Thursday, April 26, 2012

Some Assembly Required

Been a hectic couple of weeks. By now, you'll probably not only have seen my review of Avengers Assemble that was kindly hosted by those cool guys at Forces of Geek, but by now you've probably seen the movie (if you haven't yet, don't worry, my review isn't too spoilery at all - but the video I'm going to embed below is...). However, there's a tale to tell regarding the Avengers...

It was a strange sequence of events that came about thanks to my blogging for the UK SyFy Channel website. I'd done a series of features and reviews for their site, and due to this I was invited by the incredibly cool press company behind The Avengers movie to go to a screening of the film and to attend the UK Press Conference. However, the SyFy Channel's site hasn't been working with the bloggers for a while, so I called upon those excellent dudes at Forces of Geek and asked if they'd like me to review the film for them. Thankfully, the US has to wait an extra week before the Avengers opens there, so a review from a British reviewer is a particularly early scoop for them, and they said yes.

As I mentioned, I did the review, but the Press Conference? Now that was a surreal experience. I'd never really gone into the posher areas of London before, let alone Claridges Hotel, possibly one of the poshest and fanciest of five star hotels in the capital. I'd arrived early, so I lurked around outside while Rolls Royces dropped off and picked up people in suits, wondering if I really belonged here... Inside, the Marvel publicity department had booked the Ballroom, and decked the place out with the huge Avengers display as a backdrop.

Now comes the couple of downsides - one, I couldn't film or take photos at the event once it had started. Professional photographers were there to take pics and the publicity department would release them to the reviewers later. The other downside is that I couldn't audio record the event as my phone had died the previous night. Typically, I'd turned it off for the advance screening of the movie, and it just refused to come back on. On a particularly major night when friends and family needed to contact me as well...

That being said, I took a couple of photos before it started, mostly of the cool backdrop and table they'd set up for the stars. One of the advantages of getting in early? - Sitting on the 3rd row, just a matter of feet away from the stars of the movie.

I also took a pic of me there, just to prove I'd gone.

Edith Bowman, Radio 1 presenter, was in charge of the proceedings and came out first, letting us "press" know the rules of the conference. Then came the stars. I won't go into detail about what was said at the conference, as the whole thing can be seen on the Youtube video (produced by Digital Spy) embedded below - WARNING: THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS VIDEO)

[As a side note, at 0:22sec there's a camera pan to view the answer to the first question, and the camera whizzes over to the right. There's a tall guy in a white shirt on the second row, I'm sat one row back and off screen to the right. Just out of shot. Don't worry, spoilers start about 15mins in...]

Very strange being in the same room as these people. They're all horribly attractive. Robert Downey Jr is just Tony Stark. As you can see in the video, he's just Tony Stark all the time. Scarlett Johannson is rather purdy, and Jeremy Renner was very jetlagged. Cobie Smulders (who plays Maria Hill in Avengers) is gorgeous in person... you can see why these people are actors, and why they didn't cast uggo the ugly as I'm known in some circles.

Anyway, that's about it for the conference. It was very cool. Didn't last too long, but being about 15ft away from these people was possibly the ultimate end to the trip to London to see the excellent movie. (Seriously, go see the movie, read my review!)


On a more serious note, the blog posts here may be less frequent over the coming weeks for a couple of reasons. 1) Blogger is no longer supported by my ancient Mac. It's just a mass of crap on screen and I can't actually make new posts or format them in any way, and 2) had a bit of a family crisis which obviously takes priority. I'll post here as and when I can...

Until then, stay multi-classy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Gift of the Gaming

It's been a little while again since my last post, but it's been a busy few weeks. This last week saw not only my birthday, but also my wife's birthday and our wedding anniversary. Gifts were given, and my wife being the complete star that she is, knew exactly the sort of thing I like... GAMES!

We took a trip into London, and visited three suppliers of RPGs in one day! Besides the game section of Forbidden Planet, we checked out a couple of the biggest FLGSs in the capital. First on the agenda was Leisure Games. Resisting the urge to purchase the rather epic Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, I gained the rather cool Cold City RPG.

Haven't had chance to read it yet, but I've heard great things about both Cold City and Hot War. Though typically, I didn't realise it was a partner publication with Cubicle 7 until after I left the store. Looking forward to reading it!

While at Leisure Games, the wife managed to find a very cool set of blank dice. Chessex make this rather cool little set which is essential to the design work I've been pondering for WILD.

I'd been thinking about incorporating some form of "Wild Die" to add a bit of a "critical" element to the dice rolls in the game. I was initially thinking of something odd, so I ordered some of the more bizarre dice that don't usually get used in RPGs (D14's, D16's, D24's), and even looked into getting some custom made irregular dice (snub cubes, that sort of thing), but cost is always an element. So I started thinking about using D12's, with 2 or 3 sides coloured differently. May not even make it into the game, but it's something I'm playing with at the moment.

Next stop was the very cool store Orc's Nest, another FLGS, only with two floors of goodies squirreled away in there. First time I'd ever been in there, and they really do have a lot of cool stuff.

On top of Forbidden Planet, it was good to see all three of the big RPG suppliers in London all stocking the Doctor Who RPG, and it was even cooler to see that Orc's Nest had Conspiracy X 2.0.

In addition to Cold City, the wife bought me the excellent Mouse Guard RPG. We've been fans of Mouse Guard for a while, but I'd never checked out the RPG before. Based on The Burning Wheel RPG, there are some really nice elements to the game play in there - seasonal and environmental factors, the Nature of a Mouse and how "mousey" or "human" you are, and the use of Traits. Really good read. And the added bonus is that it was signed by the creator of Mouse Guard himself! Bonus!! And such a nice little hardback format too - square and compact. The sort of proportions I was thinking for WILD...

Final cool purchase of the week was a complete surprise. The eagerly awaited Marvel Heroic Roleplaying core rulebook. I'd bought the PDF the moment it came out, but I knew there was going to be a delay getting the "in print" version over here in the UK due to licensing, but it appeared! Excellent! Possibly would have preferred there to be a hardcover, but that's just me. My computer is so old it struggled a bit with the PDF so now I can really explore its intricacies and see what all the discussion has been about.

That's given me plenty to read for the time being - I think a hardcopy of Leverage RPG is going to be the next purchase, as the PDF I bought is so slow on the ancient computer, but in the meantime there was a particularly excellent delivery from Eden Studios this week - the Kickstarter copies of Conspiracy X 2.0: The Extraterrestrials Sourcebook arrived, along with my author copies, and the T-shirts.

For those of you who didn't Kickstart Conspiracy X, the Extraterrestrials Sourcebook is hitting distributors this week in the US and Europe, so please badger your local FLGS to get it in. And reassure them that the Conspiracy X 2.0 Core Rulebook is still in print to complement it. *hint, hint*

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Irony is not lost on me...

How typical is it that I'm supposed to be writing about Dreaming, and the worlds of Dreaming, and I can't sleep? Bloody typical. So instead, I'll sit up at 1am, try to fight off this head cold that I've probably gained from my day job (being the hive of public germs that it is), and sit with the cat upon me, writing my latest thoughts and updates.

WILD is progressing, albeit slowly. Not wanting to give too much away, I've made a radical deletion of a lot of the rules used in Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space and it is going a little more interpretational and freeform. It'll suit the game more than being too fixed in the heavy rules.

I've also decided to try to incorporate some random inspiration and interpretation story elements that'll give the GM plenty to draw upon when ideas are drying up, but also to add that weird random element that dreams sometimes have - giving the potential of the whole "Oh, I didn't realise my front door was connected to my old school classroom," effect. Trust me, it'll make sense in the end.

My poor unsuspecting test subjects (AKA, playtesters) have just about generated characters. Most have gone for older characters, which is a surprise, and the latest to be created was assisted along with the new Trait creation rules, for the whole new Traits set. It may be a little while until I'm confident enough to GM the game, I'll need to bash the test scenario into shape first...


Anyway, while I wrote today I watched another inspirational film to add to the list. This time, Parasomnia. A low budget horror movie from 2008 that was created and directed by William Malone, the chap who did the excellent Dark Castle remake of "House on Haunted Hill". Lacking studio backing, this really was a labour of love, with just enough budget to lure Jeffrey Coombs in to help.

The tale follows the story of a young girl, Laura Baxter, who's a parasomniac - meaning she sleeps most of her life, waking only for a fraction of the day and can fall asleep with very little warning. She's being haunted in her dreams by a crazy, hypnotising serial killer, Byron Volpe, in an adjacent room in a psych ward. So, when Danny falls for the sleeping beauty and steals her away from the ward, the serial killer attempts to recapture her, both in the waking world, and in the dream realms.

It's not bad, it feels like a straight to DVD movie, and it tackles some ideas that have inspired stuff for the game, but it's not sure if it wants to be A Nightmare on Elm Street or something different.

Well, the cat has just gouged chunks out of my legs, so I shall go to bed (after applying antiseptic) and hope for inspirational dreams.

Which reminds me - if anyone wants to suggest movies, TV series, books or even music about Dreams, that may inspire or help with the writing of WILD, please let me know in the comments!

Pleasant dreams...