Monday, April 30, 2018

Superversive's New Weekly Podcast Series Launches

The folks at SuperversiveSF put out a new podcast yesterday, and it looks to be the first of a weekly series. It's just over 30 minutes in length, so you can do this over your lunch break.

The folks at SuperversiveSF are all about being the culture you want to see, so I ask you give this pilot a chance and send them useful feedback that can be acted upon by non-tech folks using Google Hangouts as their podcasting platform (so stick to the basics). This could become a big deal for Superversive's authors and allies going forward, so if you can give it a go then do so. Joe Rogan had to start somewhere; with your support this could be just as big a deal a few years from now.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Forks Don't Build Themselves: Be The Culture You Want To See

Be the culture that you want to see. For some, that means starting a podcast. Once more I feature the Metro City Boys because that is what they are doing: making their part of the culture that they want to see in the world. There's a time to burn it all to ash, but once that's done you have to build something in its place. Creation is required, so put on the big boy pants and get on with it; forks don't build themselves.

I like gaming, so I talk up gaming stuff a lot. That's what I want to see, so I curate and promote what I like. I'll write about the stuff I like; sharing what you like is better in the long run than dunking on what you don't, even when the latter is necessary. I can do more than blog, so I am (see the Study in the Other Blogs tab), and I certainly take the time to enjoy what I like.

And this is a lot more fun, less stressful, and free than riding herd on a population to thought-police and gaslight them into compliance with an ideology that can only produce the annihilation of those practicing it.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Getting My Mecha On Tonight: Super Robot Wars X

Super Robot Wars X released in English two days ago. Hype glands engaged.

Tonight I expect to see it streamed live by Zengar of the Metro City Boys. I know he got it in the mail, so I'm confident that this will happen.

I also expect it to get talked about tomorrow night during the Metro City Boys podcast. As for tonight, if Zengar doesn't stream on his own channel, then it'll be at the MCB channel (and in this case, I think using the podcast channel is the better option).

And since I just happen to be writing fantastic stories featuring action, romance, and Giant Robot Combat as part of #AGundamForUs, I'll be happily taking notes as the game goes on regarding how the game mashes up all the source material to produce a coherent and entertaining narrative that satisfies the audience. (And yes, lots and lots of recycled animation and catchphrases, as this is a wargame series at its heart.)

Friday, April 27, 2018

World Class Bullshitters: Avengers: Infinity War Live Spectacular!

We take a break from culture war commentary to spotlight Episode 120 of the World Class Bullshitters. This show was live this week. They talked Infinity War, including a back half filled with spoilers. This means that, like Geek Gab, they had a live chat and you really want to get the full experience by having that played back with the podcast. If you're on the fence on this MCU offering, listen to this- especially the spoiler section.

Congratulations to the Bullshitters for hitting 30,000 subscribers on YouTube. You earned it. You deserve it.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Teamwork By Network: How the Hardcore Leverage Their Commitment Into Power

Teams are groups of individuals who work together in concert towards a common goal. Each teammate has a role to fulfill as part of a larger operation, and only through the synergy of their efforts can they achieve results far greater than their collective efforts as individuals could produce.

Get off the pitch or the battlefield, and your team becomes a network. You still have the core components--a small group of committed, disciplined people working towards a goal--but they become nodes in a larger map of connections. Each node forms an operational team of its own, fulfilling a specific function in a larger plan just like you see when the Vikings or Chelsea take the field.

The Left is a team spread out into a network, and that network operates as a cohesive unit. There is no winning a culture war if one's own side is not likewise committed to operating as a team, especially in the form of a network. What is true of armies, navies, and religions is true in general. This is why Muh Libertarianism and Muh An-Cap doesn't work in practice: it always falls, first to the Horde, and then to the Empire.

When you see how a hardcore minority operating as a team can turn mushy moderates into a machine that fulfills its will, then you witness how and why life belongs to the hardcore. That doesn't mean it's purely a tool for evil; like any tool so often seen in evil hands, it is a perversion of Natural Law because this same principle is what allows a healthy nation to establish and sustain its own countries- this is how the leadership of the family lawfully extends to the reign over a nation and the rulership of countries.

In the real world, there is no successful heroic one-man stands against a ravenous horde. Yet I've seen far too many people who say they don't support the SJW Death Cult do just this sort of stupid thing. They refuse to accept leadership. They refuse to support any others in common cause. They refuse to work as a team. So they get defeated in detail as the SJWs steamroll them one by one; it's not like there isn't a telling visual example of this folly in action.

The excuses fly fast, but it comes down to ego and pride not letting some fool think outside of SJW frameworks to see what really is the issue or what the only practical solution is, so they sandbag or sabotage. (The whole "Moderates are useless" problem, which we know mostly as "cucking".) Like it or not, success requires teamwork and leadership; your allies need not be your friends, and if you can't discern between the two then enjoy Antifa boots on your neck and those of your descendants until you're rendered extinct.

And I don't have time for losing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Narrative Warfare: Life Belongs to the Hardcore

As we are talking about the culture this week, it's time to promote a friendly voice with something to say on it. This is from the Freedom Alternative channel, which I recommend that you subscribe to and follow hereafter.

In order to change a policy - or even indeed to fundamentally transform an entire civilization - one does not necessarily need 51% per cent agreement with the new set of ideas.

In fact, even 80% agreement with the new set of ideas might still not be enough.

What is a lot more important is to have a 10% hardline or stubborn minority. That is what changes things!

It is rarely the case that a policy dispute or a cultural war is being won by the moderates. The absolute rule is that the most hardline minority wins. And this is something we need to learn really fast!

Let's explore!

"Life belongs to the hardcore." is how I put it. Others put as "You only need twelve faithful men.", or "It took 3% to be viable, and 5% to become victorious." Whatever the saying, the point remains: small, committed, and disciplined groups focused on working towards a goal are the proven drivers of history. Eric Hoffer said as plainly in his historic book on mass movements.

This is the way that the Long March worked. Successive pushes, run by the hardcore, over time iterated their way to dominance. It is unlikely that this chaos corruption can be undone faster than that, barring the opportunity afforded by a collapse, so get ready to put in work that only your grand-children will benefit from.

Which means actually working as a team. But that's for tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Narrative Warfare: It's The Culture, Stupid!

Once more, the Supreme Dark Lord Vox Day has to point out that Rhetoric trumps Dialectic when persuading the masses- and that is the whole of the Culture War. Dragon Award winner Brian Niemeier follows-up by showing why too many on the Right chronically fail to get why this matters, or even how and why it works.

And in a bit of synchronicity, Hooc Ott at Gab made this reply John Rivers's post. They too argued over the sort of stories that succeed so well in the popular culture, talking over how it's not as simple as it seems to succeed in producing such simple narratives to achieve Rhetorical goals of persuasion.

Focusing on the culture is the best use of one's energy at this time. Everything else follows from the culture, and as such there is no need to argue otherwise; you're just wasting time and sandbagging your allies. Time instead to start learning how to win and why it works that way, which means learning how to tell those swift-paced stories for maximum impact and get them out the door as fast as you can manage.

If that's not your thing, then there's another vital thing you can do: Support Those Who Don't Hate You. Boost their profiles, get heretofore unaware audiences informed that something they like it out there, and so on. Heed Jon del Arroz on this and be the change in the culture. Forks don't build themselves.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Best Story You'll Read Today: Crazy Days & Nights' New Himmm Tale

There is only one "blind gossip" blog that I follow: Crazy Days & Nights. I do so for two reasons. The first is to get (often by example) the straight dope on how Hollywood and the culture industry really works. (It's not good; keep your kids out of it.) The second is to read heretofore untold stories of those in that madhouse making things happen. This is in the latter column, as it's the story about how a film beloved by Generation X--one that cost the star's life--got made.

And as I write this post, I'm remembering my own experience with this film. I know no one who had anything to do with this film, and I can't say that I'm surprised that the actual events behind the scenes turned out as they did; the now-infamous death came about for a lot of the same reasons that other on-set fatalities do, so this is a case of hubris exacting preventable consequences, leading to the star's downright Greek Tragedy of a fate.

I don't need a copy of this film. I remember it. All of it. Soundtrack and all. It came to me at a time when, unknown to me at the time, I'd had my own youthful-illusions-got-shattered episode, and I felt the same sort of disorientation. Someday I'll tell my own story of how and why this film matters to me--such that I, like those who made the film, don't ever want it remade--but for now I'll just direct you to Himmmm and let you read for yourself his tale of youthful dreams, ambitions, and love all shattered by hubris. Stranger Things Have Happened.

"It can't rain all the time." No, it can't.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

My Life as a Gamer: The RPG Pundit, a Man To Follow

Today's post is a shout-out to The RPG Pundit, who's been a based gamer with his own blog and forum for years now, and he's no friend to the SJW Death Cult. As a show of appreciation, I'm embedding his video on SJW racism and his video on how non-gamers are playing at being Fake Gamers to poz the tabletop RPG scene.

The Pundit's a savvy guy. He's been aware of the SJW problem in tabletop RPGs well before Gamergate hit the videogame world, with his own term for them, and he's been pretty damn good about adhering to his principles in dealing with them. He's also put skin in the game, consulting on some products while producing his own, and he's not shy about letting you know what they are or why you ought to get yourself a copy. That's a level of earnestness I can appreciate. If you're into tabletop RPGs, he's definitely A Man To Follow.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Two New Gundam Shows Coming & What It Means For #AGundamForUs

An announcement came out this week regarding the Gundam franchise. Tokyosaurus had a short video regarding this, both short, which I'll embed because he summarizes the matter well enough for my purposes.

And there was another announcement that he covered a week ago today.

And there is a very brief teaser for Narrative on the Gundaminfo channel.

Also, we have Gundam Build Divers airing in Japan right now as well as another Origin installment in the wings. Combined? The Gundam franchise looks to be in decent shape at the moment, albeit with plenty of room for improvement. (Still no anime adaptation of Hathaway's Flash.) This is what a healthy media franchise looks like. Mouse Wars take note.

The problem here is that the mecha genre doesn't have more than one such franchise. We have to cast our net wider into Space Opera generally to get more than the Macross franchise on the radar, and that only gets us Space Battleship Yamato and Legend of the Galactic Heroes (and, to be fair, the latter is only due to the new series).

For all that shows like Code Geass and Darling in the FranXX have going for them, they rarely get past the initial series. The former show is soon to debut its third series, but it's really a Season 3 of the original and not a proper sequel or prequel. The latter is still airing, but it is unlikely to get a follow-up green-lit that goes beyond this series to explore more from another perspective- something that the Macross and Gundam franchises did do to varying degrees of success.

As mentioned previously, mecha media is in an overall stale state and a lot of that is due to issues that cannot be solved internally; for the medium to get the revival it needs to endure beyond a handful (at best) of stalwarts and a mess of also-rans (the pathetic state of tabletop RPGs and US comics) we need a fresh infusion of talent willing and able to address unsatisfied audiences.

That's us. That's #AGundamForUs.

What the new announcements mean is that the trends previously identified will persist, making the window of opportunity previously identified larger and longer. We can--and should--go at this good and hard, as this is the sort of opportunity that provides fertile ground for the sort of fork-and-replace strategy of building parallel institutions that overtake and overcome converged ones that I often advocate.

It's only fair. If Japan can give us My Hero Academia and One-Punch Man, then we ought to return the favor with our own loving tributes to the giant robot genre many of us love so much- and thereby save it from the moribund state it presently suffers through.

Friday, April 20, 2018

World Class Bullshitters: The First 10 Years of the MCU Ranked!

As we approach the release of Infinity War, it's time to look back at the films that got us to this point. The World Class Bullshitters take a week off of slagging Mouse Wars to talk good and hard about that filmography. You know there's nothing else on, so put this on and enjoy.

Since this film (and franchise) is all-around better than what DC and Mouse Wars puts out, the payoff for a decade of buildup is looking to be worth the wait. Taking a moment right before the climax hits to look back, remember which films worked best and which fell short (and, maybe, why) is worth doing.

No, the TV tie-ins aren't considered. Thank God for that, or we'd be here for hours over how SHIELD and the Inhumans got screwed- and that's before taking the Netflix shows into account. Or how the Phase 4 films look to be where the suck seriously sets in and the end of this franchise being worthwhile begins. That's either for Patreon supporters or future episodes (or past ones). Get your favorite foods, get comfortable, and get your weekend on with the World Class Bullshitters.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Geek Gab Game Night: Douglas Cole & Sean Punch Talk Dungeon Fantasy & More

Geek Gab Game Night is irregular these days, but worth it when it happens. It happened today, and Dorrinal hosts both Douglas Cole and Sean Punch ("Dr. Kromm") to talk about their new hotness:

Sean Punch, also known as Dr. Kromm, works for Steve Jackson Games. He joins us along with our old friend Douglas Cole to talk about Dungeon Fantasy RPG and Cole's new adventure for the setting, Hall of Judgment!

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well hit the button below and settle in for an episode of tabletop gaming fun.

This was an interesting episode, especially if you like a little inside baseball on the tabletop gaming world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

My Life as a Gamer: Oh Hey, Blizz Is Actually Testing Stuff Now

Remember when I said that the new expansion for World of Warcraft felt rushed? Still feeling that. We're still not in Beta, the classes still play like garbage kitbashed and jury-rigged together, but at least major content testing has begun. Below is Bellular's video on the first test of the new Warfront feature.

Allow me to summarize for those coming in late: Warfronts are a new PvE (not PVP) content feature. One faction is deemed to control the contested front; that faction's players cannot access the feature during this time. The contesting faction gets access and has to fight through a Scenario to wrest control away; once that happens, the Scenario ends. The dominant faction instead gets some overworld quests to feed their stronghold war materials, but it is unknown if that affects the Scenario at all. Rewards include a set of cosmetic armor, cosmetic weapons, and a lot more To Be Determined.

This is meant to feel like playing a Warcraft 3 map, or (for you who remember it) playing the Alterac Valley map in PVP when that was in its glorious prime. This is also a testbed for Blizzard's new NPC AI (also the case with the Island Expedition feature), which has the effect of reinforcing the feeling of this being a filler expansion used more to buy time and test new stuff than to actually entertain an audience.

With the expansion set to go live four months from now, and the pre-launch patch expected in two, with the expansion still in the Alpha Testing phase and only now are major features being tested externally confidence in this not being Warlords of Draenor redux has notably waned. The reaction to this test is not good; the lag issues ruined the experience for most, and what was there felt lackluster at best for those who either got lucky or got in after the lag issues abated. Throwing around shit-tons of bots doesn't make for fun gameplay by itself.

The institutional competence of the dev team--outside of raiding and dungeons--is increasingly coming into question. It's long been said that only WOW can kill WOW, and we may yet see that happen. Why? This is not how competent teams test things in public. This is how desperate teams dogged by stupidity and (I suspect) Executive Meddling test things in public, and we all know how well desperation goes over now don't we?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wasting a Legacy: The Incompetence of the Gygax Trust

All players of RPGs, and fans of fiction derived from Dungeons & Dragons (Record of Lodoss War, Sword Art Online, Overlord, Dragonlance, Castle Crashers, Monster Hunter, and so much more) owe Gary Gygax (and Dave Arneson, but he's not being shat upon here) everything for their hobby.

Therefore, when I read this post at Tenkar's Tavern regarding how Gary's widow is wasting the valuable property he created during his lifetime, I'm both sad at this utterly stupid course of events and not surprised that the widow in charge of the trust completely fails to comprehend where the value lies or how to properly take care of it. (How many times have you seen the widow waste the property her late husband leaves to her? You know it's hardly uncommon.)

Gail Gygax--the aforementioned widow--thinks that she'll get far more by going to videogames and film/TV. Nothing's happened yet; she refuses to license Gary's non-D&D properties for tabletop games. She's a moron; tabletop is the only medium where Gary's name has any weight, and she doesn't know the videogame or film/TV businesses at all.

Neither does her son, Alex, whom is her pawn running Gygax Games.

How can I tell? They partnered with Fig. Instead of setting up on Kickstarter, or IndieGoGo, etc. they're using Fig.

That's a big tell that they don't know what they're doing, and given the track record this is likely willful ignorance with the intend of creating a paper trail to sustain a narrative of adversity in maintaining the value of the intellectual property in their care. In short, this is setting up a long con; expect "Much Crisis of Treachery" levels of e-begging and finger-wagging to follow when this falls through.

Read Tenkar's post. He goes into more detail, but the shameless and incompetent hucksterism will appall you.

Monday, April 16, 2018

My Life as a Gamer: New Lodoss War Game Coming to PC!

Yesterday on Metro City Boys, I heard about this story from Niche Gamer. Summarized, there's a new Lodoss War game coming for PC, and it's a Metroidvania style of game. There's a trailer, which I'm embedding below.

I love Record of Lodoss War, so this is right up my alley. Hopefully its System Requirements aren't going to cook my aging laptop, but at least I'm confident that it will come to PC via Steam. Now, if only we could get a brawler using this property; it could be (like Dragon's Crown) be a spiritual successor to the classic D&D arcade games, complete with RPG mechanics and persistent progression.

Hell, you can even get the original light novel in English now, in addition to the manga in translation. It's got the same earnest vibe I love so much in my other favorite stories, so if you haven't give it a go- this is fun stuff. Then get hyped for the new game.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

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

If you've not put the Metro City Boys into your podcast feed, fix that mistake now.

Yeah, they took a while to get to the main topic, but why it takes that long is part of this show's charm. It really is The Boys hanging out shooting the shit, so things get sidetraked and tangents get chased a lot- often leading to some great fun and fantastic entertainment. This is a show that nails the "hang out with your pals" feel, so you really want to be here live and in the chat when you can; it's best experienced that way. Beer and pretzels optional. If you still haven't gotten into this show, any week is a good one to start, so sub to the channel and their various Socials (Twitter, etc.) for notifications; follow the hosts on Twitch since they do livestreams (especially Oliver). You will not regret it.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Geek Gab: The Prometheus Awards Author Cavalcade

Today Geek Gab hosted these Promethus Award nominees on the show: Travis Corcoran, Karl Gallagher, Ken MacLeod, John Hunt, and Andy Weir. With Daddy Warpig running things, you know that this is an episode to catch if you're big into the prose world of Science Fiction.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The World Class Bullshitters w/ Ethan Van Sciver and Diversity & Comics

The World Class Bullshitters had another good stream this week, this time with Diversity & Comics and Ethan Van Scrier. If you're more into the comics side of our ongoing problems with SJW Convergence, these two are your huckleberries. In addition to that, you'll get plenty of good comic geekery and talk about their other projects- the stuff they want to do to Make Comics Great Again.

You know there's nothing to watch, so put this on and enjoy the show. It'll put a smile on your face. After that, here's the new podcast episode so you need not stop enjoying one of the best podcast crews on the Internet for a few hours longer.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

World Class Bullshitters & Razorfist: It's As Awesome As You'd Think

The World Class Bullshitters are on fire right now. In this livestream below, they spend over two hours shooting the shit with the one and only RAZORFIST!

You better believe that they talked Mouse Wars and other pop-culture black holes of suck and blow, in the manner of two guys with whiskey in hand shooting the shit around a campfire at the end of a long day. I have no need to spend time writing about what's in this podcast, and you have no need to waste your time reading me trying to see this to you. Just put this on, ignore the dumpster fire that is mainstream TV, and have a hell of a good time with two crews that get on well together.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Rant on CRPG Game Design: More About Engineering Than You Think (Mech Piloting)

Game Designers that make RPGs think they're making these:

When they're really making these:

I've talked at length about how wrong Mech Piloting is in tabletop RPGs; I won't belabor that point here. Instead, I'm going to talk specifically to the videogame designers, where Mech Piloting is the only option (so it's not worth whining about).

Stop resisting this. You're a mech designer. Embrace this and prosper.

What controls will your user employ to move the mech? What perspective will your user have to pilot the mech? What subsystems will your mech possess, and how much control over them will the user have? Sounds a lot like how you talk usually when making your game, right? That's because it's the same thing.

If you're making a game with Classes (by whatever name), then you're making different models of Mechs- no different than making different models of aircraft or warships. The exact same process applies: you decide what they can do, how they can do it, how the user pilots them, and so on.

This is the most important part of your game design process. If this user experience sucks harder than a black hole, then none of the rest matters; users will rightly shit all over your game, uninstall, demand refunds, and turn your brand (and name) into a byword for "Do Not Touch". Just ask CliffyB; he and his team failed to grok this when making Lawbreakers.

This is another aspect of learning how to deal with what actually is, and not what you want it to be. Reality is objective, folks; no amount of perception management changes the fact that gravity is a real law, and failure to adjust to what is real results in you going splat just as surely as failing to respect gravity when going skydiving.

So stop lying to yourselves. You're making robots, robots that your customers pilot, when you're making RPGs as videogames. Grok this and most of your common problems disappear overnight; this is most pertinent to those making MMORPGs, MOBAs, and other massively multiplayer games with user-control virtual robots- by whatever name: "Character", "Champion", "Hero", "Survivor"- all of them are just virtual robots, and might as well be Mobile Suits.

Thus endeth the rant.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Narrative Warfare: Fake Gamers Push the Formalized Writing Room Scam

A few days ago, I posted about how the category of tabletop RPG is now well-defined and the playable space known quite well. I also posted about how those who ought to know better demonstrate their stupidity (if not malevolence) in this matter. Today we've got an example of someone who ought to know better, but clearly demonstrates that he Does Not Get It.

Not only does this fool not get tabletop RPG, he doesn't get games. This proposed not-RPG he's pitching (and gets SJWs in TRPGs virtue-signalling for in order to sucker backers out of their money) prides itself as being "not about the challenge". Instead, much like Fiasco, the mechanics are all about interpreting the results of dice rolls to create a narrative out of the results.

Motherfucker, that's not a game. That's a toy, at best, and in practice all you've done is formalize a Writing Room exercise by adding mechanics and rolling dice. Proper games--ALL of them--are all about facing a challenge, either by another player or by a static scenario with non-player developments that replicate an opponent's moves against you. (Yes, Pandemic is a game, folks.) Instead, this is "Let's write a travelogue!" sold falsely as a proper game; it's not the first such scam sold to suckers and virtue-signalers and it won't be the last because too few will stand up and call this crap out for what it is: BULLSHIT!

Yet this man is selling this not-game as a proper RPG. That's unethical on its face and approaches fraud. If you backed this, you're a sucker; kill your pledge now before you actually lose your money, and learn to recognize the Signs of Soy. The biggest tell? "This is not about facing challenges." You find that in a pitch? You set that shyster on fire and make an example of out of the soyboy for the good of all.

Real games always present challenges to the player to overcome. Fake games shit on that.

It's on us to keep SJW bullshit and its soyboy sophistry where it belongs: impaled on spikes to be consumed by righteous fire. This is Narrative Warfare, folks, by pushing the scam that "Gaming doesn't have to be about Git Gud." via taking on challenges- and a culture that avoids facing difficult things is a culture that capitulates when bullied because it never knew how to deal with difficulty. That's why this matters. Politics is downstream from culture, and the SJWs always look to change the culture.

Monday, April 9, 2018

My Life as a Gamer: "Battle For Azeroth"'s Release Date Isn't Good News

Over the weekend, at PAX East, Blizzard announced that Battle For Azeroth--the next World of Warcraft expansion--will go live worldwide on August 14th of this year.

The reaction by those of us who've done this dance before was not one of overwhelming glee. Those either directly participating in the open testing on the Alpha client for the expansion, or monitoring those that are, felt dread more than glee at the announcement because the timeframe now established, compared to the current state of the test realms and Blizzard's known behavior patterns, puts confidence on the expansion being Good Enough at launch somewhere around this:

Testing on the new expansion's content and mechanics are not finished, not by a long shot.

  • There are 12 Classes and 36 Class Specializations. Over half are still untouched, and those touched are broken. The previous changes made to make room for Legion's key features of abundant Legendary items (some of which are required to have a given Specialization function properly) and Artifact Weapons (some of which have to be developed to a specific point to make a given Specialization function properly) broke all of the classes' functionality prior to Level 100 and entrance into Legion. This is not fixed.
  • The new Heart of Azeroth and Azerite Armor mechanics replicate the Artifact Weapon and Legendary item systems in effect. Both are still unfinished, and the latter is flat-out broken- making some classes or Specializations unplayable.
  • The new Warfront feature hasn't be tested at all yet.
  • The new Island Expedition feature (Scenarios from Mists of Pandaria, version 5 now.) just got open for testing and all permutations are not available yet, so flaws are still being found; this feature is not yet ready.
  • All of the new dungeons have not been tested yet, let alone in all possible difficulty modes. None of the new raids have been so tested yet, and the Mythic mode in particular requires significant time testing for bugs and other unintended effects.
  • The four new Allied Races that become available with the launch (immediately, or unlockable at the new cap of 120) have not been made available for testing yet.
  • The overworld endgame content has not been made playable for testing yet, and there isn't much to test either; there is not much at all to do outside of raiding and dungeons at the new cap of 120.
  • Garrison-style Mission Tables and Followers (etc.) are back again for the War Campaign. No one likes this.

Let me put this into perspective.

Between six and eight weeks before the launch of an expansion, there is a pre-release patch to the live game. This patch changes all of the mechanics to that of the new expansion, and adds all of the new content to the game; all the devs need to do is change a variable and those who bought in can access the new stuff. The reason is for players to get used to the changes made to how the game works well before the new content becomes available to play through. Sensible enough.

Get out your calendars and count back eight weeks prior to August 14th. That's June 19th; we're about eight weeks out from that date, making it two months before all of these broken mechanics--the core of the game--have to be fixed, finalized, and put through the necessary polish to be Good Enough to go live. Given the devs' behavior since the Beta of Warlords, that is not possible; they have consistently allowed things that they've been told--loudly, repeatedly, with documentation--is broken and unplayable to go live and only fixed it once it went live and the player outrage compelled proper action.

Remember, this expansion isn't in Beta yet, and they want to go live in four months. This screams RUSH JOB!, and it's a large part of why Warlords of Draenor did so poorly and gets regarded so poorly by the players- it was a Rush Job, and everyone knows it. The expansion cannot be ready for launch by the announced date.

If you haven't already pre-purchased, don't do so now. Wait for the expansion to go live and see how things shake out; it is possible (and if things don't turn around soon, and hard, it will become so) that we've got another Warlords of Draenor style of Big Nothing Burger going down. Your time and your money are precious things; respect them and wait for definitive word on if this it before spending those things.

If the devs had any real stroke, we wouldn't see this expansion go live until December, at the least. I doubt they do anymore; this is the sort of thing you see when the Money Bags are the real shot-callers, and therefore it's a wonder that Legion did as well as it did (despite its own significant failures of game design). The old days of trusting that it will be Good Enough when it goes live are done; Wait And See, folks. Don't trust the brand to be good; we already got burned badly once, and all of the signs of another half-baked release are on the horizon.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

World Class Bullshitters: The Decline of Star Wars: Part III - The Finale (Feat. Retroblasting)

It's here, the final part of this exclusive podcast series. You know there's nothing on TV, so put this on instead.

It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

The problem with the toys now is that they are truly utter pieces of plastic crap. They're junk, and even kids can sense this, so it's no surprise that a lot of toy sales are down and not just because of SJW bullshit. The shot-callers long ago cheaped out on the assumption of kids aging out being a de facto Planned Obsolescence. They took the same attitude that Games Workshop does and stop caring about product quality due to there always being a fresh cohort of kids to weaponize against their parents' wallets.

There is only one way out: You Have To Go Back.

Just like the media properties too many toys are made to exploit, the toys have to go back to being good qualities products with lasting value instead of cheap and shoddy shit meant to be sold fast and consumed faster- to the point of being disposable. Culture that it healthy is culture that is Heirloom-quality; it's something you build to last, so it gets passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, with the understanding that these are the means by which cross-generational bonding begins. It is a lawful outgrowth of the social function of religion and myth within a culture.

And that's what we see lamented here: the lost of a culture that is meant to be passed on to those what come after you, by way of the artifacts that convey it from one generation to the next.

We have to go back. We have to end this cheap, disposable non-culture. Toys can't be great if fathers can't bond with their sons over them, and toys can't be great if they aren't signifiers of a culture with that permanence. That's what's being destroyed, and if it isn't put down like the rabid dog it is then it will kill us- and soon.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Geek Gab This Week Goes Nuclear on Ready Player One

Today's Geek Gab got started late, and guest P. Alexander of Cirsova Magazine couldn't come on, but that's okay. If you're looking for an epic, hilarious rant about Ready Player One then Daddy Warpig has you covered. If you have opinions on those rants, click through and watch the replay of the live chat- chances are good you're not alone. Either way, you know nothing worth watching is on so get comfortable and put this on instead.

And yes, you want to be there live next week:

Barring technical difficulties, next week's show should be a truly epic occasion. Don't miss it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Get In The Arena If You Want To Save What You Love

It is not good for a scene to have one or two dominant players. That's not a healthy scene; that's one spiraling the drain, soon to expire.

"Are you talking about D&D again?" Not exactly.

Tabletop RPGs. mecha anime, and a few other notable entertainment business niches have this issue dogging them and it's never a sign of good health. It is in the interests of the dominant party or parties to ensure that there is a marketplace filled with competition that isn't nominal and token in its character (the case in tabletop RPGs for decades now, despite itself at times), because those will have to come up with means that give them a real and substantial competitive edge over the leader(s) in order to attract and retain an audience of customers- means that inevitably come to feed the leader, so long as the leader isn't somehow usurped.

Why is such dominance bad? It ossifies the category, making over-rigid thinking the norm and turning the category increasingly fragile over time to outside-category competition. Furthermore, you start to see more resorting to using state power to defeat any competitive threats instead of retooling to face those threats head-on, and once that starts other monopolistic practices soon follow.

Mecha anime is dominated by the Gundam and Macross franchises, especially Gundam, and the effects are particularly felt in Real Robot competitors who have to either incorporate tropes those two founded and codified or find some way around the expectations set by those tropes in order to attract, retain, and satisfy an audience.

D&D has so dominated TRPGs that it's all but choked-off possible competition, and that monopolistic influence extends into videogame RPGs of all sorts (and from there to spinoff genres like MOBAs).

Western media SF is defined by Star Trek and Star Wars, with a few others distant after that (B5, BSG, SG-1, DW, and a few others) so the rise and fall of those two can foster or kill entire categories of media businesses (RIP Toys R Us).

In short, I do not talk of things only possible; I'm talking about what's going on right now.

While one individual can only do so much, our efforts taken in aggregate collect into something substantial and potent. I said to others on Gigguk's video on mecha anime that fixing the problems with the business is on us--the fans of the genre, worldwide--and that is how #AGundamForUs began.

I've gone on about tabletop RPGs for years; some folks some years ago decided to do something about that and the Old School Renaissance got started. The Supreme Dark Lord decided to do something about the DC/Marvel poz problem, so that's how Arkhaven Comics got going and even more is on the way- and not just from him or his immediate allies.

I'm sure someone's figured out how to make their own anime without spending 15 years to make one feature film or submitting to the stupid work environment of many a Japanese studio (or Disney before that); I just haven't heard it yet.

Just look at Mark Kern. He's doing all this sort of thing and more for his Mecha-v-Keiju game, EM-8ER; if he can do that and still make time to do Gunpla with his boy, we can figure out how to make what we want to see.

The point is this: we are the ones that will solve the problem described above. No one is going to do it for us. It's time to get in the arena and fight for what we want, because no one will do it for us- they don't have the time, the desire, or the willingness to Git Gud.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Playable Space of Tabletop RPG is Already Defined & Filled

In tabletop RPGs, we have a clear Revealed Preference for what this medium is- what the playable space allows.

This preference is for a gameplay paradigm where the players comprise a team of complimentary experts that cooperate in working to fulfill a set of strategic objectives despite limited resources and incomplete or unreliable intelligence. All conflict and reward is external; due to players being direct participants, with virtual skin in the game, workplace thinking common in real-world examples of such environments (military, rescue services, etc.) takes hold and thus punishes antisocial behavior. In short, mercenaries and professional team sport atheletes.

D&D established this dominance, and due to the Network Effect it is more difficult than most to get away from that context, but I want you to consider another reason for why this paradigm comprises the playable space for tabletop RPGs: It's What a Game Looks & Feels Like.

In short, that is the space because a normie seeing it in action (with maps and minatures) clearly sees an obvious game being played here. There are clear objectives (e.g. get the treasure), ways to deal with obstacles and opposition (spells, items, abilities), and a clear eusocial element (teamwork required) that is necessary for success.

There are few deviations from this paradigm because they don't have this emergent phenomenon working for it. Call of Cthulhu works due to its Cosmic Horror source material, but not really in any other context. Horror gaming otherwise, if it is to be viable, always becomes Team-Focused Survival Horror/Monster Hunting, in which case you get Chill and at that point you might as well just use D&D and add guns and explosives.

With Traveller, you get the difference of adding what is usually considered endgame play (logistics) right away and that has the effect of driving player decisions in what they want to do- and thus contributes to the pattern of campaigns skewing towards Mercenary Company or Free Trader Speculation paradigms because that endgame focus pushes players one or the other reliably. It gets a lot of grips, but this phenomenon also contributes towards the game's longevity as a commercially-viable alternative to D&D.

Pendragon is meant to subvert this by design, and when the players sign on it has the desired effect. The problem is that most players aren't going to sign on because this game doesn't do what they want, and that's why this game is a respectable--but rarely played--gem of a classic.

The World of Darkness games always turn into Superheroes That Gossip Like Teenagers because most players reject the assumptions of the setting. Why? Because there's no game there, so they go with what they know and make the game happen where they expect it to be; everything published since 1991 has been some form of reaction to this emergent behavior.

And as for Superhero gaming? The problem is always the rejection of bullshit genre tropes because those tropes exist for stupid reasons; actual play consistently reveals players to be sufficiently pragmatic as to permanently put down predatory threats- they kill villains. Reinforcing this preference? It's always better for morale, for the territory served, etc. to kill the villain than to let it live; you have to go out of your way to make it worthwhile to not do this, and superhero games/campaigns that do so never have the success that those what let the opposition get obliterated for good do. Lensman morality prevails because it works.

And, when broken down, all of those paradigms ultimately come down to that of D&D applied to a non-fantasy context.

There is it, folks. We have the answer: this is what the medium allows, and those who want it will not brook anything else.

Which is why those sincerely wanting something else need to stop looking at RPGs and go elsewhere- and those who are satisfied need to help push those folks to those alternatives, where they belong, so they can stop fucking up the tabletop RPG field for the audience already well-served by what already exists. Go make your own medium.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

They Are Not Serious: Why The Tabletop RPG World is a Clown World

Remember that yesterday I said that the people making tabletop RPGs really ought to know better? Did you wonder why? Wonder no more.

It finally happened! My beliefs, expressed on Twitter, got one of my publishers an "I can no longer in good conscience buy your products" email! I HAVE ARRIVED!


That's Greg Stolze, who said that here, today. He's best known for Unknown Armies and Delta Green, which means you likely never heard of him and therefore can dismiss him as irrelevant. He writes for Atlas Games (which, for long-time readers, is also the employer of the backbiting coward and her husband I dealt with at CONvergence 2016; see here) which is the other Minnesota-based TRPG publisher.

And now you begin to see why the tabletop RPG world is as fucked up as it is. The chronic disability to deal with reality has its source, and you can see it now clearly: the inability to see customer feedback for what it is, instead using it to virtue-signal with one's equally-insane "peers" while hoping to make a living better than that of a manager at McDonald's. Now the Gamma Male faggotry of Mike Mearls has context: it's a poz-culture norm.

And if Greg's not-sane reaction wasn't clear enough, fellow soyboy Levi Kornelsen should do it:

I find this relatable - I got feedback email on a game saying "Why did you have to insert a bunch of politics into the new draft", and I was all "Ah, good, it has reached the point of being explicit; this is where I want to be".

Smaller scale and all, but that feel; I know that feel.

In a serious concern, attitudes like are grounds for summary termination. Why? You're deliberately antagonizing your audience, the people who pay your bills. It's the same behavior we see out of the Fake Games Press--and many of them are Fellow Travelers with the TRPG crowd, mixing at cons to network with the SF/F child rapists and their enablers--and it must be handled the same way: Kill It With Fire.

You want to know why I don't care if every tabletop RPG publisher dies in nuclear fire? This is why. It's past converged and become an active vector for spreading the soyboy poz. Fork, Incinerate, Replace.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Tabletop RPG Medium is Not Unlimited

It's said that tabletop RPGs are limitless. That's not true. It's been over 40 years now. We know better. There are limits to what you can do with a tabletop RPG, and a lot of those limits have to do with what players are willing to play. This is a conceptual limit, and I call it "playable space".

I touched on this when I wrote about Palladium Books losing the Robotech license (again). The reason for why tabletop RPGs based on mecha properties fail so often is because the playable space is already firmly addressed--filled--by tabletop wargames and their videogame counterparts. Players don't want to NOT play mech pilots. They want to smash giant robots together and not mess with all the drama-llama bullshit that so often goes on around the giant robot combat.

Other perennial failures are explained in this fashion. You don't get successful games based on starship crews because the fantasy is not being the bitch trying to put out fires, or Scotty his way around ship damage. It's to be the shot-caller, the captain or admiral, and the rest of the crew really doesn't matter- they are not viable PCs. Yes, even in Firefly (i.e. Traveller) games.

The same goes for a lot of popular character ensembles when translated to tabletop RPGs. The reason is that players are there to play the game, and that doesn't mean being someone's bitch (The Cleric Problem) or being sidelined most of the time because they have sweet fuck-all to do with what's going on. (The Decker Problem) In short, what can work in fiction doesn't in gaming more often than not; Relena Peacecraft isn't playing the same game as Heero Yui, and it's long past time for tabletop game designers (most of whom really ought to know better- looking at you, Everyone That's Been Getting Paid For This Since 1990) to recognize this openly and build their products accordingly.

The same goes for the Game Masters. You need to know what game you're running, and then go through your ruleset and ruthlessly cull every last little thing that doesn't belong. Character options, rules, content, everything. Players want the game to Just Fucking Work. They will never do homework; if it isn't at the table during play, it won't be done. Learn from Sisyphus and stop trying to push that boulder uphill. That dog doesn't hunt; stop trying.

The core of the medium is that of a skirmish-scale wargame, focused on the location of desired resources and using them to facilitate the upgrading of player avatars. That's Dungeons & Dragons as it is, stripped of all pretension and other obfuscating bullshit. It is no surprise that failures in this medium are those that don't work with this model of gameplay; it's also no surprise that successes adhere to it, or define their own paradigm of play that then gets adhered to (e.g. Call of Cthulhu).

Which leads to another limitation: commercial viability.

Gamers wants to play games. "RPGs" that have no game are going to fail, and have to be propped up by endless gimmick bullshit (including retards virtue-signalling and stunt-casting live-streamed promo games) instead because real gamers don't play fake games- only fake gamers pretend to play fake games.

And the tabletop RPG field is filled with the corpses of commercial failures that died due to a lack of viability. Many of these are Fantasy Heartbreakers (Not-D&Ds with often just one gimmick to make them stand apart), and many more are mis-applied licensed games (such as Robotech), because those publishing the games grossly over-estimated the customer base for that thing.

In short, Most Gamers Want D&D if they want a tabletop RPG. The best not-D&Ds either stake out their own turf (CoC) or apply the formula to a not-Pink Slime Fantasy niche before D&D got there. The result is that all of the playable spaces are now staked out and there's actually no room left for expansion- only for usurping someone already lording over a domain. Furthermore, videogame tech keeps eating away at the competitive advantages of tabletop RPGs from one end while boardgames do so from the other, and those same folks who ought to know better still refuse to deal with reality as it is and unfuck their offerings. (Especially WOTC and Paizo.)


Because they still think tabletop RPGs are limitless, in the face of all this contrary evidence, and engaging in delusional behavior that makes Don Quixote look on in horror and say "They're all mad, Sancho. They think those giants are actually dragons!"

And people wonder why I don't care if the entire tabletop RPG business collapses. It should. Heed the Wisdom of Harry Callahan:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Brilliance in Action: Sabaton's Cover of "Kingdom Come"

Few things capture the moment like the perfect marriage of music and motion picture. This is one of those very perfect marriages.

Manowar and Sabaton are two of the best bands ever. "Kingdom Come" is a great song, and also a great game. Having Sabaton cover the song as part of promoting a game of historical fiction is genius, and this video is a masterwork of video production. It doesn't get much better than this, not without spending stupid amounts of money.

Like I needed another reason to love Sabaton, or to get this game, but there's more to be gotten from this video.

The lyrics. Go on, listen again and pay attention to the lyrics. For all of you in the #PulpRev crew, you can't help but to notice how uplifting they are. The presentation of these lyrics adds to their power, magnifying the effect upon the listener. When listeners open themselves up, it's an incredible experience of beauty and majesty- an echo of the Divine.

And that leads to inspiration.

I'll talk more about this in my specific case later this week at the Study, but I know that many of you who celebrated Easter yesterday can (and do) gain far more from such a song than those what do not and I would not be surprised to see that many of you added this song to your playlist of music to write by.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Toonami Trolls the Audience: Sub Only Night

Last night, at midnight Eastern time, Adult Swim had Toonami pull off one of the best April Fool's stunts in years. You had to see it to appreciate its glorious brilliance.

At midnight, Toonami spent the rest of the night broadcasting all anime as well as all host segments in Japanese with English subtitles. It began with airing FLCL ALternative, then Mind Game, before returning to its usual schedule- but then only the Japanese versions. While I had a ball, I can only imagine what the dub-only anime watchers thought when this went down- and I bet most of them went "Fuck this shit, I'm out." and switched off. Maybe they complained online; I wasn't watching the hashtag on Twitter.

But man, the sheer balls. Toonami is the Casualcraft of North American anime fandom. Always in English. Always safe programming choices. Always safe programming schedule times. Crunchyroll and Funimation take more risks. To go full Sub Only Mode for most of a night, airing risky stuff like that, was something that can only be considered a troll move. We'll see soon enough how well this worked for Toonami and Adult Swim, but to whomever pitched this take a bow. Well played.

Side Note: I never heard the Japanese cast for Stand-Alone Complex before. Casting choices matter, people; they shape how the audience perceives a character and the Japanese Major is quite different from Mary Elizabeth McGlynn's take on her. Reminds me a lot of how she is in the manga.