Monthly Archives: April 2015

ODD IN EVERY WAY – GAMEPLAY

I was looking forward to this. This is very odd.

 

Signs point to cancellation for Kojima’s Silent Hills [Updated]

Del Toro quits collaboration, playable trailer coming off of PSN.


A GIF-ified version of the key part of the P.T. reveal of Silent Hills.

Updated: Konami has sent out a Q&A responding to the series’ supposed cancellation. While the company notes that it will continue to develop the Silent Hill series, it doesn’t specifically mention that Silent Hills is still being made. The full Q&A from Konami is at the end of the story.

In all of last month’s drama surrounding Hideo Kojima’s troubled relationship with Konami and the Metal Gear Solid franchise, there was little information on the fate of Silent Hills, the survival horror sequel collaborationbetween Kojima, film director Gullermo del Toro, and actor Norman Reedus. While the Kojima Productions logo was removed from the game’s home page late in March, there was no official word from Konami regarding the project’s fate. This weekend, though, a number of strong signs point to the game’s outright cancellation.

The bad news started when a member of the Metal Gear Solid subreddit noticed a troubling message on Konami’s Japanese site: “The distribution period of ‘P.T. (Playable Teaser)’ on PlayStation Store will expire on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.” That cryptic “teaser” was the same interactive demo that hid the original Silent Hills announcement last August. It’s possible Sony or Konami simply decided that P.T. had run its promotional course, but it seems odd to remove such a well-received free download with little warning… unless the game it’s promoting no longer exists, that is.

The bad signs continued today, with del Toro reportedly telling a San Francisco International Film Festival audience that his collaboration on the project is “not gonna happen,” according to tweetsfrom multiple sources in attendance. Norman Reedus responded to reports of del Toro’s statements,tweeting that he was “super bummed” about the apparent cancellation and “hopefully it’ll come back around.”

It’s quite possible that Reedus doesn’t have any insider information, and he’s simply working off the same incomplete reports that we all have at the moment. IGN cites an anonymous source who clarified that del Toro was only speaking of his involvement in the project, not speaking definitively about the game’s overall fate. “You’ll have to go after Konami for those answers,” the source said. (Konami and representatives for del Toro were not available to respond to a request for comment over the weekend).

On the other end, Polygon cites an anonymous “person with knowledge of the project’s development” in reporting that the project is “effectively cancelled.”

Given the already fragile relationship reported between Kojima and Konami, all the new smoke surrounding the project likely points to some sort of fire regarding Silent Hills‘ cancellation. If confirmed, the news would be another blow to a fan base that has been waiting patiently for the series to return to form following 2012’s disappointing Silent Hill: Downpour.

ROGUE ONE

I’ll be on a working vacation next week. So I won’t have much time to post.

But when I find good things I will.

THE IRON GATE: PART ONE – BOOKENDS

Wyrdwend

This is part of a draft chapter from my book The Basilegate (from The Other World novels). Rather than explain or detail the background I’ll just let you read the story for yourself.

This chapter begins at the Iron Gate, winds through what today would be modern Russia and ends along the frontiers of the Byzantine Empire.

But this is only the first part of the chapter.

I will be serializing parts of this novel here, on Wyrdwend. For Bookends.

THE IRON GATE: PART ONE

He passed through the Iron Gate and none bothered to oppose him. Why should they? Death would come soon enough.

He had seen men watching him as he stumbled past them, had noticed them as they studied him, pointing, or whispering to themselves. He had seen the guards; skins burned dark by long life lived outdoors among the frontiers, their flesh the…

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THE PLACE WHERE… HAMMER, TONGS, AND TOOLS

Indeed, and that goes for anything you write.

Wyrdwend

I completely concur.Place is every bit as important as plot. And some places are every bit as profound as any plot. And some places are inseparable from plot.

In short place is not only a tool of plot, it is the anvil on which it is truly shaped.

Before You Can Write a Good Plot, You Need to Write a Good Place

Author Linn Ulmann makes the case for the importance of here in “Something happened here.”

Doug McLean

Linn Ulmann spent her childhood trailing her famous parents as they traveled the world. As the daughter of director Ingmar Bergman and the actress Liv Ullmann, two legends of 20th-century cinema, her “home” shifted time and again. The one constant was a Swedish island, Fårö, where she returned each summer to visit her father.

Now, she’s fascinated by the way our surroundings…

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THE TRIGGERING OF THE HUMAN IMAGINATION – LOST LIBRARY

Recently I have undertaken a new career (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, an additional career) as a fiction writer. My background as an author is as a non-fiction writer, primarily dealing with such subjects as business, science, and technical matters. Although on occasion, often for private clients and sometimes just to pursue my own interests, I write analytical, white, and theory papers on everything from military and law enforcement matters to educational techniques to religious subjects.

But, as I said, now I am embarking upon a new or supplementary career as a fiction writer. Last night, while reclining in bed, and reading a fiction story before sleeping, it occurred to me that the author was very good as describing some scenes (thereby easily provoking my imagination to work “independently” of the actual words used to construct the scene) and at other times the author did a very poor job of description and my imagination had to work very hard, or was confused as to exactly what the author was describing. (The author was Michael Moorcock.)

I went to sleep and later awoke about 0500 hours from a dream, and then an idea suddenly occurred to me about what had triggered the dream. (I didn’t connect my dream directly to the story Moorcock had written but it had triggered an “oblique set of imaginings” which I thought were related to some of the ideas expressed in the story.) After I was awake about fifteen minutes or so replaying the dream through my mind it occurred to me that many authors, as well as others, such as really good playwrights, poets, filmmakers, graphic or visual artists (I had recently taken my children to see one of the largest collections of Sacred and Italian and Spanish Gothic and Renaissance Art in the entire nation, and most all of the works were both highly symbolic, and fantastically beautiful), even inventors, scientists, and religious leaders often express their ideas in such a way as to have a great and lasting impact upon the imagination of the consumer. (I am using the term consumer here to represent any partaker or user of such services, products, information, or ideas as are being now discussed.)

And herein lies the seed of my theory. That there are certain techniques that writers, artists, inventors, etc. use that are capable of triggering the imagination of the listener, audience, or observer in such a way that the imagination of the consumer is expanded to such a degree that it becomes heavily provoked, and can then operate almost entirely independently on similar matters (if not indeed completely independently) of whatever the original trigger that had initially produced it.

Using a writer as an example of my intent, for instance, certain authors are so good at description, that they can create an image in the mind of many readers that even when the reader completes reading the description or has finished the work, there lingers a sort of lasting or almost semi-permanent impression of (and on) the imagination, that is not static and calcified, but is rather “alive,” flexible, and on-going. A sort of Living and On-Going After-Image that is not static, but is fluid and almost vital. The images and impressions made by the work do not die out with the reading of the last word, or by finishing the book, but rather they “carry on” almost as if they had created a sub-rosan or virtual reality within the mind and psyche of the consumer or the partaker. And this new and virtual mind-reality is likewise not limited to the breadth, depth, or scope of the original subject matter of the work, but rather one type of imagining or image activates numerous others in a long and continuing chain of triggered imaginary impulses, the limits of which are constrained only by the inventiveness, potentialities, and desires of the particular consumer in question.

As a side note I should also mention that I am not using the term Virtual to imply something that lacks reality, as much as to represent something that has not as of yet become imminently real, but could very well become empirically real when imagination is determinedly and ambitiously combined with actual work and concentrated effort. (Now of course a badly executed or ill-conceived effort of work, imagination, or description may leave the consumer either highly confused as to what exactly the author meant by virtue of his description, or may lead the consumer completely away from the actual intent of the author, or may simply provoke a feeling of disinterest or “dullness” on the part of the consumer, triggering within him not sustained and powerful imaginings, but rather impressions of distraction, or a shallowness that can only be indicative of a total lack of interest and respect for the work in question and what it produces.)

But my theory (and my theory is not new, I am sure, but I am seeking a sort of specialized or different application of it) is that while there are certainly defective techniques of the act of describing or envisioning a thing that lead to a failure to spur on the imagination of the consumer, that miscarry the attempt to create a “virtual reality” of the mind through the lacking exertion(s) of a peculiar creator, there are also techniques that rarely fail to produce the sort of positive effects that I am discussing here in respect to the imagination.

That is to say if there are techniques that fail in the cause of provoking and exciting and expanding upon the capabilities of the imagination of the consumer, then there are obviously other and more intense techniques, which will, more often than not, have the desired effect of expounding upon, elucidating, enlarging, edifying, and invigorating (perhaps permanently) the imagination of the consumer. Techniques that can help to create a sort of “perpetual inner motion” of the imagination, and that will have effects far beyond and far exceeding the actual individual triggers or spurs that were used in producing this state of affairs.

(Now, for purposes of this discussion, I am not going to really address the receptivity or state of internal agreement that any particular consumer feels toward the subject matter he is consuming. That is outside the bounds of what I am discussing, and in any case there is very little, practically speaking, that any creator can do to control the state of receptivity on the part of the consumer. The creator can use the best techniques possible, and undertake his or her work in the most crafty and acute manner by which he is able, but he cannot control the inner state of receptivity on the part of the consumer. That is almost entirely the duty or the affair of the individual consumer of information. If someone else wants to discuss this issue of information dispersal versus information receptivity, then feel free, but as for me, and at this moment, I intend to avoid the issue as a momentary distraction to the other more important points at hand.)

It also occurred to me this morning, after teaching my classes, that the same sort of thing happens in Role Play Gaming, and that moreover in such an environment such “triggering of the human imagination” is often a corporate act, as much as an act of the creator of the plot, storyline, and/or milieu being explored. (And if indeed it is an act of both the corporate and individual imagination, then this in itself might be an important clue towards the feasibility and dynamic nature of important methods of “imaginative triggering.”) That being the case it seemed to me that this website and blog would be the perfect place to solicit further ideas for this discussion. And that a discussion of role-play techniques and methods geared specifically towards the architecture of imagination might yield vital and important clues towards even larger issues of the mind and visionary invention.

Now there may indeed be, and I very much suspect that indeed there are, more or less Universal Techniques and Methods for the “triggering of the human imagination” in the way in which I am framing the issue. (Techniques that may vary in application according to media type, or in discipline or field of endeavor, but are still interchangeable in intent and basis of intended achievement.) However let’s put that possibility aside for the moment and work at the problem inductively.

Let me ask the question(s) very simply in this way: What techniques or methods do you employ as a DM (or even as a player), adventure writer, milieu creator, writer, songwriter, inventor, and so forth that seem to you to “trigger the human imagination” in a very intense and enduring fashion? So that your work takes on a “virtual life of its own in the mind of your consumers,” and/or so that it continues to excite your consumers long after the actual act of the game is concluded? And how do you go about employing such techniques on a consistent basis in order to repeat these effects in a systematic and continuing manner?

I’m looking forward to your answers, ideas, opinions, and speculations…

BATTLEFRONT

Very, very nice.

Sønder Kirkeby Runestone in Denmark #ThrowbackThorsday for 4/16/15

Throwback Thorsday

The Sønder Kirkeby runestone at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. The runestone dates to the late 11th century and archaeologists took note of it in 1802; it was taken from its place in the church in Sønder Kirkeby near Nykøbing Falster, Denmark, in 1811. The runestone was placed as a memorial to the inscriber’s brother.

The runestone is significant for many reasons, chief among which is the fourth (and final) line of the runic inscription, which translates as “Thor hallow these runes.”

This illustrates an important role for Thor, who in addition to his role as god of storms, charioteer, and protector of mankind, was also known as Blessing-Thor. Thor’s name was invoked during many rituals, including weddings, funerals, and to bless newborns and daily meals.

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Life in the Saddle

john g. swogger

Rough draft for DIG magazine. Rough draft for DIG magazine.

I’m back working for DIG – the children’s archaeology magazine published by Cricket media. I’ve done artwork for them off and on since 2003, when they did an article on Çatalhöyük. Since then I’ve drawn ziggurats and moon bases, castles and water-wheels, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Titanic. It’s a great publication, and I’m glad to be back drawing for them. This will be a regular job, creating a splash page for each issue’s archaeology section.

The next issue’s theme is the domestication of the horse, so I get to illustrate a selection of archaeological sites and artefacts to do with horse-riding peoples of Central Asia. So I get to draw cool stuff like Scythian gold vessels and horse-ornaments from the Pazyryk tombs – hurrah!

DIG is like a latter-day Look and Learn – the kind of magazine I loved as a kid. It’s a chance…

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Don’t invest in the Delian League

history and live

An interesting note in the history of ancient Greece, with all its philosophy and democracy, is the formation of the Delian League in the 5th Century BC…4th Century BC?….I honestly cannot think as to how to classify events throughout the 400’s BC, sometimes its hard enough with figuring out 1600’s is the 17th Century (it is one of those things that I can never get my head around, like computer programming or how to strum a guitar [seriously, how?], but maybe that’s just me). Regardless, throughout the 500-400 BC, ancient Greece had been in and out of various wars with the Persians – and remember that Greece was at this time comprised of separate city-states, such as Athens, Sparta, Naxos, etc. – so someone came up with a plan to form a huge alliance of these disparate groups to better fend off those pesky Persians, and what…

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Cyrenaica, part 5: Simon of Cyrene

New at LacusCurtius & Livius

Simon of Cyrene Simon of Cyrene

Cyrene was the hometown of many famous Greeks. Eugammon was the author of an important but lost poem about the events after the homecoming of Odysseus, the Telegony. Mathematician Theodorus of Cyrene developed the theory of irrational numbers. Another Theodorus was one of the founders of atheism. Callimachus was one of the most influential poets of Antiquity, while Eratosthenes was the first to measure the circumference of the earth. Philosophers of the Cyrenaean School taught that pleasure was the best thing in life.

They are all forgotten or almost forgotten. The best remembered Cyrenaean is a Jew named Simon, who is mentioned in the gospel of Mark (15.21).

And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

That’s all.

[Read more on the blog of Ancient History Magazine]

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Vintage Wood Wooden Medieval World Map Decor Deco Treasure Chest Jewelry Trinket Stash Box

Haute Juice

Great vintage find by UrsMineNours (19.99 USD) http://www.etsy.com/listing/229687062

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Sargon Empire Setting – Campaign Map

Very nice

Antherwyck House Games Blog

This was the campaign map for a DragonQuest campaign from the early ’90s which we called the “Rotating Campaign.” There was not a single GM for the game, everyone had a character, and several of us took turns running adventures (during which our characters would typically be out of the picture for one reason or another).

The setting was among the remaining free countries that were being devoured by a continental empire. Thor Hansen (G+ link) created the map, with input from the rest of us in setting up the various countries and developing their character and politics.

Rotating CampaignMap

Thor has made this map freely re-usable for non-commercial use. We’ll also see if there is some of the setting information that we can share here, as well. He also initially posted the version with the different countries colored, to show the areas of the different countries.

The general setting…

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NEVEL AND KINNOR: THE SEMITIC LYRE 01 – HANDEDNESS

Piper at the Gates of Dawn

My mind reeled when I read this feature about a flute that may be over 43,000 years old, not simply because of the antiquity of this instrument, but for a host of other reasons that would require a small book to come close to doing them justice.

The implications of this discovery are astonishing, because it seems to me that for tens of thousands of years, the landscape inhabited by humans may well have echoed to the eerie strains of a thousand lost melodies, that gave pleasure to the performers and to their audiences.

It also seems to me that these ancient musical instruments may well have enchanted the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air, just as Orpheus is said to have done with his singing voice, while just one other alternate possibility of the power of musicians is suggested by the story of The…

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Top Ten Graphic Novels of March 2015

ToshokanComix

The top ten best-selling graphic novels of March 2015 were:

  1. NEMO RIVER OF GHOSTS HC IDW
  2. MS MARVEL TP VOL 02 GENERATION WHY MARVEL
  3. LOW TP VOL 01 THE DELIRIUM OF HOPE IMAGE
  4. HAWKEYE VS DEADPOOL TP MARVEL
  5. SAGA TP VOL 04 IMAGE
  6. DEADPOOL TP VOL 07 AXIS MARVEL
  7. DEADPOOLS ART OF WAR TP MARVEL
  8. DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 02 KIDS OF THE BLACK HOLE IMAGE
  9. BIRTHRIGHT TP VOL 01 HOMECOMING IMAGE
  10. BOBS BURGERS TP VOL 01 DYNAMITE

*published by DiamondComic Distributors, Inc. Top 100 Graphic Novels: March 2015

Data for Diamond’s sales charts — which includes the monthly market shares and all top product charts — are compiled by Diamond Comic Distributors from sales made to thousands of comic book specialty shops located in North America and around the world. Additional sales made to online merchants and other specialty retailers may be included as well.

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Assessing the Damage at Hatra

Gates of Nineveh: An Experiment in Blogging Assyriology

Last month reports swept through the global media that ISIS had used bulldozers to level the ancient city of Hatra. ISIS has already destroyed a number of irreplaceable sculptures from Hatra in the Mosul Museum, lending immediate credibility to reports from Iraqi antiquities officials that ISIS fighters had destroyed Hatra itself as well.

However, no videos or other confirmation surfaced for a month afterwards and there was no way to assess the extent of the damage. The story gradually faded from the media. Given the massive size of Hatra, and its location in the middle of the desert, in a region of no strategic significance, over fifty kilometers from inhabited areas, some grew skeptical that ISIS had mounted a major operation to demolish Hatra.

On Saturday video surfaced on YouTube and other websites which showed ISIS fighters destroying sculptures at Hatra. The voice-overs from several ISIS fighters contained the standard…

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HOME AGAIN

OH HELL YEAH!!!

 

OPEN CHOICE IN GAMING – THE FORGE

Today’s entry for The Forge is based upon a correspondence between me and an old friend over the idea of exactly how much of a game can and should be programmed (pre-designed), how much should be flexible and open to ad hoc manipulation, and what the consequences of these conflicting deign principles really mean.

Of course in tabletop and role play games (non-electronic versions) the ad hoc and “open” elements are much easier to develop and fully exploit in comparison to exactly how much of a computer or electronic or video game must be pre-programmed. But in my opinion the ultimate goal even of computer and video and even virtual reality games is not just to mimic or emulate open choice, but to actually develop program parameters than allow a sort of “open interface” with the gaming world in the same way that an individual can interact with the Real World. That is to say game should not merely simulate “open choice and open exploration” they should actually provide it.

And since today’s entry is for the Forge I also briefly discuss the Design and operational Tools I call the Terra Incognito and Esoteric Distribution Principles, as well as Hard and Soft Backgrounds/Milieus.

 

 

Since all games are programmed (to some extent) I think that it is very unusual for most game designers (who think in a programmed fashion- that is they try to project onto the game the same basic methods of thought which they themselves use for the logical design of the game) to attempt to program into the game the elements you described.

When maps are drawn and given to the player they are almost invariably accurate.

Why, most all game designers think, give a player an inaccurate map as that will only anger him and look shoddy, as if it were the fault of the game designer, as if it were a bug. Most players have become conditioned to think in exactly this same fashion as regards games. They see that something does not function properly and they automatically assume it is a bug. But much of life is exactly that- Terra Incognito, you get no real map to most things in life, especially things you have never encountered before and it is ridiculous to assume that any map you ever receive will be absolutely accurate. As a matter of fact much information we receive and much education is similarly either erroneous or at the least tainted by bias, or by ignorance or by mistake, intentional or unintentional.

Then you have to consider that often times things we receive as information from any particular source may also be purposely misleading.

Therefore if a game is to mimic life in many respects it has to incorporate this “unknown and unexpected” territory and it must also incorporate intentional deceit. For instance in many games i have played when one receives informant information it is just assumed to be accurate or truthful. This is not the way real informant information works. It is partially correct, partially misleading, purposely misleading, it is second or third hand information, it is misinterpreted, or disinformation, etc… Games should reflect this. As a matter of fact this puts me to the mind to create all sorts of intentional bug parameters that reflect real life, not randomness, but actual error. Error that is reflective of living error.

So I’m gonna incorporate both aspects into my game designs. The unknown, uncharted, unmapped or incorrectly mapped territories, of whatever kind I’m gonna call the Terra Incognito principal. The other, the misleading or incomplete information principle I think I’m gonna call
the Esoteric Distribution principle.

Both principles will function as a sort of basic background of functionality, that a game, like life itself is not just about the data but the quality and nature of that data and how accurately that data reflects upon the overall gaming environment. Then the player, like a living person, will have to determine not only the gaming parameters, but the functional parameters and whether any information received is of any actual value, whether it is valid or invalid.

I suspect that current principles only exist because they are reflective of the basically mathematical mindset of software and game designers.

That is perfectly appropriate for the development of a Hard Background, or environment in a game, but it is completely superficial and childlike in naivete as regards a Soft, or Human, Background. Soft Backgrounds are full of error, deceit, and ignorance. Unlike present games, soft backgrounds fail to function properly, or one could say function in error about as often as they function successfully and accurately. Soft Backgrounds are not just mere isolated plot devices, but should be a vital and ongoing principle of making any game or skill simulation function correctly.

THE MANUSCRIPTS – THE FORGE

THIS WEEK IN MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS

 

 

 

THE MEDIEVAL FORGE

Discoveries, Donations and Digs: Medieval News Roundup

A couple dozen items to share with you as we get caught up with the medieval news from the last few weeks…

Finally, we wanted to show you this beautiful video of a 16th century Irish castle…

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