit Exposes WOTC's Pivoting of D&D Into a Lifestyle Brand

The RPG Pundit put out a video about the survey that Wizards of the Coast recently put out about Dungeons & Dragons.

He wasn't the only one suspecting this. I did too, and seeing that the survey's cooked to push this meme disease is sufficient confirmation for me to decide to cut WOTC off entirely (and with it, all versions of D&D after Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd Edition). This is the softer form of "Getting Woke", and just like the hard SJW form the result is the same: You Go Broke.

Fuck this for a game of soldiers. Time to burn the Sea-Tac Complex to the ground and burn out the cult with it. The Pundit was right, again.

Real Gaming or Get The Fuck Out. Regress HARDER!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Business: Geek Gab Hosts Brian Niemeier & Talks "Combat Frame XSeed"

The senior author among we doing #AGundam4Us, Dragon Award winner and nominee, returns as a guest to Geek Gab today to talk Combat Frame XSeed and the Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund it. You don't want to miss this, so I'm posting this before it happens just to ensure that you have plenty of time to either make the time to catch this live and participate in the chat or to wait on the replay to become available for you to listen to ASAP after the fact.

If you haven't been to the campaign page yet, then point your browser here and pledge your support. Brian's proven himself a solid science fiction author, so you know he's good on delivering both the goods and the expectations he sets. If there's anyone amongst us worthy of support, it's him.

And if you're looking for more about my stuff, this week's Study post is live.

Friday, September 21, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: The Pundit on Fudging Dice Rolls & More

Back with another video, The RPG Pundit has some wisdom to dispense regarding what any other gaming format would rightly regard as cheating: fudging dice rolls.

It's the Pundit. You should know by now what to expect from him. If you think he's big on this, you don't know the man.

I'm not going to gild this lily. I will go where the Pundit won't: never fudge the dice rolls. It ceases to be a game when you do that, and once that's gone the core of the medium's appeal is gone with it- the virtual testing of one's skill and acumen against whatever situation comes your way, with the GM as no more than Crom--a neutral, disinterested arbiter and referee who gives no shits if your man lives or dies--and as such your wins are your own as well as your losses. The accomplishment is virtual, but they are still real in a properly run tabletop RPG campaign.

I've been at this long enough to see what happens when players know that the dice aren't the final word. It warps the perceptions, often completely out of bounds, and more than a few times I've seen players flat-out troll the GM with doing things that they know force more fudging to preserve whatever the GM is trying to keep in once piece until the GM gives up and either stops doing it or kills the campaign. In short, it inevitably leads to freakouts like the death on Critical Role did, and it's not fun.

Just don't. Let their man suffer and die when the dice screw them; crunch them all, and the players--if they really want to play--will just reroll and play on. (Which is another reason for why slow PC generation and complex PC mechancs are bad; it makes rerolling painful when it shouldn't. Basic D&D and Classic Traveller got this right.)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

My Life In Fandom: At Last A Sign of Sanity in Star Wars

The World Class Bullshitters got this out earlier today. The headline alone is good news.

The news isn't all sunshine and roses, but this is good news. Bob Iger finally did what we expected and reined in Culty Kathy. That he's the face behind these comments and announcements is a sign that someone doesn't want to Go Broke, and we can hope this leads to the house-cleaning that we want done in Lucasfilm for a while now.

Hopefully this is not glad-handing, and we'll soon see if it is or not, but--at the very least--the practice of a film a year will end and that's a good thing; go back to the tri-annual release that Uncle George established and don't do side-stories until your main sequence plan is finished. (Hint: Side Stories are what you do on TV.) It turns out that the return of Clone Wars was more than just a cheap, desperate ploy; it was a sign that sanity was coming back.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Life In Fandom: Captain Marvel - The Decline of the MCU Comes

The turn came before this point, but we're now seeing that Captain Marvel is where the poz took hold for certain. The MCU has had mistakes due to the SJWs elsewhere exerting influence, but now they're inside the studio and convergence comes good and hard. What's below is excerpt from the World Class Bullshitters' morning show, "Good Morning Pop Culture", and addresses this.

In short, I fully expect a repeat of Black Panther: lots of sound and fury, lots of flash, and then forgotten until the character appears in Avengers 4.

That's not good. No movie lead should be so forgettable, and neither should it inspire contempt in the target audience, but we can expect that from this film due to the politics surrounding it. No, the lead actress isn't doing herself, the film, or the franchise any favors with her behavior to date (or in the future since she hasn't gotten the memo yet).

At this rate we can expect a collapse mirroring that of the Star Wars franchise in a fraction of the time once the original cadre of film stars leave the franchise, and when that happens we can expect the Bullshitters to document the merchandise's failure as they have for the once-great brainchild of Uncle George (as we can see here)>. Unless Feige unfucks himself, the MCU is doomed; seeing a franchise rises and fall in just over a decade is something business schools a generation or so hence will study to see why SJW cultism (in whatever form it takes later on) is not good for business.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My Life As A Writer: Arkhaven's Big Indie Comics Move

The Supreme Dark Lord made a big comics-related announcement tonight on the Arkstream:

This is what I've been talking about for a while now: independent SF authors need to strike deals with independent comics players to adapt novels into comics. Someone's been listening, because this is now happening. This is a big deal because Vox Day sees, as I do, that this sort of move is necessary for the future viability of independent fiction as a business enterprise; sure, plenty of readers still exist, but far more prefer comics and audiobooks over prose (and an order of magnitude or more prefer film/TV, but that's getting ahead of ourselves).

It's going to go beyond crowdfunding efforts soon, because this is the sort of move that builds not only an audience but also the infrastructure that satisfies that audience's demand. It's clear that Vox looks to be able to keep what Arkhaven (and Dark Legion) publishes available long after the crowdfunding campaign is done and backers get their stuff, and that this is going to take some time to work out the details, but once he's got that sorted he'll move to threaten not only the Big Two in the U.S. but their counterparts in Europe in a very short time.

By this time next year, the only comicbook publishers that aren't going to be worried about Arkhaven/Dark Legion will be the Japanese publishers and their Korean and Chinese counterparts. Once I have the prose versions of #StarKnight sorted, it looks like my first choice for comic adaptation publishing will be Arkhaven (and if I can do that in the aesthetic of my source material, so much the better). I expect that my fellow #AGundam4Us authors will come to the same conclusion as this project bears fruit.

Monday, September 17, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: Capcom's Classic Brawlers Finally Coming Back

A while back I lamented that Capcom just isn't releasing their classic brawlers for consoles and PC like they did the D&D brawlers. Well, that's changing.

That's seven of the best they ever made. It's not all of them, because those left out are licensed tie-ins (e.g. Cadillacs & Dinosaurs), but of their original works this is what so many of us longed for- and sought out emulators like MAME to play. The side-scrolling brawler is one of the purest expressions of the Way of the Gamer: no bullshit, no fluff, no wasted time- just get on with it and get it on good and hard. When you play later successors such as Castle Crashers and Viking Squad, this is what they are calling back to and it remains as glorious now as it was in the heydays of the arcades.

Niche Gamer passed on the announcement recently, along with a follow-up of the PC version's delay, but nonetheless this is going on my Wish List for both PC and (as soon as I can get one) PS4.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: When You Use The Truth To Lie

Mike Mearls decided to toss out a Tweet thread on game design, again, yesterday.

Mike, you might want to tell your peers that, because they are all about "fixing obnoxious people". Just because you say in public that the game should not do this doesn't mean that your peers believe you, because--by their behavior--they don't believe you. They're doing just that, socially engineering their audiences as best they can to "fix problematic people", using whatever means they have control over- all in the name of "social justice".

Yes, it's nice that you recognized that Mech Piloting doesn't actually work in social engineering, but it's dishonest to say that D&D got out of that business; your peers are all about that business--including your co-workers--and it comes out routinely in the SJW-friendly politics in Organized Play regimes, official setting material (or did you miss the Pundit's video on this), etc. as well as that by your "competition" at Paizo and the farm league that is so many of the SJW "companies" that exist solely to sucker support from gullible gamers.

Yes, it's nice that you acknowledged the truth. You also know that the shot-callers won't act on that acknowledgement because they're down with the cause and so will slam their heads against that wall for as long as it takes to make gaming "woke". That's why this thread is such a disingenuous line of bullshit.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Geek Gab Talks Final Fantasy XV, The Predator 2K18, and Paranoia 40K

It's Saturday and that means another episode of Geek Gab with your hosts Dorrinal and Daddy Warpig. This week it's all about Predators and Paranoia. Enjoy!

The commentary about the Final Fantasy franchise is on point, and I find that Daddy Warpig's take is not an uncommon one. The Predator rant is classic Warpig goodiness, and it's the climax of the episode. You do not want to miss it. This movie is not good, however entertaining, and we can now see why Olivia Munn had no qualms about throwing it and her costars under the bus- it's trash, and she's nuking the PR game to save her own ass.

The best part of the episode was Daddy Warpig's recounting of how Paranoia and Warhammer 40,000 work so well together such that you can (and should) try playing it. Nothing captures how impossible Imperial Guard and low-level Inquisition life can be as playing it via Paranoia can do.

Oh, and if you want have some fun, take Dorrinal's writing challenge and give him something to read aloud for next week's show. I call it "The John Wick Challenge" (after this scene in John Wick 2).

Geek Gab: They suffer the bad stuff so you don't have to.

Friday, September 14, 2018

My Life As A Writer: When The Muse Strikes With a Rocket Punch

While figuring out stuff for Book Two of #StarKnight, I got an inspiration for a later book. Let me give you a hint as to what we're going to do down the road:

If you can recall what these two images have in common--and no, it's not Tomino working on Mazinger Z--then you're on my wavelength here, and you'll enjoy what's coming down the road. Both figures have a common theme through their lives. It's that theme that's what I'm going to riff off of in creating the Sun Imperium's Supreme Super Robot.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

My Life As A Writer: The Glory of the Fan Artists

One of the best parts of anime fandom comes from the fan art creations. The music video subset in particular has put out some fantastic stuff over the years, and the Macross fandom has some of the best ever made. This is one of those classic Anime Music Videos, remastered in High Definition, for Macross Plus.

I have no idea if the writers/directors/actors/musicians behind the most popular anime and manga ever see these things, but I would like to think that (a) some do (b) they see it for the flattery it is (regardless of how good it is) and (c) appreciate the display of passion and engagement that prompts a man to do such things.

I'm one of those folks. I want readers (and, I wish, viewers/listeners down the road) to be so fired up that they turn out illustrations, music, poetry, videos, and more when I make Star Knight real for the masses. All those shout-outs, wordplays, and so on? For you, folks; think of them as prompts to run with. Show me your illustrations of Pope Simon I during the Wars of the Damned. Draw your ships, and your ships, and display them proudly. (Just remember to credit properly; I'm understanding, but my future estate trustees may not.) Make your icons of Saints Itano and Hayha. Go for it, and when I get asked to make convention appearances bring them with you.

The future I want to see has a lot of #StarKnight fans in it. Soon it will begin in earnest.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Narrative Warfare: The Pundit Shows That Convergence Is Real

The Pundit says that WOTC is doing what we all knew would happen when SJWs take over things: they start imposing upon all the things therein, no matter how fucking retarded it is (or how impossible it is).

I said years ago that the people running these companies want to centralize the hobby. Using Muh Wokeness as the means is as good as any other, so far as that end is concerned, but knowing that this is done in tandem with using Let's Play shows like Critical Role to demonstrate how the game is meant to be (tantrums and all for dying) demonstrates that this threat is not idle.

Leftists get that institutions of all sorts work on waves of participation, so if they can control the intake then they can execute entryism over time. This video shows that the SJWs in tabletop RPGs are sufficiently confident that they can now impose their ideology upon an entire property, and they can use the peer pressure of Organized Play and Let's Play audiences to enforce conformity to that ideology.

(Just wait until wrongthinkers get expelled from stores and networks for non-compliance, and online stores--including Amazon--to disallow sale to wrongthinkers as well as of competing products due to wrongthink. It just happened to Roosh, so that is on the table.)

Walk away from D&D5 and SJW TRPGdom now. Regress Harder. Play the Old School and those faithful to it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Narrative Warfare: The Dark World Persists

It's that day again. All I have to say has already been said by Ivan Throne.

And that doesn't stop at our borders. We have our own war here to win. The Dark World--as Throne says--is the real world, and reality trumps fantasy every single time, so you can either profit from it or be destroyed by it. The would-be Masters of the Universe want to wield the Narrative against us, gaslighting us into that very lethal delusion that would be our death (or worse). A relentless commitment to Truth is the only antidote, and that is what facing the Dark World is about- and that's why I listen to Throne.

Monday, September 10, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: Peterson's Past-Delving Reveals More Secrets

The man behind Playing at the World put up a new post over the weekend, which you can find here. It has a promising start:

When it comes to unearthing the influences behind Chainmail (1971), Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren's medieval rules with a fantasy twist, you need to cast a wide net. Many authors (myself included) have been guilty of singling out Tony Bath as the primary influence behind the mass combat rules in Chainmail, but that has always been something of an oversimplification. There are elements of Perren's medieval rules which drew directly from a 1957 archery system proposed by Charles Sweet, one that recurs in the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA) rules up to the publication of Chainmail. A clear connection can be observed in the values in this chart from Sweet's rules, originally published in War Game Digest Vol. 1 No. 4.

Much like Jeffro Johnson's Appendix N, Jon Peterson's Playing at the World throws a light on the early days of tabletop RPGs generally and Dungeons & Dragons in particular. Since he published that tome he's been keeping up at the tie-in blog of the same name. The impact that Jeffro's had with Science Fiction has not be identical with tabletop RPGs, but you can see something slower--yet similar--going on and Peterson's role has been to show how the old ways works.

Posts like these are why.

Tabletop RPG design is a cargo cult. No one working in the business knows what they are doing or why because they don't understand what they are reacting against--and most design decisions stem from a reaction to an old game mechanic or practice--so they're blind men leading the blind. The aforementioned tome, and posts like this, remove that blindness by putting decisions into context and connecting what we see in the rulebooks to their origins. Once you know how something came to be, you see where the decision to use that thing came from; you learn how the game is intended to be played.

Once you know how the people who made the game everyone's riffed off of for over 40 years, then you can actually figure out how to properly make your own rulings for your home game without fucking things up down the road- and once you get that, making wholly new games that actually find audiences and become juggernauts in their own right becomes not only possible, but inevitable. In short, this is how you can become a competent game designer- something this field is sorely lacking in, especially for the major properties.

Regress Harder. It's not just for the genre fiction field, folks. Good gaming returns by going that route also.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Business: Geek Gab Talks Cirsova Magazine

P. Alexander appeared on Geek Gab yesterday. He's the man behind Cirsova Magazine, and on the wake of a successful crowdfunding campaign he appears to talk about the fiction that drives the magazine as well as mentioning a new submissions window for October. If you're out to get something into the upcoming issues, then this is your time well spent; have your notepads ready to jot down what he's looking for to enhance your odds of getting accepted.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

My Life As A Writer: "Combat Frame XSeed" Campaign Already In The Stretch Goals

My friend and college Brian Niemeier launched his Indiegogo campaign yesterday for his own #AGundam4Us project: Combat Frame XSeed.

In just over 14 hours, Brian hit his initial goal. That is fantastic! His initial goal is $1K, same as mine, and he's also aiming to raise funds for finishing things up. He\s offering perks and a delivery schedule much like my own. The big difference? His proven record of a complete series, comprising four novels, two getting Dragon Award nominations and one getting him an award, have a lot to do with how he got past that first hump so fast. It's the difference between an ace and a talented rookie, and you can't hate on that.

I'm looking forward to seeing what he's got, and if you want to get an idea go to his blog (linked above) and read the sample chapters. He's doing something far different from me, and yet just as exciting; he's going deep into the Real Robot end of things and if that's your jam then he's your man and XSeed if your huckleberry.

Friday, September 7, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: I Told You Pathfinder 2 Wasn't Worth It

The RPGPundit cut a video explaining why Pathfinder's second edition doesn't matter, which makes its SJW-convergence even less of a problem than most would say. "Get Woke, Go Broke"? They'll be broke before the wokeness breaks them.

There is no reason to go to PF2 if you're well-invested into PF1, and if you're into Mech-Piloting you might as well sell off your PF/3.X library entirely and go play World of Warcraft where that sensibility is encouraged and rewarded handsomely. If you want a hefty game with a big user network, D&D5 is your huckleberry now and not Pathfinder.

And if you want real D&D, you want and Old-School game such as Adventurer, Conqueror, King and the pre-3rd Edition D&D versions (and their clones/remixes), or games in that mode (e.g. Palladium Fantasy)- and for fuck's sake, play the game and don't just watch. Watchers are wankers. (Looking at you, Critical Role & company.)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

My Life As A Writer: Trying To Avoid Wheel Reinvention

I'm doing work on Book Two for #StarKnight, and while I figure out the novel's narrative (and with it the plot outline), I've had a few ancillary things come up. First, I want you folks to satisfy a curiosity of mine by hitting up the Tweet below and saying Yes or No to the question given:

Second, I'd like to talk about how some mecha designs are just so good (and therefore influential) that it's hard to make something that doesn't infringe upon them. Shoji Kawamori shall forever be remembered for making one of those designs: the VF-1 series Valkyrie and its descendants.

Not that it can't be done, because it has--successfully--multiple times, but damn if it's hard to not just come up with a clone of the Valkyrie due to how well that design works. I think I'll figure it out by the time my Not-Valkyrie pilots show up.

This is one time when figuring out how the machine works and then accurately describe how it works--lorework--is going to have significant payoff well after the novel itself is finished. The lack of windows alone should be a big enough change to allow me to make a notable design that doesn't risk a nastygram from either Harmony Gold or anyone else with Macross rights. (And yes, that's the real concern; getting SLAPPed by Harmony Gold.)

Compared to this, just saying "beam sword" for "lightsaber" (which has decades of prior art) is cake.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

My Life In Fandom: How Not To Make Nice With The Folks That Pay You

In case you needed yet another reason to walk away from The Mouse Empire forever, here you go:

His pre-Star Wars hype is gone, with it his future in this business. You have to be a colossal fuck up to make Jar Jar Abrams look good, and Abrams somehow managed to fuck up Star Trek enough to kill the film franchise and thus precipitate the present train-wreck of that franchise.

So, when you make such a colossal blunder as this, what do you do to fix it? You start with making nice with the folks who pay for the merch and the tickets so they show up for the next one. You don't go after the influencers in the fan scene who can make or break (and have) your career.

Rian Johnson didn't get that memo. He went after Mike Zeroh, who is bottom-tier of influencers (for good reason) in terms of Star Wars, instead of making nice with we who are increasingly looking at #StarWarsNotStarWars alternatives such as Galaxy's Edge, Galaxy Ascendant, and the #StarKnight Saga.

Enjoy that final season of Clone Wars, gang. After that, evacuate the system and say goodbye because it's time for the franchise to end.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Narrative Warfare: All The Dark Lord Does Is Win

Behold the majesty of the Supreme Dark Lord!

At long last, he has a distribution channel that SJWs cannot touch for use with comics. In his mercy, he announces that others may make use of it for a price. #ComicsGate e-celebs promptly freak out at someone who's done this dance before multiple times actually doing something useful and effective, so they decide to shit all over it- to no effect, but a lot of sound and (impotent) fury.

While they do their best Wil Wheaton and John Scalzi impressions, all the Supreme Dark Lord does is win:

Let the ComicsGatekeepers gnash their teeth all they like. While they have been talking, talking, and talking some more, we have published 22 digital editions and 11 print editions in the last eight months. And based on an author who signed with us last night, it is safe to anticipate that some of the loudest voices raised against us will be publishing with us in less than a year.

"I own the word ComicsGate. It belongs to me and I will fight him in court for it. Nobody will make a line of ComicsGate comics except for me."

Yeah, so, about that... it's a pretty poor prophet who has to eat his words less than 8 hours later. Ethan isn't going to fight anyone in court over ownership of the word ComicsGate. I very much doubt that he is dumb enough to throw all his crowdfunded money away on a hopeless legal case in a foreign jurisdiction when he hasn't even bothered to spend $7k on the URL, which was registered in 2013. It sounds as if someone is going to have to explain the concepts of "dilution", "prior usage", and "jurisdiction" to him.

Vox Day is our Trump, and I stick with someone who wants to win and knows how. It's also why I heed Ivan Throne and many others of similar quality. The freakout over this revealed the character of many, and that character turned out to be lacking; I'm not the only one to notice and disapprove of this poor display of emotional immaturity. All you had to do was to read this and calm your tits:

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Business: An Open Letter To LoreTube's Three Big Players

Dear Spacedock, Templin Institute, & Eckhart's Ladder:

It's time we talked.

You three channels represent a section of YouTube whose content is focused upon taking the lore of a fictional property and making video presentations of it. It doesn't matter if you're talking about a machine, an individual, a faction, an event (including battles), or settings wherein epoch-defining happenings occur.

From the moves each of you--now in an alliance--have recently made, it is clear that you're starting to run out of existing lore from major properties that will draw in audiences. You're starting to branch out into original projects or ancillary topics while you wait for the Next Big Thing.

You should be paying attention to the independent Science Fiction world. We're creating a lot of fun, engaging, Space Opera and related genres that are all-but tailor-made for your channels. Nick Cole & Jason Anspach's Galaxy's Edge series is one of the most perfect matches for all three of you to do (and growing). Their peers, such as Jay Allen and Evan Currie, are no less suited to your channels' primary interests.

Brian Niemeier's Soul Cycle series has plenty for you to dig your teeth into, and his upcoming Combat Frame XSeed will be the perfect gateway to get you moving East to address that Death Star-sized void that is your lack of anime and manga coverage. My own Star Knight Saga will do the same, as well as bring to your attention your lack of coverage of classic Space Opera (as in "Before Starship Troopers").

All this and more awaits you, but you need to read more books and comics and watch less film and television; as good as some of it is, you're going to waste your time more often than not looking for something notable to bring viewers to your channels as those aging franchises go moribund or die- and no, don't expect gaming to pick up the slack, not until after the next crash. Why not collaborate with us? Some of you already have experience in doing that sort of thing, only you'd be coming in far closer to the ground level and not well after the fact, and you'll get a chance to not only court new audiences but to help--at no risk to you--revitalize a scene that you know has serious issues.

Come join us indie SF folks. We have cookies, and you get away from the creeping rot in the mainstream of the genre.

Sincerely,

--Bradford C. Walker

Sunday, September 2, 2018

My Life As A Writer: It's About The Journey, Stupid!

Specifically, The Hero's Journey. Scream all you want about how Hollywood reduced it to Save The Cat, but this is now empirically-proven practical psychology and you're a fool to not be familiar with it- not if you want to actually get somewhere with your fiction. Professor Geek's video below gets into why SJWs aversion to this is part of the reason their fiction fails.

Yes, you can do this in seemingly non-epic stories. It happens routinely. Yes, you can do this with Iconic Heroes. This too happens routinely. The trick? It's done to a secondary character.

Example: Dredd. Judge Dredd is one of the most solid of Iconic Heroes around. The world doesn't change him; he changes (restores order to) the world. The dynamic character change one associates with The Hero's Journey typically applies to another in his stories, and in the aforementioned film that's Anderson. You came to see Dredd be Dredd (same as his comics), but if there is a major secondary character (like Anderson) then count on that character getting the big character-defining arc instead.

Now go back to yesterday's Geek Gab episode. I mentioned this sort of thing in the chat when the issue of how to deal with stories wherein the character you're there to see (like Dredd) has to be a very focused professional just to do their job (e.g. being a Judge in Mega-City One) as intended. The same principle applies; you put the drama-llama chores on the secondary character. Go watch those big franchise films with Iconic Heroes again (like the classic Bond movies) and you'll see this used often when they want some sort of dramatic arc in the narrative.

For my work, at present, this is the role that both Creton and (in a different mode) Gabriela play; Ramsey and Sibley are Iconic sorts, so they aren't there to be changed by events- they exist to refine their being through expressing their core ethos upon the world, which (in varying forms) is to restore order when chaos disrupts it.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

My Life As A Writer: Geek Gab Talks Action & Thrillers w/ Peter Nealen

This week's Geek Gab episode is a fantastic episode with author Peter Nealan. They go on about how to write convincing thrillers in various genres, avoiding the threat of having experts toss your book across the room as they proclaim you as full of shit, and (of course) talk about how these things and more get addressed in Peter's works. (Gotta look into the Unity series; if his take on the Clone Wars is good, you'll know about it.)

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Business: Brian Niemeier's "Combat Frame XSeed"

For all of you that backed Star Knight, and are waiting for your book, I would like to direct your attention to Dragon Award winner Brian Niemeier. He has a new series coming, a military science fiction series, that is as literally #AGundam4Us as it gets. That series is Combat Frame Xseed, and here is the book trailer telling you all about it.

As you can see, Brian's take on the mecha concept is far closer to the Real Robot subtype than my own is, and especially his similarity to the institution of Japanese Space Opera that is the Gundam franchise. He, like I, made good use of his blog to post lore entries that show off his mecha concept art. If you aren't following Brian's blog, you should; throw it into your reader or blogroll now. That way when he kicks off his own round of crowdfunding you won't miss out on it.


My post at the Study is a post-mortem on the Star Knight and follows on my end-of-campaign post.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

My Life As A Gamer: Streets of Hype Return

In case you missed it, one of the best brawler franchises finally gets a new installment. I'm on this hype train.

Since Capcom won't make these sorts of games anymore, we've had to rely on homages and indie originsls. Now SEGA decides that we could have a new Streets of Rage game. If it isn't trash, then I'm good with this. Maybe we could get a new version of Altered Beast now>? Or maybe WOTC will bother to make a deal for new brawlers, since Tower of Doom and Shadows Over Mystara still have significant followings.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Life In Fandom: Yamato 2199 Finally Available In The US

#StarKnight has plenty of anime inspirations, and another is Space Battleship Yamato. A few years ago Xebec was part of the committee that organized and produced a remake of the original series as Space Battleship Yamato 2199. It hit big i Japan, and its two follow-ons (the current being a remake of the second series as 2202) have brought in a new generation of fans for one of the institutions of Japanese Space Opera.

It took forever, but finally Funimation worked out a deal to release it in the U.S. under the "Star Blazers" brand used the first time. Unlike the Maceker of old, this release presumes that you know what Yamato is and it's priced accordingly. You'll have the option from the get-go to watch it in Japanese with English subtitles you do not need to tolerate the localization (unless Funimation fucked with things in translation- and that's a surefire way to get lynched since we're talking Yamato).

Unlike yesterday's post, this is a more reasonable release. The downside is that it's not the complete series, and that means yet another purchase down the road. (This is Episodes 1-13, so there is a Volume 2 to come.) At least we're getting proper Yamato this time; the old hackjob is absent here.

And yes, I want it for my birthday. You can buy your copy here. You won't regret anything but the pain your wallet feels.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Life In Fandom: SIEG MEIN KAISER! (They Did It! The Madmen!)

Ladies and Gentleman, Sentai Filmworks has released an unboxing video for their ultra-premium boxed set of the entire Legend of the Galactic Heroes OVA releases. That's the original 110 episode series, all of the Gaiden series (52 episodes), and all three movies in addition to a 200 page hardcover book with more information. Yes, you're paying $800, but it's a limited quantity of 1000 and a bunch are already taken. (Yes, I want one; my birthday is just over a month away in October.)

The license contract is why this is what we're getting this for a domestic (North American) physical release. Maybe, just maybe, a future release will have more sensible (for anime) offerings but I think that will be dependent on physical sales of Die Neue Thesis so budget accordingly.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is my favorite anime, and therefore has a big influence on #StarKnight- something that will become more apparent in later books in the series. I'd been having to watch fansubs for years, and I'm buying the light novels (in translation) as I can to show that there is an audience for a commercial release. $800 is more than I can spare for this, and I'm not hearing about any other options coming, so if this is it then I can only hope that I am surprised one morning for a signature (as that too is required; you have to sign for delivery).

If you do decide to order a copy, at least your shipping is free. I hope that this sells out, whether I get a copy or no, because the more that LoGH merch sells here the more likely it becomes that I can buy a set at Amazon for $100 or less down the road. I'd not bother dealing with the Straw Hats if I had a better option, and a full HD remaster like this but in the sort of packaging the Japanese releases had would find far more purchases than this ultra-premium set would ever get.

And, as much as I love Yang's Gang, my loyalty is to Mein Kaiser- much like my namesake. If you haven't watch this before, now's your chance to get a physical release--legally--and share it with others.

Monday, August 27, 2018

My Life In Fandom: The Trailer For "Alt★Hero: Q"

The Supreme Dark Lord, Vox Day, has announced the balliest move by Arkhaven Comics yet. This should be a campaign to remember.

I look forward to this crowdfunding campaign. Arkhaven and Dark Legion has consistently delivered to date, despite being outside the main distribution channels for comics (so far), and the dread generated has been of value to other anti-SJW comics projects such as those by Jon del Arroz and Ethan Van Sciver (who can play Good Cop to his Bad Cop). How Q will be handled is what's got my curiosity, so I'm willing to give the Dark Lord a shot at getting my attention.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

My Life As A Writer: We Came, We Saw, We Conquered!

The Indiegogo campaign for #StarKnight's first book, Reavers of the Void, ended at 2am Central Time this morning.

95 backers contributed a combined total of $2126, meaning that not only did the campaign meet its initial goal but--in the last hour--it hit the first of its Stretch Goals. That means that Book Two will now be fast-tracked, so as soon as Book One is done and the ebook is in the hands of backers I will get on to Book Two. This will alter commercial launch plans, likely for the better.

And now, after 30 days of hustle, I'm going to take today to relax.

Thanks to all of you for making this happen. What's to come will be truly glorious. Galactic Christendom's rise shall come.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

My Life As A Writer: The Campaign Ends Tonight!

As one of my colleges and peers put it:

We're now at 170% of the initial goal. That's 30% left to the first Stretch Goal, and that's doable in the time remaining. Under $300 to hit that goal, and Book Two gets fast-tracked as a result of hitting it. See the Study for the final manuscript excerpt, and if that doesn't convince you to come aboard (or convince your friends to come aboard) then I don't know what will. (Tell me in the Comments.)