The One Ring

I was really surprised to see this arrive: The One Ring

This is the latest game based around The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The art is simply amazing and the only reservation I have is around the binding, which may be fine but, equally, might be a pain in the butt for actual play. And, to be fair, some sort of GM screen would have been great. All in all, Cubicle 7 have knocked this one out of the park: again.

Resonance

On TV, on your phone and online

through music and games

Something is happening

The way people create and engage in stories is changing

Resonance is a grand narrative told across multiple platforms on a massive scale

A new science-fiction universe is being created and there is only one question…

Will you help?

OK, it’s no secret I’m just a big geek.

Smallville, Serenity, Firefly

I got the Serenity book a few months ago from Sub City in Dublin and the Smallville book arrived today from Amazon.

Both use derivatives of the Cortex system from Margaret Weiss Productions. While Serenity uses the Cortex systems in a “traditional” way, Smallville uses it in an interesting way. To perform an action, it’s not really how talented or skilled you are, it’s about how much the action matters to you, how it aligns with your values and who will benefit from the action. That’s interesting because it aligns partly with what I had in mind for Qabal – even though I may not have realised what I had in mind. I’d still likely use a card-based system rather than a dice-based system but the mechanic is interesting.

Smallville is a TV based on the early years of Superman/Clark Kent, concentrating on the period before he put on the red cape and blue tights. It’s mostly a teen drama similar to Roswell, 90210 or Gossip Girl. The series plays loose with the Superman mythology, altering timelines and characters to provide a episodic story (which has been denounced as “Freak’o’the Week”. They are also, for the most part, blaming the rise of superheroes on the kryptonite meteor rocks which accompanied Clarks escape pod. As plot devices go, that’s quite clever. The story arc is detailed enough and they’ve even resurrected the JSA to provide older mentor roles.

What turned me onto Smallville was an Actual Play on RPG.net. in this AP, the GM (Watchtower) is running a game entitled “Gotham” which is chronicling the teen angst of the various personalities involved in the Batman legend; obviously Bruce Wayne but also Vic Sage (the Question), Talia Al Ghul, Helena Bertinelli (Huntress), Harvey Dent (Two-Face), Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) and others. He’s chewing his way through some of the old DC villains (Black Spider, Terrible Trio etc) and working up to a series end which will have some of the bigger foes. It’s an extremely compelling read.

Of course, to be able to play these kinds of games, you need players who are not only able to put themselves in the mindset but also those who are interested in the mythology of the series, whether that’s Smallville, Gotham, Roswell or Gossip Girl. I’ve met players who couldn’t get past their own biases when playing characters. Such as an atheist who couldn’t play a religious character and a caucasion who couldn’t play a black character. Most fellas seem comfortable enough playing women though (with hilarious and creepy consequences). This sort of game is a relationship drama – it’s about the interactions of people – and you can recognise them on TV as the protagonists are wound up in secrets and never seem to be able to tell the whole truth. Because that would sort stuff out. Duh

The community is developing other homebrews such as Blakes 7, The Matrix, Bugsy Malone, Teen Titans. I’m tempted to find some folk to run a Misfits game. Misfits is a E4 TV series about four young offenders who gain superhuman abilities by being exposed to a strange storm while performing their community service. The first series was extremely enjoyable, the second series starts at 9 pm tonight. It has the advantage of being “new” so you don’t have to have extensive background knowledge to enjoy the story but the disadvantage that you don’t have a lot of pre-made stuff from 50 years+ of writers and artists.

RIP Six Flags New Orleans 2000-2005

Six Flags New Orleans is an amusement park in New Orleans, Louisiana, which has been closed since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
The park is located in Eastern New Orleans, in the Ninth Ward of the city off Interstate 510. The park first opened under the name “Jazzland,” opening in 2000 and operated by Alfa Smartparks before Six Flags took over the park lease in 2002.

And fans of Left4Dead 2 should get a huge amount of shivers from this. This is just screaming out for a new Batman/Joker film to be made.

Music by Godspeed You Black Emperor

Current Inspirations

Portal – for the non-violent nature of it and the neat teleportation physics puzzles. And removing half of the stupid ways to die. And for this.

Mirror’s Edge on iPad – for the simple swipe-based mechanics, showing us a new way to do a simple platformer. For showing us how to convert a FPS for touch. And for this.

Left4Dead – for uncompromising 4 player co-op on both sides. For re-inventing the entire zombie genre. For much fun and great instakills. And for this.

Myth – for showing us that you don’t need to spend two hours building an army for a 10 minute fight. And building a kick-ass story around it. And for this.

And two movies.

Primer – for providing an all-round mind-fuck of a movie. and it’s available for free (linked here) on low-resolution web video and of course, available as a DVD.

Inception – only just out and not long out of the cinemas so there’s not a lot that I can say without introducing spoilers. So go and look at the trailer here and then go watch the movie. All I can add is “BRRRRANNNNNGGGGGGG”. You’ll know what I mean after you watch it.

Superheroes

In terms of special effects, I’d love to know how they do the superhero style special effects like in in Hancock

and more recently, an EMINEM video (forward to about 3 minutes):

and Push

I’ve not been posting much because I’ve not been gaming much. I need to do something about that for the latter half of 2010.

THE RAVEN

THE RAVEN is a short film, looking a little like a far future version of The 23rd Letter. This made it a lot of fun to watch and I’d love to see it made into a feature. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to win a prize for originality (especially seeing as we have Scanners, The Fury, Push out there) but it’s nicely shot and the budget was miniscule.

Summary: Chris Black possesses a power that could lead to the destruction of the current regime, and they will stop at nothing to destroy him.
The chase is on as Chris runs for his life in this sci-fi thriller set in an alternate and futuristic Los Angeles.

Director : Ricardo de Montreuil
Producers: Ricardo de Montreuil & Eliz Eskeranli
Writers: Ricardo de Montreuil & Antonio Perez
Cinematographer: Andres Sanchez
Composer: Angelo Milli
Special Effects Supervisor: Aaron Burns
3D Modeling and Animation: Juan Somarriba and Francisco Concha
Visual Effects and Compositing: Ricardo de Montreuil
Editing: Ricardo de Montreuil
Color Correction: Santiago Padilla
Sound Design and Mixing: Martin Seltzer
Budget: $5k
Format: RED 1920×1080
Special thanks: Filmosonido, CO3 and Converse

You can find concept drawings, 3D models and production stills at THE RAVEN facebook site:

facebook.com/THERAVENFILM

Contact: info@theravenfilm.com

Left4Dead, on Expert

“It’s a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, I can’t be held accountable for my actions!!!!”

Some of us (me, Savage_MF, kinnygraham and Pulse4333) have been playing this in the evenings and I must say it’s probably the best FPS I’ve played in a while due to the need to be co-operative rather than selfish.

And it has Zombies. So it’s win-win as far as I’m concerned.

MURDERDROME: iPhone comic reader BANNED!

Wednesday afternoon I popped round to Paul’s house for a quick chat (and a couple of headache tablets) and I saw a demo of MurderDrome, the first iteration of a new comic application for the iPhone.

There have been a few comic reader apps for the iPhone/iPod touch out there, most notably ClickWheel Comic Reader which gives access to a lot of content produced for 2000AD.

The Murderdrome iPhone comic demoed to me that day had a few very startling and fresh ideas.
The content was perfectly sized for the high res (160 dpi) screen of the iPod touch and iPhone. The side-side swipe of the finger moved from page to page but the UP-DOWN swipe of a finger took you through the content on that page. It removed colour, then inking, then brought the images down to the base wireframe. You could see the process on how it was made. You can, at a touch, remove or re-add speech bubbles and there are other settings (greyscale etc) which I didn’t have time to play with.

Paul (art, letters, colour) and Al (writer) have collaborated to make Murderdrome specially for the iPhone/iPod touch screen. The code was written by Philip Orr who you’ll also recognise as one of the names behind infurious. Watch Phil’s Blue Pilot for some very interesting developments soon.

See the Youtube video for more

The business model is simple. Aiming for a $1.99 price for a standard comic (equivalent to 22 pages in a standard American size comic), Apple take 30% of the money as their commission. InfuriousComics take 10% and the remaining 60% goes to the creators. Seem harsh? Not so much when you hear tales of how much comic creators get when their comics are sold – sometimes they have to sell in excess of 9000 copies just to break even – even if carried by a major publisher. This new model would mean creators get paid for every book they produce. If you sell 200 copes, you get 60% of cover. If you sell 3000 copies you get 60% of cover. That’s a lot better than the rates offered in print.

BUT….

MURDERDROME has been banned from the App Store for breaking rules about content. Please view the video and show some support for content being made available on the App Store by commenting on the article here.

You’ll also find links to other coverage of this cool new application.

Why is this relevant to LateGaming?

Apart from my association with Paul and Philip and subsequent involvement in InfuriousComics, there has been discussion about using their cool reader technology to build ‘decision tree books’ or as we used to call them ‘Choose your path’ style books. That has interest to me!

Dectet

The Decktet is a deck of cards with suits, ranks, and named images. It is structurally unlike ordinary poker and tarot decks, meaning that you can do different things with it.


This looks very cool and makes me think about the SeaFarers game.

For each suit, there is an Ace and a Crown. Between them are other cards numbered 2 through 9. These each have two suits. For example, the Market is a rank 6 card with suits Wood and Knots. Suits are not repeated at a rank, so there are three cards of each numbered rank.

Portraits of the Dead.

MetalFloss has a link about death:

“From Stanley Burns’ book Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America:These photographs were a common aspect of American culture, a part of the mourning and memorialization process. Surviving families were proud of these images and hung them in their homes, sent copies to friends and relatives, wore them as lockets or carried them as pocket mirrors. Nineteenth-century Americans knew how to respond to these images. Today there is no culturally normative response to postmortem photographs.”

I’ve been asked more than once to “re-create” the impossible. Adding the dead to portraits of the living.

The Stars Are Right….over there….

The Internet STELLAR DATABASE is a lot of fun.

Look at the entry for Barnard’s Star especially the submits at the bottom where you can search for stars within a certain radius. How I wish this had been about when I was working on 2300AD scenarios (My favourite being ‘Bayern’ which exceeded the 7.8 light year limit on inter-stellar travel)

Looking at the entry for Sol we find:

“The “8” in the Detected Planets entry is not an error. Pluto is not a “planet,” but a huge, close-orbiting, low-eccentricity Kuiper Belt object. With a big moon. Of course, some die-hards out there still insist that it really is a planet, more for sentimental reasons than anything else. They’re welcome to live in their little fantasy world. Neener neener.”

A Box brimming with Scary Things

Joshua Hoffine’s online portfolio is truly creepy. Take one part Little Fears, one part Monsters and Other Childish Things, add in a little Lovecraftian degeneration and a dose of John Carpenter and Clive Barker.

Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. Fills my head full of ideas and sends me scrabbling to the local game store to see when they will have ‘Monsters’ in.

Creed/Testament/Rapture – queries and comments

It’s always nice to get some kudos from people you respect and Balbinus on RPG.net has come through again with Creed/Testament/Rapture – queries and comments.

He has a few comments, mostly clarifications and does make me realise that the character sheet I provided for Creed was entirely inadequate. Or, if I meant something else I should have noted it by pre-filling in one of the sheets.

It puts me in the mood to work on something – like tidying up Creed and maybe even finishing the text for Rapture. I’ve already got so much on my plate (getting a new job, house stuff, kids, never mind working on War of the Worlds) that it should be the last thing on my mind. Ahem.

It was also cross-posted to TheRPGSite. I reckon I should hire Balbinus as my publicist.

What’s He Building In There?

Title taken from the Tom Waits track.


This blossomed into a scenario where the PCs were sent to investigate a murder. A newcomer to a quiet US suburb was found beaten to death in his home. The house is trashed. And no-one else in the suburb heard or saw anything…

Anyone else have done something similar? Created a scenario out of a song? (And let’s face it. this song is pretty much the entire inspiration for Desperate Housewives. Imagine the pitch – “It’s like that Tom Waits track….but with boobs!”