Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Imperial Overreach: Not Just For Governments

Raging Golden Eagle shows us yet another erosion of Freedom of Association. It's not just Blizzard doing this, or other big groups; the smaller ones do it too, and for the same stupid reasons.

As with the Mike Mearls messup, Roll20 fails to consider that they can't actually achieve their stated objective. Tabletop gaming, even done online, doesn't need their platform. All you need is some way to communicate and a random number generator. The rest, while desirable to differing degrees, is not required. You can do without Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, Discord/Twitch, and run a tabletop game online just fine; play-by-email has been a thing for years, and play-by-mail before that.

More important is that convergence by one party always opens opportunity for a competitor to steal the converged's audience and put the converged out of business entirely. Go on, Roll20, slurp the poz and serve the Narrative. You just ensure your own demise, and it cannot come fast enough. Unlike Blizzard's overreach with Overwatch, you don't have billions of dollars and decades of goodwill to burn through before collapsing, so it comes sooner than later for you.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

World Class Bullshitters Talk Narrative Warfare: "Star Wars: Revenge of the Shills"

Scott Mendelson gets called out as a Mouse Empire shill by the World Class Bullshitters. Enjoy your lunch hour podcast.

And that's not the worst apologia out there. (That's for a post later this week.) But it's crystal clear that the WCB crew is hip to Narrative Warfare (if not using that term), and they are not having it.


Fake Geek does Fake Journalism. That's what this is. Fake News to push a Fake Culture and serve a Empire. Blow up that Death Star.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Easy Magic Turns Everyone Into Magneto, Not Gandalf

Over at Dvyers, we see yet another lament about the ease of magic use in D&D.

It's not that hard to figure out. It's because the most vocal players are Mech Pilots, and therefore the game is define by what their robot can do. A Magic-User that isn't using magic is a broken robot, so that is why the restrictions in the rules hindering the use of magic by players playing Magic-Users got removed with each successive edition until we reach the current day.

This is Revealed Preference in action. Players define their gameplay experiences in RPGs generally by what their man can do, first and foremost, and how they behave at the table reveals this; it's a persistent pattern of behavior going back 40+ years. It's not at all a surprise to see that this transferred to PC and console RPGs, where the Mech Pilot paradigm is even stronger due to inherent limitations of the medium.

As Dyvers notes, this has terrible consequences for world-building and verisimilitude. It can't be easily fixed by commercial producers due to that same tendency directly conflicting with the world-building and verisimilitude issues, so many don't even try anymore and embrace it; this is not just a gaming thing, or a Western thing. Anime and Manga in Japan has been about this for years now, in various titles. (e.g. Black Clover, Fairy Tail)

The result is exactly what you expect: magic-use becomes little more than myth-flavored super-powers, and users little more than superhumans. The better works play with this to good effect (see Clover), while the lesser bother with it only when its convenient, and in gaming this reliably means Caster Supremacy = Easy Mode. As D&D is the biggest gaming influence around, that's where Caster Supremacy first arose and thus is Patient Zero for this contagion.

It's hard to argue against being a Magic-User when there's little risk, few consequences, and huge benefits. It's akin to eschewing modern man-portable ordinance in favor of using a knife when fighting against superior numbers. For tabletop gaming, this is something a user can handle at home; for videogames, it means constant bickering between those embracing the power and those trying to compete against it (and often failing).

Over time, it becomes harder and harder to hold out because more and more people see a player who isn't using magic as a liability to be shunned. Games are about getting shit done, especially group play, so it's no different than ambitious sports teams cutting loose their dead weight when push comes to shove. Why? Because power is what gets things done, and magic has far more power than not-magic, and being shy about it isn't going to help cross that finish line.

Which is why it's not Gandalf that you get when magic is too easy. Gandalf has to be wise to win. Magneto doesn't, and easy magic doesn't prompt players to cultivate wisdom- just power. It's not surprising, therefore, to see Raistlin Majere retain his popularity despite all the shit he brings upon himself. He is, after all, what too-many player-run magic-users actually come across as.

The only way out is back the way we came: Make Magic Difficult Again.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Geek Gab: Come For The Books, Stay For The Sales Seminar

This is yesterday's Geek Gab podcast. It's Nick Cole talking about how he and Jason Anspach took their Galaxy's Edge series and made it a huge hit on Amazon. In the course of this episode, questions I planned to ask in a bonus post at the Study got a crystal-clear answer that made such a post moot so I scrapped that post. That's right, folks: this podcast gave you enough information that you can actually put together a checklist-level of plan that you can follow through upon.

So why am I posting it here and not at the Study? Because this is not just about selling books on Amazon. It's about selling anything on a virtual storefront with a keyword-driven algorithm to push that reach and get more sales. Amazon isn't the only site where this sort of issue applies; it's just the biggest. Books aren't the only thing being sold on Amazon, and everyone ought to pay attention to what's at issue here so they can revise their sales plans accordingly (since no one reading this can rely on massive ad campaigns like Capcom or Sony can).

If you can't listen to it right now, then listen to it when you can make the time. This is knowledge you will benefit from gaining and mastering.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Midnight's Edge Talks The Streaming Wars & Its Home Video Predecessors

The world of paid-subscription services is undergoing disruption. This is just the latest iteration of a long pattern of commercial competition over home video formatting, and the below embedded Midnight's Edge podcast hits on the former topic in the context of the latter pattern. Clear away some time, get comfy, and get your learnin' on- it's time for some applied history.

Valued at 110 billion, Netflix is the undisputed king of the hill in the digital streaming marketplace. But other contenders like Hulu, HBO, Crackle and CBS All Access are also on the scene, and Disney will soon enter the fray.

To compete for your subscription dollars, they will all use exclusive content you want - meaning you will either have to subscribe to all, or choose which services and programming you will have to do without – just like in the past format wars between Blu-ray and HDDVD, or between VHS and Beta.

In this video, we will not only discuss the current fracturing of the digital streaming market, but the past home media format wars that lead us to this point. Joining Tom and Andre, is THE authority on the matter: Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits fame.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Spacedock Hits 100K Subs

If you're a science fiction fan, you ought to be subscribed to Spacedock on YouTube. This is a great channel, lots of fun, and the work put in is now paying off. It just hit 100 THOUSAND subscribers, so a special video is below. This is the first original spaceship design publicized by Spacedock's creator and host, Daniel.

I want to see him make this ship, and the story it's in, happen. If you can, toss the man a few shekels as a show of support.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Classic Music Video Returns & World Class Bullshitters Hit 15K Subs!

There are very few fan-made music videos that are as good as those professionally commissioned. This is one of them, and as such videos go it's a classic. The original creator remastered it and re-released it on his YouTube channel recently, and it is gorgeous; yes, the video also summarizes Macross Plus in its run-time, but that's okay. Enjoy the best fan-video for "Information High" ever made once more.

The motive? It's this simple:

So after seeing a bunch of versions of my video on YouTube now with the audio working I decided to upload my HD REMASTERED version of one of my first AMVs which I probably made in 1995.

Macross / Robotech was a childhood favorite of mine and after the disappointment of Macross II I was blown away by Macross Plus. I loved everything about it. It really does make me smile seeing all the comments on the other uploads of this video and how many people remember it from back in the day.


And because you've enjoyed their stuff so much, here's the World Class Bullshitters Fan Special episode. The occassion? Hitting 15 THOUSAND subscribers. Congratulations, WCB! May you put paid the professionally-pushed lies of the media for many years to come; we need people pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Virtue of the Homebrewed Ruleset: Custom-Fit for Custom Use

I mentioned my private ruleset yesterday. I've posted about it previously, some time ago.

It's a blend of Classic Traveller and old-school D&D. Classes, but no levels or Hit Points. Damage goes directly to physical stats; easy to get taken out, almost as easy to get one-shot by big hits, and there's a time limit for combat due to endurance tracking fatigue. Progression is by gear and training, done by actual play and not by rote mechanics, so XP is not a thing; my ruleset is designed to rely upon my judgement and not a system, so you can't code it into a program.

This means that there is no issue with stat inflation, and thus no "I've got 100 HP and your crossbows do 1d4. I ignore you." issues. I deliberately stick with a minimal ruleset so I can focus on maximizing the utility of liminality. It's why I tell folks to just buy a single-subject spiral-bound notebook instead of making character sheets; a lot easier to take notes when you have 80+ sheets to work with. (It's less than a dollar. You can spare a dollar to play a tabletop RPG.)

That doesn't sound like a lot, and you're right. What you need to run your own games at home is much less than what you need to produce a commercially-viable product, so it's fine that I can be so threadbare in mechanics. I need a resolution mechanics and some benchmarks for comparison. I don't need a first draft of a technical manual (which is what TRPG rulebooks actually are).

And yes, it's meant to run entirely off the use of standard d6 dice. Raid the craps table, the Yatzhee box, etc. I'm good to go.

It's that simple and easy. Plain natural language handles the majority of play, using what game designers formalize as "status conditions" to handle damn near everything where a numerical rating isn't required. The results are experience of play where the virtual lives of characters is far more believable because you're required to addressing challenges by dealing with the setting and situation- and not working the mechanics. It's an anti-Mech Pilot approach, and it's far more newbie-friendly. It also has absolutely no commercial viability. That's okay. It's a hobby for me, a pastime, and not something to pay the bills.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mearls Eats His Foot & Reveals Publisher Fragility in Tabletop RPGs

The other day, WOTC's D&D Boss--Mike Mearls--stuck his foot in his mouth about women in gaming in a stupid attempt at virtue-signalling to the SJWs in and around tabletop RPGs. By claiming that women cannot handle complex rulesets or setting lore, he shows his own opinion on the matter through projecting that on to a strawman and then "firing" it.

This is all about some "gatekeeping" thing he alleged to be a problem. This too is projection, as it is he and his fellow travelers that want to do the gatekeeping. Wizards of the Coast, Paizo Publishing, and the rest of the Socjus Death Cultists in tabletop gaming wish they had the power to exclude people they don't like from the scene as their counterparts in videogames do.

The problem is that they cannot possibly do this. The very nature of the medium disallows the possibility. Tabletop RPGs are played at home and in clubs. They are not under central control and cannot be centrally controlled, try as the SJWs might to the contrary. As a concrete application of this fact, consider the following:

  • The Game Master, not the publisher, controls what rules and published content gets used- not the publisher.
  • The Game Master can, and will, change anything about what is published to suit his wishes and there is nothing the publisher can do about it.
  • The Game Master does not need to purchase any published ruleset to use a published ruleset. The d20 System is free online, and that is not the only one available, legally. Add other options, and the publisher never has to see a penny if they seek to impose Socjus bullshit upon the users.
  • The Game Master does not need to use any published ruleset at all. Nor does he need to use a published setting. He can create his own, and use that exclusively. He can share his rules or setting as he chooses online, and there is nothing any publisher can do about it.
  • No player is constrained by any such concerns either. Many don't even buy their own dice, or spend so much as a penny. They just show up, play, and go home.

This is why, ultimately, I am unconcerned by the convergence of any tabletop RPG publisher. I already have my own ruleset, for which I can just go to a convenience store and spend no more than $5 to have everything I need to run it for years to come- and most of that is the buying of enough standard six-sided dice (five) so that two players can roll off at once. I also have my preferred D&D editions, neither of which are the ones published by WOTC originally, and I have a few others by other publishers for other interests.

Wizards, Paizo, et. al. can die in a fire for all I care. They are not Dungeons & Dragons. They are not gaming. Me and my kind are, and we shall always be this way. We don't need you; you need us, and we know it. Give value or get fucked.

Monday, January 22, 2018

As Expected, Last Jedi Merch Gets the Punt

The World Class Bullshitters are back, with a third video, showing brand new merchandise for Last Jedi- merch that is already marked for CLEARANCE!. The film's been out just over a month, and the merch is already being put on Clearance.

This is a disaster for Mouse Wars. Merchandise sales are literally putting your money where your mouth is, and therefore is where the Revealed Preference manifests. They don't sell. They're on Clearance one month in, and they still aren't selling. Rose and other SJW tokens sell even less than most, and the ones that do sell? First Order characters (sans Phasma; no one likes her)

Star Wars is a merchandise-driven franchise; the stuff is where the real money lies. To see this stuff rot on the shelves, get marked down for Clearance just four weeks after the film's release, even after the Christmas season speaks all that needs be said about the real audience for Mouse Wars: It's not there!

Mouse Wars HQ has the data. They know where the audience is, and it's not where they want it to be; someone in the head office has to step up and say "They're walking away from us, and this data proves it." They want Muh Diversity, but--just like in comics, tabletop games, videogames, and SF novels--Muh Diversity is broke as a joke as well as a bunch of lying shits, so they never buy what they say they will buy and as such Mouse Wars stalls into a fall- and considering its height, that's a catastrophic impact when it hits.

The sooner someone in the Mouse Empire gets the stroke needed to punt Culty Kathy and her Cunty Fiends, the better. Her failure will soon be complete, and then comes the price for her lack of vision: unemployment.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Geek Gab Talks Steemit with Ben Cheah

Last night Geek Gab had on Ben Cheah to talk about Steemit and its potential as a platform for independent authors, which many in the PulpRev, Superversive, Noblebright (etc.) movements either already realized or would find to be in their interest. Unfortunately, they had tech problems so you're going to have to give this your full attention to get the most out of it.

The long and short is that Steemit allows the use of blockchain technology to (a) safeguard what you do post, (b) monetize what you post, and (c) earn a secure living if you're willing and able to put in the hustle. The downside is that your payout isn't direct; you have to convert Steemit's currency into another virtual currency (e.g. Bitcoin) by exporting it to an external wallet, and from there you convert that virtual currency into whatever legal tender you need to pay bills and buy groceries.

It's worth looking into, despite the issues with virtual currency volatility, because this approach grants the user that ability to hustle from anywhere so long as he gets Internet access that isn't shit and Steemit itself isn't blocked from access somehow. And, as Ben notes in the podcast, the author can collect any work he serializes to be published as an ebook (or even in print) via Amazon.

I need to reconsider this, as it makes serialized writing worth doing as a sideline due to how the payout works. Ben's not alone over there; Jim Fear and others are also serializing at Steemit. I'm going to bring this up again this coming Friday at the Study, and I'm going to have a specific question that I will want people to respond to in the Comments, so watch out later in the week for that.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Narrative Warfare: Razorfist Talks Mark Waid - The Man That Murdered Marvel

Razorfist captures in under 10 minutes how and why Marvel went into the shitter so far and fast. Enjoy, folks.

You can find the same psychology at work in other entertainment niches that the SJWs have attack, successfully or not, when you see how they operate. When the pattern is the same, so is the method to break it, which is why the Socjus Death Cult isn't as powerful as it wants you to believe. (Something Frame Game Radio explains in practical terms, so watch his videos on Frame. to see how to beat them into bloody pulps.) Fortunately, we're coming up with alternatives to their crap now- not just product, but the means to get product to readers. This problem will get resolved, and once that happens the SJWs will starve.

Friday, January 19, 2018

New World Class Bullshitters & Midnight's Edge After Dark

The World Class Bullshitters and the Midnight's Edge crew dropped new episodes late last night. Since there is nothing good on television on Fridays anymore, queue these up and enjoy some entertainment business podcasting instead of a vain quest for Prime Time TV that isn't a pile of horseshit.

The Solo movie's due in four months, there is still no trailer, and we're just now getting a plot synopsis? Red Alert! Danger, Will Robinson! This movie's a dumpster fire, and you're going to be better off keeping your wallet closed for this one; wait for some fool to upload it and stream their cam rip instead, assuming you need to see it that soon (or at all). If you're a stakeholder in either Disney or Lucasfilm, and you're not calling up both your lawyers as well as Blackwater (or whoever they are this week) to see what their rates are for Executive Sanction actions are, you're doing it wrong. Culty Kathy and her culty co-cunts need to go- yesterday.

More Mouse Empire talk, and more parasites trying to suck at the teat of Marvel Studios, and more superhero fatigue.

We're at a point of cultural drought. The mass media has nothing to go on but the reserves of media products of generations past, and they're burning through it faster than it can be replenished. The result is that their business increasingly chases brands over creating their own. Executives who know nothing about how to create a story that sells are running the show; it's no different than having engineering firms run by non-engineers.

Above and Mouse Wars and superhero fatigue, the cancer killing Hollywood (including its English and other foreign satellites) goes on into a death spiral that pushes more and more people to cut out the theater and focus instead on DVD/Blu-Ray and Streaming because you can do that on the price of what a theater ticket in prime time used to be- and do it from the comfort of your home, where you do not need to tolerate the routinely rude and crude cunts filling the seats. (And that's before accounting for other entertainment options.)

And it can't come soon enough. Burn, Hollywood, Burn. You are disposable, expendable, and fungible. Get forked and replaced.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Legion Post-Mortem (Part Two)

So what worked in Legion?

  • Non-Linear Zone Choice

    This expansion allowed the player to go through the four leveling zones in whatever order they wished. The NPCs there would scale with your character's level, and so would the rewards garnered. The reaction to this feature is overwhelmingly positive, despite a few deficits with its execution, so much so that when the new patch hit on Tuesday that spread this system to the rest of the game the arguments are about how to make it work- not about if it should be removed.

    In a similar manner, each zone had a series of Chapters. (This is a hold-over from previous expansions.) You would pick one up from the first quest hub in the zone you began leveling in, and completing them all gave you an Achievement. It would also lead to a quest in one or more dungeons in that zone, with the objective to retrieve one of the MacGuffins driving the expansion's plot. You had the choice to do these Chapters as you liked, but many did them in a specific order to speed their way to completing as many content unlocks as possible.

    No one complains about having the ability to complete content as they choose. Those seeking an optimized path can find a walkthrough with ease, while the rest of us do what we wish when and how. This is clearly a win for the devs, and it will be continued going forward; this too has been retro-actively applied to the older content with the new patch as a means of overhauling and improving the gameplay experience for new players.

  • Mythic Plus

    The two previous expansions had Challenge Mode dungeons, where you did a timed run at a standardized power level. Those who had the best times at the end of a season got exclusive cosmetic rewards it was all about prestige, not power. Participation was not where the devs and moneymen wanted, so they did an iterative improvement: they added an infinite escalating difficulty system, and then put in a series of modifiers known as "affixes" that change the rules. This is "Mythic Plus", and it rewarded power boosts in the form of higher-level gear for successful completion.

    This was intended to be a parallel to raiding, aimed at those unable to make the Bowling Team commitment of raiding but wanting a challenge at endgame. It proved to be very popular, but not entirely as a substitute for raiding; many high-end raiders routinely did Mythic Plus to supplement their raiding. However, it did emerge as a thing to itself because it showed potential as an esport; the Mythic Plus Invitational tournament had Twitch viewership in the five digit figures, over ten times that for Arena PVP (the other esport thing Blizzard put on the official WOW Twitch channel).

    Mythic Plus succeeded beyond expectations. There is an emerging subculture that focuses on Mythic Plus as a thing distinct from raiding, complete with external sites that track and rate players, and it's far easier to spectate than PVP is so there will be more formal tournaments in the years to come. This will be carried forward into the next expansion, hopefully with improvements where the rate of participation doesn't vary wildly from week to week due to what affixes are in play.

Then there's the clusterfucks. Next time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

China Kicks "The Last Jedi" Out ENTIRELY!

The World Class Bullshitters report today that The Last Jedi is entirely GONE from China. That's fast. Less than a month, and it's gone. Based China is Based, and they won't put up with shit films from foreign countries. Expect this to happen in other countries soon, as contracts run out and players chuck Mouse Wars for something that actually entertains an audience.

This is not a minor matter. This is a big deal. China is the most desirable foreign movie market in the world, from Hollywood's perspective, and arguable the largest (and therefore most important) market in the world. The collapse of this film has to have the head office concerned; they know that the strong-arm deal that they pulled on U.S. theaters can't be relied upon elsewhere, so they have to actually deliver an entertaining product if they want to keep their jobs (and their bonuses).

If I pity anyone in the cast of the Sequel Triology, it's Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver. Ridley isn't Rey; the actress seems just fine an a woman, even if she acts terribly. Driver survived Dunham, so he'll survive this trainwreck; he'll be fine, but he deserved a lot better than this. Oscar Iassc also deserves better, but he's solid as it is and won't be harmed; Boyega has the starring role in the next Pacific Rim film, so he'll get his shot to prove he's better than Finn soon enough.

In the meantime, let's keep at our #StarWarsNotStarWars and burn Mouse Wars to ash with the fires of our passion.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mouse Wars Merch STILL Rots on the Shelves

The World Class Bullshitters come again with a follow-up to their first video showing just how bad the real business of Star Wars is now that it's a satrapy of the Mouse Empire. The merchandise is still rotting on the shelves, and what's rotting there is the clearest revelation of what the fans actually prefer--their Revealed Preference--as well as who the fans actually are. (TL/DR: Still mostly male, and Diversity Hires shit up the shelves.)

It's not just the population at large that's getting shat upon by the Mouse Empire. The corporate world notices also, and it's this sector that stands the best chance of pressuring Kathy Kennedy out because they've got skin in the game and they're losing more than they want to admit.

And note the buried lead: the best merch is made in Japan, and rarely goes West. If you're going to go that way, go East (or make friends with someone that does, or just hit up Play Asia or Hobby Japan).

Monday, January 15, 2018

For Your Consideration: The Templin Institute

It's Monday again, so I think it's time for something fun to be spotlit here. This time, it's a YouTube channel: The Templin Institute.

As the video below shows, this channel focuses on Executive Summaries of factions within well-known media SF properties. They have an ongoing affiliation with another channel I enjoy (Spacedock), and are part of a cluster of channels that deal in worldbuilding and fictional lore as a topic of interest.

Besides being entertaining in their own right, Templin's videos are good examples of how to present information. This is the sort of information presentation--documentary style--that one expects out of a historical archive agency, public or private, introducing some other group before launching into a detail report and analysis. You can easily imagine Templin being a private spin-off from one or more Intelligence agencies, through which covert operations and non-official cover identities can be had. For you gamers and writers out there, this channel just handed you a ready-to-go drop-in-and-play organization that's all about facilitating the sort of thing you love to do with RPGs and fiction: have exciting adventures in fantastic places doing fantastic things with fantastic people.

Subscribe to this channel (and to Spacedock). You'll be glad you did. If you want a taste, here's a video to give it a try.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Countdown to a New Series: Legend of the Galactic Heroes - The New Thesis

If you haven't seen this, then here's the teaser for the upcoming remake of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, subtitled "The New Thesis" (in gratuitous German).

If you haven't seen the existing series, get on that right now. 110 episodes of the best Space Opera after Lensman doesn't watch itself. This new series, like the now-classic OVA series, is a direct adaptation of the original Light Novels (that you can get at Amazon, in English, in print and Kindle, legally). The first series is 12 episodes, followed by a second series that will be released initially in theaters as three four-episode movies. (This means it's following the release scheme of Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and its follow-up, 2202.)

And all I can say is "Do NOT fuck this up!"

The last thing I need is a shallow, heartless, soulless, artless (and yes, being pretty is not sufficient) violation of the original's brilliance and sublime quality. (For that matter, where is the official English-language release that should have been done by now, Sentaiworks? If you waste all that money on a North American license and do sweet fuck-all with it, then may you join with such infamous companies as Electronic Arts in the Hell of Shithole Companies That Fucked Up Sure Things.)

I would hope for simultaneous subtitling, but that's not likely. (If I really wanted to dream, a competent dub airing on Adult Swim within a week of the Japanese release would be it.) You all know what that means now, don't you?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Two Podcasts To Show You The Way

The folks at SuperversiveSF had one of their roundtables today, and Geek Gab just concluded its second 2018 episode as of this post. I'm embedding both below for your convenience.

The Superversive folks launch the first of their planet-themed fiction anthologies soon, with more coming later this year, and that makes this Roundtable for January a notable one to catch.

The Gab today hosted Jon del Arroz and talked about his recent run-ins with the SocJus Death Cult, as well as similar incidents involving Kevin Sorbo and the fallout such things have on the wider culture. Despite the technical difficulties, worth the time; I was there live, so the chat was the usual bonus that it's come to be.

The point of commonality here is the necessity to cast off the rotten culture and build anew. This means writing our own works, building our own publication paths, cultivating our own audiences independently, and not only interpreting the pozzed institutions as network damage to cut out and go around, but to upgrade the protocols protecting them to prevent a repeat occurrence of infection and usurpation. With time, incremental improvements, and access to capital that Bugmen don't control.

Yes, there are dangers and concerns. Get over it, and get used to it. Perfection is an ideal to strive for, not a practical win condition, so stop making the Perfect the enemy of the Good. "Good enough" is good enough, so learn how to divide big objectives into a series of smaller goals and build up your talent stack to establish a robust system of practice that will get you from here to there. Forking and replacing a corrupted culture isn't easy, but it's doable and these two podcasts--by example--show you how you can find the way to doing so yourself.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Narrative Warfare: The Cross & Chrysanthemum vs. the Bugmen

Let's start with a simple, factual statement.

It's not just the games. I would rather listen to Japanese pop music over the SJW-converged counterparts. I would rather watch Japanese films and television over the SJW alternatives. I would rather read their books and comics. While not all of this is the top-shelf stuff that my favorites are, and they've got their own problems, even the worst is still better than anything the SJWs produce. The SJWs know this, and that's why they are so biter and hateful towards Japan and the Japanese.

If we that are faithful to Civilization see the SJWs as traitors assaulting and attempting to kill and usurp us, literally, then the best way to perceive this animosity towards Japan's unconverged entertainment offerings is that of an ally rushing in to block a blow and give us time to get back on our feet and re-enter the fight.

We are stupid not to see it that way, because that is the function being executed here. They are buying us time. We must not squander that precious gift, and all signs point towards this gift being appreciated and used appropriately. (Yes, this means we should let our pals know what we're doing so they can enjoy our stuff also; time to find out how to line up translators and figure out how to market to them.)

Time to meme this into reality. Have at it, memelords.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Midnight's Edge on Marvel's New & Upcoming Releases (& More)

The Midnight's Edge crew gather on the After Dark channel for another podcast.

Let me get my thoughts on the two Marvel properties discussed here.

Black Panther is going to get screwed. Every behind-the-scenes report indicates that this will be a perfectly fine superhero drama with enjoyable action sequences, a plausible plot given its premises, and an emphasis on entertaining its audience by giving them an actual story and not propaganda. So why the pessimism?

Because there is no way that this won't be pushed as "We Wuz Kangz: Da Movie!".

Yet it's not. The film's plot is more of a Shakespeare remix than anything else, something Akira Kurosawa did no less than twice over his career to great effect and acclaim. The Narrative that the Social Justice death cult will use this film to push actually has sweet fuck-all to do with it. We're closer to Ancient Aliens territory than Socjus, so when the media narrative campaign turns out to be at odds with the film's actual content the dissonance will be telling- and, I think detrimental to the film's performance. I hope that I'm write about the quality of the film, and wrong about its reception and SocJus hijacking, but we'll find out soon enough.

Black Widow has issues. There are two issues. The first is that, as noted in the podcast, Black Widow is better working as a supporting character than as a lead. That's not insurmountable; a focus on the character's dramatic strengths, as the James Bond films have done, can make that known issue moot. However, that brings us to the other issue: Scarlet Johanson. Scarjo can't carry the load as the lead in the way that Sean Connery has, as her record in leading roles shows; she needs a director and writer to carry her to victory, and that isn't going to be present on this film.

This is unfortunate. The character has the potential to launch a spy-focused sub-franchise for Marvel, like a meaner Modesty Blaze or Kate Archer (No One Lives Forever), but if this stand-alone film fails (and if there is no significant retooling now, it will) then we won't be seeing another attempt for at least a decade, by which time Scarjo will too old for the part. (As for why this is so, Black Widow--as the name implies--is a honeypot at her core, as is typical of hot female assassins, and that means her primary asset has a shelf life; just ask the real former KGB honeypots, those still alive. Scarjo is over 30, so she's on her way out of such roles; it's now or never for her, in live-action terms. She can voice-act them for decades yet in animation.)

In any event, I think the smart thing to do is to use the stand-alone film to do two things: give Scarjo a graceful exit from the role, set up her successor to take it over, and stake out that sub-franchise space for spy movie thrillers. Otherwise you'll repeat the failures of Charlize Theron to mark out such a space, who's failed to do this twice (Aeon Flux, Atomic Blonde), and for the same reasons (and Theron is also on her way out of those roles).

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Legion Post-Mortem (Part One)

Now that World of Warcraft: Legion is in its fallow phase at the end of the expansion, it's time for a review of the game as it is prior to the launch of Battle For Azeroth.

  • Artifacts:

    The idea of acquiring the most powerful weapons that one's Class has, and wielding them against the Burning Legion, was a good hook. The system around this feature, Artifact Power, turned a retention mechanic into a burnout mechanism. The top end raiding guilds, PVP players, etc. saw that maxing out the Traits in your weapon was a huge power boost, so that became required to be viable in top-end content. The grind for AP wore out so many players that they quit playing entirely, ruining many guilds before the mid-level patch hit and forcing many more out of the top-end tier if they wanted to avoid that fate. In short, it backfired- and it wouldn't be the first mechanic to attain the opposite of its stated aim.

    The system not only penalized playing more than one character, but playing more than one specialization on that one character, furthering the error of thinking of specializations as separate classes. This version of the game's design had too many class-defining capabilities locked behind the Artifact, some being so important that you could not function properly without it. The game already has too much of a difference between how the game is below the cap and at the cap; this just made it much worse. (Incoming patch hopes to fix this somewhat, but we'll see.)

    While Artifacts were only specific to this expansion, it's not hard to see that this was a test-bed for replacing gear as the big carrot to chase. The overall failure of the design means that no ass-pull will be made to keep them up going forward, so they will be put to be and the benefits thereof redesigned into the classes and specializations to be gotten by other means- much as the Draenor Perks were previously.

  • Legendaries:

    A failure. There are two factors to the failure. The first is that you could only get them randomly, and only by pursuing activity deemed "eligible" (which included taking the Blingtron 6000 quest, for some stupid reason), again as a mechanism of player retention. (Yes, that damned Straight Out of Vegas applied psychology thing again.) So you could go the entire expansion without getting a Legendary worth a damn, depending on class and specialization. The second is that every class has a set of Best In Slot items that included Legendaries; without those Legendaries, you literally could not compete as a viable teammate to someone that did. Top-end guilds, going into this expansion, rolled multiple characters of the same class and spec; as soon as one of them got the required Legendaries that one became the main and the rest got benched or deleted. That's how bad this was.

    So you had no control over when you got them, or what you got, so you had no choice but to maximize your activity so you could pull the lever enough times to get enough Legendaries until you got the ones you needed to actually play your character to best effect. The devs acknowledged this, letting us know that "Bad Luck Protection" existed (each failure to proc a Legendary added to the % chance of a proc down the line until you got one, then it reset) with the first two having much higher % chance rates. As with the grind for AP above, this greatly contributed to player dissatisfaction, burnout, and therefore subscription cancellations.

    Which leads to the next thing that wrecked things.

  • Titanforging:

    This began in Mists of Pandaria, but it got out of control with Warlords of Draenor and lost all semblance of sanity with this expansion. The idea is simple: instead of being the standard Item Level when a piece of gear drops, it upgrades one or more steps (subject to a cap; as of this post, it's 985). The first step remains "Warforged" and after that it's "Titanforged". So it was not enough to go to the most difficult content and conquer it to get the best gear; you had to farm ALL iterations of that content to maximize your odds of getting the best gear for your character. More grind, more repetition intended as a player retention mechanics, translating to more burnout.

    This is not accidental. This is intended.

The reason for so many retention mechanics welded into the core structures of the game stems from incorporation of people from the Diablo team, and a larger shift of the game from being a RPG to being an action game- that's what the former D3 devs brought to the team. You were always expected to have something to do, and something to strive for, solely to keep you subscribed. The problem is that most players want to be done with the game at some point, where they either stop playing for a while or switch to an alt character for a chance of pace. (Or even play another specialization.) These systems directly fucked you over if you did that, until later patches lessened that burden somewhat.

Contradicting this intention was the myriad of class-specific and specialization-specific things to do, experience, and acquire that encouraged playing alt characters. The devs goofed a lot this time around, but it wasn't all bad. That's for next time.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Narrative Warfare: Omelas Runs on Child Sacriface- YOUR Children. Walk Away.

The Eloquence of Elocution, Razorfist, had a couple of good rants recently about Hollywood, #Pedogate, and #MeToo. Time to watch.

It is already clear that the Hollywood narrative has issues. Crazy Days & Nights (see the sidebar) is a long-time documenter of the massive hypocrisy that is institutional in that business. It has counterparts in publishing elsewhere in the West, and you can count on there being foreign counterparts. The pedo network, and the degeneracy it fosters, is global and multi-polar.

But it is not invulnerable. First, and foremost, it requires we to feed it. With our money, and our lives- and those of our children. Simply cutting that off will--and has--hurt it significantly. Don't buy their books or albums. Don't go to their shows, live or otherwise. Don't subscribe to their services. Don't feed the beast that seeks to devour you and yours. That's a good start towards ending this problem.

I talk a lot about "Fork and Replace". This is part of that process. Cutting the pozzed out, then replacing them with alternatives, by ceasing to do business with the former and exclusively dealing with the latter, is a practical and actionable plan that you can do right now. If you don't see why, read that article from Brian Niemeier that I just linked to above; you're part of the problem.

Monday, January 8, 2018

World Class Bullshitters Do Goldfinger

It's Monday. You want something to entertain you without a lot of bullshit. Don't you worry, because the World Class Bullshitters have your back. They started doing group commentaries of the James Bond films a while back, and just recently released their track for Goldfinger, which is embedded below. If you have the film, put it on and either turn it down or mute it, instead letting the podcast play over it like you're watching an in-disc commentary track.

If you liked that, go back for their commentaries of Dr. No and From Russia With Love. If you'd rather get something more newsy, Midnight's Edge has a commentary on the Fox deal with Disney.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Nevermind the Globes. Listen to the World Class Bullshitters Instead.

In case you missed it, the World Class Bullshitters had their 104th episode a few days ago. Yes, more on the Mouse Empire, but the bigger picture--and how it means we're in for some more suck--is the reason to put this on and take notes. (There is a timestamp list as a Pinned Comment; refer to that to skip around the podcast.)

This coming year, in terms of big budget Hollywood films, is going to be interesting to watch. The current scandals may not fully dissipate by the time the tentpole films get put down, and if any of them underperform then this time next year will definitely be a time where heads should have rolled (or will presently) and long-term plans get reformed to account for the new reality.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Mouse Wars Finds No Safe Harbor in China

I will not brook any apologia for The Last Jedi now that the opening for its run in China has come: $125 million. Of that gross, over half of it will stay in China and never reach Disney's coffers. That fact sounds impressive, until you consider the following:

  • Warcraft's China run pulled in 213 million. That movie--even among Warcraft fans like me--is acknowledged as a dumpster fire that deserved its failure, however much we wanted it to succeed. TLJ did worse than that.
  • The Fate of the Furious, the first post-Paul Walker entry into that franchise, did 394 million. That's a beloved film franchise with global reach and power, something Star Wars lacks as its presence in China (a key film business segment now) is weak at best, and is what you'd expect a truly entertaining global franchise film to actually pull in.
  • It got beat by a domestic rom-com, which are more formulaic there than they are in Hollywood, badly.

TLJ will not meet expectations. It will not meet them so obviously that it can't be ignored, and can't be lied about by sophist bullshit either. The film business is all about meeting expectations; careers of actors, directors, writers, producers, executives, etc. all depend upon meeting expectations. TLJ is expected to meet performance about that of its immediate predecessor, so about 2 billion. It won't. It will be fortunate to break one billion.

The tricks used to pander to China'a audience don't work. They didn't boost Rogue One there. China doesn't have the long history with Star Wars that most of the rest of the world does, so they have no nostalgia to cloud the issue; it's crap, so they stayed away in droves.

And now we have the Han Solo movie coming out next Spring just as the Summer season arrives. Nothing good has come out of this film; the behind-the-scenes reports are all bad news, and nothing being done to salvage it will make it better than the last salvage dumpster fire (Rogue One). It's likely to do worse, especially once a plot summary leaks out and gets confirmed, as that's what happened to TLJ and sank the film before its official release.

Mouse Wars floundering can be bullshat for now, but not for much longer; the bad word of mouth has already compelled the Mouse Empire to lean on the film media to defend it in their columns, which is not necessary if it were any good. Its Audience score at Rotten Tomatoes is now 50% and slipping. That's why the Fake Media is now resorting to puff pieces about Frumpy Asian Chick (who isn't Chinese; that did play a part in its failure in China) whining about audience reactions while taking Totally Not Staged photo ops.

The downward spiral is now apparent. So long as Kathy Kennedy and the other SJWs remain in place, the spiral will continue and the suck will become too obvious to ignore sooner than later.

On a good note, Geek Gab comes back. Enjoy.

Friday, January 5, 2018

PC I Can Get Behind: Ruger's New Carbine

I'm talking about "pistol caliber" here, something so not politically correct, so we're talking shooty sticks here, and Ruger just released a new one here. It's the first one out of Ruger in over a decade, and I think this could be a very successful product line if Ruger chooses their chamberings right.

This model, chambered in the ubiquitous 9x19mm Parabellum handgun cartridge, is clearly aimed on not only complimenting Ruger's own line of semi-automatic handguns, but that is the leading competitor: Glock. In the box, with all tools and instructions provided (no gunsmith required), you can swap out the magazine well to one set for use with Glock magazines. Genius.

For those of you not big on the firearms industry, Glock and its handguns are about a ubiquitous as the 9x19mm cartridge. It's just good business sense to make your PC carbine available for use with a Glock as your sidearm, sharing ammunition and magazines, in the great tradition of 19th century cowboys who used lever-action rifles and revolvers with the same ammunition.

I can see where Ruger's coming from with this carbine. Like its previous (long-discontinued) Police Carbine, this is meant for an urban or suburban security function where the user is not primarily meant to engage in firefights with hostiles. In short, this is a firearm in the tradition of the M1 Carbine; a tool for self-defense for people who are not primary users of firearms. (Yes, this does mean cops, in their former image of being friendly locals who do law-enforcement as a means of community support; in the militarized form of being urban warfare operatives, this carbine is not adequate.)

And the price is right. It'll set you back less than a Glock 17 or 19 of the latest generation (or even a generation or two back), so it's on par with the price for Ruger's recent semi-auto handguns (including the model whose magazine ships with the carbine) and the initial reaction from GunTube (the gun channels on YouTube, mirrored at Full30) are liking it so far. So far. We're talking before they do their run-and-gun drills, dump a score of mags through it in rapid succession, use it during a weekend carbine course, and other such extended testing and evaluation.

Yeah, I want to go plug some plates with one. Alas, I don't think I have any local shooting buddies who have it. Gonna have to wait for a rental or a promo event I can actually attend. I hope they do produce a variant in 10mm, as that will have great field utility hunting all sorts of big game, including some you may not expect.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

WorldCon Banning May Be Tied To Its Pedo Problem

Jon del Arroz decided that he wanted to attend WorldCon. He looks up the site of the convention, looks up the membership price, and carves out space in the monthly budget to pay that fee. Being a working science fiction author, he figures it's a good idea to spread the word about his attending this convention. For most of his peers, this is as controversial as saying "I like trains."

Not for Jon. Jon doesn't conform to the WorldCon Consensus.

But this ought not be more than some spicy banter at the bar over drinks, right? Maybe some ribbing while on a panel, good-natured, but ultimately harmless fun for all. After all, science fiction is a literature of ideas and therefore difference of perspective is just the thing needed to forge superior stories of timeless talent. Clearly, obviously, the WorldCon Consensus could take having an author of a different perspective coming out for fun over a mutual interest, right?


And that's just the beginning. More will follow.

But I wonder if this is not purely political. Jon mentioned recording any suspect interactions, and I think the Supreme Dark Lord has a good point here:

Considering the known and suspected sex criminals who are still permitted to openly attend Worldcon, it's almost astonishing that the organizers would dare to call attention to their attendance policies in this regard. Almost, but not quite. What I find more astonishing is the idea that Jon Del Arroz, or any sane, functional human being, wants to spend any time at all in the depraved Star Wars cantina of science fiction fandom.

You want more on that pedo problem? Start with Safe Space As Rape Room and the book-length follow-up The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon. You will never look on science fiction conventions--fan conventions in general--the same way again, especially if you know anyone that associates with this crowd--the one that dominates the Hugo Awards and "mainstream" SF/F--and will not disavow it.

The disgust cannot be ignored anymore. Nor should have ever been so.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

It's About Entertainment in Science Fiction

That's the spirit all right. It's why I have no problems with Space Knights with lightsabers and super robots.

Why that? This.

Spread the word. PulpRev's bringing awesome back.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Wizards Has a Pedo Problem: MagicGate and Pedos in Magic The Gathering

This is important enough to directly mirror, originating from here.

The Quartering was recently banned from Magic the Gathering by an organized SJW outrage mob. Basically a mirror of GamerGate - same tactics, same impetus (a failed, lying, camwhore), etc. This is known as MagicGate and is ongoing; MTG SJWs have infiltrated WOTC and are gatekeeping the major MTG forums.

The Quartering starts gathering evidence of other big name MTG vloggers and community members violating WOTC's own guidelines. (Standard anti-SJW tactics - make them hold themselves to their own standards.) He finds LOTS of examples, most of whom have sent death threats to him, his family, his wife, and his local game stores.

The SJWs respond to The Quartering providing evidence of him being harassment by posting creepy videos of his house, his wife, and threatening his wife and cat. Quartering gets the FBI and Local Police involved and noticeably stops discussing certain SJWs (presumably per FBI / Police order).

Whistleblowers start giving The Quartering the real scandal -- WOTC has no screening for Pedophiles and Sex Criminals, and there are a lot of them in the volunteer Judge program. The Quartering starts raising the red flag about this, outing around a dozen with around 2 dozen more he can't verify; the SJWs and WoTC immediately clam up and refuse to talk about this.

WOTC's Judge program states they do not, and will not, do background checks or ban pedophiles / sex offenders from their programs. Several big name judges are outed by The Quartering as being child sex offenders and other sex criminals, they are quietly removed from the program without announcement.

Someone points out that having these events WITHOUT background checks is illegal across most of North America. Various groups go into damage control, including...

WOTC comes out making blatant lies about The Quartering, claiming there's no issues despite their Judge program contradicting this publicly. Repeatedly.

The Quartering starts getting some media attention. Lou Colagiovanni, the award winning journalist who broke the Weinstein scandal, picks it up but no leftist outlet will cover it and defy Hasbro, who is a huge advertiser, so he publishes it through his friend's outlet, Nichegamer.

This media blitz extends to Cernovich's new network having him on a livestream.

During the livestream, someone (WOTC, Hasbro, SJWs?) organizes a mass flagging attempt to take Jeremey's channel offline, destroying all the discussion and evidence he has brought forward.

Naturally, the man in question has a backup YouTube channel and has a video there.

The ride never ends.

Monday, January 1, 2018

In the New Current Year, RPGs are Still Not Storygames

Welcome to 2018, where there are still plenty of fucking morons out there who are under the delusion that storytelling and RPGs are actually a thing.

They're not.

When you start thinking in terms of story, you start thinking in terms of narrative structure and tropes. Rising action, falling action, character arcs, plot turns, story beats, and all that stuff now intrudes on a medium of game where the actual paradigm of play is that of a wargame: you have an objective to achieve, you have a limited set of resources to do so, and you must take the current situation into account (with imperfect information) when making decisions on what to do and how to do it to advance towards the goal.

Narrative thinking directly violates this paradigm.

By thinking in terms of story, you cheat the player by necessarily negating his agency when it interferes with the story. Can't have the villain get whacked in the first encounter, so you're going to ass-pull his escape. Can't let the information on the plan get blown in the first act, so they can't find it even if the rules of the game or their own skilled play says otherwise. Can't have the heroes lose once they collect all the plot coupons, so no matter what they win in the end.

You want a story? Go buy one in the fiction aisle. Want to tell one? Stop being a pussy bitch and write it, you double-talking cunts. I did that, and I'm better for it; nothing makes crystal-fucking-clear the differences between RPGs and stories than actually doing both of them properly.

"But Muh Gygax!" Bitch, you don't know marketing copy when you read it. That's why you're a rube who's easy to sucker into buying shit you don't need, doing things that don't help you, and backing plays that aren't in your interest. Stop being dumb. You never take marketing copy at face value, especially when it directly contradicts how the product actually works- and no RPG worthy of that name actually works under narrative logic. If you don't need it to function, then it's not part of the product. You do not need narrative logic to make any RPG function; you work under wargame logic alone.

"Buh Muh Designer!" I've been actively engaged in this medium for over 35 years, thinking and playing both deep and shallow, and as I look back I see that the folks who make the things routinely don't fucking comprehend what they created. Few did, and all but a few are now dead of old age or related causes; none of the motherfuckers currently hawking the big game, its direct knockoff, or its many also-ran competitors are among that number. In short, I've got a depth and density of expertise that shows me why your favorite retorts are bullshit. I know this medium better than most alive, so my own counsel I will keep.

It's this simple: you can succeed at an RPG purely by tracking your man's resources, noting the current situation, and just saying "My man does (x) with (y)." and roll the dice. Nothing else is required. Narrative logic is not required. Voice acting is not required. Backgrounds, family histories, countries of origin, etc. are not required. Hell, you don't even need a fucking name; lots of Original Gamers didn't bother at first, and didn't take it seriously when they did. (Or do you really think "Drawmij", being "Jim Ward" backwards, is somehow a serious approach at charcater design? If you do, you're a retard, and you're not tall enough for this ride.)

Lots and lots of motherfuckers over the years didn't grok what this medium is, and tried (and are trying) to make it into something it is not. It's a wargame. Looks like one, plays like one, resolves like one, and that's why RPG players and wargamers have and do overlap to such a significant degree- even now, after all the bullshit bolted on to the medium in my lifetime. It's why you do not, and never have, needed to give a shit about the lore to be a good player- even in CRPGs and MMORPGs. Story is ancillary to the game, at best, and few GMs bother to find ways to make knowing lore relevant to gameplay (mostly because they too have no incentive to give a shit).

And that's why it's a bald-faced lie--a fraud, since there's commercial and financial factors at work--to claim that RPGs are about story. You can strip all of that out and still have a functional, satisfying, experience because the gameplay is pure: just you, a challenge, and a set of constraints to work around to beat it. You don't even need other people to participate; just you and a GM is enough. You can't say that about narrative logic, so it's exposed as superfluous and therefore not a part of the medium.

So yes, to say that RPGs are about story is wrong. Now that you know better, to continue claiming so makes you a liar; if you get anything financially or otherwise from doing so, you're guilty of fraud, so knock it off if you don't want to be punished for it. I've had enough of this Narrative Warfare, so it's long past time to push back good and hard against it. Stop lying!