« December 2003 | Main | February 2004 »

January 31, 2004

Damn You, Murphy!

The Battlefiled 1942.au segment of the IMAGinewS Group isn't having much luck at the moment. Last night, the new power supply had arrived and I was trying to get it into Vickie's PC, get her settings, documents, e-mail history, favourites and applications transferred over/re-installed (don't anyone mention the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to me; every time I tried to extract the image of Vickie's PC I'd created with it, it "encountered a problem and had to close"), get the 'Net connection up and then, maybe, get a game of Battlefield 1942 in afterward. Trust me, Hell hath no fury like a grumpy Vickie without a PC. Not good for our Rob. ;-)

It was something like 10.30 before I had Vickie's PC in something closely resembling operating status. Gav had dropped over earlier to pick up his RvB DVD, and was back home spoiling for a game. Dan was also keen to connect up. However, for some unknown reason, Dan's installation of BF42 refused to go looking for a list of servers, even with his firewall turned off. By the time we gave up on it and I sent Gav an e-mail (that place he's sharing with EvilHayama must be smack in the middle of a Vodafone blackspot or something; I can barely ever reach him on his mobile when he's there), he was ready to crash out.

I figured I'd catch up with Gav this morning, so I e-mailed him again - and the tray of his CD/DVD drive had chosen this very morning to stick open. Even if he closed it manually, it'd pop back open again. Battlefield 1942 needs one of the game discs in an optical drive before it will let you play it.

And to top it all off, Boots has buggered off to Byron Bay. He'll be back sometime next Friday, I think.

Bugger.

Gav's going to have to call Dell and get their "next business day" onsite response. Then again, he's making noises about an upgrade, so it might be a bit longer before his machine is back in business...

Maybe I'll be able to hook up with the Cazman, if I'm lucky.

I've been getting some action in, though, on the OzForces.com Battlefield 1942 server (203.17.15.220). It's pretty good; a nice low ping and a decent crowd of gamers.

Vickie and I are going to dash up to the Central Coast tomorrow; we have a long-overdue Christmas present to give to some relatives up there.

January 30, 2004

Very Very Fright'ning

This may be the understatement of the month, but the Sydney skies havenít half been nasty lately, have they? We already had to miss out on the Noodle Markets with Boots last week, and it hasnít been an evening at home in the past ten days without at least a little thunder.

Vickie and I have been up to stuff, as usual. Iíd like to point you at Vickieís website, where she has some nifty new pieces of jewellery up for your browsing pleasure. And if one (or more) of them take your fancy, why not drop her an e-mail and ask how much sheís willing to part with them for?

Iím still working on Vickieís PC. Iíve noticed that itís not restarting properly; when Windows shuts down, the PC sits there rather than rebooting. Also, it seems to be not quite performing right when I connect up the front USB and audio ports with the new hard drive in. I have the feeling it may be power related, so Iíve bought a 400-Watt power supply unit which will go into Vickieís PC tonight.

There may be some movement on the Black Talon front soon. I donít want to say any more for fear of jinxing things, but I thought Iíd give you a heads-up. On the topic of Heavy Gear, Iím also thinking about assembling musical playlists, much as I did for octaNe. Of course, the musicíll be quite different from the playlists for octaNe, which are assorted rock Ďní roll. Tracks from the Heavy Gear computer game CDs ought to give it a failry good orchestral, martial action backbone, but itís tempting to aim for a non-English, almost tribal motif. Some of the tracks from Halo and Homeworld2 leap readily to mind, but I donít think Sierra have published a soundtrack album for Homeworld2, and Iím worried about recognition with Halo.

As a lot of the action in the first few sessions will probably take place in the Badlands, something written for deserts would be nice Ė the soundtracks for the movie and the SciFi Channel miniseries incarnations of Dune come to mind. Iím less worried about the North or South, as I have the feeling the players wonít be spending too long in either. Future playlists are for the Caprician highlands (again, desert, but darker, with a tribal theme for the Liberati) and Gomorrah (something fast-paced and urban).

With all this thought about playlists, Iím working on an article for RPGnet about using them. Iím hoping to address some of the usual issues Iíve seen people take with the idea and execution of music in gaming, rather than the almost-ubiquitous "tracks for genres" list. I have a fair few notes together, and theyíre taking shape into an article, but they need some more hashing out first. I ought to e-mail Sandy and ask whether heíd be interested in it.

Well, Iíve watched the Red Vs. Blue Season 1 DVD through, and itís interesting to see the changes theyíve made. The basic series material is largely intact, although theyíve done away with most of Sargeís impromptu rambles at the end of some episodes. The Microsoft PDC public service announcement is also absent, which is a bugger Ė I suppose it was either left out due to space constraints, or they couldnít get away with charging money for something with footage from a Microsoft presentation in it. On the other hand, it has some pretty funny line recording session out-takes, and itís interesting to see the number of times they tried to get certain stunts right.

Gavís dropping over this evening to pick his DVD up, and if Iím lucky, I might be able to get some more Battlefield 1942 action in. Gav, Dan and I tried to hook up last night, but it ended in disaster Ė Dan needed the v1.5 patch, which was taking ages to download at his end, and I was SMSing Gav until his mobile reception suddenly cut off. I wound up playing a couple of games on the OzForces server.

Hereís hoping the lightning doesnít move in againÖ

January 28, 2004

I'm On the Battlefield

Well, just a day after writing that I couldn't find any copies of Battlefield 1942 Reload anywhere, I wandered into the Dick Smith Electronics nearest my work looking for some case fan cables and found a copy (full-size box) sitting innocuously on the shelf.

Needless to say, it is mine. I hope to join the Cazman, Dan, Boots and Gav online sometime soon.

I didn't have any luck with the case fan cable I was after, so I ordered it and a couple of fan filters from PC Case Gear.

Oh, and Gav's and my Red Vs. Blue Season 1 DVDs turned up today. I'm listening to the Director's Commentary - the commentators being Burnie "Church" Burns and Geoff "Grif" Fink, and it's about as funny as the episodes themselves. The dialogue out-takes are great too!

January 27, 2004

Good News / Bad News

Well, the bad news is, nobody seems to have Battlefield 1942 Reload in stock at the moment. So Dan, Boots, Gav, you'll have to wait a little longer before I can join you in some online action.

The good news is that Vickie's new case and hard drive arrived today, the day after I ordered them. I'll be spending most of this evening transfering everything across and seeing whether Windows XP will let me set up a new installation on the 80GB drive.

January 26, 2004

Teh Sh0pp1ng

Yesterday Vickie's PC started acting... weird. It sort of shut itself down, and only hitting the reset button got it working again (that's why I say sort of - had it actually shut itself down, the Power button should bring it back up, not Reset). This morning, I powered it up so that I could log on - and for some unknown reason, it stopped sending data to the screen. The little green power light turned orange, and no matter what I did with the keyboard or mouse, it wouldn't go green again. I wound up holding down the power switch so it would power down, and when it resterted, there were no problems.

I've been meaning to get Vickie a new hard drive for a while (her 20GB is running dangerously low on free space, even the defrag tool's complaining), and as it turns out this month is a regular, two rent payment month (February's going to be the triple-hit), I'm finally going to get around to it - and buy her a new case.

I was tempted to get Vickie a Shuttle XPC kit like I've been talking about since my last big upgrade, but we really can't afford it right now - besides, I have the feeling that the new case, which will have much better airflow than her current one, and a cleanup and dustoff of the parts when I transfer them between cases, will pretty much lick the problem.

And it leaves me some cash to pick Battlefield 1942 Reload for the PC and/or Burnout 2 for the Xbox up this month.

January 24, 2004

Galactica/Red Vs. Blue Day

It's been almost a week since I asked the IMAGinewS Group whether anyone was interested in getting together on February the Seventh and taking a look at the new Battlestar Galactica. I've had no replies, and I'm not sure whether that means the seventh is bad for everyone or whether you're just not interested.

Although I did mention at the time that the recording was "slightly-inferior-to-VCR", friend and group member Pierre has put a from-TiVo DVD recording in the mail to me, and while it's not official DVD quality, Pierre assures me it's superior to VHS. With any luck, it should be here by next week.

Also, the Red Vs. Blue DVD should also have arrived by the end of next week; we could show both. (And there's always the option of nipping down to the Normanhurst Pizza Cafe in the intermission; they do great pizza, and I've been meaning to get everyone down there for ages. Vickie and I are willing to sacrifice the diet for one evening in favour of supporting local business.)

Anyway, as Lauren, whose idea this was in the first place, is going to be working on the seventh, how about Saturday the twenty-first? That gives all you cats a month's notice. Could you reply this time, even if your answer is "I have zero interest in Battlestar Galactica, old or new", please? (Except for all you overseas readers/members; you're naturally exempted.)

Old Comments

Hey,
if the moving of the date is to be around my roster... I work every 2nd saturday...
So I'll be working the 21st too.
Hopefully by then I"ll be settled in, and won't be so tired... I'll come, but I make no promises about any coherancy I might display. Expect me to be sleep dep.

Posted by: Lauren at January 23, 2004 11:45 AM

Hang on...
>blink, blink<
How was this my idea?
As I recall, you said something like... we should do this! and I was like ... yeah! I'm there, I'll help, sounds fun!

Posted by: Lauren at January 23, 2004 06:42 PM

... well, at least, wasn't it your idea of hooking the PC up to the TV?

Posted by: IMAGinES at January 23, 2004 07:46 PM

Umm... yeah.
Fair point.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2004 03:59 PM

Cars Needs Women v1.2

The promised revision of Cars Needs Women! has now been posted. Please feel free to download and use in your octaNe games, and if you like it, pass it on - but it's strictly for free. Don't be makin' no money off of it, now.

January 23, 2004

Well, shit.

That's sort of how Vickie and I are feeling right now. See, we wound up right under a big lightning-cloud during last night's thunderstorm, and with this morning's forecast of "late thunder", we thought it'd be a good idea to stay in this evening rather than brave the weather for Boots' get-together at the noodle market tonight.

So you can probably understand how we feel after looking outside at the only semi-cloudy sky to the East.

It's a little too late to dash around and try and meet up with Boots now; besides, he said something about how everyone else he invited cancelled out for the same reason, so he's taking his lady out for a meal isntead. And there is a rather large, thick bank of cloud massing to the West; had we gone out, we might have been caught on the way home.

Tonight, we're going to just have a relaxing evening in; myself, Vickie and that early Tom Cruise flick, Risky Business (which I've never actually seen). Vickie usually works on Friday nights, so I don't intend to waste this one.

That being said, I'd better be off. Here's hoping your Australia Day Long Weekend's a good one!

January 22, 2004

The Diet's Working...

I got on the scales this morning for the first time in two weeks; I'm down from close on eighty-nine kilos to around eighty-six. I knew all these Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choices must have been doing something. (Thank you, my darling Vickie!)

The exercise helps as well. I'm occasionally using the lift, but mostly, it's four flights of stairs up and down. I'm also walking to and from the further train station from work almost every day. I've discovered a route that keeps me out of the sun, as both ways I'm walking into it, so it's a slightly more comfortable trip now - at least, on the going to work leg.

Anyway, I had another look at the Side-Projects site earlier on. It's going to need more work than anticipated, especially as a few pages are missing. I also want to make the pages quicker to load and less bandwidth-intensive (not that they were particularly in the first place); this will mean getting rid of the topic heading graphics (bye bye Galactican font) and putting the page styles onto CSS (which will likely cut a fair bit of code out of the pages, as well as making them easier to update).

But all of that can wait for a few days. As Vickie has worked three straight nights, tonight's going to be an "us" night, and tomorrow night we're dashing down to the North Sydney Friday Night Noodle Market to meet up with Boots and a possible new player for Black Talon.

January 21, 2004

IMAGinES Side-Projects is Up!

When I started running the IMAGinES website from Marcus' server as a Movable Type blog, I promised myself I'd get some of my prior efforts off their GeoCities web spaces and back onto my own personal account. After some frantic FTPing and fiddling with HTML this evening, I can now say I'm a good way toward accomplishing that goal.

The Old IMAGinES Website has now become IMAGinES Side-Projects. It contains my larger RPG and story-writing efforts.

  • The Bubblegum Crisis RPG Super Site is largely complete, although thanks to some missing images, I may need to do some redesign work on it.
  • The Aliens Cyberpunk 2020 Conversion needs the most work; I'll probably be stripping it of images before I respost the information pages. I'd also like to edit the Materiel section down further.
  • And,of course, Slamdance and After... are still present, albeit unchanged. I'd like to make some vague comment about working on those, except I've done that before and naught has come of it. Still, the intent is there, and I know there's still a demand for more Slamdance.
Old Comments

You know I'm going to say it....

I still read over the first 10 chapters a couple of times a year.
I still enjoy reading them.

I STILL want more slamdance!!!

hella - I'm willing to swap sugarcookies for them...

Posted by: Lauren at January 23, 2004 11:49 AM

January 19, 2004

Dodgy Movie Week

Evening, folks. Nothing in particular happening right now. Stuff has been happening, though. Iíve put in that order for the Red Vs. Blue Season 1 DVD; the only person to chip in was Gav, so Iím buying two DVDs. With any luck we should have them by early next week.

Vickie and I are feeling the bite of a triple-hit rent month (when three rent withdrawals fall between two of my pay days). Iím holding off spending money on me in preference of paying the bills when they come in. This means Six-String Samurai and Battlefield 1942 will wait until my next pay.

Iím fiddling with a revision to that ďCars Needs Women!Ē PDF. Iíve been catching some typos, editorial mistakes and grammar errors ion subsequent read-throughs. Iím also revising some of the material so that it reads better and adding in new stuff from the Saturday night play-through at Danís.

I charged down the video shop yesterday to return an overdue War of the Worlds (I watched it as research for a possible revision to the Cylon.org article) and picked up five weeklies. Yesterday evening, Vickie and I watched the 1990 film production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, directed by the writer, Tom Stoppard. It was intellectually engaging and very funny. Gary Oldman and Tim Roth starred as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. (Or was it Guildenstern and Rosencrantz?) The set design and staging were very theatrical, which helped make the viewing experience unique. It was a surprise to see Richard Dreyfuss as The Player. It was a definite departure for Richard, who usually plays everyman roles, and although I can see some people wishing that another actor had filled the role, I think he gave it an air of smug mystery. It was definitely a worthwhile spending of two hours.

Of course, weíd had Universal Soldier: The Return to clear the palate beforehand. Iíll say one thing about Jean Claude Van Damme: he has a quite expressive face, which he uses well. Youíre gonna call me crazy, but Van Damme actually gives this otherwise cheesy sequel to a dark action film more charm and class than it deserves, and yes, that is saying something. Michael Jai White is also good at being bad as SETH, the supercomputer that goes mad (as they do) and miniaturises itself into the body of a super-UniSol. White was in phenomenal shape, and both actors also kick an imperial fuckton of ass; in the modern era of special effects-laden action flicks and wire work, it was rather refreshing. Vickie especially enjoyed it, as sheís done some martial arts training herself. (Vickie likes White, so Iím going to get the somewhat less mediocre, but still mediocre, Spawn out soon.)

And of course, thereís Big Bill Goldberg. Iíve never seen him wrestle, but he gave a better performance than I was expecting, and itís almost a shame that heís not really done much since. The most annoying thing was what looks like a post-production decision; I think he was brought back for some ADR to give him more dialogue (including some very cheesy action lines) in parts where you canít see that his lips arenít moving. Used sparingly, it might have been forgivable, but itís used so much that it becomes annoying by the end of the first half-hour.

About an hour ago, I finished watching an odd little film called Hardware. I picked it up as part of an effort to uncover some Psychotronic cinema, so I can get a better feel for the zany atmosphere that octaNe is meant to have by default. It was a little darker than I was after (though I was sort of expecting that), with some cheesy apocalyptic themes thrown in for good measure. Itís also one of Dylan MacDermottís earlier pieces, and underground cinema / metal rock geeks will probably love it for the twenty-second appearance of Lemmy as a water-cabbie, not to mention Iggy Pop in crazy-ass radio DJ mode (although you never see him). Still, itís worthwhile seeing for a little (as Jared Sorensen likes to put it) inspirado.

Continuing the Psychotronic thing, I also got Roadhouse out, although I suppose itís more Grindhouse than Psychotronic. Iíll watch it tomorrow.

Old Comments

Oh lucky me! I get to work and miss experiencing Roadhouse (again). There are some things I just can't force myself to do.

Love,
Vickie.

Posted by: Vickie at January 20, 2004 12:15 AM

I really would like to meet Micheal Jai White.
This has always been my dream.

Posted by: Latasha Jetters at May 15, 2004 11:06 AM

January 18, 2004

I'm Famous!

I e-mailed Jared Sorensen, the designer and writer of octaNe, the URL to my "Cars Needs Women!" posting. I asked whether it was worth being included in the "Psychotronic Story Hour" list of links on the octaNe website.

He replied soon after.

Have a look!

At this point, I would just like to say "Woohoo!"

octaNe: Cars Needs Women!

Afternoon everyone! We had a fun night at Danís last night. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Lesley had the idea of getting us over to do some gaming on Danís birthday, but we were in Cairns at the time. So after we got back, I organised a game of octaNe with Gav and John coming along.

Boots, Gav, Vickie and I also organised a present for Dan: the Battlefield 1942 Reload Pack, with the core game plus the Road to Rome expansion. I imagine Dan, Gav and Boots will be hooking up for some online fun very soon! (Well, at least once Boots finds time in his busy scheduleÖ ;-D )

Anyway, Iíve been spending a few hours last week on an adventure idea Iíd had before we went up to Cairns, called ďCars Needs Women!Ē I typed it up over Friday night and Saturday so it would be ready to go and to keep how it would work clear in my mind. Iíve PDFed it for download and play.

So we all rocked over to Danís place a little after eight; we wound up running late because I was assembling some tracks from various CDs in order to use as backing music. Iíve been putting some tracks into around six or seven playlists based on the regions of the Former United States (Shangri-L.A./California, New Texaco, Free States/Rockabilly) as well as what I consider the four major character activities (cruising in cars, hanging around in roadhouses and bars, fights, car chases). I couldnít find any decent Elvis or Rat Pack compilations in the stores, but as the players didnít go anywhere near Lost Vegas, that didnít become a problem. I wound up with an eclectic mix including (but not limited to) the Red Elvises, Dire Straits, the Ramones, Radio Birdman, Van Halen, Steve Miller Band, Credence Clearwater Revival and ZZ Top. I wouldíve put some Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar on as well, but ran out of time, unfortunately.

The characters were:


  • Agent D, Straght-Laced G-Man In Black (Dan)
  • El Disco Inferno, Masked Luchador without a mask (John) (Yes, I know itís the same as the example in the book, but why try to improve on perfection?)
  • Icarus, Dynamite-Happy Crazed Aviator (Gav)
  • Marauder Mary, Black Outlaw Biker Bitch (Vickie)

The game started off in a bar in Shangri-L.A. (rather than waiting to pick El Disco up in New Texaco, I decided to just yank him over to Lost Angels, as itís where Route 66 starts). Two smartcars ram-raid the place, and some acrobatics and inspired use of the bar room tables on the part of the players (not to mention some natty Stunt rolls) saw one of them driving along the bar top on two wheels, with holes in its roof (thanks to Marauder Maryís twin sawn-offs). The other one literally bumped into El Disco Inferno, stunning him Ė but as Johnís Stunt result was a 3, he narrated that its wheels fell off. The heroic luchador wound up charming the car out of its panic, and it turned out it had been running away from something; I figured that something was the other smartcar, which exited the bar via a side door stretched wide by Agent Dís Expando-Ray (a little gift from some friends from out of town). And so, El Disco Inferno procured for himself a ride, a cherry-red classic Mustang (The Commitmentsí ďMustang SallyĒ came on around then).

Marauder Mary heard screaming from outside, and upon investigation, discovered yet another smartcar kidnapping two women and driving off. She lassoed its rear bumper with a length of drive chain and tied the other end around a nearby lamppost. Unfortunately, just as she got one of the girls out of the car, the chain broke (Stunt roll of 3) and the car made good its escape.

At the same time, Agent D and Icarus exited the bar by the side door. Icarus noticed his pet snake was missing from where he left her on his gyrocopter, whilst Agent D spotted the illegal alien heíd been looking for (I canít for the life of me remember what it was called, but it was basically a large pink jellyfish), just as it got catapulted into a third smartcar, which also headed out of town at a great rate of knots.

As the players are mounting up to give pursuit (and El Disco Inferno is laying his macho action down on Barbie, the almost-kidnapping-victim Marauder Mary rescued), a Road Marshal drives up and tells the team that these abductions have been happening all over, that the victims are all female and that the cars subsequently head east. The Road Marshals have enough problems on their hands right now, so heís happy to hand jurisdiction over to Agent D (that way, he can go fill out paperwork at the bar). Icarus wheels his gyrocopter into the street while Agent D gets into his Ford POS, Mary kick-starts her Harley and El Discoís Mustang backs out of the bar (he put its wheels back on by hand). The team puts the pedal to the metal and takes off in pursuit.

As they head out of California and into the Wastelands, Marauder Mary gets flagged down by a couple of sons of Nihon, standing by their jetcar with a table, some papers, a clipboard and a pen. They want her to take a product survey on what women want in cars. Mary, of course, wants something with two wheels. They faithfully take her comments down, and as none of the other playersí cars have a woman behind the wheel (well, except maybe for El Discoís Mustang, but he was behind the wheel at the same time, and I think it wouldíve been obvious that Barbie wasnít driving), the researchers ignore them.

A few more miles down the road, a space slug erupts through the tarmac and thunders toward El Disco Inferno, who, as this is a traffic infringement (the thing is on the wrong side of the road, after all), throws the book at it Ė specifically, his Espanol-Ingles dictionary (also his Major item). The monster swallows it, stops and ruminates for a couple of minutes, then turns to El Disco and converses with him in fluent Spanglish (six on the Daring roll). Turns out itís a rare breed of intelligent slug, and it wants to take its family off to the beach (apparently, the strain has no problems with water, either). Agent D gives it some quite detailed directions, and the team parts company with the beast on amicable terms.

We skip through a montage of road scenes, intercut with campouts under the stars and shots of the distant dust cloud being kicked up by the pack of smartcars Ė although itís not got any closer, it has been getting bigger. Itís also starting to turn north-east after passing through New Texaco, following Route 66 toward the Missed and the Mysterious East.

The team loses some ground when they hit the Mighty Missed; there's no sign of how the smartcars got across the broad river. Marauder Mary uses her scavenging skill to find a raft big enough to fit an automobile. Icarus hooks it up to his gyrocopter and tows Marauder Mary across on it, just as a mist starts to spring up on the surface of the water (and itís 11 AM on a clear, sunny day). The aviator is towing El Disco and his Mustang across though the now pea-soup fog, and launches a flare to see where heís going. It highlights the massive head and neck of a sea monster, which, with an ďOch aye denuuuuu!Ē, attacks the raft! (What do you mean, whatís the Loch Ness Monster doing in the Mississippi? Itís the last place anyone would think to look for the Loch Ness Monster! Duh!)

Thinking quickly, Agent D shoots El Disco with his Expando-Ray, turning him into a fifty-foot-tall Ultra El Disco, who (after marvelling at the radically increased dimensions of the monster in his pants) grabs Nessieís neck and tail and shoves the tail ourobouros-style into its mouth. Icarus then flies by and drops a stick of dynamite into the monsterís mouth; the resulting explosion drenches Icarus and El Disco in Nessie meat. (Of course, El Discoís in the ideal place to get a bathÖ)

The team finally catch up with the pack of smartcars, just as the last of them is passing through the walls of the Detroit Rock City foundries. El Disco (now back to normal size) and Agent D take the frontal approach and go in via reception; El Disco charms the receptionist into thinking heís a representative from the government of New Texaco, interested in establishing imports, while Agent D flashes his ID and gets in on official INS business. Marauder Mary leaps her bike into the back of a cloth-topped delivery truck and attempts to hold up the mutant driver Ė an Adult Mutant Brawling Armadillo, as it turns out Ė but winds up heading off to the bar with him (his brother rode with her old gang). As for Icarus, he lands on the roof and makes his way in through a ventilation duct.

El Disco is given a tour of the showrooms while Agent D stumbles upon the boardroom. At the far end of the meeting table, seated on a tall plinth and always in shadow, is the Imperious Chairman, who asks a Security Cylon (ďBY YOUR COMMAND, IMPERIOUS CHAIRMANĒ) whether their recent market sample included a creature of the Agentís description. The Cylon confirms it, but notes that Agent Dís description of a male alien is inaccurate; the being is female. (Agent D clarifies that the race is known for its ability to change sex.) Agent D is taken to the market survey area, at the same time as El Disco and Barbie enter with their tour guide / sales rep, Mary comes in after having volunteered for the survey (she got what her armadillo pal Larry knew about the whole thing out of him over a few beers) and Icarus finds a vent grille overlooking the whole room.

It turns out that Detroit Rock City is keen on making inroads into the largely untapped female market for motor vehicles, and wanted to do a market survey. The women have been brought to Detroit because DRC doesnít want to give what itís up to away to potential competitors. The rogue smartcars DRC contracted to ďpoll the potential marketĒ interpreted the project requirements a little too aggressively, but DRC is returning home those who didnít sign the confidentiality agreement, and those who did sign are currently participating in the survey (i.e. being asked questions by Disco Robot Gigolo market researchers and trying out full-size concept mock-ups) and will be returned once theyíve completed it.

Icarus isnít alone in his vent duct, however; at the same grille are those two self-same Japanese market researchers Marauder Mary ran into earlier. Theyíre getting as much as they can on camera, and when Icarus opens the grille, drops down into the back seat of a conveniently-placed convertible and gets his snake back from where a bemused Disco Robot Gigolo is trying to ask it questions, they get rumbled by security. And just as Agent D finds his alien and cuffs him/her (it?), one of the guys from Japan whips out a remote control and presses the Big Red Button.

Icarus heads back to the roof, and notices that the near shore of Lake St. Clair has started to froth and bubble. Sure enough, by the entire team gets outside, Godzilla his own bad self has emerged from the waters and is busy doing to Detroit what heís done to Tokyo so many times before. Although DRCís defences (Terminator and T2ís Hunter Killer tanks) engage the atomic behemoth, itís Icarus who, with a roll of a 5 against a Hazard Rating of 3, KOs the mighty monster with twelve sticks of dynamite duct taped together.

Overall, things didnít go exactly as planned, but (a) thatís whatís octaNeís all about and (b) I didnít exactly have a firm adventure plan anyway. There are a couple of things I'd prefer to do better for next time:


  • I wound up forgetting about the rules for additional Gear. Dan and Gav pulled new stuff (Agent Dís Ford POS and Expando-Ray, Icarus' supply of dynamite) out of nowhere, and John scored El Disco's Mustang early on; I should have had them pay a Plot Point for each new item. Of course, they wound up with so many Plot Points at the end that deducting one or two now shouldnít hurt much.
  • I noticed that some of the encounters (like the space slug and Godzilla) were resolved rather quickly when the first Stunt roll came up with a five or six; it meant that one person pretty much wrapped everything up before anyone else could take a crack at it. To fix this up, I think I need to ensure that the players are using their Skills, impose Hazard ratings more frequently, and allow everyone a chance to announce their stunts and deciding the dramatic order before actually making rolls. A few more threes and fours would have made things interesting for the whole team. On the other hand, I don't think anyone else noticed (or if they did, it didn't really worry them), so if no one felt left out, why fix what ain't broke?

In the end, the most important goal was achieved: even though things went late and sleep was catching up (with John especially) as we got closer to wrapping, a good time was had by all. Weíll have to do it again soon.

Old Comments

"Smokey & the Bandit" meets "Gumball Rally" to defeat "The Kraken"! <sigh>And this took you how long to write? <huge sigh> Whadja do? Raid all the IMDb files?

*lol* And I thought soap opera plot lines improbable. Boyo, you've got too much time on your hands. Way too much. ;)

<...insert shameless plug for more Slamdance...>

Peg

Posted by: Peg at January 19, 2004 08:31 PM

January 17, 2004

Hugh Jackman Gets His Mack On

Our Hugh finally gets the archetypal male action role, complete with James Bomd attitude and one-liners.

Looks like fun.

Oh, by the way: Here's something (Pick One: Odd / Too Geeky For Words / Worthy of Admiration and Awe) by way of the ALpha: The Kustom Kar mod from George Lucas' Personal Hell.

January 16, 2004

My Opinion of Return of the King

Vickie and I went and saw Return of the King yesterday evening. I read through Boots and Gav's comments to the IMAGinewS group on it, and gave my opinion in response. In case you're not an IMAGinewS member, here it is, in the same four lines I originally responded with:

1) I've not read the book, but will commence doing so tomorrow.
2) Although it was drawn out in places, I loved almost every minute.
3) The minutes I didn't love, I enjoyed anyway.
4) To paraphrase Manning Clark: If you didn't like Peter Jackson's movie versions of the books, MAKE YOUR OWN!

I Mean, You Need The Lung.

The pimpin' continues over on IMAGinES, and today I'm gonna hip you all to a neat little two-minute nerdcore hiphop number by the frontinest MC ever, MC Frontalot. It'll have you in stitches (you'll be laughing with it, not at it), and it's called Gonna Be Your Man. As with all of the Front's mad raps (which is all his raps) you can download it for free, but I highly and heartily recommend you chuck this duck a coupla bucks. The entertainment value is well worth it.

Battlestar Galactica Day

I've finally sorted out how to get those BSG files Mike Z sent me running on my TV. I didn't get any expressions of interest after I mentioned a possible BSG date last time, but perhaps that was because it was in with a few other items at the time.

So: Is anyone interested in seeing (a slightly-inferior-to-VCR recording of) the new Battlestar Galactica? And is Saturday, the Seventh of February all right? (Vickie, we don't have anything planned for that day, do we, love?)

January 15, 2004

octaNe in the Tank

Morning all! Some new items today:

  • Vickie has set her Harvey Norman Photo Album up. Access is normally invitation only, but if you go to her website and click on the Photo Album link, youíll be able to get in using my ID and see our photos from Karl and Jodieís wedding.
  • Vickie and I are finally off to see Return of the King tonight. I havenít had any late-night meeting invitations as of this writing, so we should be okay. This means I can finally read all the kvetching Boots has been doing about it on the group lately. ;-)
  • Vickie and I are also on a diet. weíre swearing off junk food and most meats, and splurged on several Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice meals during our large shop. So long, Dominoís, farewell, Maccas, and chips and coke only on RPG nights (especially if weíre playing octaNe, when I will be ensuring compliance with the Rule of Snacks). Weíre also going to endeavour to get more exercise; Iím taking the stairs instead of the lift at work, and if it wasnít so humid nowadays, Iíd be taking the fifteen-minute walk from work to the next-closest station on the line. Iíve also got to do something about re-starting Thursday Lunchtime Soccer at work.
  • Recently, Gav made a valid comment about the rampant product placement (often referred to in the vernacular as ďpimpingĒ) on the site and the IMAGinewS group lately.

    And now Iíve got my salary for the month and am looking at spending some of my hard-earned on myself, hereís some more of it:


    • Iím planning to buy the Red Versus Blue Season 1 DVD. I know there are a few of you out there who like RvB, so Iím thinking of putting in a single big order. If youíd like a copy, how about I order one for you and you can pay me back once I get them? That way, the shipping ought to be somewhat cheaper. At current exchange rates, it costs AU$26 per copy, not including shipping. Please let me know ASAP, as I want to put the order in early next week.
    • On a general octaNe kick, Iím also thinking about snagging Six-String Samurai, a crazy movie about a sword-wielding guitar player (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Buddy Holly) headed across the wasteland for Lost Vegas.
    • With Saturday nightís octaNe game at Danís coming up, Iíve been working on how Iím going to adhere to the Rule of Rock Ďní Roll, which states that ďwhen playing octaNe, you MUST be playing rock ní roll music of some kindĒ, during our session (as long as we're careful, we shouldn't disturb Dan's littlies who should be sleeping while we play). Iíve been building a few playlists of songs, including some by a little-known band called the Red Elvises. Theyíre an oddball bunch of Russian political exiles (well, thatís what they say) living in California, who play this crazy fusion of surf, rock and Russian folk. Itís quite catchy, especially their earlier stuff, and Iím tempted to pick up an album (maybe next month, after Red Versus Blue comes in). In the meantime, you can download some of their tracks as MP3s, so why not wander along to their website, download (most of the MP3s are 1-2 megs in size) and have a listen? (Especially to Boogie on the Beach.)

  • In the meantime, I could use some up-tempo Elvis stuff, so if anyone has any Elvis CDs, especially with numbers like Jailhouse Rock or Viva Las Vegas, could I borrow Ďem before Saturday, please? With that, and the British/US West Coast punk rock Gav will be bringing, I'll be all set for some octaNe-powered fun!

January 13, 2004

Separated At Birth?

While Vickie and I were watching the Appendix DVDs for The Two Towers before we went up to Cairns, I was struck by the resemblance of yet another star to one of our friends. Once again, I ask you to examine the picture below and answer the question:

Were Rog and Andy Serkis separated at birth?

Yet Another Remarkable Resemblance

(Gollum included for comparative purposes also.)

His Long Lost Grandson?

On Sunday, Vickie and I decided to spend the day languishing in our air-conditioned hotel room, watching TV. On Channel 2 was a repeat documentary about the only supergroup Sweden has ever had, and Vickie couldn't help noticing a resemblance of one of the band's songwriters to a good friend of ours.

We invite you to peruse the picture below and decide for yourself:

Is Boots the long lost grandson of ABBA's Benny Andersson?

An Uncanny Resemblance

Season 2 Has Commenced

Considering the job I've done hipping as many people to Red Vs. Blue as possible, most of me readership is probably already aware that the first episode of Season 2, Everything Old Is New Again, is now live on the RvB website.

If you're not, go download it now. I have, and it's a hoot.

(Two hundredth posting! Woohoo!)

It's Not the Heat that Kills You...

Well, weíre back from a rather exhausting weekend in Cairns. Four days of trying to fit as much catching up in as possible, plus a wedding on Saturday night, all in horrid humidity. Erk.

Aside from the humidity, Cairns is a nice place; the worst of the tourist areas is sited firmly out of town, at Port Douglas. Thereís something comforting about not having to worry too much about traffic (unless youíre in it, of course, as half the other drivers are even less worried than you, so much so that theyíre not even worried about doing things like indicating lane changes or pulling into intersections while youíre waiting behind them).

Vickie is currently working on a long and angry e-mail to her real estate agents right now. We did an inspection of her place, which sheís rented out, on Friday morning, and it was in a sorry state. The current tenant has made a mess of it, so much so that Vickieís considering taking out an additional loan so she can afford to fix it up.

Catching up with Vickieís family was good. I was a little worried about how well things would go, especially with Karl, Vickieís son (who was the one getting married). Still, although Karl gave me the obligatory ďTreat Vickie bad and youíll answer to meĒ Ė heís very protective of the females in his family Ė we got along okay, and I think he and I will probably head out on a Blokeís Day the next time Vickie and I go up (probably August/September this year).

Of course, it helps that heís got an Xbox as wellÖ

The wedding went off fantastically, and we managed to get some great photos. Vickieís planning to post them up on the Harvey Norman web service that came with our digital camera, and when she does Iíll be sure to link to them here.

While we were away, we had a phone call from Lesley, who wanted to know what we were doing on Sunday the 11th. It was Danís birthday that day, and she suggested that we pop over and do some gaming. We were, of course, in Cairns that day, but Lesleyís idea was a good one, so Iíve managed to rope Vickie, Gav and John the Mad Norwegian into heading over to Danís this coming Saturday night and playing some octaNe with him. It should be fun; Iíve had an adventure idea brewing for a while (no, not that one, Boots, Iím saving that for a con sometime). I was hoping I might even be able to rope Lesley in, but sheís going to be out that night.

Vickieís grandson Rhys and I got to chat some while we were in Cairns. I showed him the trailers for Halo 2 that I had on the laptop, and he reckoned that it was going to get held back for a little longer, much like Half Life 2. As Bungie hasnít been hacked for the Halo 2 source code I dismissed the point, but it looks like Rhys was very right; after I got back, I found a news item on Gamespot stating that Halo 2 may indeed be put back indefinitely. The Chief Xbox officer is already making id-like ďwhen itís readyĒ noises, so its April í03 date (itself a push-back from the original Holiday Season '03 release) doesnít seem to be good any more.

And to end this post on a gaming note, I discovered this morning that our local convenience store stocks Magic: The Gathering cards now. Apparently, thereís a young lad in the area that asked for them, and the storeowner got some in. Although this youngster comes in every day to buy boosters, the ownerís carrying them at a risk, because if this kid decides to quit the habit, heíll be carrying a heap of stock that just wonít move. So if youíre in the Normanhurst area and play Magic, why not support your local businesses and start buying your cards from the convenience store on Denman Parade, opposite the train station?

January 08, 2004

One of Those Mornings

Hi, everybody. Vickie and I are up and about (barely). Weíre getting the final packing done for our dash up to Cairns. We have to be out of here by nine, which gives us about an hour and a half, but most of the hard work is done already.

Couldíve been a better night, though. Seems I was snoring like nobodyís business last night, and as a result Vickie got around two hoursí sleep. (Why she doesnít, at times like these, say ďDarling, I love you, but keep that up and youíre spending the rest of the night in the spare roomĒ is beyond me.) We were out of milk, and I forgot to pick some up from the shop near the station yesterday afternoon on the way home from work (you know what itís like; you get off a hot train on a humid day and your thoughts are only on getting home, getting out of your sweaty shirt and pants and relaxing for a while), so I got up, had a shower Ė and discovered that the shower head was broken. The plastic connector that joins the hose to the head had finally cracked enough that it wouldnít hold the hose in under pressure from the taps any more. Fortunately, I was able to get a shower and rinse before it went, but Vickie will have to utilise other means of washing this morning.

(There have been a few times when weíve had guests stay over and discovered that theyíd rammed the shower head so far down in its mounting that it wouldnít come out without a lot of work, so if that reads like something you've done while here, can you be more careful with our new shower head, please?)

Anyway, the milk situation was rectified with a 600ML carton (no sense in buying larger if weíre going to be out of town for a few days) from the petrol station down the road, breakfast has been had, and weíll be doing some more sorting out of luggage once Vickieís had a shower. Iíve got to polish my black shoes, too; donít want them looking mucky for the wedding.

January 04, 2004

Good News Never Made The Papers Sell

I know a lot of the readers of this website and the IMAGinewS group already either read Penny Arcade, play video/computer games or both, but I liked this Wil Wheaton article on the utter lack of media attention on the Penny Arcade lads' Child's Play fund-raiser for the Seattle Children's Hospital (especially when compared to their usual reaming of games and gamers) so much that I'm doing my bit to make sure it reaches a broader audience.

Please pass it on to your friends, and, just as importantly, your (and their) parents.

(With apologies to John Williamson for the theft of his lyrics for the title of this post.)

Comments

Hi all,

I was reading some of the articles related to this post (http://imagines.herstik.com/archives/000382.html - Good News Never Made The Papers Sell), and I couldn’t help but to think aren’t both sides simplifying the whole argument. We live in a society where we can watch Bruce Willis run around a building for about an hour shooting people, and that doesn’t affect us, however before the movie started we saw snippets for things like coke and adds other movies for 1-2 minuets, and that is supposed to affect us. – ummm no, I don’t think so. I think the real answer lies somewhere in between.

As Alfred Hitchcock proved by adding subliminal elements to movies to intensify the whole emotional roller coaster, people can be programmed. At this point you may be asking yourself “why is this guy a gamer if he thinks this way?” Well that would be because I believe where as professional athletes for more conventional sports are physically adapted to their sports. Most gamers have the proper “mental muscles” for gaming, but lets admit it everyone, we need to acknowledge that there are people out there that aren’t mentally fit enough to get into serious hard core gaming. Just like I know that playing a prop forward position in a professional game of rugby would probably end up with me in hospital.

I have actually seen occasions where people that weren’t fit to game have lost it big time, I was at a party where a guy I was in a dragon warriors campaign with got angry with someone else at the party and he started to scream about his “death vow” (a dragon warriors assassin ability - this guy played an assassin.) Now I know this example seems vague and unfortunately there are a multitude of reasons why this example must remain vague, but I can assure you I was there.

I think in the end what we are left with is the fact that there is good and bad of all sorts (both gamers and media). And I think we need to stand up and say something to the effect of “yeah, there have been people hurt by gaming, but there have also been people hurt by football, cricket, and tennis” I don’t however think we can get by with putting gaming up on a pedestal and saying “it’s all warm and fuzzy” we need to be responsible as gamers, and lead from the responsibility front.

anyhow thats my 2 cents worth, what does everyone else think?

Posted by: Chris at January 5, 2004 06:43 AM

Hi, Christian,

Firstly, my apologies - I've been meaning to reply to this for ages, I've just never actually sat down and done it. Quite cowardly of me.

Hmm. I do agree with your points on how movies and avertising work to get their audience to feel how the production team want them to feel (and think, whenit comes to ads). Still, I think the point being made was less that some people will be affected negatively by certain types of product (as you point out, there are those who are fanatical to the point of mania about their chosen interest). It's more that popular media tends to tar computer and video games (and by extension gamers, hardcore or no) as a whole as evil, subversive and dangerous on the strength of a few titles such as Doom and Grand Theft Auto whilst ignoring the fact that the biggest selling computer games in history are Myst and The Sims (which has stolen the crown from Myst and, I think, thoroughly beaten the pants off of it).

It's the antithesis of your "putting gaming up on a pedestal and saying 'it's all warm and fuzzy'" comment. Right now, gaming tends to be put up on a target-mount, with people saying "it's all bad and icky". Penny Arcade's Child's Play effort was intended to at least offer a rebuttal viewpoint - that gaming and gamers aren't bad and icky by default - even if it was masterminded by a pair of hardcore gamers.

Personally, I tend to distrust "hard-core" anybody. I believe (or at least, try to believe) in moderation (there's not enough time in one's life for everything in moderation). It's why I'm usually a generation or two behind when it comes to my hardware, and my shelves aren't full of Xbox games despite owning one for over a year.

Nonetheless, if a pair of hardcore gamers can organise a charity benefit that gets a huge response from the gaming community, from the casual to the hardcore - isn't it worth at least a little media attention with a "well, maybe they're not all bad" end-note?

Cheers,

Rob

Posted by: IMAGinES at February 13, 2004 08:51 PM

January 03, 2004

Laptop 4 Sale

Me old mate the Cazman is looking to sell his Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop. He's too lazy to try eBay (besides, there are so many flogging laptops on there he'd get lost in the crowd) so he's asked me to see whether anyone in me readership would be interested in taking it off his hands.

The specs are:

  • Pentium-iii 1.2 GHz Mobile Processor
  • 512Mb RAM
  • 32 MB GeForce 2 Go Nvidia Video Processor
  • 14.1" TFT XGA screen, with 1400x1200 maximum resolution
  • 30GB Hard Disk Drive
  • DVD Drive
  • 1.44Mb 3.5" Floppy Disk Drive
  • Connections for Phone Line (Modem), 10/100 Ethernet, LPT (Printer Port), COM, USB, 2x PC Card Slots and TV-Out

It comes pre-loaded with a Dell installation of Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Money.

Cazman's asking price is AU$1,800.00. If you're interested, let me know and I'll pass your e-mail address or other preferred contact details on to the Cazman.

Old Comments

would he sell it 4 £100?

Posted by: matt at February 16, 2004 07:49 AM

Can i please know the weight of the laptop, how old it is/how long he has had it for and why he wants to sell it.

Posted by: Simone at April 15, 2004 05:49 PM

how much australian dollars in 100 pounds

Posted by: No name at April 22, 2004 04:30 PM

Dear CaZman
Kindly let me know the final final price of Your Laptop.How old it is? I am an Ethiopian.You may please give some price consideration becoz i am not from a developed country. How can your Laptop be shipped to me. How much i have to pay for shipping etc.
kindly mail back
Admasu

Posted by: Admasu shimeles at June 14, 2004 08:46 PM

I've not heard anything back from the Cazman regarding the offers made via comments; I'll assume that if he got back to you, he did so pirvately. It's been five months anyway, so I'm closing comments.

Posted by: IMAGinES at June 15, 2004 09:37 PM

January 02, 2004

War of the Worlds Article Live on Cylon.org!

In my last Editorial, I mentioned I was on a War of the Worlds kick, and now I can tell you why: I was doing research for an article for the Cylon Alliance web site. I submitted the finished article to the Two-Brained Cylon, owner and administrator of the site, on Tuesday, and he's just recently posted "version 1.0", complete with pictures. It's much less opinionated than the first draft (which, if you're interested, can be found as a Microsoft Word document here - if you get asked for a password, just keep clicking "Cancel", it'll let you see it), and is better formatted for its multi-web page layout.

It feels great to have something published!

Indie RPGs Going Cheep/Free!

I remember that a few years ago, I used to buy role-playing games and supplements on a regular basis, back when they were generally cheaper and I had more of a disposable income. All of a sudden, I've started getting back into the habit - but instead of going into gaming stores and buying books off shelves, I've been downloading (and, where applicable, paying for) PDF files of role-playing games and supplements by independent authors. I've come across some really funky stuff, and as Heavy Gear has gone into something of a slump until we either get another player or Mandi gets back from Beijing (whichever comes first), I've been thinking of inflicting them on my Heavy Gear group, so that we can still game on a regular basis.

I'd also like to recommend them to you all, especially with the Aussie dollar in such good shape against the U.S. buck right now. Even at U.S.$5 to $10 per head, they're really good value considering the quality you get.

A while ago, I took a look at The Wushu Guide To The Matrix on recommendation of an RPGnet article. I wasn't too impressed at the time; maybe I was hoping for something more along the lines of a sourcebook, and the leaving-out of the Real World as an adventuring option was also unsavoury. However, I took another look after Ross Winn's recent recommendation (again, on RPGnet), and it is really the sort of thing you could use for a night's fun. It's simple, it handles the idea that a Trinity or Neo can learn any skill nigh-instantly thanks to their Operator by discarding "skills" in general, and does a pretty good job of capturing the general mood of an intrusion onto the Matrix without bogging one down in faux-simulation details like muzzle velocities or carrier signal strength. It's a free, 17-page document, featuring a cut-down version of the author's Wushu system (U.S.$5, which translates to about AU$6.70). Although the system looks cool, I'm not in any real hurry to buy it; what's in The Wushu Guide To The Matrix does what it needs to quite capably, I think.

I'm on a bit of a War of the Worlds kick right now, and with any luck, I'll be able to show you why in a few days. In the meantime I'd like to tell you that over the past couple of weeks, I've come across not one, not two, but three RPG supplements based on The War of the Worlds. All have slightly different takes on their source, and all but one are free.

  • The first one I came across is Atomic Rocket Games' PDF supplement for Mekton Zeta, R. Talsorian's anime mecha RPG. It does, of course, require Mekton Zeta to play, and spends most of its length detailing the two major mecha of the novel, the Martian Fighting Machine and the ironclad torpedo ram (i.e. the HMS Thunder Child). It assumes a familiarity with the novel (which, when you consider how many web sites feature the novel's full text, is not an unfair assumption), so setting and other info (especially on the Martians themselves) is sparse, and its tone when discussing the late-Victorian / early-Edwardian era in which The War of the Worlds is set feels rather tongue-in-cheek. Fans of both Mekton Zeta and The War of the Worlds who haven't already statted out the Machines will get the best value from it.
  • The next is a fairly well developed website by a gentleman named Steve Dismukes. Although it's named The War of the Worlds: the RPG, its scope is broadened to a significant portion of Wells' body of work, including The First Men in the Moon and The War in the Air. It uses Call of Cthulhu as its rule set, and as well as the mandatory information on the Martians and their Machines, it features a thorough, day-by-day breakdown of the Martian invasion, an alternate world history based on Wells' other works, details on the Lunar race known as the Selenites, general details on Man's post-War inventions and a complete adventure set during the War, which uses an interesting extrapolation of Wells' theories on Martian communication to allow the players to directly affect the War's outcome. It's also a little sparse in some regards, but quite lovingly detailed in others, especially with regard to the Martians. It was last updated in 1999, and I'd like to see more.
  • Finally, I came across Gold Rush Games' PDF/printed book supplement for their Action! System (also a free PDF) and D20 Modern. As a PDF, it can be downloaded for U.S.$6.95 (AU$8.75) and has perhaps the broadest coverage of all three works, including notes and system interpretations on Edwardian Britain, dual-system write-ups on the major characters, a thorough summary of the Martians (not quite as detailed as Steve Dismukes', but effective for the two pages they receive), extensive game master's notes for adventuring and campaigning during and after the War, battle rules using the Monster Island system and thorough and consistent (if occasionally inaccurate to the source) illustrations. The sourcebook can afford to be general, though, as it actually includes the complete H. G. Wells novel, also illustrated. It takes up over half the supplement's length, but if you don't own the novel, it's a worthwhile investment (perhaps less so for those who buy it as a PDF, unless they can get it affordably printed and bound at a Snap Printing or Kinko's).

And then, of course, there are Jared Sorensen's iSystem games, published by his company, Memento Mori Theatricks, and sold as PDF files via the Forge Bookshelf, both for U.S.$10 (AU$13.30). I've been harping on about these for a little while, and have even run a convention module based on one of them. Jared's iSystem takes an oft-unused approach to dice-rolling and task resolution: rather than the die result telling the player whether he or she succeeded in what he or she was attempting, it determines whether the player or game master get to describe not only the outcome of the player-attempted action, but also what happens next. It's a refreshing change, and while it takes a lot of the load off the game master (and if your play-group is relaxed and freewheeling enough, a GM could possibly be dispensed with altogether), it requires a free-wheeling, improvisational mindset and skill for it to work.

  • InSpectres v2.5 is the closest thing to a ghost-busting game since West End Games released the licensed Ghostbusters RPG. What makes it interesting is that it blends ghost-busting with the realities of a modern-day startup company, and this is supported directly in the mechanics, which exchange character advancement for franchise advancement - the "franchise" being a set of shared dice pools which any player can dip into to supplement any of their rolls (provided there are dice left). It also provides a structure for adventures, based on the theme of completing a client contract; the game starts when the prospective client comes in with a job and progresses through research, gearing up, "field work" (i.e. ghost busting) and mopping up afterwards.
  • octaNe: premium uNleaded is billed as "the psychotronic game of post-apocalyptic, trash-culture America", and is definitely more out there than InSpectres. The setting is best described as the love child of the Mad Max films and the descendent of every American D-movie in existence, making a career as an Elvis impersonator. System-wise, there's no real character advancement and not much character differentiation, but it's perfect for offbeat zaniness.

The InSpectres implementation of the iSystem is better suited to campaigning than octaNe's, but octaNe is better suited for beer-and-pretzels role-playing; in fact, one posting on the Forge boards stated that octaNe passes the "can I play this drunk?" test with flying colours - "Not too drunk, but drunk enough to be loose and regret your behavior the next morning" (so it should suit you fine, Boots).

I'm wondering whether this isn't reflecting a major shift in tastes for RPGs. I used to be into the big, chunky rulebooks like Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars, and big game lines with supplements galore (Heavy Gear), but now I'm on this "smaller is better" thing. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of mathematical balance in systems in principle - and that's why I think the Hero System is a work of genius - but I've sort of come to the opinion that while mathematical balance is a fine and good thing, it only really works in a mathematically-controlled system. The "game board" of a role-playing game is, by its imaginary, shared nature, hazy and imprecise, and my personal experience is that in RPG fights, when the maths are really meant to be used, players don't want to use them; they just want to be the heroes and/or do cool, action movie-inspired stuff.

Anyway, enough of my rambling; fire up your browser and go check these out for yourself. And if you want to play one of them some Saturday afternoon or evening - well, you know my e-mail address.

January 01, 2004

Happy New Year '04!

Morning everyone! We've just sat up and watched the fireworks on TV. Very impressive; even more so when you consider that there wasn't a real theme throughout. I liked the ending, though; I think it's the first time I've seen anyone actually use the Bridge as a motif rather than a mounting point/launch platform. Very funky indeed!

Looney (James Lownie) popped over at just past seven, catching me mid-shave. We did some catching up and played a little Halo, during which Notlih and Notlih, Snr. arrived! We sat around, consumed the Heineken Looney so thoughtfully provided (Thank you again, Looney!), chatted for a bit about the companies we work for and some of the fun stuff Notlih's older brother gets to do for a livin', and around ten thirty everyone decided to depart. Looney headed north for a party in Wyong (we don't call him Looney for nothin'), and the Notlihs headed home for a New Year's in.

Thankfully, Vickie was home ten minutes before the fireworks started (she had to work this evening). Not so long ago, we called Boots to wish him and his party a Happy New Year. He passed us on to Gav, and although Dan and Lesley were talking about going, I think they'd gone home by that stage, as I wasn't handed on further. (Or maybe Boots was just saving on his mobile bill.)

We're having a browse at the moment, and marking our 2004 calendar up with our important dates.

A Happy New Year to one and to all! May your headaches when you wake up later this morning be less strong than the ones that may come later this year, even if you drank more tonight than you usually do!