Archive for the ‘geekery’ Category

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Battlestar Galactica Wanders the Desert

October 11, 2007

Here’s something I wrote in the comments on someone else’s post. It’s substantial enough to share here, I suppose. It felt good to get some of this off my chest, though.

So. About Battlestar Galactica:

I certainly don’t think it’s “pitch perfect.” While I enjoy the show quite a bit, and there’s a whole lot that’s right with it, the way the show introduces and then drops threads is frustrating as all hell. The lack of consequences for characters bugs the shit out of me.

Earthlink beacon and deadly disease? Oh, nevermind. Cylon homeworld out there somewhere? Whatever, I guess. Cylons want to exterminate us. Or, no, wait, they want to use us to make babies. No, no, they want peace. So they can occupy us. Unless they want to follow us to Earth. Or something. It’s all about the Cylon God. Or it used to be. But that was just Six. Or something.

What the hell is Lee Adama’s story? Not, like, what’s his background or motivation, but what is his story? When this show is over, I bet it’s just going to be a tangled mess of good-looking emo nonsense (very well played by Jamie Bamber, but still). He resents his father, but really he loves him, but really he defines himself by being CAG, except for all the insubordination, and his loyalty to the President, and all the times he’s pulled a gun on important people, or run off and hidden with them, or killed kingpins, or floated in water and wished he was dead, or become a lawyer. Or something. And gets away with it every time.

(By the way, Romo Lampkin is still a ridiculous, awful, LARP-quality character. Mark Sheppard makes that character into more than he deserves to be. I want more explanation of how these characters came to be survivors of the Cylon attack. And the occupation. You remember all that stuff, right? How do you so utterly forget the inciting event of the series? It should be influencing every character you introduce.)

Lots of good stuff in the show, but this is not a well-planned epic. This is a collection of exciting ideas, doled out in bursts, and threaded together with the appearance of a narrative trajectory. Put it another way: Ron Moore’s making it up as he goes along. And that’s fine, but let’s not celebrate the great genius behind the master plan, because there is no master plan. I reserve my judgment on the presence of genius until the end credits roll on the last episode.

Music: Tom Waits, “Walk Away”

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About “Lair”

September 24, 2007

Tonight I’m listening to John Debney’s soundtrack for Lair1, one of the much-hyped titles unique to the PS3. The score is excellent — evocative, textured, exciting without being immature — to the point that I went to check out whatever I could find about the game’s setting at the official website. Go there, click on the Behind the Scenes link and see what may be the best concept art gallery I’ve ever seen on a video-game’s website. It’s not just pretty, but informative. It really makes me want to know more about the designers were intending for the game to be (since their testimony is the closest I’ll probably ever get, since I vow to never buy a PS3). Dragon-riding sky-knights duking it out in a war-torn, post-apocalyptic fantasy world with a full orchestral score? Sound’s terrific. Too badaboutthe game, …though.

Music: John Debney, “Elegy”

1. I wouldn’t have known it was even released if I hadn’t searched for it, since iTunes does such a lousy job of listing, cataloging, and announcing their soundtracks.

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To Play It Like An Instrument

September 20, 2007

So, I bought one of these. (Why? Because I am irresponsible with money.) Am using it now. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

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The Golden Apple

September 2, 2007

The old external hard drive is replaced. The names of its three partitions have been re-absorbed into the list of possible names for future devices, and the new hard drive is here. As of this writing, I have erased the hard drive on Arethusa (the MacBookPro) and am reinstalling software updates from the last year or so, to bring the thing up to date. (I am writing this on the eMac.) This, like the massive back-ups I did all through the night, will take a couple of hours. When it’s done, I will re-install Boot Camp, re-partition the hard drive, and install a few of the PC games I’ve been playing of late: EVE Online and LOTRO.

You know what this means. A new peripheral means a new pretentious, overwrought name must be chosen. And, Lo!, it is done.

The new external hard drive is a Seagate FreeAgent Pro. It glows this weird amber color. Thus, its single, enormous partition (about 450 GB) has been named the Golden Apple.

The Golden Apples of the Hesperides, not to be confused with about a million other golden apples (and peaches of immortality) from various world mythologies, were hidden on an island in the far west, beyond the Straight of Gibraltar, and protected by a hundred-headed dragon. Hera wanted to be certain that their life-giving power didn’t fall into wrong hands. (Hera tended to have a funny notion of “wrong hands,” though.) The Golden Apples were the target of Hercules’ eleventh labor.

Whereas the last HD was intended to house data from our PC and our Macs, this one is dedicated to our Macs alone. Plus, since the job of this new HD is to approximate a degree of immortality for the data of the other hesperid computers — Arethusa (second definition) and Hesperia (first definition) — the name seems fitting. Beyond all that, it reminds me of an old haunt in my beloved Chicago.

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Gamer Weirdness: Example #91

August 30, 2007

When you’re able to back up and see gaming discussions from afar, you have a chance to appreciate their magnificent weirdness. Here is a statement from RPGnet’s forums that would probably be alarming in your regular life:

“I will always downplay cannibalism…”

This reminds me: When our good friend Oscar came to work for the company, he sat down to play in a long-running D&D campaign with some of our coworkers. He didn’t know much about the game. During the first session, one of the players, in a panicked moment when the threat against their characters became clear, said this:

“Oh no! That means we’re probably being watched by beholder-kin on the near-ethereal plane!”

Yeah, what the fuck does that mean, right? This kind of immersion in the utterly crazy is part of what’s great about RPGs, isn’t it? At the moment that statement was made, all but one person at the table were intellectually involved in the fictional story and fantasy world that they were able to take in that idea with a sense of actual menace and excitement. “If we are being watched by beholder-kin in the near-ethereal plane, we’d better come up with a plan before they blast us with their magic eye-rays!”

But for Oscar, this was alien speech coming out of the ordinary mouths of his co-workers, not their characters. Take one step back, and it all gets weird.

To me, those people who can’t take steps forward and back — who can’t appreciate the oddity of the game as ludicrous, or who fancy themselves too cool to enjoy their own imaginations — are the ones missing out.

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Part Brick, Part Big Hole

August 15, 2007

So, it turns out that my external, back-up hard drive, rather than being an external, back-up hard drive, is actually just a hole in which I have been tossing important information and lots of money in iTunes TV shows for the last year or so. A hole in a tomb in a plastic brick with a white flashing light on it.

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Thinking Ahead to Mage: The Awakening

July 29, 2007

How much game-related talk is right for this venue? On the one hand, I want very much to write in greater depth about the games I’m working on and playing. On the other hand, I don’t precisely want to alienate people who tune out when we get to talking about dice pools, player agency, and ludology versus dramaturgy. Where’s the balance?

Right now, in the minutes between other projects, I’m writing down little notes that will soon become the Mage: The Awakening chronicle I’ll run at the office. A lot goes into preparing one of these chronicles, for me, from the general narrative terrain the game will cover (themes, atmosphere, the sorts of action that’ll happen “on stage” and the sort that won’t) to all of the choices that will inform or drive gameplay (like the sorts of character types that’ll be welcome and what sort of important decision points will be open to the players). I’ll generate pages and pages of ugly, geeky notes on this stuff, and often it ends up amounting to maybe just a handful of play sessions before real-world scheduling problems drive a chronicle into the ground.

Tonight, for example, I keep coming back to this question: “How much should my Mage chronicle resemble Ghostbusters?”