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February 28, 2006

A Scanner Darkly

And while I'm on the topic of movies: All you broadband-enabled folks owe it to yourselves to take a look at the trailer for the upcoming film, A Scanner Darkly. Seriously. Don't let the fact that it has Keanu Reeves in it put you off (assuming you don't like Keanu Reeves). Just go watch it, then come back.

Done?

Now, I don't know about you, but this looks to be the most visually intriguing film I've seen in ages. Did you find yourself unable to make your mind up whether you're actually watching a cartoon or a live-action film? Yeah, so did I - until I realised that it's a cartoon of a live action film. I reckon they've actually shot the whole film like a regular production, then in post they took the footage, flattened the colours and added keylines. That's the only way to explain how real the motions look without looking, you know, actually real.

It looks mind-bending - and given its subject, it's a pretty funky idea. I really wanna see this film. (And read the Philip K. Dick novel it's based on.)

Movie Recommendation: Mrs. Henderson Presents

In lieu of a full review (which may or may not be coming later on), I'd just like to recommend that you all take some time out of your day and some money out of your bank to go and see Mrs. Henderson Presents as soon as you can. It is laden with wit and cheek - cheeky wit, if you will - and great performances from everyone involved, especially the two leads.

Heck, if Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins aren't enough to get you to go and watch it, you do not deserve to have taste of any kind!

February 25, 2006

So, what, are you a WWE fan or something?

Well, no. Not really. Never made an effort to watch it after my Mum and Dad got cable, didn't get pay-TV after Vickie and I moved in together, not got pay-TV since we moved up here.

... but it's one of those things, I mean, you know, the basic soap-drama, the "OH my GOD!!!", the sheer trash-culture silliness of it all, I dunno, I've always been kind-of, sort-of interested in it.

So, as Simon and Cristel are fans, and they have Austar, and we're heading around their place that time this coming Saturday for gaming anyway...

... you know, why not?

Global Integration

While I'm on the subject of friends, I'd like to direct you all to the website of Global Integration, a new company founded by Colin Richardson and John Østerberg. If you recognise that last name, it's probably because he's a good friend of ours from gaming circles. He and his friend Colin have gotten out of the rat race and gone into business for themselves, turning hodge-podges of legacy systems and new technology into unified, streamlined operating environments for businesses.

So, moving from a Ghostbusters analogy to one with another fixture of the eighties: If you have a systems problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire: The J Team.

Meeting Simon and Cristel

Well, we didn't get any gaming today. And you know what? It didn't matter.

We headed out Edge Hill way at around half past one, and arrived at Simon and Cristel's just after two. Simon and Cristel are a good pair of folks, very warm and personable, and definitely make no bones about their RPG interest. Of course, they were talking to known gamers, but when they have at least one of their living room bookshelves dedicated to AD&D and other assorted RPG stuff (including some fun books filled with traps to make dungeon-exploring PC's lives a misery, not to mention short) I doubt they'll be particularly backward on coming forward about their hobby to non-gamers.

We spent at least three-and-a-half hours talking about all sorts of stuf; gaming histories, current tastes in RPGs, old friends left behind, Cairns, why Brisbane sucks, SF, movies, I even sumarised my usual Starship Troopers rant pretty ably. We met Simon and Cristel's four girls (a handful whom the two manage pretty well), got a tour of their place (which has a fantastic covered patio area just ripe for some gaming) and had a generally great time. Oh, and Simon and Cristel are WWE fans.

In case you're wondering, yes, I did pull Primetime Adventures and Dogs in the Vineyard out, and they had a look, but as we were having a great time as it was, I didn't feel any urgency to get a game going - right then, just geeting to know these folks better was definitely more important than trying to rush into gaming. Still, we're getting together next week for some DitV, and we're seriously considering going forward with some AD&D and / or Starship Troopers.

Oh, and we're getting there a little early so we can do some group bonding over WWE Raw. Well, Cristel, Simon and I will, anyway. Vickie will probably be too busy gagging on the sheer steroid-overdrive, paper-thin-plotline cheese...

February 24, 2006

Conflict Resolution & Task Resolution Explained

Lifted from this Forge thread:

I am going to be a little pedantic about terms, so forgive me. As I use the term, conflict resolution vs. task resolution is best understood in terms of opponents. Let's say one character is chasing another, and the person being chased is confronted by a fence. It's time for a roll!

If the character rolls against the fence, in the sense that it is tall or otherwise difficult, and if we the players consider how fast or strong the character is, then this is task resolution.

If the character rolls against the pursuer, in the sense that the fence modifies the chase (and it might do so significantly if it is tall or whatever), then this is conflict resolution.

An important side point: the distinction has nothing to do with the scale of the events resolved by the roll. The in-game time might be a second or a day or a century. The number of individuals affected could be one bit of one character's body, or a whole shipload of characters' lives. A lot of people think "task" means smaller increments of fictional material, and "conflict" means larger increments, and that is not correct.

Sorcerer rolls should always be conflict resolution. They rely on the situation including a conflict of interest among fictional characters or entities. This is important too - another common misunderstanding is that conflict resolution concerns disagreements among the real people, and this is extremely incorrect. If you think in terms of conflict of interest, in my example, the fence is not a character - it can have no conflict-of-interest with anyone, ever. If the character came upon it and there were no chase occurring, there would be no roll. He would either get over it because he can, or he would not get over it because he could not, as dictated by the GM.

But if there were a chase occurring, the fence presents an opportunity to express the chase, with a modification to the dice perhaps if it is an interesting or dramatic fence. The chase is what's important - the conflict of interest between the two characters.

I think this is the first time that someone's explained this in a way that makes utter sense.

Ya Gotta Keep 'Em In Their Place...

From: Farquhar, Rob
Sent: Friday, 24 February 2006 10:54 AM
To: Ad Reps, Driving Guys, Features Bunch, Writer-y Peoples
Cc: The Boss
Subject: Morning Tea

Okay, you horrible lot, I've been getting some whingeing lately about how you're getting bored with just sausage rolls every Friday and that you want some - what was the word again? - variety, that's it. Of course, if I try to accomodate you whingers, I'm going to get whingeing from those of you who never, ever, bloody ever want anything else but sausage rolls, aren't I?
Well, seeing as how there's no rest for the wicked, I'm going to let you all sort it out. But, and you should all be bloody grateful I'm putting myself out even this much, I'm going to suggest some options.

Right. Option one, suggested by Sam this morning (so whinge at him if you don't like it): We start ordering a Bon Voyage Pack from Brumby's again. For those of you who can't remember what one of those is, it's ten sausage rolls, a choppa loaf, a classic garlic twist, a sundried tomato & olive twist, an apple T-ring and a Boston bun (no, I don't care if you don't know what those are, ask Sam). That comes to $29.95, so if you all get your $2 in on time, I can get some extra sausage rolls, some spinach and cheese rolls and maybe some extras from Woolies.

Now, given that when we last tried ordering that on Friday morning, we'd run into problems, so if you lot decide you want the Bon Voyage Pack (or some other pack, whatever) I'm going to put the order in on Thursday morning. Which means if you all come down with the flu and don't turn up on Friday to get your $2 in on time, I'll start booking your ads to each other's ID numbers! (Yeah, I know you Special Pubs guys don't book ads. I'll think of something, don't you worry.)

Then, there's Option 2: a deli platter from Woolies. Yes, that includes those controversial Lavish rolls I was buying for a while last year. I've got the cute little booklet with all the options if anyone wants to take a look. Of course, they're all a little more expensive than Brumby's, and because Woolies wants 48 hours' notice I have to book them on Wednesday morning. Which means if you all come down with the flu and don't turn up on Friday to get your $2 in on time, I'll start booking your ads to each other's ID numbers, then I'll call your clients, call them names and tell them I'm you! (Still thinking of something for you Special Pubs guys, don't want you feeling all left out.)

Oh, and someone said something about pies. I don't know about pies, so whoever it was - Deborah, wasn't it? - can investigate the options and (try to) convince you lot that pies are a good idea. In fact, please try it; I need the entertainment! Just make sure someone is left whole enough by the end to tell me what you all want, okay?

Because I care,

ROB

Just my way of dealing with the loonies I put up with every day.

I like to think Walter would be proud.

February 20, 2006

New Gamer In Town

Now for RPG-related news item the second: Been trading e-mails with the gent who organises ReefCon lately. He's having a hell of a time with his job, which has left him little time to organise Game Days, let alone the next ReefCon; it's all he can do to actually relax on weekends!

But just when I thought that any chance of decent face-to-face gaming was well and truly scotched for the next few months, I get an e-mail yesterday from a bloke who's just moved up to Cairns form Brisbane, and when I write "just", I mean he, his wife (who also games) and kids (who are a bit too young at the moment) arrived last week! He found the IMAGinES web log just before the move and figured I'd be a good person to fill him in on the Cairns gaming scene once he and his family got here.

We wound up spending some time instant messaging each other yesterday afternoon, trading photos, history and general info on the Cairns gaming scene. I called him last night, and Vickie and I will be going over their place this coming Saturday for a nice casual get-together. I'll let you know how we do!

Steve Darlington and the Curse of Castle Amber

Okay, RPG-related news item the first: Steve Darlington, he who loves Firefly, runs awesome games of Buffy and is currently writing under contract for the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay line (bastard), has set himself up a LiveJournal, which he's called D-Fuses (to which I've now created a link in the "Web Logs" box). That in and of itself is noteworthy, but the reason you should absolutely positively get your arse over there and start reading is this post about a very recent game of D&D he played in. Hy-fucking-larious, I tell you. I'm already reconsidering my views on D&D. Steve sums it up perfectly thus:

It's not just that we're silly people. It's that a high magic world like D&D is INHERENTLY silly. I mean, we live in a world where spiderclimb potions are a dime a dozen. I can't be the only one who doesn't imagine calvary riding their horses up castle walls.

Oh, and if that post doesn't make much sense, Steve provides some historical perspective here.

February 18, 2006

Eat Your Heart Out, Tom Cruise...

Remember the funky, holographic display that the Precrime Department used in Minority Report?

Check this out.

February 17, 2006

RIP Andreas Katsulas

I know it's a little late, especially as Gav broke it on the IMAGinewS group a couple of days ago (thank you very much, by the way, Gav, I wouldn't have known for a while otherwise), but I'd just like to forward the news to anyone else who mightn't have got it yet of the death of actor Andreas Katsulas on Monday, February 13th. Best known for his role as the passionate, complex, warrior-priest named G'Kar, Ambassador for the Narn Regime, on the science fiction television series Babylon 5, he was 59 at the time of his death.

Creator and producer of Babylon 5, J. Micahel Straczynski remembers his friend here.

Rest in peace, Andreas. You will be very sorely missed.

February 16, 2006

New Monkey in Japan

Fans of that seventies kids' action seires, Monkey (I know one IMAGinewS member at least who as the DVDs), may be interested to know that an eleven-episode remake has broken viewing records in Japan and across Asia.

According to the BBC, a British company has secured the rights and will screen the show in the UK later this year.

By the way, anyone remember how I was saying a few years ago how the anime Cyber City Oedo 808 was another take on the original Monkey story? Three heroes / crims - a smartass, a calm and detached one and a big, tough one - serving a priest / cop under duress? Plus the fact that, according to this resource on the new series, both the lead characters have the same name (Son Gokuu, The Monkey King / Officer Sengoku)? Doesn't seem as much of a stretch...

February 12, 2006

Yet More Recorded Actual Play!

This one's a session of the game I've been pimping since mid-June, Primetime Adventures. Instead of being an Internet voice chat, this is a recording of a convention session that was run at Dreamation 2006, resulting in a TV series called Life on Mars. I fyou want to get a better idea of how this Primetime Adventures RPG I'm on about works, download the sound files and have a listen! And if you like what you hear, let me know and we can sort a game out!

If you're wondering, the sound quality on the small MP3 files is okay, around telephone quality; if you have a decent broadband connection and can download the 40+MB zip files, though, the sound quality is much more clear!

February 10, 2006

Nice Vista of the Halo, Chief

Microsoft has announced that the PC version of Halo 2 (Holy shit! They are doing one!) will only run on the latest, yet-to-be-released iteration of Microsoft's PC operating system, Windows Vista.

It seems like a rather cynical marketing move to me - after all, the Xbox versions of Halo and Halo 2 run on the same basic engine, and we're already seeing Halo 2 levels of graphical detail (the only technical reason that seems plausible enough to hold the game over until Windows Vista) in current and upcoming PC games.

Of course, I'm happily playing it on the Xbox, but how do you PC guys who've been steadfastly hanging out for the Halo sequel feel about all this? Heck, considering the talk about how Windows Vista will need a hefty 3D video card and a gig of RAM minimum, what sort of beast PC do you reckon you'd need to get Halo 2 running smoothly and at a decent level of detail?

February 07, 2006

This Ain't My Father's Magic Roundabout...

Doogal.

I dunno. The Magic Roundabout with American accents? Ermintrude saying "all up in here"?

Okay, so it was French first, so maybe, fair enough.

But still, they can't be messin' with my memories like that!

What? Yes, I remember TransFormers better than The Magic Roundabout. So what?

February 03, 2006

A Very Browncoat Top 10 (and Top 20)

I was just browsing the Sci Fi Wire site again and noticed they had Amazon.com's top-selling genre DVDs as at January 27th. It looked a little like this:

  1. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  2. Corpse Bride
  3. Serenity
  4. Firefly complete series
  5. Lost season one
  6. Battlestar Galactica season 2.0
  7. Lord of the Rings trilogy
  8. Dune (Extended Edition)
  9. Star Wars: Episode III
  10. The Time Tunnel volume one

Let's see if I can give that top ten a little more context. Here's the up-to-the-minute SF&F top ten on Amazon.com. As of this writing, Serenity is still at #3, although Wallace & Gromit has been removed (presumably someone changed its classification - which suggests that Serenity should have been at #2 in the above list) and Firefly has been nudged down to #5 by What The Bleep Do We Know?.

But let's bounce back to the overall DVD Top Sellers list. There's Wallace & Gromit back at #1, but Serenity is #15, and Firefly is #19 - Episode III is at #32, wedged between The 40 Year Old Virgin and Hill Street Blues Season 1!

Now, let's face it: It's hard to know whether Amazon or bricks-and-mortar retail generates more sales without hard figures. You could argue that Amazon's shoppers, being all Internet- and tech-savvy, are more likely to be aware of and interested in genre releases. Heck, you could also argue that the main reason Serenity and Firefly are both beating Episode III is that most buyers are getting their Star Wars at their local department/DVD store instead.

Still, it makes for interesting reading. Supporting material for the viability of a direct-to-DVD model for Firefly Season 2, perhaps...

February 02, 2006

T3h N3ts b3 B4ck

I wound up going to Cairns Battery World, across the road from the Cairns Central shopping centre, after the Tandy there said they couldn't match our ADSL modem's 15Volt/1Amp AC adapter (it seems AC adapters with that high a voltage and amperage are as rare as hen's teeth). I wound up buying a 12V/1A adapter for a little over $20, and it appears to be doing a storming job of powering the ADSL modem.

Odd, but as the modem's ticking along fine with no apparent problems, I'm happy.

Curses! Beaten To It!

After my thus-far unsuccessful attempts to get some voice chat gaming going, Matt Snyder, creator of the Nine Worlds RPG and the Daedalus RPG e-zine, has gone and played a session of Nine Worlds over Skype. The overall result was a success, and Matt has even made recordings of the game session available online! I haven't heard them yet myself, but I will get downloading once I get home (assuming I can get an AC adapter for the ADSL modem today).

So come on, all you broadband-enabled slackers out there! I'm not just talking craziness here, it can be done and it can be done well! Who's up for a frigging game?

February 01, 2006

Firefly Season 2?

I first heard about this through Mandi, who e-mailed me a URL to an interesting site intended to gain support for a second season of Joss Whedon's cancelled-far-before-its-time show Firefly. I will confess to some skepticism about it, as Joss Whedon has gone on public record to say that "We'll never make Firefly again, because that was a thing that existed and is now gone."

Of course, the entertainment industry is littered with "nevers" that became "okay, maybe just once more"s, but considering that on the "Here's How It Was" making-of documentary, Joss said that Firefly "was the source of more joy and pain" than anything else he's done, I can certainly understand an unwillingness to revisit that territory for fear of getting horribly burned once again.

Still, this article on SciFi.com's SciFi Wire news service is making FireflySeason2.com look a little more credible. The guy behind it doesn't seem like Just Some Passionate Fan; it seems he has money and organisation, and perhaps the ears of some important folks.

And I know for sure that I'm one fan who wouldn't object at all for paying for a DVD of each new episode as it came out.

So, if you like Firefly or Serenity in the slightest, give FireflySeason2.com a shot. You never know; every little might just help take a certain Firefly-class transport back out to the Black again...