Archive for February, 2010

State of the Skarn

28 Feb

Another week, another round of content.

I’ve just about managed to exorcise whatever daemon spirit is camping my esophagus, and my gameplay buffer is back up, so I should be okay for updates this week. No excuses this time.

At this point, I’m going to go ahead and announce that the semi-secret project I’m working on is a submission to The Escapist’s webcomic contest. I won’t talk much about it, because there’s a frankly infinitesimal chance it’ll get picked, but I might just do something with it even if it doesn’t. Anyway, here’s the logo.

Again, I’m not going to say anything else about it right now. Moving on.

Got a link for you: partner in crime Jibar has just started two series, a fiction serial and a Dwarf Fortress LP. The LP’s got me in it, so of course I’m gonna read it. You should too. Find them both here.

I should probably have held off on linking them until they’re a few parts in, so you won’t lose interest, but go there anyway.

Comment of the Week was tricky, but I’m gonna hand it to Silemess for his comment on Cahmel 36. To wit:

Consider: Rats live in the sewers. In an RPG, oversized rats live in the sewers. These are known, on occasion, to be carrying an item. Ratsy may very well abscond with the entrusted goods to live as some sort of God-King among rats. Or, declare that his pack mules accompanying him are edible.

Runner up is 1d30 for his fascinating statistics demonstrating the decline of youth violence.

Anyway, as you were, you lot.

 

Crossfire Tango, Part 27

28 Feb

The top room of the clock tower was a disused empty shrine, honoring a bank of gears and springs that had long since rusted solid. They sat opposite the door, affixed to a massive clock face that had been torn away in places, letting in the thundering of rain and cold blue light of the night. Trenchcoat crossed over to clock, flicking on a lantern he’d hung from one of the springs.

Bruno tossed aside his flare, rubbing his grimy hands together. Trenchcoat watched with eyes that gleamed yellow.

“Here it is, ladies, gentlemen–the only man-like thing who can claim that he bested me in any way. Damn, but I was excited; this was the closest I’ve gotten to a fair fight in a long, long time.” Trenchcoat raised his shotgun, then pulled it back and rested it on his shoulder. “Except this is no ambush, he doesn’t have a weapon, and he even when he had all the advantages I still managed to hand him his mangy lice-ridden ass.”
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Also Not Mysterious

25 Feb

Another art test.

 
 

Not Mysterious at All

25 Feb

Art test. No further comment.

Also, new CoC below.

 
 

Clod of Cthulhu: Hard to Come Up With a Pun When You’re Eel

25 Feb

Running on massive sleep loss and waning-but-present illness, here. I’ve already written 2000 words of humor-like product tonight, and I’m not sure how much more I can squeeze out before I collapse from exhaustion, so I’m just going to ride the Cthulhu Train until my word text stops Englishing properly. I wouldn’t even be writing this post, but I feel guilty that I didn’t manage one while studying last night, so I’m just gonna grit my teeth and take one for the Hammer. Anyway, it might be a bit short, so sorry about that.

When we last left Jack Walters, he was planning on springing Burnham from his jail cell in the center of town. Jack’s plan seems to be:

1.)    Evade the disorganized, poorly-armed Dagon militia on the outskirts.
2.)    Head towards the police station, where the concentration of heavily-armed disciplined police officer cultists is the strongest.
3.)    Spring Burnham from jail, thus ensuring that a.) you are doubly conspicuous and b.) the fuzz has all the more reason to hunt you down.
4.)    Escape. This was impossible before, when it was just you against an entire city, but now that it’s you and an unarmed shop clerk against an entire city, you figure you can pull it off.

Yes, apparently Jack has concluded that the best way to free Burnham is to get himself killed going up against a jail full of armed police officers. I would argue that a better plan would be to escape, tell someone—anyone—about what had happened, then watch the National Guard curbstomb Innsmouth and demand Burnham’s release. There are two advantages to this plan: firstly, it has a lower risk of injury or death involved, and secondly, it’s not stupid as all hell.
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I’m Afraid This One’s About Video Games in Australia

23 Feb

Avast, people, because this post is exactly as political as I like to get on this site. Granted, it concerns the bureaucratic dogfighting of a country on the other side of the world from where I live, but the point stands that in some circles this is a matter of significant controversy. Plus, some fairly mature themes ahoy. If you’d like to stay clear of all of that, feel free to give this one a miss. Stick around, I’ll be back to yelling at Jack Walters some more tomorrow.

Alright, those of you who aren’t hep to Australian Videogame Policy are about to get a brief education. Australia has a rating system for things like movies and games—everything has to be classified before it can get sold to the masses. It’s a bit like if the ESRB and MPAA rating systems got merged and nationalized, which may or may not be a good thing—again, don’t want to get too political, here. Anyway, here’s the problem: Australia doesn’t have a rating for mature videogame titles. The strongest mojo they’ve got is the 15+ rating, which allows for content a bit stiffer than a PG-13 movie. If a videogame is nastier than this, it doesn’t get rated (officially referred to as “refused classficiation”), and it can’t be sold. This is, somewhat admittedly on the part of anti-mature-game crusaders in Australia, a pretty way of orchestrating censorship.

The primarily non-Australian videogame industry responds to this in a few ways. The most common response is just to remove content from the game—in the Australian version of Left 4 Dead 2, for example, the gore is massively toned down and bodies disappear almost instantly. This might not sound so bad, but other games get more seriously gimped—horror games, for example, need to remove some of the disturbing stuff from their games if they want to have any chance of getting past the censors.

This isn’t the only complication. When Alien vs. Predator, an extremely gory title, refused to remove visual effects and elements of gameplay that they considered necessary to the title, Australia’s board of classification gave up and let it through anyway. Which means you have to be 17 to buy it in the United States, and (I believe) 18 to buy it in the UK, but any 15 year old kid can swing by and pick it up in Australia.

Most polls, formal and informal, dictate that the vast majority of Australians either want an R18 rating for games or don’t care about the issue. Most of the problem stems from Michael Atkinson, the current South Australian Attorney General. He is obstinate, he is convinced that the kind of gamers who want an R18 rating are dangerous psychopaths, and—and I don’t want to sound petty, here—he looks straight-up exactly like a bridge troll or something. I don’t want to steal a picture of him, but seriously, image search that shiz. Look for one where he’s smiling. It’s unnerving.
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In a Hostile Country: The Saga of Cahmel (Let’s Play Morrowind, Part 36)

22 Feb

When we last left our ruggedly independent hero, he was outsourcing his fighting to a hobo in chainmail and his loot-carrying to a rat. If I can find a cheeky monkey to handle my bribery and petty theft, I can run this whole adventuring gambit from a strictly managerial position. Maybe legitimize it by calling it a guild—I don’t have a name yet, but I’m thinking either House Cahmel or the Awesomekicker’s Guild would best suit it.

At the very least, I need a name for our little band as it currently stands. I was thinking about Team Fantastic Victory, but somehow, that name doesn’t have quite the atmosphere of success I was going for. Whatever, I’ll come to it later.

Alright. Here we stand—I, Lord Cahmel, our reasonably fearless leader! A master of the long blade, and adequately trained with the weapon he will actually be using, Cahmel is a name feared by all evil men who prize the integrity of their faces. I let no sin go unpunished, unless it doesn’t directly affect me—in which case, I will mosey down like a slightly miffed angel, dealing out lukewarm justice if somebody’s paying me to do so. I am truly a force to be reckoned with!

At my right…what’s your name again? You know, I don’t actually care. At my right stands the mercenary! When I found him, he was standing in a gutter, his biceps naked and wild. I took him in, fed him, and used my folksy adventurer wisdom to tame his feral arms. Shirted, he is a mighty force for good–a singleminded juggernaut of pay-subsidized pain-dealing.

And at my left, my faithful companion, good Ratsy of Rattington. He may be small, he may be weak, and he may not have much to contribute to my fight against evil. This isn’t going anywhere, he actually is pretty much useless. But no matter! I’ll take him along anyway.

Together, we are…

The Knights of Cahmelot!

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State of the Skarn

20 Feb

Well, seems a new feature has sprouted on the site–not unlike a patch of foul-smelling mold, appearing overnight on the side of a neglected dumpster. I’m going to use this space to give news on upcoming posts, offer explanations for various netmoves, drop hints about future projects, and share particularly cunning commentary from you callywags. Of course, I’ll also provide thoughtful reflections on my situation. To wit: I currently have a payload of mucus the size of a gorilla’s fist lodged in my nasal cavity, and my throat feels like five or six inches of bad road. Additionally, I’m exhausted, a tad overworked, and at the time of this writing I’m surrounded by a drift of unwashed clothing that you could hide a tanker truck under. I’m feel a little like Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, only I’m overdosing on Arcanum instead of drugs. I can only speculate as to which is more addictive.

Anyway, I’m trying to keep juggling things with my head in this state, but it’s tricky. The stuff I do write ends up a bit loopy, and my eyes have trouble focusing on the text after too long spent writing. I’m going to try to do a double-length Morrowind post tomorrow (today)–that will get me more or less caught up. Anyway, I’ll get as much done as I can.

What am I currently working on? Well, besides this week’s standard fare, I’m working on my submission for the next issue of Diversion magazine. If you didn’t read the first one, do that now. I know the fact that we don’t actually have a cover yet isn’t exactly promising, but there’s some good stuff in there, and they gave me a column to do whatever I want with. It’s free, and a lot of work went into it, so what I’m saying is I’m going to hunt you down unless you download it and read every word, every god damned word. I’m also doing some prep writing for the radio series–that’s right, we haven’t forgotten about that, we’re just still working through the logistical issues. And then there’s the Rainbow Six 3 LP with Jibar, which will begin as soon as we’ve sorted out some annoying recording troubles. Plus, I really ought to revise the FAQ and Best Posts sections of the site. And then I’ll be doing homework, I guess. Maybe. I dunno.

And now for…the Comment of the Week!

This week, we had a lot of good comments, but one stood head and shoulders above the rest. It was witty, incisive, and sharp as a diamond tack. It caused me to rethink the very art of commenting, to question the purpose of internet writing–indeed, at the risk of exaggerating, the value of human discourse. It was the sort of comment that makes you stop and write over-the-top clearly-facetious introductions for it. It was written by a gentleman (or, perhaps, lady) by the name of ydraxast, and it reads:

vakeiixxsak ekaad sa  [link removed] jkasdjkasdn

[link removed]

[link removed]

Or something to that effect, anyway. My spam filter deleted it, for some reason, so I don’t have it on me anymore.

Anyway, post over, commence sleeping.

 

Crossfire Tango, Part 26

19 Feb

This could be better. I could be less sick, it could be less late, there could be fewer annoying gits in the hallway. Anyway, I’ll polish this one extra-hard in the last edit.

The shotgun lowered by a slim inch

“All over…except for the fun part.”

There was a moment of silence, and Vatsy cleared his throat.

Bruno’s eyes flickered towards Vatsy, standing there wide-eyed, cheerful, expectant. Maybe it was an eccentricity of the flarelight—no, no, it wasn’t. Bruno distantly registered a shallowness in Vatsy’s breath, a tension in his muscles, a tremble of his frame that was a degree off from the usual. Vatsy was grinning as wide as ever—he was grinning wider than ever, actually—but when he spoke, his voice was subtly wrong for the second time in one very long day.

“Bruno, could you please sort this out? I think perhaps we should be going.”
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Clod of Cthulhu: Sewer Shark This Ain’t

16 Feb

Still a wee bit on the loopy side, but I’ll push through it—I’m a man on a mission. I’ve got a character to mock, and if I have to deprive myself of sleep to do it, I can rest easy knowing it’s for the greater good of mankind. Or, actually, I guess just sit here and type easy, because I’m not really resting at all. And the whole good of mankind thing might actually be –yeah, actually, let’s just dive into the review.

Anyway, for a lethargic dunce who’ll risk evisceration if it means he can get his beauty sleep, Jack’s a squirrely little bugger in a tight corner. He manages to give the Innsmothketeers the slip time and again, utilizing his previously-unrepresented stealth expertise to do what he should have done from the start: run away from the Gorton’s Fish-men, and not look back.

Anyway, at some point, he bumps into a somewhat-sympathetic townie who tells him that the order will track him down wherever he goes—anywhere, that is, but the sewer. “Down sewers is the only place that them folks balk at venturing… and for good cause at that, mind you.”

Wow, what an ominous, clearly-foreboding statement that states unambiguously that the sewers are not just unpleasant, they’re dangerous. Allow me to patronize you by saying, “I can cope with foul air; it’ll be a welcome change from the smell of dead fish.”
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