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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reality Show Give Gaming Ideas

Yeah, you read that right.  The History Channel, oops, sorry, I mean History (I will never get why shortening the name makes it better) recently started running the show Full Metal Jousting, which I think is just awesome.  In fact, one of the off-hand comments from a competitor was that they would like to turn this into a sport, much like Bull Riding (of which I am also a fan).  If they do, I am so there.  But that’s no why you wanted to read this post.  No, this is about how I will be incorporating the scoring system they use into my Pendragon game for tournaments.  The score is as follow:

Strike to the Grand Guard (the shield bolted to the armor) = 1 point
Broken Lance = 5 points
Knocking your opponent off his horse = 10 points
Hitting the helmet of your opponent = -5 points

This is scored per pass, with the maximum points possible being 10 (they don’t add), and each joust has a set number of passes.  The first episode ended with a joust of 8 passes, but I think that’s a little too much.  So, I will be going with the following rules for Pendragon Tournaments.  Please feel free to use these in your own games.

All jousts will consist of 4 passes and will be scored as follows:
Strike to opponents shield (meaning that both sides succeed in their Lance rolls) = 1 point
Broken Lance (standard Pendragon Rules apply) = 5 points
Knocking your opponent off his horse (Knockdown) = 10 points
Hitting the helmet of your opponent (Fumble) = -5 points

The highest total points after the four passes will be the winner.  Should there be no winner after four passes (a tie), additional passes shall occur until a winner is decided.  Should a competitor need to retire, for whatever reason, they forfeit the match.

Obviously, this is intended for tournaments only, where you have score keepers & spectators, but it can be used in any non-combat situations, such as at crossroads or bridges.  I think that this makes for a much fairer adjudication, rather than the “one and done” way jousting is presented in the rules.  I’ll post an update on just how this works out when we get into that situation.  If anyone decides to use these rules, please let me know how it works for you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Avengers Assemble!

I know that most of the comics I talk about here are DC based, Aquaman, Batman, etc, but when I was growing up I was all about Marvel.  (Heck, just check out the basis for this blog’s name.)  As such, I have to say that I have loved all the Marvel movies I’ve seen since they started Marvel Studios, which would be Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk and, of course, Thor*.  Unfortunately I haven’t seen Captain America yet, but I am told that it is also quite good.  Needless to say, this makes me quite excited for The Avengers, due out on May 4th of this year.  I’m not sure about the storyline, since all the trailers have shown so far is shots of all the heroes together and interacting, which really is enough.  I do know that Loki is somehow involved, and that makes sense due to the fact that it was his meddling that led to the formation of the team WAY back in Avengers #1.

One disappointing thing about the movie is a new Bruce Banner.  I thought that Edward Norton was superb in the role, but I understand how the studio needs to feel they can work with an actor, especially in an ensemble piece.  It looks like the design of the Hulk is the same, though, so it’s not like it’s a complete reimaging.  Still, it would have been nice to have 100% continuity between the films.  They’ve worked hard to make all of these movies fit together, which has been lacking in all other superhero movies, both Marvel and DC, up to this point, but what are you gonna do?

I do like how they are working in the costume changes for some of the characters.  Cap is going from his 1940’s pseudo-military uniform to the more super version in this movie.  Thor is also going back to the sleeveless look that he had before the modern chainman costume.  Both of these make sense internally to the film (Cap for being moved ahead 75 years in the time-stream and Thor because he’s only fighting “mortal” foes, so why does he need the armor?) and it’s a nice nod to the fans for acknowledging how the characters have changed over the years.

* Funny story about seeing Thor.  This was my daughter’s first movie theater movie, and she was only 2 and a half at the time.  She managed to sleep through most of it, but she was awake at the beginning (she definitely saw the Winnie the Pooh trailer) and sort of knew what was going on.  Anyway, when Odin comes to Jottenheim, to save his sons and the Warriors Three, he lands and Slepnir rears up, neighing.  At this moment my darling little girl stands up on the seat and starts clapping and cheering for the All Father.  It’s one of my proudest moments as a father.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

3D Movies

Is this phase of 3D movies almost over?  In case no one has noticed, this fad comes around once every 30 years.  It first started back in the 1950’s (which is why one of the gang in Back to the Future is prominently wearing 3D glasses) and then died off.  It had a resurgence in the 1980’s (Anyone remember the garbage that was Jaws 3D?  I do, but only as Jaws 3 since I saw it on TV) before dying off again.  And it has recently come back, so much so that now George “I haven’t squeezed enough money out of you people” Lucas is releasing The Phantom Menace in 3D.

What is the fascination with this medium?  I can understand wanting to feeling like you are in the film, but 3D just isn’t the way to do it.  I have yet to see a movie that has been made better by being in 3D, and I have seen a lot that have been made worse because they were made for 3D.  You must understand, though, that I from the school where the pinnacle of the movie experience is being drawn in by the writing and visuals, not by some schmuck hitting a paddle ball out of the screen at me.*  Would Star Wars (the one where Han shot first) be more visually moving if it was a 3D movie, I don’t think so.  It would be neat, sure, but I don’t see movies for the “neat factor”.

I guess I’m just a tough nut to crack.  I would rather watch 12 Angry Men or The Lion in Winter than Avatar (nope, still haven’t seen it) and that’s for the writing.  Yes, I know that those two movies were originally stage plays, but that’s what makes them so good.  12 Angry Men, the movie, basically does nothing to add to the visuals, and that is as it should be.  It’s about a jury locked in a room deliberating the fate of the young man accused of murdering his father.  It shouldn’t have sweeping vistas or tons of sets.  The Lion in Winter, on the other hand, makes the most of the castle setting.  You get the arrival and departure scenes of the characters with beautiful backdrops, but the majority of the film takes place within the castle walls.  These scenes have an amazing depth with the minutia of castle life in the winter being on display, but not the focus of the scene.

Could either of these movies been made better by 3D?  Not a chance.  Let’s get the quality of writing back up in Hollywood (and stop the remakes, but that’s probably another post) and then worry about having someone reaching out of the screen to “dazzle” me.

As a side note, I should say that this probably could apply to 3D TV, but I have never seen a show on one of those TV’s so I really can’t comment on them.  In that case, though, they are making the TV’s sharper for 2D, so it’s at least constructive.

* Yeah, this actually happened in the Vincent Price House of Wax.  It was actually the reason I know it was originally in 3D, since it’s so obvious that they did it only for the “oooo, the ball’s coming at me” effect.  This added absolutely nothing to the film and the scene dragged because of it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Picture of a Casual Gamer

Being what I consider a casual gamer, which is something I reference during my posts here, I thought it would be a good idea to let you know how it applies to me.  First of all, I have time constraints.  Being a husband and a father, with ~2 hours of commuting each work day, I don’t have any time during the week to spend on playing games.  That means that I only have the opportunity to play games on Friday Night, Saturday and Sunday.  Secondly, even when I have the opportunity to play, I normally play only for a limited amount of time in one sitting.  There are exceptions, as you would expect.  Our month Pendragon campaign is an all day affair, but that is more because I have players driving in from afar and I want to make sure we have as much bang for the buck as we can get.

With all of this in mind, you can see why I don’t get involved in big, planned Raids or the like in video games.  Even in MMO’s, I tend to only play in PUG’s or with people I know outside of the game.  That makes it kind of hard to join a large Guild that would even be doing these kinds of things.  If there’s content that I can do regardless of when I’m on or how often, I like it, which is why I tend to solo the games that I play, even if multiplayer is available.  That is one of the aspects that I like about SW:TOR.  They actually designed the game so that you can have a full experience playing it solo rather than in a 25 character raid.  (That’s still not enough to make me pay for it, though.)

I don’t play many Pen and Paper RPG’s.  There is no such thing as a weekly gaming group in my life any more.  The closest I get is our monthly Pendragon game, or the odd occasion I’m able to get to the Adventure’s Dark & Deep playtest.  That’s why I try and make the most of any of the experiences that I have, even if it’s just having a good time with the players.  Yeah, it’s a little disappointing, but Real Life always trumps enjoyment.  Now, if some big company out there wants to pay me to playtest their games so that I can devote my time to that during the work week, I would be happy to talk to you.  (I have about as much chance of that happening as hitting the lottery.)

I have to say, though, that I am able to game, so it’s not completely gone from my life.  I am also lucky enough to be married to a woman who not only understands my enjoyment, but shares it.  One of my players in my Pendragon game is my wife, and she has been playing RPG’s longer than I’ve known her.  The fact that my 3 year old recently sat at our table during the game and demanded dice to play with leads me to believe that our family has a long gaming history ahead of us, and I’m perfectly fine if it’s only casually.

Now if you excuse me, I need to go buy my Powerball ticket.