Fear and Gaming in Seattle

Yes yes I know that I love to write things from the edges of things, and writers say things are like other things that are like other things, but, so what. I haven’t written in awhile and that’s okay, because you haven’t been reading in awhile. So, here we go, and I’ll fire off some news and bits for your boiling pot of wanton desires. Eat it up!

That Nerd show-Kevin Smith episode

So Marcus Dave and I had some decent discussion on the show. I’ve never met Dave, but things seemed to go alright with him as a co-host. His connection was horrendous and I think there was a ton of lag. What stood out to me in the discussions we had was the different memories all of us have about Kevin Smith. Everyone can quote Clerks, or Chasing Amy, but we all had different points of view on what makes him great. I love the fact that he’s accessible, and is like the big brother you had, or your neighbor. The guy does a ton of things to help his friends, and you know what? I’m okay with that. Unless you have a shit ton of money, or connections, it’s incredibly difficult to break into entertainment. Music, comics, movies -any of it. If someone wants to begrudge him for throwing Walt Flanagan a line to get him some drawing gigs, so what. That’s what friends are for; to help.  So, I like that Kevin helps his pals that deserve it and because he’s still real. He grows and develops, and he branches out into comics.

 

Speaking of his comics, His Cacophony stuff with DC was wicked good. So good in fact, that some enterprising folks in Jersey City, New Jersey have decided to attempt a 3-part fan series about his comic series. I wanted to talk more about it on the show, but Dave wanted to say more sexist stuff (ha, you know you’re in trouble Dave) and I didn’t get enough time to go on about it. find the details and some links below. It’s directed by William Visnosky. 

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Original YouTube Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCTZw37a1FM

Crowd Sourcing Link http://www.igg.me/at/batman

Tweet by Kevin Smith http://www.twitter.com/ThatKevinSmith/status/518120725668851712

Walt Flanagan Endorsement https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=LsDPYqWCLIk

Liveforfilms.com Article http://www.liveforfilms.com/2014/10/06/kevin-smiths-batman-cacophony-is-becoming-a-fan-film/

 

What else? Delayed reaction to Walking Dead Season 2

Ok, so there are a few things I’ve tried to deal with, with the Walking Dead season 2 from Telltale Games. The game really got on my bad, dark and protective side. Trauma has a way of doing that to me. I think they were gratuitous with the treatment of Clem, and it didn’t need to be done. I don’t think any gaming journalist called them out on it, and I thought it was bullshit. I decided not to do a review, and I should’ve had more courage. I think the team ran out of ideas and they had a grown man, undeveloped and poorly written character smack her around in the game as a way to evoke and yank feelings out. It’s an old  method or device. I understand pushing the envelope and I understand it’s a gritty dark world. I also understand that the Telltale team is neck-deep in their own praise hole and overloaded with work. They did well on the first season, and The Wolf Among us was great stuff. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves for the entirety of season 2. Gamers and journalists ate it up because it didn’t have glaring weaknesses. It’s bad and I’m saying it. No character that I ever cared about, except for the rabid dog in the first episode, and I began to care even less about Clem. That’s all for now because I may decide to do a delayed reaction article for it.

Tell me what to do! Comic-con Dallas

As if you weren’t going to be there anyway. Instead of leaving after your cosplay showdown with Michael Jackson and a bad Jack Skellington impersonator to wank and jank to the image of that beautifully created female Link you saw, head over to see This Saturday night shindig at The Gas Monkey on OCT. 18th. Details below. Music, clever witty banter, tons of beautiful nerd girls and others of your ilk. I understand there will be dancing and some holy ghost trancing. The last part is only a rumor.

Saturday Night Shindig: One Coultastic Evening

Jonathan Coulton, dancing, DJs, surprise guests, and You

He’s been called the Joss Whedon of music. He’s a mainstay at geek events in New York and Los Angeles, and now he’s heading for North Texas. Jonathan Coultonheadlines the next Saturday Sci-Fi Social, at the Gas Monkey Bar & Grill on October 18, 2014.

https://www.picatic.com/OneCoultasticEvening

Comics-FUCK YEAH

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Ok, so I’ve picked up a few of the New 52 DC one shots, and I feel like a kid again. I have the Batman/Superman and the Superman, and wow, they’re great reads and help get you primed for the next big DC event Future’s End. Who knew that Shazam had taken over for the Caped Crusader? The covers are old school awesome holograms.   Moon Knight By Warren Ellis is top-notch. His writing and panels, use of lettering, or a lack of the lettering and sound really sets the tone quite well. White panels with black text usually stand out like a hippie at a Tea-party rally, but the man’s an expert at using space, and then exploding all over it.

 

 

In other comic news, yours truly is working away hard, long and fast on his graphic novel “Vile: Lost Legends of the American West.” We have a new artist named Francis Nuguit who has a great track record. He did some of the Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time” comics. I wish I could show you something from him, and we will soon. Head over to our facebook page to see some concepts, read the story synopsis and say hello. It’s a dark and emotional tale.

Vile:Lost legends of the American West

Alt logo for Vile
Alt logo for Vile

In future installments in this world named “Thunder Valley,” some of my friends will be appearing. My good buddy Hank Van Hawkins will be a former banker, gunslinger/gambler and mostly decent guy in the story. His name is Prickly Pear Van Hawkins. Many more of my friends will be appearing in and around the boomtown Serpentine including Appaloosa Red, who will play a madame with a dark secret and bright ambitions. Stay tuned for that, because we’re making it into a pen and paper RPG as well. Speaking of my buddy Hank, read on to read more.

SOBS

The boys playing some music together.
The boys playing some music together.

So Hank and I host a podcast about baseball, music, comics, songwriting and whatever else comes up. We need your support and look forward to you guys listening. Hank will also be joining me occasionally on my new Game/comics/randomness podcast. We’ll be featuring indie game developers, comics folks and others involved with things you love. I understand Ms. Appaloosa Red will be guest hosting with me as well. We’re gonna have burlesque, games, comics and mind-maddening music and other obligatory orgy activities. So, here is the link to the buzzsprout page where you will go listen to old episodes of SOBS. http://sobs.buzzsprout.com

 Game news?

I’ve got nothing relevant for you kiddos. Stop by IGN lol. Sorry, but this is the slow season and I’m actually digging on State of Decay again and playing the life in NHL 2014. Hope that covers it all.  Come by the twitter and try to go back and listen to some episodes of the podcasts, and for God’s sake, leave a comment or something. I need something to do while I’m kicking my own ass over not doing a better job of spellchecking. Ugh. I know this blog is ugly, but I’m too horrified to change it.Where’s my bourbon?

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Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Wolf Among us Episode 3 review

*Minor spoilers ahead*

By now, Bigby has beaten up nearly everyone in his little village of fairy tales, and has an injured arm to show for it. I’ve changed my approach a bit this time around to throw off the people I’m questioning, and it sees to be paying off. I’m not a nicer Bigby, perhaps a more dangerous one though, as the people involved in the story don’t know what to expect.

Episode three is possibly my favorite episode. I can say that I’ve never hit an A button faster, harder or longer in my entire gaming life. The amount of time you spend interrogating, investigating and discussing things with other inhabitants is well balanced, and I really took my time answering questions in this episode. This game is known for its “adventure” elements, but truly, with the normal settings, you’re likely not actually doing much investigating. TellTale games does an excellent job making the game seem non-linear and make you feel like you’re investigating, but you’re really not. You’re taking a semi-active role in a fantastic story. Without giving too much away, the interaction at the Trip Trap, and with a little girl near the end of the episode are great conversations where you feel as though you’re really heading up an investigation, and you feel like you’re the big bad wolf.

The episode and the story as a whole has an underlying tension as you play Bigby. I began to love the ability to intimidate and not play by Mundie rules, but still fighting the notion that I am just a bad decision away from becoming a truly devious and evil character. The story does throw out a huge red herring, as I’ve suspected, and the storyline takes a different turn when some things are uncovered about our creepy friend Ichabod Crane.

Bright spots

You really, again, feel like the big bad wolf. You can feel that your influence has receded however, as people are dying and the people you encounter are shaken up and don’t know where to turn. It’s okay if you’re a bruising egotist known for brutal tactics if you’re keeping the peace, but when people are dying left and right, and no one has any rights or security, people start to turn elsewhere for help. That seems to be the case here as you make new “allies” and enemies, and realize that the  murders happening aren’t isolated events, and they may be a big power play and there are forces at play that you don’t understand yet. You also develop, or possibly hurt your standing with Snow White and with several other characters. I really liked seeing that Bigby gives a damn. Or, having the option to express that.

Low lights

Again, I hit on this a few times, but being the big bad wolf isn’t what it used to be. You get to dole out punishment in this episode, but you can’t huff and puff and blow in every single house anymore. That is evidenced by another of my low points, a new character that just doesn’t quite fit. This new character shows up late, is incredibly ominous, and maybe the acting or character just doesn’t sit right. Not to say the acting or character is poorly done, but something just doesn’t sit right about this new person.

Verdict

This is my favorite episode so far. The writing is sharp, the dialogue has really been fine tuned and I didn’t notice any graphical hitches or bugs. The story is getting deep, and this is the first episode where I told Bigby to “Shut up, don’t say anything” and I felt like it was time to let someone else take control.

finalgrade9

A letter from the edge

A neon visage and representation of...it's me at a crap casino
A neon visage and representation of…it’s me at a crap casino

If the American dream died before 1971, and its dying carcass lays defaced and graffitied somewhere in a ditch outside of Vegas, then what the hell is happening in Oklahoma? Long the smaller, dirtier and much less trustworthy brother of Texas, Oklahoma has sought, and succeeded, in outdoing Texas when it comes to  fattening and inebriating its citizens, both native and otherwise. Flashy neon and half-lit trailer park gents gently mingle with the unpleasant hint of desperation and millions of social security checks slowly chinking away in slots. MmMmm the smell of poverty. It mixes horribly with the clanging brass from a Dean Martin slot machine I’m playing. I’ll be damned if America doesn’t find you, no matter where you go. On to other things:

The Wolf among Us: Episode 2

Oh the joy and sweet release of playing as a chain smoking has-been of a fairy tale. Hairy, barely able to function from alcoholism and barely battling his darker side, this is something I can relate to. I enjoy playing Bigby Wolf. This tired and worn down version of the big bad wolf serves as sheriff of Telltale Games’ village of fairy tale outcasts and refugees, and does what he can. Or at least what he wants to. Bigby continues his search for a killer, and the second episode starts with a nicely written surprise, and ends with what is likely a misleading cliffhanger.

As I as Bigby continue my search, I run into my old friend Toad and interrogate his frightened son, find out a dirty secret about “Beauty” and am nearly choked by the stream of on-screen prompts to “break this” and “punch that”. The way I played the first episode was along these lines, as I was attempting to instill Maciavellian fear in the masses. This time, I want to play with the sugar cubes a bit and entice my victims, er, citizens and witnesses, and get information a different way. Throw them the proverbial curveball. Bigby is known for strong arming and “beating the shit” and asking questions later, so this new approach seems to have everyone on edge. My own personal philosophy is to “never remove all doubt.” I have succeeded through episode 2.

 

Wolf Among Us is dark and grimy, and you’ll spend a lot of your time with shitty personalities and shittier environments, so associating with drug dealers, loan sharks and drug addled prostitutes is the norm here. Dealing with them with claws instead of paws has been my choice for a tactic. In episode 1, I left my unsuspecting girlfriend with her jaw drooping when I went to the “wolf-side” and liberated an appendage from someone’s fleshy meat socket. I merely glanced forward without blinking and said; “It’s what Bigby would’ve done. What?? I didn’t lick the wound or anything.” So far, that is the feeling you get from playing episode 2 as well. You feel like Bigby, and you want to do what he would do. Not what grown up bill-paying slacker you would do.

Action sequences are mostly missing from this one. Or, they were for me anyway. The route I took was intimidation, and I reveled like a fat tick in blood in slowly pulling answers from one particular denizen of this world. I highly suggest this game to those gamers, and readers, that don’t have those twitch tendencies to obliterate everything moving on screen. Wolf Among Us is an adventure game, meaning that you’ll get a lot of prompts onscreen about what to do, a lot of choices, and some investigating to do. That is all for this.

 

It’s G.O.D.D Time

Not sure where to start with my next infatuation, other than the title; Ehmm Theory. It’s a quick and well written comic from Action Lab comics. Written by Brockton McKinney and with art from Larkin Ford, the comic marks off a ton of my checkmarks for a good comic. This, or something similar was also noticed by those bastards at Fangoria, as they beat me to the punch on a review. Good for Brockton and Larkin and I love Fangoria.

Now, where was I? Oh that’s right-Zombie midgets. The first peek I got from Ehmm Theory started in a grave yard, Gabe Ehmm had a talking cat, and punted the puss-filled and maggot munched head of a midget zombie. Yeah, so, there is that. I thought we were moving into a new “Ash” category. Honestly, as a lover of debauchery and chaos, I’m on the ship with that. But, Ehmm Theory takes a couple of twists, and it maneuvers out of cliche territory into full on sci-fi (I’m coining the term Sic-fi right now. I’m f#$%ing copywriting it too you swine.) slash high fantasy, mid-80’s Marvel and early 90’s Image comic goodness with the introduction of some seriously bad-ass and original comic superheroes. I don’t want to say anything more than It’s G.O.D.D time.

Issue 2 has some of the best writing you’ll read, period. I’m not talking twisting and cleverly written time-shifting Star Trek or Whedon convoluted cockney slang shit either. The dialogue is both childish and biting. The back story is evolved, and takes itself more seriously than you would expect from the comic’s start. It pays homage to comic reader’s loves. A talking cat, a gypsy/block country refugee, science, and well timed explosions are all expertly used and their usage turns worn-out conventions and devices on their head. Brockton is nearly as funny in his twitter posts as his comic. Though, he has more time to develop them for his comic. Ol’ Brock as I refer to him now, ( I fancy myself as knowing him now because he’s put up with my incessant questions and posts onTwitter) seems to reside in Chapel Hill, NC. And if you don’t know, if you’re an underground freak, nerd or collector of eyeballs and hardboiled eggs in jars, you’ll know that “Chapel Hill” is code for a southerner that is hip, or gets it. What a coincidence. Enough of that sentimental crap right now-I am an objective reporter.

The art in Ehmm Theory, outside of some beautiful covers, are purposefully understated. Larkin Ford allows a ton of room for the story to breath and seems to be a minimalist when it comes to scenes where there is dialogue. He lets the pedal have ample gas whenever you see “THOOOOM” scrawled on a page however, and is more than capable of delivering sharp and detailed fight scenes or explosions. His close-ups during dialogue are also strong spots in my opinion.

With respect to ordering Ehmm Theory, I’d suggest using comicsamerica.com for physical orders. In fact, I strongly suggest using them. You can get the digital versions in PDF. form from Action Labs if you want them that way. There’s something about holding a new favorite comic in your hand and smelling that gloss, turning those pages and leaving finger prints as you flip them that is intoxicating to me, though. That’s why I ordered a first issue that’s autographed for my own collection. Leave me some comment if you pick up Ehmm Theory. Especially if you order a physical copy…mine hasn’t arrived yet. Oh, and I look a lot like Gabe. Here’s my impression;

 

What I’m looking forward to

R.B.I. Baseball is back. Or, it’s on its way to coming back. Nearly zero details are out about it except that Major league baseball has the rights and is developing something. If you hear something, let me know. I loved this game as a kid. Can’t wait to hit a bunt home run with McGwire again.

The next installment of The Walking Dead game. It’s a little twisted and a lot terrible that a little girl has to survive on her own and the grim realities she dealt with in the first episode of season 2. It doesn’t sit right with me, but I’m glad to actually like a character. Screw you George RR Martin, the makers of the Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire and even Treme. I know it’s “realistic” and “human” to make people do horrible things, but I spend a lot of time around people so, I get enough reality.

Springtime means less chance of crappy conditions on the road. Therefore, less chance, albeit slightly, that some jag off in a Benz or Nissan or anything on wheels cuts me off and almost kills me. Seriously people, what the F#$% is wrong with you? Is a blinker a sign of weakness in Dallas? It literally takes 1/1000th of a calorie to use your turn signal, and it’s the least you can do. Why is it required that you do ten miles over in the slow lane? Where are you going that you need to be there so soon? Worried the little lady is breaking into your stash of vodka and kinking out to lesbian porn again? Geesh. Oh, spring also means that baseball is coming. I am of the cheesy sentimental sort like Whitman and others when it comes to baseball. It’s beautiful and its hard men playing a hard game. I don’t give a damn if you think it’s boring. For most of the world sex is boring until the end, or you have a porn subscription, or a penchant for Colorado and California prescriptions and creativity. Delinquents and hyper fools, the lot of you. I play baseball also, and I like the smell of grass that’s been freshly cut, and I do like windy walk on the beach, so lay off.

 

That’s it for now. Leave me a comment if you’ve made it through this far. My spam catcher is bored at this point.

Regretfully and painfully yours,

R

P D

 

Finding time to game as an adult

I’m an adult. Everything that goes along with that is included. When I was a teenager (late80′ early 90’s) I played games, but my zeal and love for them didn’t develop until my 20s and 30s. I had a lot more time to dedicate to them then. When I was a teen, it was games like Rygar and R.B.I. baseball. Those games you could pick up and beat and then put down, and then run around outside for hours. Now that I’m in my late 30’s, finding time for writing, baseball, my girlfriend, plus trying to keep up with politics and the world in general is hard. It’s been a continual balancing act for years. I can go days without playing, and I can go days without spending a ton of quality time with my girlfriend too. She’s very busy and we have to struggle to find quality time, and luckily with HBOGO, Netflix and a few quality games (that we’ll go over later) we’re able to schedule time together doing things we both like.

So, after finding some free time this past wednesday, we decided we’d try to find something we could do together. The options were (in my mind anyway) going up highway 75 to Choctaw casino in Durant, OK. We could stay the night because she loves hotels, and spend a few bucks on the slots. Since she loves hotels and to win money, and I love games and Dean Martin, the casino was ideal. There are some cool and quirky slots with a cartoon Dino that plays his songs. Golden! The second option was to look into Dave and Busters. I’d always been hesitant to go anyplace that was called an adult Chucky Cheese. The douche factor in Dallas is high enough anywhere you go daily, and I REALLY don’t want to go to someplace where they can be more douchey. But I digress. I decided to look into Dave and Buster’s and found that they have half-price wednesdays. Games, drinks etc. are half priced. Okay, we decide to do this instead of the casino.

We pull up to D&B’s and are immediately smacked with the realization that we are in Dallas Douche town. The parking lot is littered with various empty bottles and mis-parked cars. The lights were very reminiscent of Casinos as well. Cut to later on-we purchased 100 credits or tokens, and had a drink and meal at the bar. The only thing I’ll point out about the bar is the huge and multiple beer bong devices that were 4-feet tall with taps. Yep, it was that kind of place. Anyway, on to the fun.

We started off with a bit of skeeball. The classic game of rolling wooden balls that everyone loves and remembers. My girlfriend and I playfully compete and then move on to a Batman sit down driving/shooting game that is a super fun on rails shooter. The voice acting is solid and campy, and you get a huge selection of bat-mobiles. The game is way too on the rails, but considering I’m out with my girlfriend for fun, she watched and we had a great time. Rumbling all around me and a feast of eye candy keep us both thoroughly entertained for nearly half an hour. Once we were done, we decided to have one more go at finding something we both could do. That’s when we found our couple’s nirvana; Dark Escape 4D.

My girlfriend Kris is a fright-prone young lady. I spend a good amount of time creeping around our house scaring her and setting up elaborate ways to pull pranks.  So I would be super excited to find an opportunity to see her scared. She isn’t exactly the gaming type, but she was pumped for this. Yay for life! THIS is why I am with this woman! The gaming unit is an enclosed box with curtains. You sit down, put on 3D glasses and grab your gun. You start with a bit of backstory where you follow around a Resident Evil knockoff girl, who is rendered in a Silent Hill style, and before you know it you’re off. We’re both waiting for the action to happen, and it doesn’t take long as we are quickly jolted by an onscreen zombie. Kris screams as our surroundings shake violently and her bullets spray all over the 3D background. I am more calm, but not by much. The entire game is little breaths, and then tense moments of terror. An onscreen meter tracks your pulse through the gun you hold too. What a cool touch, though I was surprised how ‘panicked’ how I was throughout the game.The experience was like being in a video game haunted house. Monsters lunged in 3D, growls exploded in our ears, and wind shot into our faces. At the end of every session, the game tells you how many time you became panicked on a scale of ten. I was 4/10 both times and I think she was 8/10 and 9/10. Hurray for video games. Wow. We pumped 30 minutes and who knows how many credits into this experience. I wish I had one in my home.

So after all of that, my point is that there are ways to interact with your family and friends who aren’t really gamers. You can be a part of society too. For times like this, you just have to bite the proverbial bullet and trek on through the ‘normals’ and douches.

Below I’m adding a few activities that I’ve found I can do with my girlfriend in our free time that allows us to spend time and scratch our individual itches.

 

Telltale Games: Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us

Walking Dead-We both love the TV series, and I love the comics. We play this one together by me handling the sticks and her helping with the decisions. It’s amazing how impactful this can be for us. We discuss the decisions and possible things to happen in the future for an hour sometimes. We enjoy it more than the TV show or something like Boardwalk Empire.

The Wolf Among us-The same thing with this game. We actually went out and bought some of the comics after playing the first episode (thanks Keith’s comics.) This one is more cartoonish, but somehow darker. Perhaps it’s because there is some sort of civilization in this world, albeit a pretend fairy tale district in a pretend New York. Kris actually learned about me through the decisions I made in this one. There was a decision I had to make as Bigby Wolf that made her cringe and made me show my teeth. She looked at me with genuine disbelief, and I responded with “He would have done that. He’s the big bad wolf and the rules are different here.”

HBOGO and Netflix

We have found our free time centered around my Xbox-360, and we’re okay with that. Boardwalk Empire, Treme and the Sopranos have all opened up great new music, books and other adventures that we wouldn’t have found otherwise. Netlflix is in three rooms of our house and Frasier, Glee or any number of documentaries can be heard or seen at any time.

Hope you enjoyed reading and found something that will help finding time for your family friends etc.

My playing with Frodo
Me playing with Frodo