Monthly Archives: June 2016

Critically acclaimed ‘INSIDE’ Game Is Now Available For Xbox One – MSPoweruser.com

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After the critically-acclaimed LIMBO, Playdead studio is delivering another side-scrolling masterpiece with INSIDE exclusively on Xbox One. It is now the highest rated Xbox One exclusive game.

INSIDE follows a young boy into the depths of a dark project, but it isn’t your run-of-the mill puzzle platformer. With every anxiety-filled step forward, you’ll encounter an unexpected obstacle, from escaping rabid dogs to investigating a scientific experiment. INSIDE is an utterly unique experience – terrifying, clever, confusing and gratifying all at once.

You’ll want to keep the lights on for this one and if not, don’t blame us for the nightmares.

Order it here from Xbox Store.

Source: xbox one – Google News

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What’s Next for Game of Thrones? — Discover

“We are heading toward the end game.” At Deadline, Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss discuss the show’s future — and the season that just ended — in a wide-ranging (spoiler-rich) interview.

via What’s Next for Game of Thrones? — Discover

ESSAY ONE: CRAWLING INTO OBLIVION

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN

Essay One: Crawling into Oblivion

Some things that have always bothered me about D&D, and indeed most fantasy RPGs, happen to deal with the way monsters and other dangerous types of creatures and NPCs are presented. In D&D the monster has been reduced to little more than a set of statistics, numbers, and aspect summaries, with little if any regard ever given to the idea of what the word actually means. What it means to be a monster, and what monsters would be like if they really existed (I’m leaving aside for the moment any consideration of the “human monster” who is often far too real, but is in many instances a good guide for how non-human monsters would behave and operate).

For instance many dungeons, adventures, and scenarios are built around the idea that for some unknown (and rarely if ever well-explained) reason, creatures that are hostile and dangerous to people somehow, and usually without prodding, just seem to naturally cooperate with each other to attack adventurers, but not each other. For instance orcs and kobolds can often be found in the same dungeon, no explanation given as to why they would tolerate each other rather than slaughter each other. And many monsters just seem to sit around waiting for the hapless adventurer rather than patrolling whatever dungeon they inhabit, with a well-practiced defense or attack plan, cleaning out the other potential hostiles. A typical dungeon filled with a number of different types of belligerent monsters would hardly be a likely, believable, or functional scenario even in the often not very well thought out world of fantasy adventuring.

This type of incredulous scenario is especially true of the so-called Dungeon Crawl.” Monsters, because they are monsters, would kill each other off and by the time the party arrived the adventurers would be dealing only with the most dangerous and aggressive survivor. For instance, if the Minotaur and the Chimera both existed in the same Labyrinth then sooner of later only one would be left. Furthermore, monsters, if they were organized by some higher force would not be sitting around in a dungeon room just waiting for the adventurers to blunder into their living area. At the first sign of infiltration the monsters would be on the prowl, seeking out and hunting any invaders without rest until such invaders are slaughtered. Monsters cannot be both hostile, aggressive, full of avarice and greed, hoarders of treasure, and bloodthirstily dangerous, and simply lounging about waiting to see if their lair will be invaded by some dangerous force, while calmly playing gentlemen card games with the goblins in the next room to see who gets to keep the ancient artifact they all covet. It’s ridiculous, even in the silliest of fantasy worlds. Without a very excellent and extremely fearful need to cooperate, monsters simply don’t. They kill each other instead and eat the remains of the weaker creature.

Another thing that bothers me about D&D is the fact that once you meet a monster, or have read about it in the Monster Manual, from then on, it is far too often simply just a matter of encountering hit point variants of the same creature. Having fought Trolls before you know how to kill them and make them stay dead they are an extremely dangerous encounter, afterwards, not so much. (In horror/weird, sci-fi, detective, even some military/modern and superhero games – though superhero games, like fantasy often have on-going villains whose nature you are already well familiar with – this is not nearly as big a problem because often one is constantly encountering new creatures and beings and enemies about whom you have little, if any, advanced foreknowledge.)

Of course historical records could account for a certain degree of knowledge about monsters in fantasy game settings (though such accounts should always be mixed with rumor and mis and disinformation), but otherwise because they are monsters they should be unknown or at least little-known entities; a shock to the system, a surprise, and a real danger. And anything you have advanced intelligence on is far less dangerous than the unknown. These problems regarding monsters greatly reduce the tension and sense of danger in playing the game, and for that reason, they greatly reduce the fun.

I have tried over the years to address these monstrous and monsterous problems in my Campaign setting, and in the adventures I write for the players to undertake. For instance in my world monsters are unique, usually one of a kind creations, much more similar to the monstrosities and prodigies of ancient Greece, than the creations of modern fantasy role play. This means when the party does encounter a monster then in game terms it is a real, dangerous, feral, vicious brute. Really and truly monstrous. It also means you can’t pull out the Monster Manual to know best how to fight it or know if it likes laying traps and ambushes or the straight out, let’s get bloody, man-to-man brawls.

Furthermore it knows where it lives, how it moves, what its tactics are, what techniques it will employ far better than the players. (Which ain’t the case most of the time you encounter monster sin most fantasy game sis it now.) Making it that much more dangerous and lethal because it is an unknown quantity with unknown qualities. You don’t know the creature’s level, challenge rating, hit point count, what it can do, etc. You just know it bites, claws, employs magic, has set traps, is extremely cunning and vicious, and kills. (But only after you’ve seen it in operation, until then it is all potential.)

So in that way I’ve solved the “Over-familiarity/Lack of Danger Aspect” of monster design weakness in D&D. (This is just a general “design principle,” and like all design principles it is of course open to whatever the DM and players want to do. If the DM and players want gnolls who dress like circus clowns and eat hay and farm naked molerats for monsters, so be it. I’m talking however about milieus and settings with game monsters that are truly monstrous, and dangerous, and unknown, not colorful and comic, humorous, and so familiar they might as well be wearing body scales made out of neon glowing statistical probability charts. If monsters were real they would not be “readable and predictable,” instead they would be lethal, unpredictable, crafty, vicious, natural survivalists, and stat graphs and hit point counts would be the very least of your worries if you encountered one that was pissed off, moody, or feeling kind of hungry.

The First Problem though, the problem of “Cooperative Design and Behavioral Unbelieveability,” is harder to address, especially when you want to create a “Dungeon Crawl” for your players to game. Because, let’s face it, although the standard crawl is silly and extremely weak as normally designed, it is also fun and exhilarating, and is what most people (especially older players) think of first when they think of playing D&D. The common crawl, although utterly ridiculous in many respects, can be a lot of fun if designed right and executed correctly.

So, to that end, it seems like if you’re going to create a really first rate Crawl, and I think most DMs should include at least one good crawl (if not many more) in their campaign repertoire, then a few basic design rules would help a lot.

1. Make it as logical and believable as possible, so that even in the middle of a crawl it still seems dangerous and believable. Something where the player wouldn’t say to himself, “That’s stupid and silly, no orc would ever team up with a gelatinous cube to try and keep me from killing the giant python who lives on top of a pile of gold.” So, if there is to be cooperation between creatures whose aims and interests vary, not to mention outright oppose one another, either include a force powerful enough to control and manipulate them all, or use other methods that make it at least seem plausible that the hobgoblin would be working with the Barrow Wight instead of fleeing in horror from such a terrifying and dangerous undead creature.

2. Place in the crawl creatures the players have never encountered before or at least variants of the typical monster types so radical that the players won’t really know what they are fighting, or even exactly how to fight them. Bring back the excitement, wonder, horror, and lethality of the monster. He ain’t just a giant with 300 hit points, he’s a vicious, black-hearted mutha who will snap off your head with his bare hands, drink your blood and grind your bones to make his bread. He means business, he’s set traps for you, and if you get close enough that he can catch you he means to rip your arm from the socket and club you to death with it. He enjoys doing that kinda thing because, well… he’s a monster.

3. Include tricks, traps, ambushes and other dangerous things that the players are unaware of but the creatures know exist. And let the creatures, monsters, opponents use these traps, tricks, puzzles, and ambushes in such a way as to most damage the party and most enhance their own (the monster’s) chances of survival. That is to say the monsters know their environment and how to use it, the players don’t. Let the monsters use every advantage they have, especially environmental.

4. Use every other trick and technique you have available to make the crawl disturbingly believable, but also as risky as possible. Remember the adventurer is infiltrating a place he has never been before, has only sketchy, at best, intelligence on, and is by its very nature supposed to be hostile to unwanted visitors. The characters are going into places dark, deep, and undiscovered. That fact alone, as I know from Vadding, can make the venture very dangerous. Throw in monsters, traps, ambushes, patrols, a coordinated defense response, a generally hostile neighborhood, and other dangers of that ilk and you have a very lethal combination. To say the least. Crawls, to use an analogy of military terminology, should be just short of suicide missions, and therefore should perhaps be the most dangerous and enterprising type of fantasy RPG adventure one can undertake. Make the players wish they had prepared as if they were intending to invade hell itself. Because maybe that’s exactly what is waiting for them. They don’t call them monsters only because they look and smell funny, they call them monsters because they are laughing while they disembowel your still steaming entrails and eat you alive.

THE INDO-GREEKS

Archaeologists Discover Ancient Indo-Greek City in Pakistan

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discovery (1)Italian and Pakistani Archaeologists have discovered large layers of an Indo-Greek city with weapons, coins and pottery forms, in Barikot, Pakistan, according to a Dawn report.

Barikot was called Bazira in ancient times, a city captured by Alexander the Great during his advance to India.

Dr. Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan, told Dawn that during their recent excavation in April-June they unearthed some very important discoveries in Barikot, in the Swat river valley. Excavations at Barikot are funded by the Pakistan-Italian Debt Swap Program.

“Very little is known in the archaeology of the sub-continent about the material culture of the Indo-Greek. However, this time we discovered at Barikot ample layers associated not only to the Indo-Greek city (when the settlement was encompassed by the Defensive Wall, 2nd century BC), but also to the pre-Greek city, the Mauryan settlement (3rd century BC),” Olivieri told Dawn.

The archaeologist also said that during the excavations it was discovered that all pre-Greek layers were destroyed along the Defensive Wall at the time of its construction, to make space for the fortification, revealing conspicuous traces of the Iron Age village (7th century BC).

– See more at: http://world.greekreporter.com/2016/06/27/archaeologists-discover-ancient-indo-greek-city-in-pakistan/#sthash.mpaOZXsG.dpuf

Wonder Woman Asks The Cheetah For Help

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Wonder Woman Asks The Cheetah For HelpWonder Woman Asks The Cheetah For HelpWonder Woman Asks The Cheetah For HelpWonder Woman Asks The Cheetah For HelpWonder Woman Asks The Cheetah For Help

From – Wonder Woman Vol. 5 #1

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Alexander Skarsgard, the Wild One in ‘Legend of Tarzan’

All New Wolverine Wearing The Ant-Man Suit

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All New Wolverine Wearing The Ant-Man SuitAll New Wolverine Wearing The Ant-Man SuitAll New Wolverine Wearing The Ant-Man SuitAll New Wolverine Wearing The Ant-Man SuitAll New Wolverine Wearing The Ant-Man SuitAll New Wolverine Wearing The Ant-Man Suit

As if Laura Kinney, who has 2 more claws than Logan, needed to be more overpowered.

From – All New Wolverine #5

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Game of Thrones Showrunners: We’re ‘Hurtling Towards’ Ending

Bout time. Don’t wanna wander around as long as Martin, you’ll never get there…

Like For Real Dough


Game of Thrones Showrunners: We’re ‘Hurtling Towards’ Ending
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Daredevil Describes What Deadpool Smells Like

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Daredevil Describes What Deadpool Smells Like

You can never go wrong with Sriracha.

From – Deadpool Vol. 4 #13

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Song of the Day: Light of the Seven (by Ramin Djawadi)

Through the Shattered Lens

Queen Cersei

“Cersei of the House Lannister, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms….Long may she reign.” — Qyburn

To all of those who watch each new episode of Game of Thrones, last night’s episode was a classic in the making. It was the sort of episode that convinced millions 6 years ago to take a chance and watch an HBO series about a medieval fantasy series about royal politics, dragons, living dead, royal incest and lots and lots of sex and violence.

The series is based on the ongoing epic fantasy novel series by novelist George R.R. Martin. A series called A Song of Ice and Fire, tonight’s episode delivered on both the fire and ice. As we see the players on the Great Game cut down violently by the machinations of one Dowager Queen (and now Queen and…

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CAERKARA – DESIGN OF THINGS TO COME

In keeping with what I said over the weekend about beginning to once again post my own Works (as per this Post) here is my entry for Design of Things to Come, though it is one day early due to later work week scheduling conflicts.

Also I have now corrected all my former entries in The Other World so that they now properly show in that category, as they should. Later I will begin reposting my Essays on Gaming and Game Design.

So here you go, the Introduction to The Caerkara, or The Expeditionary Force

 

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Introduction to The Caerkara

When the Eldeven folk began to realize that monsters were being accidentally created through the use of Elturgy (Arcane Magic) they began to track down and capture many of these monsters and isolate them in various places where they could be studied and hopefully cured. However the alterations caused by exposure to (especially) high level Elturgy seemed irreversible.

Eventually the Eldevens also realized that Elturgy itself seemed to be “mutating” some of their own kind, as well as other creatures, into monsters, or the Caladeem. Many at the Court of Samarkand came to understand that some of these monsters were completely rogue and out of control and could not be held or captured, that once transformed certain monsters would have to be killed due to their new and vicious nature. The Eldevens in Samarkand formed secret teams of “monster hunters” that traveled throughout the Known World (and sometimes to places in their world beyond their explored knowledge) to capture or kill monsters. At the same time the Samareül began a project that lasted for many decades that attempted to “repair” elturgy so that it no longer created monsters. But the deterioration only seemed to increase and worsen and no means was discovered to return Elturgy to a reliably benign state of operation.

Some monster hunter teams soon discovered that monsters were disappearing right before capture. The reason was a mystery until it was discovered that these monsters were fleeing to another world, through means unknown. The Samareül put his best Sages and Elturgists upon the problem and eventually the Drüidect was discovered, which allowed travel between their world and Terra, though the means by which “the Weirding Road” operates is still a mystery.

The Samareül formed a secret and elite team of Monster Hunters to go to Terra and either recover or kill the monsters that had escaped to that world. While there agents of this team met human beings and discovered human ideas about religion as well as information about Miracles (Thaumaturgy). When this team returned home and reported on their findings the Samareül decided that these events were not coincidental at all but fated, and that Thaumaturgy, God, and religion might just be the long sought answer to either repairing or replacing the troubled nature of Elturgy.

Since then the Samareül has been carefully studying humans, their society, religion, thaumaturgy, God, and other related matters. He has sent his elite Expeditionary Team into Terra on numerous occasions. Ostensibly it is the job of this team to hunt down and capture or kill the escaped monsters from their world, but secretly this team also studies humans, religion, thaumaturgy, etc. and gather intelligence to return to the Samareül for further study and research. This secret team or Expeditionary Force is called the Caerkara. Over the course of their expeditions to Terra they have spent much time in the Byzantine Empire (where many of the odd events affecting both worlds, as well as the escaped monsters, seem to tend to congregate) and humans have become aware of their existence, though not their true nature and point of origin. They have also become uneasy allies on occasion with the Basilegate, and as a result of this interaction a relationship has developed between the Court at Constantinople and the Court at Samarkand.

WRONGEST THERE IS!!!

This made me laugh… not this scene, the article

WRONGEST THERE IS!!!

 

THE WITCHQUEEN

THE WITCHQUEEN

I’ve always said that Cersei Lannister was the single greatest and most degenerate sociopath in the entire series of novels. She is also the Queen Mother of degeneracy and should have long ago been hung by the neck until dead. She is vile, not in the common usage of the term but in the accurate usage of the term, and she is a communicable disease.

Of course the other events in this episode were equally good (which I will not now mention), for the most part, and this was definitely the best episode of this season, the Battle of the Bastards being the next best.

But yes, even Jamie Lannister, a definite degenerate himself, must now fully recognize the twisted nature of his sister and that she is every bit as “mad” as was the Mad King.

If he has any sense at all he will behead Cersei as Sansa and Jon should do to Littlefinger, but will not.

 

 

Conan Exiles Gets New Combat-Focused Screens, Early Access Delayed to 2017

GameUP24

Funcom has released new images for the upcoming Conan Exiles, showcasing things like combat mechanics and the game’s sandy open world. The other piece of news around the game is that its Steam Early Access release has been delayed to January 2017; it was previously pegged for September.

Regarding the delay, Exiles creative director Joel Bylos explained in a Steam post (via DualShockers) that, after considering fan feedback, the developer decided it would “like to spend a little more time” working on the game. He added that Funcom recently “secured additional funding,” which means the developer is in a “much more flexible” financial solution.

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“We want to take advantage of that and move Early Access to January 2017,” he said. “With the extra time in development, we believe we can make a better game for you, the fans.”

He went on to say that Early Access…

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JUST TO LET YOU KNOW

I will soon be returning to blogging and posting about my own game worlds and milieus, my novels (in this case regarding my fantasy/mythological, my sci-fi, and detective novels mostly), my essays on gaming, the games I have designed and written, TSS scenarios, GPADs, my start-ups that are game related, my Vadding expeditions and urban exploration, and all of my other personal creations, enterprises, and Work.

Recently I have been much too busy with both business and personal matters to post about my own creations. But things have calmed now and that’s about to change.

So from now on I will be posting at least once a week about my own creations and designs. This I will do mostly on the weekends, but if you are a follower of this blog then you will know as soon as it happens.

Have a good weekend folks.

More details for the new Star Trek series

The Aaron Phoenix Blog

Within the past 24 hours more info has come out for the new Star Trek series from Showrunner Bryan Fuller. In an interview with Collider’s Steven Weintraub we’ve recently found that it will be an 13 episode season and will focus on one arc. There is no casting announcements as of yet and filming is set to begin in September. The premiere episode  is set to air on CBS and then shift to CBS’ all access streaming service in January 2017.

When asked about the casting process fuller has said the following:

“I’ve met with a few actors, and it’s an interesting process. There’s a few people that we like and we want to carry on what Star Trek does best, which is being progressive. So it’s fascinating to look at all of these roles through a colorblind prism and a gender-blind prism, so that’s exciting.”

The writers involved are…

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Creating A Viking-inspired Battle Axe

niivsnook

If you have met me, or followed me for a long time, you will know my obsession with axes and hacking weapons. I love them. I don’t know what it is but I love them. An axe is my weapon of choice. For this year’s festival and market season, I decided I need a weapon. And of course you can guess what kind I wanted 😉

So I began surfing the web for relaxes and also LARP axes. Many nice ones, but mostly rather expensive. Crafty as I am I decided to venture to create my own – a sort of teat weapon, to see how an axe would look and carry with my outfit. Bear in mind that this weapon is a prop only; you can’t fight with it in LARP because it is made of wood and could hurt others (and will splinter because it’s thin).

I made…

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In My Heart of Hearts.

My Fantasy Lives

Today, I’m going to delve a little deeper into my personal journey and talk about how I came to play El, my out of character imaginings and how that translated into the game.

In yesterday’s post I gave you a quick little introduction to the game I play, who I was and also the faction I played with, if you’ve not read that I would recommend it for a bit of context.

It began in a flat

As became a custom on a Thursday I went to see my best friend Rob. We would sit around, eat food, play games and, of course, chat shit. This particular Thursday I arrived to find Rob frantically sowing away at a piece of leather. Now, I knew Rob LARP’d but I couldn’t tell you for life of me what it was or what it entailed, it just so happened this was the day…

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Enterprise-era ships and stations

Fan Films win! No, wait… maybe not.

My Own Little Shadow

In the wake of the ongoing jackassery that is the lawsuit against Alec Peters and his crowd-funded fan-film Star Trek: Axanar (see my previous coverage of that HERE, HERE, and HERE if you need to catch up), CBS and Paramount have recently released their “guidelines” for Star Trek fan films, in order to ensure that die-hard Trek fans were clear on what they could and couldn’t do without CBS and Paramount suing them into oblivion.

Many articles have already been published about the sheer lunacy of these guidelines, but here’s mine (“Guidelines” are in italics, my comments are in bold).

Remember to Like, Follow, and Share! Help me keep doing what I’m doing!

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The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional…

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