Monday, March 26, 2012

Podcasting and Probabilities

It's been a little while since I've talked about gaming, my last post being mostly about a dream-like movie. Not a whole lot has happened with the game, but I did have a bit of a moment of clarity and I may (emphasis on MAY) have focused on a system. Nothing major, it's just the core mechanic that I want to get down - there are loads of permutations, and bizarreness to build around it.

If you imagine that the basic mechanic of Doctor Who is Stat+Skill+2D6=beat a difficulty, it's how that mechanic is implemented that makes the difference to the feel of the game. But without a core mechanic, it's hard to write the bits that go around it.

Sitting and cashing up at the day-job, the realisation came to me, and I had to stop and write it down on a scrap of paper. Then the next stop was (a) typing it all up so my notes made sense, (b) sounding it out to the genius gamers that I've been brainstorming with to get their feedback and (c) work out some probabilities to see if it's fair and works.

We'll see. It may all change and go a different route. When not thinking about the core mechanic, we had an excellent discussion about how the game can be used. And I have to admit, some ideas that came out of that surprised even me! I thought I'd worked out the many possibilities of WILD, but the scope is even more immense and bizarre than I thought.

I'll post more as and when it happens.

Meanwhile, I'm on the interwebs a bit more - I recently did a podcast with the cool guys at CarnageCast - (You can download and listen to it HERE). The podcast is a great chat about my work on Conspiracy X 2.0 and the game's recent revival thanks to Kickstarter. Give it a listen, hopefully I won't say "er" or "erm" too much during it.

Until next post! Sweet dreams!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Nobody that Nobody has seen...

Before I start ranting about how amazing the film Mr. Nobody is, I should make something clear first - I had no idea what this film was like before I watched it. Okay, I confess, the wife and I are big fans of Thirty Seconds to Mars, and my wife had become a little obsessed with cool frontman Jared Leto, picking up some of his lesser known films. Sure, everyone's seen Fight Club and Requiem for a Dream, but we'd heard he'd made this odd reflective movie just before he started on his 300+ gig tour for Mars, and I thought I'd get it for wifey for Christmas/Yule last year.

With nothing much on TV a couple of nights ago, we popped the Blu-Ray into the player with very little expectations, only to witness the stunning, multi-layered, reality hopping genius that is one of the best films I've seen for a while.

Mr. Nobody is a hard film to describe. Initially, it's a story of the last mortal - Nemo Nobody. At the age of 118, Nemo is the last human whose life hasn't been prolonged with medical advancement to a state of immortality. In his final days, he's interviewed about his life and Nemo tells the tale...

As he tells the tale, we see his life play out - but here's where it gets wacky. Starting with the hardest decision of his young life, choosing when his parents split whether to go with his mother to the States, or to remain with his father, he decides that every decision shouldn't be an either/or - it should be both. Why choose one or the other, when you should be able to choose both paths?

From here we see Nemo's multiple existences - the life in the States with his mother, and the girl of his dreams, Anna, as well as his life in the UK with his wife Elise, or his life with his wife Jean. These multiple lives splinter even further - we see Nemo die in a car accident, and not. We see him live with his incredibly disturbed wife Elise, and watch her die shortly after marriage in an explosion. We see him bored and married to Jean, and wander off letting his fate be decided by the flip of a coin.

We even see another reality where Nemo doesn't exist, a strange dreamlike reality where huge blocks of ocean are being lowered into holes in the sea. We see Nemo have a scooter accident and end up in a coma, and we see another possible future where he travels in suspended animation to Mars.

Trying this all together is the narration of the ancient Nemo Nobody, and some rather cool "Open University"-esque bits with Jared Leto in his best tweed explaining the physics of the universe, the big bang, how time is perceived and the multiple realities caused by every decision.

Sometimes, when you're watching a film you're enjoying, you have that moment when you think "Man, this is absolutely genius". It's hard to pinpoint that moment in Mr. Nobody. The obvious moment would be the bit that hits home to us all - the 14 year old Nemo is sitting at the side of a lake, and Anna sits next to him. He tells her that he doesn't want to swim, as "swimming is for idiots", and she goes away despite his liking her. We see his life play out a little, and see that it was doomed to be spent far from Anna. He ponders, "why did I say that?" and we rewind to the same moment, where Nemo says that he can't swim, and Anna stays with him.

How many times have we pondered our decisions - just the smallest of things sometimes in our past, and wondered how life would have changed, how things would have been different, if we'd only said something different, done the right or better thing? It's some thing everyone can relate to.

Maybe the moment in the film that sold it for me was the awesome camera shot near the beginning of the film when we see Nemo wake, brush his teeth and walk off, but the camera shot watches the reflection then goes into the mirror and follows the reflected world, where words are reversed, people move backwards, or do they?

Or was it the moment when the helicopters are airlifting in blocks of the sea? I remember looking over to the wife and she looked at me with a knowing glance - knowing that at that very scene I was loving every minute of the film.

The film is a complex but rewarding watch - at 2 1/2 hours, it's not a short experience, but the great thing about it, is the explanation of the whole film. There's always that fear, getting near to the end of a mind-bending film like this, that you get the pay-off, and it sucks. I started to worry when the word "Architect" was used, but... I really had nothing to worry about.

I won't spoil it for you, but the reason behind the whole film works perfectly, and it all makes sense. It's a dream of a film, with dream-like images that will remain in your subconscious for years to come. I'm already eager to rewatch the film, and I hope you take the opportunity to give this unseen gem a try.