Sunday, July 13, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] Doctor Who, Storium and other stuff...

I spent one of my accumulated monthly Audible credits on a 2-for-1 deal and got myself the audiobooks of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. I don't have room for either of them on my MP3 player right now, but I'm looking forward to listening to them when I'm able to free up some storage space for them.

(Also, while I haven't actually ordered one yet, I'm looking at getting an 'ARU' from All Rolled Up sometime in the near future. So far I'm thinking of either the Miskatonic University Gaming Society or Orbital Trajectory designs. More likely to go with the Orbital Trajectory one, since the M.U. Gaming Society one is a bit on the plain side.)

Achievements Unlocked
Having finished off I Don't Want To Kill You by Dan Wells last week, I decided to read On Basilisk Station by David Weber, which is the first book in the Honor Harrington series. The first two books were free to download on Kindle, so I figured I'd give them a look. I'm about halfway through it now, and while the plot is moving along at a rather slow pace, I find myself still enjoying it somehow. I'll look more into just what it is that's grabbed me about the book when I eventually do a review of it, which should be sometime in the next week or two.

I've also started listening to my Audible download of The Fires Of Heaven by Robert Jordan, book five in The Wheel of Time series. I've only listened to the prologue so far, which went on for about an hour, during which I had to try and remind myself who everyone was, which was made more tricky by this being the first installment of the series that I had listened to in audiobook format and the narrators' pronounciation of names and other things being different from my own. I'll continue listening sometime this week.

I went to Tuesday GUGS having decided not to continue the Night's Black Agents oneshot from last week, due to feeling a bit stressed and having messed up the note-keeping from the previous session. One thing about the Gumshoe system is that the GM needs to keep a close eye on the pool points players spend, and I didn't do that, trusting to the players to mark things off on their own sheets. Which they didn't, possibly because they didn't really understand how the system worked. Instead of NBA, I tried to facilitate a game of Hell 4 Leather, but that didn't work out so well either.

The group kept changing their minds about the setting during the setup phase, and eventually settled on basing it on the animated series Archer, which I'm not familiar enough with. I had to pass off the role of Fool (Archer) to Luke, and then when we got to the Death part of the narrative, Heather misunderstood her role and narrated a death scene for Archer which in no way implied betrayal by his fellows...which is kind of the whole point of the game, after all.

Eventually we gave up and decided to play Munchkin - which Heather had recently got a copy of - and I did my best to curb my usual habit of 'playing dirty' when it comes to competitive games. I think I managed okay, though I was tempted to drop a high level 'Wandering Monster' on people a few times in revenge. So I'd say I'm getting better at playing nice in board games. By the end of the game we were all on ninth level, and it was a straight race to tenth, which Heather won. At the end of the day, fun was had by all, and that's the main thing.

I'll try again with Hell 4 Leather some other time; hopefully next time we'll go for a more generic setting which doesn't require a great deal of knowledge about source material, and I'll try to do a better job of explaining the game as well, to avoid the confusion that we had this time.

Continuing my replay of Matt Smith's run in Doctor Who, I rewatched The Vampires Of Venice and Amy's Choice. While both were pretty decent stories, both still had some problems that irked me. The titular vampires in The Vampires of Venice are supposed to have trouble with sunlight, yet in one scene they attack the Doctor and his companions in broad daylight. Also, a malfunctioning perception filter shouldn't have meant Rossana was trapped in human form, surely? The perception filter only masks the alien's true form, so if it ceased functioning all that should have meant was that her true form was revealed.

Meanwhile, in Amy's Choice, the titular choice Amy finally makes is problematic in how it comes about. Not only is she willing to risk her own life, but the life of her unborn child, on the assumption that that world is the dream one, because her beloved Rory no longer existed there. Moreover, when Amy reveals the choice she made, Rory - who should be at least slightly miffed with his fiancee for taking such a chance - is overjoyed by it because it means she ultimately chose him, ignoring the deeper implications of that choice. As such, the 'happy' ending left me feeling a bit uneasy.

Still, I am enjoying watching season five again, despite some fairly suspect plot holes even in two of its stronger episodes.

Also, after hearing about the Kickstarter (from the Functional Nerds podcast, I think), I decided to check out the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist, and I'm liking it quite a bit so far. I'm up to chapter 5 already, so I'm nearly caught up to the latest panel. I've never been really good at staying up to date with webcomics (I still need to get back to reading Girl Genius) but I'll try and stick with this one, as I like the more thoughtful approach it's taking with the superhero genre.

After a slow start to my membership on Storium, things are starting to pick up in the three games I've joined so far. The Pacific Rim one (In The Drift) just kicked off with the Jaegar trainees practicing fencing in the combat room, while elsewhere the techs are dealing with a faulty console, and the medic and psych analyst are giving the Marshal an evaluation of this new batch of recruits. My character for In The Drift is William Ho, an ex-race car driver who lost his father and two sisters in a Kaiji attack on Hong Kong, and joined the Jaegar program to avenge their deaths.

In Investigations of the Void, a Mass Effect game set during the events of Mass Effect 2, I play Christine Belmont (who looks a bit like Felicia Day), an ex-Alliance officer turned freelancer to pay the bills while searching for answers about the mysterious disappearance of her father's ship, the SSV Alexander. As she joins the story, the rest of the characters have just crashlanded near the Turian colony where she's been stranded for a couple of months after escaping from a robotics factory overrun by a rogue VI.

And then, in Redshirts: The Narrative Strikes Again, I play Ensign Declan Taggart (who looks a bit like David Tennant), a gifted engineer who is part of the away team investigating loss of contact with a research outpost on the ice planet of Vangarv IV. Having reached the facility - after losing one of their team to ice sharks - they discover that the outpost personnel all went mad and killed each other due to a mutated virus, which the away team is now almost certainly infected with. Too bad they didn't figure this out before Captain Abernathy sent Lieutenant Commander Kerensky and Ensign Rogers back to the Intrepid. Oops.

Besides playing Storium games, I've also been reading The Lady Vanishes, an urban fantasy game on Storium whose players include the site's co-creator Stephen Hood, and game designers Adam Koebel (co-designer of Dungeon World) and Ryan Macklin (Mythender, Pathfinder, several Evil Hat games and more). There's also another Storium I want to read up on called Razor Edge of a Broken Heart, which is a cyberpunk game being narrated by Mark Diaz Truman (creator of Our Last Best Hope and lead designer for the upcoming Firefly RPG), but so far I haven't read much except the first couple entries in the opening scene.

Finally, last night we got to play the first session of Misspent Youth, which we made characters for a while ago now. The game was pretty fun, although we did have to stop and start quite a bit while people figured out what they were going to do after having rolled. I'll aim to post a full AP of the session in the next couple of days.

Works In Progress
I kept up a good writing pace on the Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic during the first half of the week, but lost momentum somewhat towards the end of the week. I'd hoped to have Episode 1 finished by the end of the week, but if I get back down to work it should only take another couple of days to wrap it up. After that, I need to come up with a revised outline for the next episode before I start writing it.

I don't know whether I can fit it in while still working on the fanfic, but I might give Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge for this week a go. I already tweeted the @YouAreCarrying bot to get an inventory to use for the prompt, and got the following: a body, advice, a white piece of paper, a worm, a yellowed piece of paper, a mysterious envelope, and a mug of beer. I've already started brainstorming ideas from that list using a mind map, so I'll see if I can come up with 2000 words for the prompt by Friday, in addition to wrapping up DW/Eva 1.01.

As mentioned earlier this week, I've decided to take a break from running games, so I've not been doing any prep for anything this week.

And that's pretty much it. I've got episode one of the fanfic to wrap up this week, outlining to do, and maybe a flash fic on the side. Beyond that, we might be doing the second session of our Misspent Youth game as soon as Monday, depending on how things go. I don't know what will be happening on Tuesday, but it's looking fairly unlikely it'll be the DWAiTAS finale in any case. I'm going to be playing in the conclusion of our current Timewatch: Team Indigo scenario (I really need to get around to editing and posting the AP recordings of the last few sessions) this afternoon, and hopefully there'll be another session of Tears of a Machine: Tales of the Arx Jericho this Thursday evening.

In the meantime, y'all have fun with your own games, or whatever it is you do for fun. See you later!

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