Month: January 2013

Characters can save every story

I think we can all agree that the Mass Effect games were just freaking awesome. Really, everything was neat: the graphics, the sound, the dialogue, combat (at least in part two and three), the ship…alright, not everything was awesome. Some lines were cheesy, some weapons redundant and the whole story was just so cliché and boring.

Wow, wow! Calm down! This is my blog, and on it I can say that the story of ME wasn’t that great. Really, don’t be so shocked and take a closer look at it. If you just look at the plot, it’s nothing special or new. It’s a typical tale of a hero who rises to the challenge of saving the galaxy, facing all kinds of really big threats (like over-enthusiastic fan boys). The narrative doesn’t do anything refreshing or daring, and is filled with material from a first-year college course on cinematography. So why do I praise these games then? Well, it’s because of the characters and how they make the story damn awesome!

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Geek Jitsu – The will for willpower

“Green Lantern Corps Poster” by Heartattackjack

It’s Wednesday once again, and you know what that means! Indeed, it’s time for another installment of Geek Jitsu, where I teach my readers the art of staying healthy while staying geeky. In today’s episode, we’ll discuss the thing that will keep you going during your drastic change of lifestyle. No, that’s not the protein shakes you’ll be popping or the pictures you will be taking of your ever-shrinking belly, but the same thing that gives Hal Jordan his superpowers: willpower (forget about the damn ring, it’s all a matter of wanting to shoot green beams of power)!

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The three coolest boss encounters of my life

Bosses, ladies and gentlemen. They have this dangerous allure about them, and facing them all by yourself is always a challenge. Once you’re eye to eye with one of them, it feels like you are an incompetent little kid, who just happened to stumble his way here with sheer luck. It’s like…wait, what? No, I’m not talking about the boss at your office who keeps throwing dossiers at you and has you running around the place, fetching coffee for him. I’m talking about the real bosses, those from the video games we play when we’re not in the office (of course, a good office clerk would never even think of playing a game during working hours…)

To honour these challenging encounters, I’m counting down my top three boss encounters from video games. So make sure you have enough health potions and that your save file is up-to-date, we’re facing the big ones!

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Innovation in Ingress

Phones are no longer just devices to call one another. Wait, that’s old news? Well excuse me for trying to find at least some way to start this post. Psh, grumpy little readers. Alright, let’s get to the point then: I got an Ingress invite, and I want to tell you about that. You happy now?

Anyway, Ingress. Yep, the ARG developed by Google has reached my smartphone as well, and after a dozen crashes (which are the fault of my phone), I was able to complete the tutorial and join the Enlightened (because it sounds cooler than “the Resistance” and green is awesome). So far, it looks like a nifty little game, which my phone doesn’t allow me to play. Fortunately, I should be the owner of this little beauty by the end of the week, so then I will hit the town and paint it green.

It looks like a somewhat more innovative ARG so far, but I’m curious to see how it plays out. According to the Intel map, my hometown has quite some Portals which are fought over bitterly. I’m eager to join the fight!

In the mean time, I’m curious to hear about your experiences with this little game so far. Anything a freshly Enlightened like me should know? Any wisdom you have to share? Hit me up, as I prepare to bring the Shapers to this world…

Strange Sunday – Animals!

“corgi rogue” by reiley

My love for furry, little critters knows no bounds. I grew up with dogs, owned a guinea pig and even a group of adorable rats. If it’s a mammal and has big eyes, odds are high that I want to hug it and hold it close. Not really manly, I know, but that’s just the way it is. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who things animals are awesome, as their important role in fiction shows. Many authors and game designers go even so far to have four-legged mammals walk on two feet and have them act rather…well, human. Those strange people known as “furries” even go out of their way to make costumes to look like such a anthropomorphized version of a critter. Our love for animals and how we give them a place in our “art” seems strange to many, and that’s why I’m highlighting it in this week’s Strange Sunday, to discuss with you the stranger ways of using “anthros”

Heil Lassie
Alternate history is a popular sub-genre of fantasy, and it’s actually a genre where humanised animals haven’t been spotted all that often. A shame, if you ask me, because replacing humans with furry counterparts is a way of teaching people about history in an interesting way. As a kid, I rarely watched Alfred J. Kwak, a children’s cartoon that I absolutely didn’t care for back then. Years later, when I was in high school, I stumbled upon a few episodes and checked them out. And what do you know: there’s a crow in that show who turns out to be the feathered version of Adolf Hitler. It’s an interesting approach to show children such a villlain, and most adults will recognise him immediately.

Why not take this a step further? How about a Victorian era setting, in which the British Empire is run by two-legged collies, who struggle with the rebellions of the Persian cats? Or a game about a planet of highly advanced monkeys who...oh wait. Anyway, combining alternative paths of history with furry protagonists might turn out rather interesting.

My furry friend
Animals don’t have to be the main characters, of course, and their intelligent versions could just co-exist with humans. This is something that is explored in Exalted, where tribes of intelligent animals live besides or wage war with their two-legged neighbours. It’s also a core theme of the Ghibli highlight Mononoke Hime, where gigantic wolves and boars fight for the survival of their forest, while humans encroach on it.

Imagine a game where animals work together or against humans, and you’ll imagine a game with additional possibilities. Themes of racism and cross-species friendship become interesting plot hooks, and trying to place the intelligent animals in the setting becomes a writing challenge of its own. See if you can find out where a tribe of telepathic and magical mantis-people fit in…

That’s it for this weeks Strange Sunday. Now, if you excuse me, I have to look up that write-up to play a Corgi in a D&D campaign…