Geek Etymology – The Paladin

Have you ever noticed a recurring word that’s used commonly among various geeky things? It could be a piece of terminology you see only in roleplaying games, or perhaps a word that has been appropriated and changed for use in fantasy or sci-fi settings. I come across a few of these, and I always wonder where they come from, so here I’m going to explore them with Geek Etymology!

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To start with I thought it would be appropriate for me to look into the origins and evolution of the word ‘Paladin’. As most of my friends will tell you, I usually end up playing a paladin or similar character in RPGs, and I also go for a paladin style in other games such as Magic: The Gathering. To be honest it is probably this word alone that got me to think of looking into the origins of words used in RPGs and other geeky stuff, but once I started to look around I found many others that warrant some research.

Before we look into the past of the paladin, let’s see what it means to us today. Although there are some other minor uses, the primary way we see the term used is to describe a fantasy character, either in a narrative sense, or a mechanical sense as the character’s ‘class’. They are usually characterized as a holy warrior who fights for the forces of good against evil, usually heavily armoured, wielding a shield and some holy magic and healing ability. As of today you’ll find the word most closely linked to Dungeons & Dragons, but also plenty of other RPGs which were influenced by D&D, as well as many Videogames. Continue reading “Geek Etymology – The Paladin”

Power Creep – Why MMOs, MOBAs and TCGs Die Early

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If you’re ever stepped away from your favourite competitive or collectable game for a while, only to be demolished by the new expansion content when you return, then you’ve felt the sting of power creep. Or maybe you were always bad at the game? But for today we’re going to assume it was power creep.

So what are we talking about when we use these dreaded words? For many the term has simply become a way of accusing developers for not keeping an eye on game balance, frequently seen between Massively Multiplayer Online games (and more recently, the MOBA epidemic) and more traditional card games. Is it really just every new axe that’s better than your old axe? Is it every card in a block that uses that broken new mechanic? Actually before it became a catch-all term the phenomena of Power Creep warned of a very specific problem that occurred usually over years of development on a particular game. The idea that as time goes on the ‘power curve’ that carefully maps out the value of something with its power will skew higher and higher, making low-cost tools even stronger and completely negating the more balanced content that came before. Continue reading “Power Creep – Why MMOs, MOBAs and TCGs Die Early”

Y a ti como te gusta tu Carcassonne…? (Expansiones y variantes)

Hoy me voy a poner a comentar una cosa que es realmente gustos más que nada – pero bueno, de gustos también hablamos. Así que hoy me voy a dedicar a comentar las expansiones del Carcassonne que a mi personalmente me gustan, las que son mis preferidas y el por qué – Y si hubiese alguna que no me hace ni pizca de gracias, pues también.

Lo primero comentar que, a mí, personalmente, me gusta jugar el juego original y no las nuevas variantes – que hay algunas que son muy chulas e interesantes, pero prefiero lo clásico. Sobre todo si estoy jugando con gente primeriza que se puede hacer todo un lio, prefiero no complicarme la vida. Y de esa forma, luego ya si quiero,  me lio yo la manta la cabeza y le pongo las expansiones que me apeteca. Normalmente, de la lista que os voy a dar a continuación juego con todas, o casi todas al mismo tiempo. Así que aquí os dejo mi listilla:

El rio I & II: ésta, para mi, es obligatoria. ¿Por qué? Pues yo creo que al tener el rio ahí por el medio le das más gracia al juego. Tienes que pensar más desde el punto de vista de distribución de las granjas. Y también cambia algo el sentido y dirección en el que se ponen las fichas. Normalmente veo que en juegos sin rio, hay muchos mas cuadraditos en blanco, y no un mapa coherente (y a mi me gusta que estén todas las fichas unidas de una forma u otra, sin espacios ni nada). Además, el rio es una puñeta honesta: no como ese caminillo a medio cerrar que te han plantado ahí para que no puedas terminar tu ciudad, ahí a mala sangre. El rio pasa por el medio, y si te va bien, pues bien, y si no, pues chimpum. También hay algo que me tira mucho a mi, y es la coherencia. Muchas ciudades medievales se construían al lado de fuentes de agua. Me gusta saber que mis chaneros chanereantes y cerditos tienen donde beber; es cuestión de inmersión, supongo. (También pueda ser que sea yo muy rara). Continue reading “Y a ti como te gusta tu Carcassonne…? (Expansiones y variantes)”

Really Cool Awesome Chat with Nic & Stack from Owlman Press!

Today we bring you an interview with our good friends from Owlman Press Nic & Stack. Here they will tell you a bit about themselves, their company and projects, which are all very exciting. You have already heard about their work in this space from our review of Skum of the Stars -Skum of the Stars Review

It is thanks to their game that we met and we want to share their awesomeness with you – so hook up 🙂

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Dear Stack and Nic, please first of all could you tell our readers, how did Owlman Press get to be? Could you explain to them a bit of your background as individuals and how this all ties in together? What are your roles?

Nic: I was raised on a farm in rural New South Wales. I grew up with a lot of Western movies and developed from a young age a love of the genre. As I grew older, I really wanted to make my own. That said, for someone who grew up wanting to write the area near us didn’t cater to many interests. It was either football or fishing (there was also tennis, but that was for the weird people). Writing certainly wasn’t one. So, I pretty much felt lost all the time, unable to explore my interests until I discovered that the nearby town had a comic store. There I discovered roleplay games in the form of Deadlands: The Weird West. My first experience playing was as the Game Master and I quickly found that the role gave me a vehicle to tell stories and develop writing skills in a way that I just didn’t have access to anywhere else.  Again, after playing that for a bit I really wanted to make my own. By the time I was doing my PhD, examining the role of Tonto in the Lone Ranger, I’d consumed enough Westerns and a wide enough array of games to get a sense of what I both wanted to do and do differently with both. My first game, Frankenstein Atomic Frontier, really started as a vehicle for me to both – write westerns and roleplay games. Owlman Press came out of that.

In terms of roles, Stack and myself often initiate concepts jointly, talking about them back and forth. I typically flesh them out into actual background and add the rules. Stack manages the “public profile” side of things for our games along with managing the contacts and so forth. She is also the quality control, reading over everything to make sure it’s up to scratch. We also have great body of friends who help us develop our concepts and come around regularly to play. If you look in our books, you’ll see the same names popping up over and over again.

Stack: So, I grew up in a couple of small country town called firstly Clunes and then Scarsdale both of which are several hundred kilometres away from where Nic grew up. I enjoyed reading and writing from a young age as well as sports such as Roller Hockey until I experienced a sporting injury which has caused life-long complications and a chronic pain condition. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do once I finished high school. All I knew was that I really loved circus/sideshow and writing. So I enrolled into a professional writing and editing degree which is where I met Nic. I hadn’t played any table top RPG type games till I met him so a whole new world was opened up to me at that point. After we started dating we started several projects together, various magazines with other writers, a local writers group nothing really stuck, and eventually Owlman Press sort of developed out of these experiences, and as the games developed further. I look after the social media side of things mostly cause I’m a internet junkie and edit everything developed through Owlman.

I deferred my writing degree several times over the years as we grew our family – being a stay at home Mum for six years while Nic studied his PhD. I eventually went back and finished the final units to attain my writing degree in 2014 (three kids later!) I considered going onto BA Honours but personal experiences helped me find a new passion in women’s healthcare and pregnancy and birthing rights. So now I find myself studying nursing which I’m loving.  

I guess this is just a fancy way of asking, how did you guys get to be so cool?! Because you are parenting, working, researching, making games, photography…I mean, do you guys sleep?! It takes some pretty special kind of people to get going what you have – apart from the fact that as people you two are just Cool, nice and pretty awesome. What is your secret? Do you struggle? We all know it is hard for independent creative people like yourselves to keep things going.

Nic: How did I get to be this cool? Easy – I do what every other cool Australian does. I hunt and kill a Dropbear every morning before sunrise, and then eat it for breakfast. Science and other sources show that eating a Dropbear is guaranteed to make you cooler. In all seriousness, however, I’m going to take the first part of that question as a compliment. I’m honestly just following my passions.

Continue reading “Really Cool Awesome Chat with Nic & Stack from Owlman Press!”

My Top 5 Videogame Soundtracks

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I’ve been listening to a lot of my favourite videogame soundtracks lately, and it got me to thinking about why the music from games can be so great in ways that other mediums can’t accomplish. The music in a game is a very important part of the whole experience. It can give a certain desired feel or encourage different emotions at certain times. Also, when listening back to these tracks they can bring back memories of great moments you had when playing, even years later.

So here I’ve decided to go through my top 5 soundtracks. It was a struggle to get it down to this many, but in the end my criteria for including them on this list meant that I wanted games that I loved to play the most as well as having amazing music. Also, there needed to be more than just a memorable main theme. Game series’ such as The Elder Scrolls or Battlefield have legendary main themes, but the rest of their music is ,while perfect for their games, mostly forgettable. So some of my honorable mentions include various titles such as FTl: Faster Than Light, Frozen Synapse, and Killing Floor. While I both love these games and their soundtracks, they were simply overshadowed by those on this list and would probably feature in a top 10. There are also a couple of games such as Payday: The Heist and Payday 2, as well as Hotline Miami that I really enjoy the soundtracks for, but I simply haven’t played much if at all, and I mostly like their music more than the actual game.

Anyway without further ado, here is my top 5 in no particular order! Continue reading “My Top 5 Videogame Soundtracks”

Interview with Emily Whitaker: author of Ladies of Market Street

Today we bring you an interview with independent comic book author Emily Whitaker. She will be unveiling the story behind her latest creation of Ladies of Market Street, a comic about “crime-fighting hookers”.

The comic is out for sale through amazon and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N37BQ3T

You can also follow Emily on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ee_whit

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So Emily, please tell us… We know you and Trey met at a local art show, and that is how you two managed to pull this off, because of your cool skills were like peanut butter and jam…But how did you come up with something as remarkable as crime fighting hookers?!

This is actually a story that has been with me for years now.  I elude to the fact that the Ladies are also Real-Estate agents.  I get into more of this in the next issue.  But they use the vacant apartments for parties and to entertain their Johns and such things!  And it is that Real-Estate Agency that first gave birth to this strange story.  In 2003 I worked at a Real-Estate agency in New York and all the people were young artists.  We would use the vacant apartments for everything… if we needed a bathroom, a place to change, or some privacy!!!  My roommate was in love with an apartment on the upper east side that wouldn’t sell because they were asking too much.  So every Sunday she would go there to paint because the sun would come through the windows just right!  I wrote our story at first, but it was about that time that I was coming face to face with facts of human trafficking throughout the world and in the city.  The only way I knew to fight it was to write about it.  And to create women who were strong enough and savvy enough to truly fight something so heinous.  So I put pen to paper and got to create these amazing women and  fight the war the only way I knew how.  It is a serious subject, but while I was writing it I felt I wanted to be friends with these women.  And that is the joy I hope my readers have as well.

Continue reading “Interview with Emily Whitaker: author of Ladies of Market Street”

Why I Hate Dark Souls

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My first fevered steps into Dark Souls, like so many others, involved blinking into the hazy blur of its opening cinematics and looking for something to latch onto. Some refence point, some characteristic element; Where are we? When are we? WHAT are we?
If you’ve played these games (as the core Souls series are fundamentally the same in many, many ways) you know that what little story we get tells of an age of fire coming after an age of darkness, followed immediately by another age of darkness. Why? No idea really.

There’s a really important flame somewhere and some git let the draft get in because those embers are starting to die out and it’s up to someone- most likely you- to fix that problem. Just who are we exactly and what place do we fill in the world? Well apparently the one thing we most definitely are is ‘undead’, and there’s something about a Dark Sign that sometimes appears on dead bodies. Why? No idea really.
This marks the begnning of one of my biggest problems with Dark Souls, and the Souls series as a whole, alluding to the story without presenting you with any story. Like referencing a book nobody among your friends has ever read. Telling a joke nobody at the table has the context to find funny. Dark Souls commits an engagement sin as soon as it loads its first cut scene- it cannot leave us wanting more, because it begins with nothing. Continue reading “Why I Hate Dark Souls”