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In defense of Brave and the Bold

So, I am a comic geek.  I have been since I was a little kid.  I honestly can’t remember what my first comic was.  It was either a thing with Batman and Green arrow, a Captain America comic or a Rom the Spaceknight.  Since then, I have collected comics off an on for decades.   I can tell you about most characters in the long and storied history of both DC and Marvel.   I have my favorite stories, characters and writers in the form just like any fan.
As a fan, I can’t help myself.  I will watch anything comic book related.  Even if I know it will be bad, I will at least check it out.  I may wait for video, but I will check it out.
Here, I also have my favorites.  The so called “Timverse” which starts with Batman: The Animated Series, and went through Superman, and Justice League, is about as perfect a set of cartoons based on superheroes as you will ever find.  Bruce Timm was the primary creative force behind those cartoons, hense the name and they were really brilliant.  To this day, I prefer that continuity to any other version of the DC universe, including the comics themselves.  They ended that run a few years ago and it will be missed.
This brings me to Brave and the Bold.  I have many friends and acquaintances who share my love for comics.  When Brave and the Bold was announced to run on Cartoon Network, I and many of folks I spoke was dubious of it’s quality.   Where the Timmverse shows were handled seriously and with weight, Brave and the Bold went a more campy and silly route.
Despite this I watched and was surprised to find I liked it.  The show is silly, but it also is clearly made with love and affection.   Batman is less the grim and broken avenger and mroe the ultimate hero.  His guest stars are a long cavalcade of the second tier heroes found in the DC universe.   From Green Arrow and Aquaman, to the obscure Kamandi or Enemy Ace, they present these characters with a tremendous amount of thought and affection.  They have fun with some of the sillier characters, but without making fun of the world or the people who are fans of it.
The problem comes in, that a number of people completely disapprove of this show.  I am guessing the complaint is that, the show is too silly with characters that could be handled with deep pathos.   The Timmverse version of Batman was a grim and brooding hero.  Even Superman, who was obviously more hopeful character went to darker places.  There was weight to their narrative and a sense of the dramatic.
Not everything in comics was always serious.  Batman for more years than not, was a kind of a funny character.  You can look on those days as the “bad old days,” but honestly a lot of people grew up loving those stories for a reason.  Not everything in comics has to be continuity and have deep meaning.  There only so many stories you can tell with these characters, after all.  There is a place for one off stories and humor.  Being silly is not insulting all that came before.  They can still respect the characters as they are and show them as they once were.
So I guess my point is, give the show a break.   It is simple fun and made with some obvious love if they are going to bring up characters like the 10 Eyed Man or the Sportmaster. Stop trying to force it into a mold of a show that no longer is and enjoy the show for what it actually is, a loving homage to the comics of yesteryear.
My two cents.

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

Old Ideas and new.

So I had a notion just after 4th edition came out, to come up with my own game world.   My rather ambitious notion, was a fantasy world set in a Dyson’s sphere.  I called it Hallow.  It was not a terrible notion all told, and I had some idea in it that I think are kind of cool.  The idea eventually petered out.  I think the problem I ran into was one of scale.

How do you describe a world that is literally hundreds of millions of kilometers across.  A Dyson sphere is a a theoretical construct that would encompass a star to catch all of it’s energy.   There are all kinds of problems with having one that actually existed.  No material known could survive the stresses of it’s construction, it would have problems providing gravity to the folks inside, and the problem of orbital drift could have it running into the sun eventually.  I just liked the visual, but how do you define a world with 550 million times the surface area of the Earth.   It is too much.
I was listening to The Tome Show today.   They had Kieth Baker on, talking about the process of world creation, and it started me thinking on how to maybe salvage the idea.  The other parts of the idea I think kind of worked.   The world is obviously artificial and essentially a vast city.   All of the people(more or less) found the world by portal and or accident and settled there.   They found a vast empty city world and made it their own.  I think that part is still workable. I like some of the back stories I had for some of the groups on the world.
I had a Human nation that were essentially a wayward band of Spartans and a few other Greeks, that stumbled upon the world.  There was a nation of barbarian raiders lead by a tribe of Dwarves that would put Conan to shame.  A floating citadel, became a small nation of Halflings, that had the secret behind making flying ships.   They created a trade empire that stretched across the known portions of the world as a result.  The Drow were deep runners still but nomadic ones with a claim to being the original race on the world, or at least one that had been there the longest.   They were gypsy themed in my approach to them.
Like I said, I had a lot of interesting little notions going into the world, but I think I was stymied by the scale problem.  So I am reopening my old wiki and doing some reworking.   I think there are some cool notions there still I can turn into something worth playing in.  I will likely get rid of the Dyson’s Sphere aspect but keep the world city and some of the other notions.
That is what is occupying some of my head space today.  I may add little bits I come up with here.   I am planning on writing more often on the blog, at any rate. This may be the subject for some of those posts.

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

Writing for a larp

Writing for a larp

So, I have done some writing for two larps now.   This does not make me the worlds leading expert, but it has given me some fodder for thought. The process of writing for a boffer larp is interesting and worthy of a few notes beyond the usual sort of world creation skills.

Let me first say, that I am concentrating on boffer larps in this post and future ones.  This is not to say anything bad about the parlor larps.  I have had fun in the Camarilla and other parlor style larps. I have written some weekend vampire games in my time.  What I will say is, they are different.   Writing a world that happens essentially in the real world only with a supernatural overlay, is not quite the same as making a whole new world and rules set. They each have their own challenges.

On to the subject at hand though.  The standard boffer larp is a fantasy larp.  There are certainly some that have claims to other genres, but if analyzed beyond the few trappings, they are all still fantastical.  If your in a scifi larp and the psionics in it strongly resemble spell casting from fantasy, then it is not really science fiction.  Star Wars is not science fiction. It is more accurately called Science Fantasy, I guess.

Why is the distinction important?  On some levels it is not, but what it does effect is expectation.  I can write a detailed larp about investigating a new scientific principal expanded out into a concept piece.  It might make good fiction.   It is unlikely to make a good larp, though.  Players of boffer larps, are expecting looking for fantastical and adventurous elements.  The expectation is a place where they can be heroes(or anti heroes) and not spend days and months trying to figure out a scientific puzzle.  They will want a blaster, a sword, and some sort of power that will allow them to be awesome.  This places it more in the fantasy genre.

So more generally though, where do you start?  I suppose that depends on your approach. I know several folks who started with “I don’t like this aspect of existing larp blah.”  That is a place to start.  When you first get in to such games, your just happy to find the game.  After a while though, you will find there are aspects you feel you could do better.   The story elements might not be to your taste or the rules may be bothersome.  What ever the reason, you don’t like game A and you seek to improve it in game B.  This will lead to a game with a lot of similarities to the original game.  It leads to iterative game development. If you want to see a good example of this, compare the national level larp Nero, to it’s various spin offs.

Another place to start is a mechanic.   This may be related to not liking an aspect of a previous game but does not have too be.   This is really the place a lot of the rules oriented people tend to start.   Say you have a cool idea for how to do magic differently, or martial skills.  You define that idea and then begin building a world to match those notions.  If you magic system is purely based on writing spells out on a sheet of paper and destroying those papers to cast the spell, then you need to think of what kind of world would come of that.  What sort of mages would come up?  How powerful are they?  How do they compare to guys with a sword?  It seems like the guy with a sword would be more dangerous in personal combat because his effects happen in less time, but you would need to process out the magic system to be sure.

A place I prefer is start with the world and make the rules to suit your vision.  If you picture a low magic world where mages are few and far between, then you will design the magic to more difficult than just saying a few words and casting.  If you want the world to be ruled by wizards then you might make magic easier to do for those who have it, but make it hard to get.  What ever the story and the theme for a world, they will need to influence the rules.

Generally though, it is a combination of those various starting points going on that leads to a larp being started.  One guy says “Hey, I have an idea for a larp.” and gets a few friends to help him write it.  They all have different starting points and reasons.

Another thing to keep in mind is….YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET PAID FOR THIS.

Seriously, writing for a larp is a labor of love.  You just have to love larping and running them to do it.  It will be lots of work for no pay, save people telling you they liked your stuff. If you are concerned about getting paid for your work, write for someone else.  Write fiction or for the tabletop gaming market if you must.  Neither of those pay super, but it will be more than you get from writing for a larp.

Also, this is a job for a committee.  Generally speaking most boffer larps cannot be run by just one man.  You have to write a fully formed world, character creation rules,combat rules, flavor text for a website and run plot lines in said world.  It might work for one guy to do it for maybe a dozen people, but much beyond that and you are asking for it to fail.  it is too much work.

As it is a committee, try and work with people you know and like.  Plot committees historically are the source of much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  You get together more than 3 creative personalities all working on the same project but from different direction. They all have their vision of how things should go, their own level of organization skills, and their own style of running things.  It is trying on a friendship and considering the above mentioned not getting paid, your stress level for no pay can put a strain on anyone’s patience. Blow ups will happen.

Try and work with people who you know will come to their senses after a blow up.  Work with people who can let go of an idea in favor of letting a prevailing idea win out.  Try and be able to do that yourself.  Try to avoid folks with control issues or ego problems.   No one is perfect and always right, not even you.

Anyways that is my first post on this subject.  I will post more later.

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

The Last Airbender

I am trying to sum up my opinion of the Last Airbender.   I don’t want to come off as negative.  I went to see the movie because I loved the show very much and the movie deserved a chance despite getting some terrible reviews.

How do you get The Last Airbender to be a bad movie?  Take the events of the first season of the show overall and remove all the heart, humor or wit.   When you have done that, then shorten it down to 2 hours so no one has any chance be on screen long enough for you to identify with them.   That is the recipe for the live action Last Airbender.  There are some high points.  The actor who plays Iroh does an excellent job as does Aasif Mandvi.  The fights are interesting to watch and the effects are really stunning.   I also sort of liked what little I saw of the guy playing Prince Zuko.  Again you don’t get enough time to see why he is interesting or cool.  You get told only in brief  exposition what happened to him and why he is the way he is.

I am firmly in the do not recommend category, on this movie.  I really wanted this to be better than expectation but it really it isn’t.  I didn’t hate it.   I didn’t walk out or anything.  It was not a Uwe Boll film or anything. I just didn’t care about anything in it. Nothing had any weight.   It was merely adequate at best.   The source material deserves better than merely adequate.

What I will recommend, is go watched the series again.  It is leaps and bounds better and you will not regret the time you spend watching it.

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

The Phantom

Do you like pulp action comics? I know I do. Two fisted heroes who use their wits, tough jaws and maybe a pair of .45s, to beat over the top bad guys is a recipe for a fun time. There are many superheroes that get to claim pulp roots. The Shadow, while he did not start in comics, is a pulp superhero. Batman is definitely a comic superhero with strong ties to the pulp tradition.

One of the longest running pulp action superheroes is the Phantom. He first appeared in 1936 in a King Features comic strip. Since then, he has become one of the better known comic strip characters.

The character in the comics was a purple clad guy running around in a skin tight body suit and simple mask. This even looked a little silly in the comics but still the look hasn’t really changed. He ran around with a matched set of .45 automatics which he used to fight crime and the evil band of pirates called the Singh Brotherhood. Got to love a name like that.

The Phantom apparently was the descendent of a long line of heroes named Phantom. The idea was it would be passed down from father to son for centuries so all his enemies believed it was the same guy. They even gave him the cool sounding tribal name of “Ghost Who Walks”. I am not real clear on what they were supposed to do if all a generation had was girls(hard to sell that as the same guy), but I digress.

In the 90′s someone thought it would be a good idea to make a movie of the Phantom. Why not? Someone was doing the Shadow after all. I will say I am probably one of the few people who really liked the movie of the Shadow. The Phantom movie stared Billy Zane as the Phantom.

I like Billy Zane. He is kind of quirky cool. Catherine Zeta Jones was in it as was Patrick McGoohan. There were good people in this movie. It had pulp action and pirates and mystic skulls. The film could have been good.

Could have, but it sadly was not. There are some nice bits in there, but on the whole it was terrible. The costume just looked dumb and there is no way around that. Sometimes costumes from comics don’t translate well, and sometimes they are just terrible.

The script was awful. The acting was just silly and bad. I have a love for this film as I do for some bad films who at least tried something cool.

So the story ends there. The Phantom stays a relic of the age when people got their comics from the funny papers and not online like we do now(Don’t email me. It is joke. I get that people read the comics in newspapers still).

Except the story is not over.

Syfy decided to take a shot at it. Syfy(which is still the dumbest name ever) network decided they would do a modern translation of the phantom. When I heard this I kind of cringed. It is SyFy. I mean yeah, they made Eureka, BSG, and Wharehouse 13. They also make Scare Tactics, Ghost Hunters, and a line of the worst movies possibly ever. These guys have successes buried in mountains of failures. Also the Phantom, general wisdom would say, is a hokey character to begin with.

So I watched it.

I watch most anything comic related. I am a sucker that way. If it appeared in in sequential art before it made it to the screen I will eventually see it.

The thing is, my expectations on this were way low. I am pleased to say then that it actually was far better than I expected. I will not get too far into the plot of the show. The plot was a little too convoluted for it’s own good.

The acting was all over the place. Some of the scenes were really badly written. It should not be any good at all, but it actually kind of was. There is a real heart to this redo. IT is self aware without being meta. The hero, Kit Walker, last of the line of Phantoms at first doesn’t know anything about it and when he does find out does not believe. He sees the costume and says there is no way he is wearing it. He eventually gets the still a little goofy looking but much more practical body armor.

The over the top villains are here, only with a more corporate feel. The good guy is the right mix of determined and unsure. The update from the more traditional older setting seems to work, mainly do to the fact that they don’t ignore the older version of the character. It is less like a reimagining and more an update. There are fun stunt bits, with our hero of course being skilled in Parkour.

All in all the 4 hour premier was a really solid origin story for a tv superhero show. Is it gr4eat television? No. There are a number of non starters in the show, but I enjoyed it. I forgot to critique it about half an hour in and just enjoy it. If the TV series is half as fun, I will be tuning in.

I am done rambling now.

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

I am really liking the story for my character this season.   Give it a listen.

Once Upon a Time in Vegas, chapter 31!

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Daniel Chon and Kristen Bays for Pendant Productions.

Once Upon a Time in Vegas, chapter 31 – “Hidden Messages”

Todd runs into Princess, the past haunts Robert and Abby and Jeff gets a spirited ultimatum!
“Once Upon a Time in Vegas” is a full-cast, fantasy maxi-series serial drama. Available for free download in .mp3 format, or as a Podcast!

Also available — a commentary track with the director and co-writers!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=262309363

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/vegas-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/vegas.php


Featuring the voice talents of:

David Ault as Jeff
Rene Christine Jones as Tessa
Ryan Pickens as Brock
Jeremiah McCoy as Robert
Marleigh Norton as Abby and Ati
Tom Stitzer as Lewis and Todd
Jessie Moore as Princess
Caleb Marshall as Soldier James
M Sieiro Garcia as voice 1
and Pete Milan as voice 2

Written by Alicia Laine Matheson and Rene Christine Jones
Based on an original work by Rene Christine Jones and Alicia Laine Matheson
Directed by Rene Christine Jones
Edited by Chris Brittain
Original music composed by Kevin McLeod
Cover art by Daniel Chon and Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges

http://www.pendantaudio.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pendant
http://www.comicspace.com/d_man
Thanks for listening!

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

What is happening?

Hi….

Long time no post.

Is this thing on?

So…. I have been laying low on posting here. A few reasons, but not the least of which is was laid off back at the end of April. I worked at a video game development company, on the game Fallen Earth among other things. There was a large number of us let go on that day and the less said about the details the better. I am glad of my time there and proud of my work.

So what now?

Now, I had to give up my apartment in Cary NC and move back to Tennessee. No one thing is to blame. I was sans job, so the income had reduced drastically and I had recent surgery that I am still paying for.

I am doing my voice acting still. I am in two productions as regular cast and recurring in another. I have a little more time these days so maybe I will try out for more roles.

I am blogging. I was asked to contribute over at http://temporaryhitpoints.com/ and my first post is this weeks article. It is a player advise focused blog for 4th edition and it is shaping up nicely as a good weekly blog.

I am doing some writing of my own on some short stories I have been pouding out. Next week, I break out the novel writing and rewriting and more rewriting and contemplating sepuku and more rewriting. That will take a while.

I am trying to pick up some new skills. I am learning C++ or at least I am trying too. I have joined a gym. It is time to get back on that horse. I am moving like an old man and I am not that old.

Also I am looking for work. I have been working in the gaming industry for a while now. I like it. It is easily one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. I am focused on getting back in so I hunt. Resumes are being sent. Recruiters are being contacted.

All in all, life is…. a work in progress.

More to come.

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

So I am moving on Saturday the 29th. This is me moving back to Tennessee. I will need help on both ends. If your in in the triangle on that Saturday in the morning(10 ish) I could use some help loading the car or possibly a uhaul. I will need help on the Oak Ridge side of things later that evening to unload. I can provide thirst quenching drinks on either side. Some more details to come but for now that is the plan. I have taken steps to make sure the move is not too terrible as I have taken a few car loads to Tennessee as is. Hopefully with a few folks helping on both ends it will go quickly.

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Julie Lindsey for Pendant Productions.

Once Upon a Time in Vegas, chapter 30 – “Contact”

Teri reunites with Tessa and Chloe while Abby reflects and the frat boys ghost hunt!
“Once Upon a Time in Vegas” is a full-cast, fantasy maxi-series serial drama. Available for free download in .mp3 format, or as a Podcast!

Also available — a commentary track with the director and co-writers!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=262309363

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/vegas-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/vegas.php


Featuring the voice talents of:

Rene Christine Jones as Tessa
Susan Bridges as Terri
Jeffrey Bridges as Danny
David Ault as Jeff
Marleigh Norton as Abby and Ati
Tom Stitzer as Lewis
Bill Young as John
Jeremiah McCoy as Robert
Alicia Laine Matheson as Chloe
Perry Whittle as Soldier Ben
and Caleb Marshall as Soldier James

Written by Alicia Laine Matheson and Rene Christine Jones
Based on an original work by Rene Christine Jones and Alicia Laine Matheson
Directed by Rene Christine Jones
Edited by Chris Brittain
Original music composed by Kevin McLeod
Cover art by Julie Lindsey
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges

http://www.pendantaudio.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pendant
http://www.easily-distracted.net
Thanks for listening!

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

Till we meet again kemosabe.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Lee was our nail. He put me and many of us on this road. We won our war, made our mark, and what a lovely kingdom we have. I am going to miss you buddy. Good luck with the California and the new job. We will carry on down the road and will meet up another time. There will be legends made, battles won and such tales will shared when the band gets together again.

See you when I see you.

Originally published at McCoy's Geeky Emporium of Thought. You can comment here or there.

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