A Busy Week But No Excuse

Hi, I’m Non-Washable and it has been days since my last post on this blog.

You may fairly raise your brow at me and think, “A confession doesn’t really count, man.” and you would be absolutely correct. Regardless of how much time it takes me to write this out and start feeling better about my aggravating lack of posts this week it doesn’t make up for it. So while I’m busy confessing that I have been absent I will take a moment to at least try and justify why I was pulled away if you’ll humor me for a paragraph or several.

The first up is the reason which is least absolving for me which is that I spent some time playing video games. For the last few weeks I have played the absolute bar minimum by which I mean almost none save for trying to knock out my daily quests in MTG:Arena. Fortunately you can have up to a maximum of three quests build up, one per day, so I only really need to play twice a week to keep up. Unfortunately this also means a lack of time to brew decks or play just for fun but, nature of the beast, right? What did happen was that I picked up Frostpunk and allowed that to eat up nearly a day and a half of time I should have been working on things for this blog. Whats worse was that I didn’t take the time to use any of that gameplay to prepare for a review on the game. Feeling utterly stupid about that I did start writing up my feelings on the game and should be posting it shortly to rectify that mistake.

Short answer: If you like city-builders that pull no punches and punish you for sloppy play by piling up the corpses of your citizens like cords of firewood then you should be all over this game. Not to mention it is beautifully realized, sleek and feature packed all for the very reasonable price of $29.99USD. 11 Bit Studios is also offering 10% off that on Steam if you own This War of Mine, until May 1st. Hard to say enough good things about it but more on that later.

Ultimately I forgot my own rule which I set at the beginning of this that whatever I do I should make sure I can extract something from it for this blog to continue the feedback loop so I am always producing something. A lesson learned and I will be better going forward.

The second thing has been regarding my other decision to branch out and try to do things outside of my previous limited comfort zone and be a larger part of the D&D community. I really do love the game and for all my failures as a player and DM I do hope to use those experiences to help inspire others to join in or avoid the pitfalls I myself have fallen into. The last post I wrote was D&D related and got a good response which I felt really happy about! A conversation I had with some folks on Twitter this week reminded me, while I was telling them, that even the most basic of information re-iterated can help. A subject that has been expounded on thousands of times can still escape newcomers to our hobbie so it helps to have it done again, tweaked and put in different terms. You never know who you might reach that others have missed. Smaller creators and commentators communicate regularly with those who the larger personalities may miss. Not through any fault of their own but they have simply grown to play in new arenas, they have new concerns and demands on their time. So it is up to us to take up the banners in their place and be new conduits for advice and help in their stead. Ultimately we too may eventually find ourselves too busy to answer all the questions we may get but hopefully by that time we have helped to inspire new people to offer their unique perspectives and experiences on the game.

Aside from this I have found myself with a couple of other opportunities to become more involved and while at the moment I can’t really talk about them (I don’t think? Better safe than sorry.) I am incredibly excited/nervous for them. If for no other reason than I expect to embarrass myself in new and unexpected ways. Forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone is often stressful and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel it but I’m determined to get past that and embrace the experience. In response to that I buried myself in some prep work to the exclusion of keeping to my posting schedule which was certainly unwise but for my own sanity I think I needed it. Balancing this stuff is certainly going to be tough but that is just one more thing in a sea of them that I need to put in some work on improving.

So what positive things happened this week?

We recorded another episode of the Ourcast which was a lot of fun! It wont be up for a couple weeks as we still have a one week buffer between releases but I think it’s one of our best so far. I’ve become a little more proficient with editing which is shortening the time it takes to produce episodes. The downside to that is that now that its going quicker I’m experimenting more with different techniques and musical additions so really its taking me more time to do them now. Insert sad-face here. It’s good though, shows me I’m improving and its hard to feel bad about that. Prior to this last episode I also adjusted my desk and audio setup a little as I work on improving the audio quality on my side. Since I’m using a broadcast mic to record instead of my gaming headset there are a lot of factors I was previously unaware of that are messing with the quality of my output. For instance I was unaware of the part the vibration of my case fans would play in the audio quality though a 3.5mm jack. Hopefully the adjustments will show in upcoming episodes. Also because I have listened to way too much of myself speaking on the podcast I have realized that in an effort to hold a more conversational tone as though my co-host and I are sitting across from each other at a table I have inadvertently caused myself to sound somewhat boring and mono-tone. This past episode I was particularly annoyed at myself during the editing as it oftentimes felt like I was utterly lifeless while talking. I have a few more criticisms of my performance but suffice it to say going into our recording session this past Thursday I made a concerted effort to adjust my approach and be a bit livelier. Hopefully it’s a welcome change and going forward I’m going to try and embrace my “radio voice” and bring the enthusiasm out a little more.

On the D&D front my group finally was able to get together again after a couple week hiatus. The “Band of Others”, as they have chosen to call themselves, got their first taste of the Dungeon Trials beneath the beautiful city of Orskr. In a competition with adventurers from all over for wealth and rewards beyond imagining they’re going to face the toughest challenges of their lives over the next few sessions. First room of whirling blades caused a few cuts and dings but they got through it largely unscathed.

Tougher challenges to come however and I’m excited to see how they deal with them.

We’re also just a couple weeks shy of restarting our Dark Heresy Warhammer 40k campaign which I get to be a player in and we were all assigned a little homework prior to getting back in. Working on that has been really fun as a way to get reacquainted with my character and the setting.

Basically there a lot of things that are “coming soon” that I of course wish could get here maybe just a little faster. Until then though there are plenty of things to keep me busy so It’s time to refocus on those and first up I think is going to be starting on the project I set for myself with my Games on the Silver Screen post from when I was on vacation. Mortal Kombat is currently on Netflix and I can’t think of a better way to to start things off.

For now thanks for reading! Hopefully this offered a little insight to where I am right now and as an adequate apology for not keeping up through this week. Just know that no one will ever feel more irritation or disappointment from these failures than I do. The important thing is finding motivation in them instead of defeat.

In the interim thank you if you read this far and I’ll be back soon.

Happy gaming, folks!

  • Non-Washable

 

 

 

Friday Update and Housekeeping

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a good Friday and are excited for the weekend to begin! I know not everyones week works the same and if you aren’t starting yours right now rest assured this message is meant for you as well, I hope your weekend arrives quickly and lasts for what feels like a lifetime.

So what is going on this week? Not a whole lot, I’ve been on vacation in Florida which means a lot of sun, socializing and eating out. I didn’t set aside quite as much time to write as I would have liked but I think I did okay with a couple of posts, I don’t think I’m really counting this housekeeping posts though as this is mostly going to be akin to my visit to a non-denominational confessional. A personal way to be accountable for the things I’ve said I would do and  for whatever reason have yet to get to, I was always taught the value of redundancy so theres no reason to quit now.

First thing thats up is the podcast which was supposed to go up yesterday, unfortunately where I am staying has surprisingly awful internet that seems to seize up midway through trying to upload almost anything. Even something as simple as getting pictures off my phone and onto my Google drive has me staring at progress bars with a level of skepticism I haven’t felt since the early 90s. So I’ve resolved to just stop fighting it and I’ll upload episode four when I’m safe back at home on Saturday evening, apologies for that but I swear to god it’ll be up on time next Thursday come hell or Floridian internet.

I am excited to sit down and watch my first video game movie to start off my retrospective on the industries history with the silver screen which requires me to choose what I’m watching first. Fortunately as always the Hollywood rumor mill is there for me and after reading this I’d say the decision has been made so I’ll be starting with Dwayne Johnson’s 2005 masterpiece, DOOM. It sort of makes sense since I was a huge fan of the most recent entry in the DOOM series from 2016 and am anxious to hear about the inevitable sequel which will hopefully be announced in some fashion at E3 this year.

Naturally being out of state meant that I wasn’t able to do even a little bit of painting this week so I’m also really antsy to get back to that, I should have an update or two to post by Tuesday or Wednesday after I get back. On the subject of minis and painting I also came across something called Fallout: Wasteland Warfare which I think is based on a mildly popular video game IP. I’m not sure I could have envisioned of a worse thing that could have released so close to Star Wars: Legion if I had tried. I have no clue about the system the game operates on or anything beyond the fact that the minis themselves look fucking awesome. I’m doing my best but I’d be lying if I didn’t say you could probably be fairly sure those will show up mixed in with my Star Wars minis at some point in the future.

Moving on!

You know whats better than one of my favorite genres and getting stuff for free? When you can get something in the Cyberpunk vein for absolutely free via the fantastic folks over at Humble Bundle. I haven’t played it yet so I can’t give it any level of a recommendation beyond the most important: FREE. Satellite Reign is a Cyberpunk themed RTS that if for nothing else has at least piqued my interest, if it does the same for you then go grab it and while you’re there maybe look around and spend a few bucks… for charity. If you’re human and despise cancer, especially the kind children have, you may also want to check out a game called I, Hope the proceeds from which Kenny Roy the developer is donating to Game Changer Charity. Something I think we can all agree is a worthy cause especially when we also get a fun little game out of it for our ever expanding backlog. Lastly if managing a cemetery or at least the very least simulating that experience has ever been on your list of life goals have I got just the thing for you, Graveyard Keeper. Lazy Bear Games has seen fit to devote their time to filling this until now under-served demographic of gamers and while it isn’t out yet I think it’s definitely something to keep an eye on, it’s due out sometime in 2018.

I also ran across a story about an Ohio College who is offering an e-sports scholarship for Fortnite players. Weird as it seems I think that is kind of cool and assuming it doesn’t tumble into the same shady exploitation schemes of other collegiate leagues, which I’m sure it will, I can see this being yet another avenue for more kids to get into college to make sure that they have a background they can draw on after their time in e-sports. Either way it goes one of the most interesting things in gaming for the last decade or more has been the evolution and general acceptance of e-sports. Seeing ESPN report on it and this most recent partnership between Kotaku and Deadspin to report on the various e-sport leagues still blows my mind.

I think thats all I’ve really got for this Friday wrap up and I can see the general format of these posts changing a bit from week to week as I sort of figure out how exactly I want them to be. I hadn’t intended to do anything like this at the beginning but I’m starting to think it would be helpful as a way to clear out stories and tidbits that don’t really require their own posts but that I still have sitting in my bookmarks.

What say you? Yay or Nay to this being a regular thing?

Till next time, happy gaming!

  • Non-Washable

Games on the Silver Screen

The other day I was scrolling through my RSS feed trying to keep up with the non-stop torrent of news and came upon an article over at Polygon touting an interesting statistic which I had to be honest came as a bit of a surprise. This was mostly due to the fact that a couple of weeks ago I went and saw the new Tomb Raider which while not perfect I thought was an overall solid movie. This opinion comes with the rather important caveat that I have not seen Rampage yet but my own love for the old school game is enough to make me want to go. The movie also isn’t hurt in any way by having Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as its lead, say what you will about his other career the man has impeccable comedic timing and oozes charm like most of us sweat.

On an unrelated note it’s fucking hot in Florida.

I don’t think anyone can, with a straight face, say that they saw the Rampage trailer and thought that anything good would come of it. It’s fine, I didn’t and if I’m honest I still don’t but I will go see it because it looks like a big, dumb summer blockbuster that should just be a fun time. I’m entirely okay with that being the case, people may denigrate these movies as nothing but a waste of the memory they’re filmed on but not everything society produces needs to be high art or commentary. Sometimes a giant ape knocking over buildings and fighting humongous crocodiles as a backdrop to Dwayne Johnson’s biceps is all we need. After reading the Polygon article I immediately hopped on Rotten Tomatoes to have a look at Tomb Raider 2018 and needless to say I was a bit aghast at what I found, 49%?! I will say that at the time of this writing Rampage has officially fallen to the 50% mark which means according to RT it gets a… splat? A rotten tomato, I guess. At the very least it looks like it will in fact not be the first video game movie to break the curse and become critically acclaimed which overall I think is a good thing lest the studios learn the wrong lesson. Video games have much, much more to offer movie going audiences than fleshy alternatives to whatever Transformers disaster is set to explode onto screens this year. As you’ve probably gleaned from what I’ve written so far I actually did like Tomb Raider and feel it certainly warrants better than a 49% but I’ll expand on that later as well as my feelings on Rampage when I get in to see it.

In the interim while we do wait for the one chosen adaptation which will break the critic ceiling I thought it might be interesting to set forth a little series project for myself and go back to do a retrospective on what video game movies we have gotten so far. Obviously I won’t be going over them all in this post but I thought I’d at least put this out there as an official starting point and an outline for how I’m going to go about it. If you have suggestions for ones you’d particularly like to see talked about, let me know!

So whats first? Criteria, what makes it a ‘Video Game Movie’? I mentioned Transformers above and while there have been games using that IP none of the movies are actually based on those games so those are out. Movie Tie-In Games while an interesting subject in their own right, namely because some of the great games over the years have been as a result of this, don’t count for this particular subject. Perhaps something I can cover down the road. Comic book games/movies also not going to be included in this. I will strictly be sticking to movies that were created as a direct result of or to tie into a video game franchise.

Here is the list so far off the top of my head as I write this, the one at the top should be clear that this list is in no particular order –

  • House of the Dead
  • DOOM (Y Dwayne?)
  • Resident Evil Series (I will actually watch all of these, god help me.)
  • Assassins Creed
  • Prince of Persia
  • Ratchet and Clank
  • Warcraft
  • Mortal Kombat Series
  • Street Fighter
  • Far Cry
  • Super Mario Bros (I can’t promise I wont be drunk for this one.)
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
  • In the Name of the King Series
  • Double Dragon
  • BloodRayne
  • Max Payne
  • Dead or Alive
  • Silent Hill
  • Hitman
  • Wing Commander
  • Need for Speed
  • Postal

I’m sure there are probably a couple I’m forgetting but thats quite enough to get me started.

The conundrum of video games being apparently so difficult to adapt to the silver screen is very intriguing to me because from my point of view you couldn’t really be given more of a gimme. One of the core problems I think that directors and screenwriters face is the incorrect assumption that they have to change the story in order to make it distinct from the game and therefore interesting to movie audiences. As anyone who has read any amount of fanfiction can tell you the vast, vast majority of people don’t actually know better than the original creators. The real challenge they should be focusing on is how to condense the story into a much more limited time frame, the same challenge that faces book adaptations. I don’t know of any gamers who go see these movies who really hope for a totally different story than the games they’re supposedly inspired by. We go for the novelty of seeing a live, big-screen adaptation of a story we already love, to see those pivotal scenes envisioned in a different format with actors who can really pull it off.

My constant question has been: Who are these changes for? Why make them? The only answer I’ve ever been able to come up with that makes sense is the changes are purely ego or business driven. The directors and screenwriters feel like if they don’t put their own stamp on the movie then it wont be worth their time. They know full well that no one really appreciates the person who can faithfully replicate a Mona Lisa but the artist who does the cubist version might turn some heads. The problem with this line of thinking is that adapting a book or video game isn’t a 1:1 transfer, it isn’t an exact copy and requires a talent all its own to maintain the integrity of the original product. Peter Jackson has not earned the acclaim he has for The Lord of the Rings because its his original story, it isn’t but he has earned it because of the monumental task that it took to faithfully translate it to the big screen. Not everyone is suited to do adaptations and its up to them to know their place when taking on a project like this. When altering an already completed piece of media for a different format all of the heavy lifting has been done when it comes to the story, characters and, setting. It’s one of the reasons that Jackson’s addition of Tauriel to the Hobbit movies was so heavily criticized, it was a change that wasn’t needed or wanted. It served a trope of modern movies that didn’t belong in the story being told and wasn’t needed to improve it. In my view Jackson fell victim to his own ego there and couldn’t help himself from adding his input when it was unnecessary. To be perfectly honest here when I first saw the movies I didn’t even remember she wasn’t an original character chalking it up to the fact that I haven’t read The Hobbit since I was a teenager. After I went home and did some research to clear up my confusion at some of the scenes I realized she was a wholly original addition to the story. What that tells me in hindsight is that while not every addition will necessarily turn out badly its a pointless risk, you are presenting an unknown element into something that was already successful. Why? At best it might serve as an intriguing bit of seasoning to the story but it most likely is destined to throw off what was already a finely tuned and crafted work.

Anyways! So as not to ramble at you for much longer I’ll cut myself off here and say that I’ll be continuing these thoughts once I set up a schedule to start watching the movies I listed above so I can talk about them and where they went wrong and how they might have avoided it. I’ve been pretty painting, video game and podcast focused in the past couple months so this will give me another reason to branch back out to movies, albeit old ones. My current movie viewing project given to me by my co-host on The Ourcast is Man From U.N.C.L.E. which we’ll discuss on an upcoming episode once we’re both back from our vacations.

Thanks for stopping by, have a great rest of your weekend!

  • Non-Washable