Sunday, June 30, 2013

Just Bwause 2 (Just Cause 2 Completed... Sort Of!)


I finally beat Just Cause 2 the other day. Well, sort of... I finished the main story and entered Mercenary Mode - where I can finish off the 70% of the game I haven't done yet. To be honest, I've uncovered most of the locations (but not all) and just have to work my way from boring shantytown to boring shantytown collecting Blinking Silver Boxes of Obsessive Compulsive Goodness. Of course I've banked a ridiculous amount of money because for the first three dozen hours I didn't use the black market at all. In a game about blowing things up and hoarding collectibles, it's hard to actually spend something you earned to get something that you know will eventually catch fire, run out of ammunition, or get shot up. What I'm trying to say is that in a fictional world of blowing things up for money my biggest enemy is my frugality with the fictional currency.

It's hard to argue against it though, when clipping an enemy patrol car can result in helicopters materializing out of thin air with infinite bullets and rockets just waiting to be hijacked. I mean... why buy the flying death machine when you can re-channel destruction for free, right?

With Brightest of (There's Even A Tracker For Flying Close To The Ground Apparently) Greens,
BW

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bwogosphere, The Game #2: BW Downloads Java!

Just a little bwog to let you know I have, indeed, downloaded Java SE and Eclipse. What will be the result? Only time and my propensity to rage quit will tell!

With Brightest of (Probably Just A Character Generator Of Some Sort To Start With) Greens,
BW

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dan Bull, Bwogonaut of the Week


Here's the thing: You need to go find Dan Bull's videos and watch them all, and then send him lots of money. He's in England, so you'll have to convert to pounds or... I dunno... Septims? Bottle Caps? He'll probably be cool with septims actually.

Anyway.

That's it. The more words you have to read here means the less time you have to devote to Douglby.

You're welcome.

With Brightest of (English) Greens,
BW

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hanbwog (Hancock Film Review)


I just watched this for the second time and felt I needed to share my thoughts - from the past! Before I watched it the first time, and then right after, I composed the following review:

"Academy Award nominee Will Smith stars in this action-packed comedy as Hancock, a sarcastic, hard-living and misunderstood superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public. When Hancock grudgingly agrees to an extreme makeover from idealistic publicist Ray Embrey, his life and reputation rise from the ashes and all seems right again - until he meets a woman with similar powers to his and the key to his secret past."

Looking at the cover and remembering what people were saying about it when it was in theatres, and knowing that I bought it for $5 at Wal-Mart, leads me to believe this is going to be either an underdog that I love or a total piece of tripe. The cover looks like a Hulk knock-off (Smith is portrayed with his trademark furrowed brow and wearing purple shorts amidst a general scene of poorly-photoshopped disaster) but with Hancock's feet inexplicably buried beneath the concrete. Is that one of his super powers - the ability to walk through asphalt up to his ankles while wearing a heavy leather jacket and shorts in a thunderstorm? I suppose we'll see. More furrowed brow shots on the back, with some hints of domestic instability, unhappiness in his new uniform (definitely not at all based on the X-Men movie uniforms...), and - I think - Charlize Theron looking really washed-out. She's the other half of the domestic instability mentioned above I guess, and maybe the eye shadowed version is her in uniform. Actually, the more I look at it... Will Smith is definitely about to clang two cooking pans on her head. Interesting.

This is the "1-Disc Unrated Edition" that contains a number of special features which I may decide to watch - if the film intrigues me enough. So, without further ado, let's have a watch of Columbia Pictures' 2009 film - Hancock!

Predictions: From what I've mentioned about the movie, and from the scant reviews to that effect I remember hearing about the movie (namely - Will Smith is a superhero, you should see this, etc.), I'm going to make a few guesses...

1) It's hard to determine whether the existence of superpowers is known to the general public at all, or if it's just an event that's beginning, or if superpowers are commonplace. Smith is wearing dark sunglasses in what I assume is his new costume but he's otherwise uncovered in other shots - and you'll remember Charlize is depicted two different ways as well. So either it's a phenomenon that Smith, excuse me, Hancock has to grapple with - something like a Puny Banner/Incredible Hulk situation - or something that is mostly known about and accepted (or, in this case, rejected because of performance). I'd hate to think they rip off The Incredibles so much as to have a secret organization tracking all the blah blah blah, but if so then I'm sure that's where Charlize comes in.

2) I would really like to see it turn out to be something like when Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle discover their hero personas while making out. I really think that's one of the most classic and original moments in film I've ever seen and those two pulled it off really well. Smith breaks a door because he's too angry, looks at her in terror that she might deduce he's a superhero, and we see the sink she was standing next to has a big indented hand print from where she was squeezing too hard - a mutual discovery that leads to a Mr. and Mrs. Smith sort of ending.

3) Jason Bateman is in this film as well, and I'm pegging him as either the sidekick or the bad guy. I hope it's not both, since that would be a sign of ripping off The Incredibles again.

[These were just some notes I made in real-time while watching, but I'm leaving them in because, hey, why not?]

Observation #1: Eagles = Eagle's (23m) [This is totally me having caught the reference when Charlize puts on the Eagles shirt to sleep in]

Observation #2: Asshole = head up asses

Observation #3: Heat when together - jiffy pop, cooking

As the credits roll...

Umm... kinda wanna say it's tied for my favorite movie with Iron Giant (nothing will ever supplant that, btw). Reminds me a lot of Unbreakable. Some cute little Easter Eggs (like Charlize's Eagle t-shirt) and an original plot, and I really like that they just skipped the origin story and left it mostly open-ended. I'm really not crazy about the language in the beginning, though I suppose they're trying to establish Hancock as a certain type of personality. I wasn't crazy about that guy losing a second arm and then pointing it out instead of, like, screaming or something, but it was comic-ish enough. All in all... I'd love a sequel, or at least a series. Yeah... a series. It's like this was equal parts Highlander, Incredibles, Unbreakable, and Kickass - and that's a good combination. I'll give it a nine out of ten, with that point being taken off for the language - but I thought the line in the beginning about all the people blocking the intersection being idiots was hilarious - and some of the shots were beating a dead horse just a bit. A solid movie though. On to the Special Features!

...Which I still haven't watched. That's pretty spot-on review though, I really did enjoy the film the second time around too. Go watch it right now.

With Brightest of (He Gets An Eagle Because He's Will Smith, That's It) Greens,
BW

Friday, June 14, 2013

Urban Dead, a Bwogtastic Online Zombie Sim


So for those Bwogonauts who've done their reading, it's no surprise that ol' BW likes RPGs. I also like free games, simple games, and open world environments. I have a special love for survival horror games, with or without zombies, because I like resource management of things like... well, myself. There's something particularly addicting for me about having to get that next healthpack or pistol clip and if I might die of exhaustion as much as feral zombie dogs then all the better.

Enter Urban Dead. I discovered this game years ago - I don't remember the exact date I started playing, but here's my text entry in "zombie appearance" (you can write anything up to 255 characters and it helps to keep track of things sometimes):

First died on Sunday April 27th, 2008 in a zed raid on Bowring Police Station in Spicer Hills. Again, outside the entry warehouse on June 5th, 2008 and in Dickins Park 6/25/08. 8/11/08 at the Mallet Museum. 6/10/13 in the Padden Museum. PLEASE REVIVE ME

My first in-game death was over five years ago. Now to be fair, sometimes I forget about playing this game... like for months and years at a time. It so simple to play though, and so incredibly easy to die if you don't plan ahead, that I keep coming back. The community is persistent too - I have a particular location that I visit often and some of the same players have been there since the beginning (or at least when I started). Okay, on to my review (which you should really just skip to go make an account with UD but have it your way if you insist)...

There's a couple mechanics that are going to, pardon the pun, come into play here. First of all, you only get 50 Action Points at a time. They get used up to do things like... well, like anything. Almost everything costs AP. They refresh at the rate of 1 every thirty minutes of real-time. Consider yourself earned. Secondly, there's experience points. These are gained most from combat but there are other ways (healing players, etc.). You spend XP to buy skills - of which you'll need a few almost from the get-go (freerunning, for instance, is almost essential for anyone playing). Encumbrance is measured in percents, which is really nice, and dropping things doesn't cost AP. The user-interface is ridiculously simple - there's a nine-squared map on the left of your screen (you're in the middle one) that you can click to move on, one square at a time. On the right at the top is a description of the space you're in, including any zombies or survivors. Below that is all your available actions and the AP cost. You can search for things, open doors and enter buildings, build barricades, load you weapons, setup a generator and fuel it, re-tune your radio to a different frequency, attack someone, revive someone, use a first aid kit, and a lot of other things. There's only a handful of weapons in the game which turns a lot of people off (those who haven't already left from the graphic layout that doesn't require a three-hundred dollar video card) but it's a simulator - how many different kinds of weapons do you think you're likely to find in an average neighborhood anyway, and would you know the difference? You get a pistol and a shotgun and that's it, holding a maximum of six rounds and two shells respectively. You can choose to start as a number of different types of survivors but some are better-suited to playing alone. If you're one of those, incidentally, just go ahead and log out right now. We don't want you around Malton unless you promise to distract the zombies with your tasty flesh. Since you're likely going to become one pretty soon yourself, we'd rather not have to waste our precious AP one you. Someone who goes it solo will probably last less than the average Day Z player to be honest, depending on where they start, and they'll totally deserve it. Player Killers are also around for sure, but I think at this point most people are content to survive.

Except the zombies.

Once you die as a survivor, you'll find that you can stand and be... a zombie! There's a whole skill tree for the zeds that you'll be able to buy up, if you're into that. It's not a bad route to go - you can find videos on YouTube of how the proper coordination of zombie hordes can be quite devastating. Some things are persistent, like wearing a flak jacket, but for the most part you won't be able to do anything you could as a survivor. It's commonly accepted that cemeteries are revive points (because, duh) and if you hang out there for a couple days someone will likely come and stick you with needles so you can be your old self again. You'll still have all your loot too, which is nice.

"But who cares, BW? We want to kill things!"

Well that's okay with me, but you won't enjoy UD. In the last couple days (and I hadn't played in almost a year), I logged in to discover I was a zombie, stood up and left my destroyed safehouse (zombies can really cause havoc) and made for my old haunt. I figured there'd still be players there and that the cemetery was a good spot to get revived. I was right and I made it to the entrance (you can barricade buildings up so much that survivors can't enter them except through adjacent buildings using the freerunning skill, so there are oftentimes buildings that are kept just below maximum barricading for that purpose) and then to the main building, which is a police station. Someone mentioned that power was out in the entrance point, I went down and setup my generator (which I'd had for, literally, years) and fueled it and returned to the station. Power has just gone out in a nearby NecroTech building, so that will likely be a project in the coming days. Getting rid of that generator means I finally have a chance to stock back up on ammunition - and that will likely take several days of AP. That's it, no big deal. No killing anything really, and no shootouts or sneaky traps, just surviving. And with a healthy dose of zombies just one click away, we call it survival horror. And we love it.

With Greenest of (User Interface) Greens,
BW

[Edit: You can see the stats for the game here, which tells us there are over eight thousand people still playing. Not too shabby.]

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chronicles of the Bwog, Character Generation Part II


Name: The Bwog
Physical Form: Android (outwardly human in every respect)
Origin of Power: Technical Procedure

Fighting: Excellent (16)
Agility: Remarkable (26)
Strength: Remarkable (26)
Endurance: Excellent (16)
Reason: Excellent (16)
Intuition: Monstrous (63)
Psyche: Monstrous (63)

Health: 76
Karma: 142
Resources: Good (8)
Popularity: 0

Weakness
-Elemental Allergy (Mercury), Power Negation, Continuous With Contact (openly exposed to within twenty feet of more than one ounce of element)

Powers:
-Solid Matter Animation (RM, 26): constructs travel at 6 areas/90mph across the ground or through the air, do Power Rank damage to targets, retain Material Strength (APB, p.17), Lifting Strength equal to Power Rank, can be used as stunts (turning an opponent's weapon against him), range of one mile, mass of up to thirty-thousand pounds, any reshaping is permanent.
-Hyper-Leaping (IN, 36): fifty feet straight up or across/seventy-five feet down, four areas/60mph in a quick series of leaps, make a green Reason or Intuition FEAT (whichever is higher) every ten leaps to make sure of a safe landing (nothing gets crushed).

Talents 2/8: Chemistry, Wrestling

Contacts 3/3: Creator(s), 2 open slots reserved for later

BackgroundIn the year 2525, over ninety-percent of the planet's landmass is a scorched wasteland dotted by vast debris fields from centuries of war. The oceans have become toxic and nearly all wildlife has died out or survives only in some drastically mutated form. The few human settlements left are in enormous climate-controlled enclosures or deep underground cave systems. Whatever battles once raged across the surface of Earth, they are long over - and we all lost.

One of the smaller communities, located on the island that used to be called Manhattan  is home to a number of brilliant scientists and their families. They get along better than most settlements and have very little hardship beyond what is expected of self-sufficient living. Originally there were only a few hundred inhabitants, but that was over two centuries ago and the number is now closer to a thousand. Everyone has a role to play. The Bwogosphere, named after its founder and chief architect, is one of the only places left in the world where children can have a healthy and happy future, free from the crime and pollution so often present in other settlements.

One of the lead scientists in the area of applied chemistry, Jack Okin, is putting the final touches on a project largely unknown to his community for over ten years - he is building a time machine. More precisely, he's building something to go through it. There's only enough fuel for one use - there will be no return home from this journey, and no one knowledgeable enough to operate the machine can be spared. Knowing the relative fragility of flesh and bone, Jack has designed and built a synthetic life-form endowed with a digital consciousness to send through the portal and accomplish a single task: save Humanity from itself. Every byte of data possessed within the Bwogosphere's super-computers has been transferred into its artificial brain, along with meticulous notes from Jack on how things may have gone wrong and how to prevent the endless wars that have nearly wiped out life on the planet. The being itself is neither flesh nor machine, neither alive - in the traditional sense - nor dead. It will travel back in time, alter history, and set things right for the future. What this means for Jack and his fellow survivors is unknown...

***

BW's thoughts: I had a couple ideas for his background but I think it's best to just let all that come through naturally. Regarding Bwog's entrance - I kind of like the possibility of appearing in the tunnels below Manhattan and interacting with the Morlocks first off. I never much liked them, but it might be a good start that isn't totally exposed - a way for Bwog to be introduced into present-day slowly. Also, the character is going to have gained his powers mysteriously through the time travel process, and I went with mercury as his weakness since I originally misread that section (water is not an element the way Rules As Written intend for an element to be selected) and because it's something that isn't too rare so as not to be a decent threat but uncommon enough to be able to walk down the street without fear of suddenly being exposed to it. I discovered Deathlok not too long ago and really liked the interchange that happens between him and his body's artificial intelligence. In that way, I think I'll have another unintended consequence of the journey be that the android gains an independent personality and mind alongside the original digital one. It'll be neat to allow for that same sort of exposition to happen without any others, and it allows for him to still maintain his creators as a contact - the digital intelligence amounts to the sum of all human knowledge at that future point, but with huge gaps due to all the events that have transpired in the last five hundred years. Should be good times. I've been reading over the combat section and I think I might have a couple little skirmishes just to get the hang of things. All that remains is to determine who'll be my first victim...

With Brightest of (smelly city sewer) Greens,
BW

Chronicles of the Bwog, Character Generation



Having found this treasure trove of crunchy old school Marvel RPG manuals online a while back, I created a number of random characters just to see what it was like. It's tricky without having ever played the system itself, and many of the powers are really specific and, at the same time, generic. You might have a power that allows you to create matter spontaneously - which sounds really cool - but then you have to figure out exactly what that means and how it jives with your other powers or any limitations you might have. It sound easy... it's not. What if you have a limit that makes it so that you lose your powers when you're unconscious - does that mean anything you made is suddenly un-made? Maybe whatever suspension of the laws of thermodynamics that takes place when you utilize your power suddenly vanishes, crowding the universe a little more matter than it should have, in the form of your now useless creations?

It's weird like that.

We all know what it means when Spiderman crawls up a wall because he's been around for decades. Making a character, though, that's similar to one we already know and love (or hate) presents an awkward stage of development where you have to not only create/roll the powers and origins and weaknesses but define them all together in a semi-logical background and character build. Personally, I love that kind of thing... but it does get messy sometimes.

And that's all the introduction necessary, I think, for TSR's Marvel Roleplaying Game. Having rolled about half a dozen characters in my life, and never once actually playing the game, I'm going to try and make a new character and run him through a randomly-generated Mythic scenario. I'm not censoring anything here since all of this is available online (the Marvel stuff, not Mythic), so you're getting near-stream-of-consciousness from ol' BW. Here goes:

Physical Form [Ultimate Powers Book, p.3]: Android (rolled 37)
"Androids: These are artificially created organic beings. An android is made of laboratory-created protoplasm and grows to maturity in an artificial womb. More intricately made Androids can actually interbreed with Normal Humans. One example is the Vision. Androids generally resemble the race that created them; alien   androids can be any shape. Androids roll on column 4 of the Random Ranks Table. Popularity is initially lowered -1CS. Androids may raise any one Ability +1CS. Androids gain one Power. Androids have at least one Contact, the lab tech or scientist who created them."

Origin of Power [UPB, p.10]: Technical Procedure (54)
"Technical Experiment: The hero was the subject of a controlled scientific or magical experiment. Assuming that all the factors are reproduced, such a Technical Experiment should be “able to produce a steady supply of superpowered heroes. Unfortunately, the geniuses behind such experiments often leave inadequate notes; if something happens to the genius, the experiment is irreproducible. Dr. Reinstein, for example, never really wrote down the Super-Soldier Formula that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. Attempts to recreate it produced the Infinity Formula that has the simpler effect of increasing the subject's Health, Endurance, and lifespan."


***
BW's thoughts: Well... that's pretty much the most awesome random roll I've ever had. I love playing robots and droids and such, and, despite the Procedure/Experiment typo in the manual, I've already got some cool ideas for things. I've always thought the idea of time travel was interesting but rarely explored to its fullest. Imagine playing someone from the future who really has no context for present day. Simple things might seem awesome and complex things might be commonplace and uninteresting. Phrases like "We don't have those where I'm from," might be uttered often, and about ridiculously everyday items (paperclips, calculators, shoes, candy bars, etc.). Let's see if we can't steer things in that direction...
***

Primary and Secondary Abilities [UPB, p.11 (Column 4)]
Fighting - 32/Good
Agility - 43/Excellent
Strength - 21/Good
Endurance - 37/Good
Reason - 47/Excellent
Intuition - 99/Monstrous
Psyche - 58/Remarkable


***
BW's thoughts: So that's pretty cool. The Monstrous Intuition is pretty rad, but I'm a die hard fan of being random so we're going to roll to see if those abilities get modified. Here's hoping...
***

Ability Modifier Table [Advanced Player's Book, p.6]
Fighting - 58 - Increase by one rank > Excellent (Initial Rank Number 16)
Agility - 53 - Increase by one rank > Remarkable (26)
Strength - 84 - Increase by two ranks > Remarkable (26)
Endurance - 33 - Remain unchanged > Good (8) > Excellent (16)
Reason - 46 - Remain unchanged > Excellent (16)
Intuition - 34 - Remain unchanged > Monstrous (63)
Psyche - 100 - Increase by four ranks > Monstrous (63)


***
BW's thoughts: So that rocks, and I don't even know what an Initial Rank Number means!
***

Secondary Abilities [APB, p.7]
Health: (16+26+26+8) 76
Karma: (16+63+63) 142
Resources: Typical - random roll of 69 - increase by 1 rank - Good (IRN 8)
Popularity: 0


***
BW's thoughts: I forgot that I have to modify things for being an android, so let's do that now...

"Popularity is initially lowered -1CS. Androids may raise any one Ability +1CS. Androids gain one Power. Androids have at least one Contact, the lab tech or scientist who created them."

Well, I'm not sure how to lower my popularity by a Column Shift from 0, so we'll just leave it at 0. I can raise one ability by one rank, and Endurance is my lowest so we'll bump that up to Excellent (16) retroactively. The extra power and contact will come up in a minute. First, we need to roll for a weakness. I hate this part, but it only makes sense and I'm committed to my time traveling android...
***

Weakness [UPB, p.12]
Stimulus - Elemental Allergy (rolled a 12)
Effect - Power Negation (4)
Duration - Continuous with Contact (9)


***
BW's thoughts: Okay, that wasn't so bad. Water might be an interesting thing to be allergic to - we'll see what powers I end up with, but this basically says I lose all my powers and my abilities diminish when within twenty feet of [water] and that even at a distance I can't use my powers to directly target [water]. Hmm. Now to the (potentially) good part - super powers!
***

Power Generation [UPB, p.14]: I rolled a 72.
Powers - 2 to start with/8 total possible
Talents - 2 to start with/8 total possible
Contacts - 3 to start with/3 total possible

Power 1: Magic/MG (I rolled a 39), Sympathetic Magic/MG12(88)
Power 2: Matter Control/MC (46), Matter Animation*/MC8 (54)
Power 3 (Android bonus): Travel/T (98), Hyper-Leaping/T9 (33)


***
BW's thoughts: Hmm. I've never been a fan of magic stuff, it's just to messy for me to define. I like the matter control bit and the leaping thing could be interesting. I'm also realizing that I think there should be a power level associated with these, but I don't see where I was supposed to roll that... Ah. Page 8 of the Advanced Player's Book says it in the top middle - roll on column four...
***

18 - Good (IRN 8), 68 - Remarkable (IRN 26), 78 - Incredible (IRN 36)


***
BW's thoughts: Okay. Moving on... My first power is basically being able to make a voodoo doll and affect my enemies by stabbing it. That's lame and I sincerely hope I can swap it out somehow. I suppose an android equivalent would mean affecting the opponent in some sort of electronic way - like his toaster jams or his car swerves off the road or something. Meh. I won't bother posting that description here. Actually, now that I think about it, the asterix at MC8 means it counts as two powers, so I'll simply discard the voodoo bologna to keep Matter Animation.
***

"MC8/Matter Animation: The hero can alter the flow of any raw matter, impart movement to stationary matter, and shape such matter into any desired form. The Power can only affect matter that is in a relatively natural state. It cannot affect mechanical objects or material that is now or had once been alive. There are three basic forms of this Power, each with dominion over a state of matter. When creating the hero, the player must choose one of these forms for the character. He can do this himself or let the dice choose for him.

Die Roll Form
01-20 Air Animation
21-50 Liquid Animation
51-00 Solid Animation

Air Animation—The hero can directly control the movement of gases and vapors and indirectly control the movement of material suspended in the air, such as smoke, dust, steam, and so on. He can create winds of speeds equal to Power rank speed (see the Airspeed table on the inside cover). He can control the actions or air, wind, clouds, and potentially even the weather. The hero can use air either defensively  r offensively by forming shields or gales of Power rank strength. Note: Air attacks cannot penetrate Force Fields or an aerial shield of higher Intensity. The Power can be developed into Power Stunts such as Gliding, Whirlwind Flight, and limited Weather Control. The forms of Weather Control available to the hero all depend on stirring up the air. These include bringing in storms, fog, tornadoes, and suddenly bringing two air masses of differing temperature together to form either fog or lightning.
Liquid Animation—The hero can directly control the movement of liquids and indirectly control material suspended in liquid (mud, cake batter). He can create currents and waves that can travel at Power rank speed (see the Water Travel table on the inside cover) and do Power rank damage to anything in their path. Liquid can animated to resist gravity and act as if it were temporarily a solid of rank level Material Strength. Liquids can be used as a shield that reduces the Intensity of Energy Attacks by the Power ran  number. It can be further refined into a variety of Power Stunts, such as forming propulsion systems or being shaped into air bubbles with "solid" floors.
Solid Animation—The hero can alter the condition of solid matter, so long as it is not biological or mechanical in nature. He can give the solid movement, reshape to any form, and even give it the semblance of life. Solids can travel at Power rank speed (see the Land Travel table inside the cover) either across the ground or through the air. The hero can Mold the solid into any single mass. Solids retain their Material Strength but can be Animated to do Power rank damage to other targets. The hero can create Golems or simulated Elementals that obey his every whim; such creations are only sophisticated puppets that possess no more life than does a marionette. (Of course, there is the example of Pinocchio…) Animated solids possess a Lifting Strength equal to the Power rank. The Power can be refined into a variety of Power Stunts, such as turning an opponent'  weapon against him, creating self-tying knots, and creating flying platforms that can carry the hero across the ground or through the air.
The range at which the hero can Animate Matter is determined by the Power rank; distances are shown on Column B of the Range Table. The maximum amount that can be Animated is a mass weighing the equivalent of 1000 pounds times the Power rank number. For example, a Feeble rank can move one ton; in liquid terms this is the weight of a water bed. Matter remains Animated as long as the hero concentrates on using this Power. Judges are free to develop their own criteria to determine how well and how long a hero can do this in a given situation. Any material can be Animated, as long as it is within the restrictions on the chosen form of that Power. Any reshaping done to the target is permanent; of course, this only applies to solids. The possibilities for both construction and vandalism are immense. At the time the hero is created, the player has the option of raising the Power Rank +1CS by further specializing the Power's range of effect to a specific compound or type of matter. Examples of specializations include Powers that specifically Animate steam, water, oil, ice, clay, and so on. The Nemeses for this Power include itself and Disintegration."


***
BW's thoughts: Okay, let's roll again to see what we can play with...
***

57 - Solid Animation


***
BW's thoughts: I'm seriously considering limiting the character to just steel or iron or something. Let's look at Hyper-Leaping...
***

"T9/Hyper-Leaping: The hero can jump great distances. By repeated leaps, the hero can rapidly cover large distances. This Power's minimum rank is +1CS greater than the hero's Strength rank. If a lower rank is initially rolled, it must be raised to this level. The Power rank determines the distances the hero can safely leap.

Maximum Distance Rank Up/Across [and] Down

FE 4' 6'
PR 6' 9'
TY 10' 15'
GD 20' 30'
EX 30' 45'
RE 40' 60'
IN 50' 75'
AM 75' 105'
MN 100' 150'
UN 1 area 1.5 areas
X 1.5 2.5
Y 4 6
Z 8 12
C1000 .5 mile .75 mile
C3000 1 1.5
C5000 2 3

Innate safeguards in this Power enable the hero to safely land. (Otherwise he might break a leg attempting even a Good leap.) The effect is the same on the hero as if he were a Normal Human making a 2 foot leap up or across or descending 3 feet. The effects on the area the hero lands on might not be the same as if a normal jump occurred. Consider that the Hulk splinters the pavement when he lands. To determine what sort of effects occur when the hero lands, the Judge should figure what kind of damage results when a weight five times that of the hero suddenly drops on the surface in question. The actual landspeed varies with the angle of the leaps. The average landspeed for Hyper-leaping is a -3CS Land Movement rate. For example, an Excellent Leaper can travel 30 mph in a series of rapid 30-foot leaps. If the hero also possesses Hyper-speed, that can be added to this Power's rank number for additional speed by increasing the frequency but not the size of the leaps. Physical burdens do not decrease the hero's speed, although they might decrease his control. Anything the hero is carrying is also protected by the innate safeguards against damage; the hero acts as a shock-absorber. While the hero has a vague idea of where he is going, he can't see his touchdown point. This can be a real hazard when the hero can make Monstrous leaps or better. For example, while leaping cross country, the Hulk landed on seven cars (two were moving at the time), one semi truck, eight roofs, a swimming pool, ten mud patches, one river, twelve power lines, three street lamps, 57 trees and bushes of various sizes, and a late Merino ram named Herbert. Judges can assume that the hero has enough control on his descent that he can swerve to avoid dangerous landing sites. The player must make a green Reason or Intuition FEAT (whichever Ability has the higher rank) every ten leaps to make sure he doesn't come down on something he'd rather not have come down on."


***
BW's thoughts: Not bad. "The average landspeed for Hyper-leaping is a -3CS Land Movement rate. For example, an Excellent Leaper can travel 30 mph in a series of rapid 30-foot leaps." So my Land Movement rate is (according to the chart at the back of UPB, and Incredible - 3CS = four areas, at 60mph, in a quick series of leaps. Not too shabby. So I could, in theory, combine the matter animation and the leaping to raise platforms for myself to jump across... cool. Let's put on the finishing touches...
***

Talents [APB, p.10]
Scientific Skills (rolled a 79), Chemistry (2)
Fighting Skills (41), Wrestling (6)

Contacts:
1) ["the lab tech or scientist that created them"]
2) Leave blank for now
3) Leave blank for now


***
BW's final thoughts: That was pretty straightforward. The wrestling seems awkward to me, and I think I might be able to make some changes here and there using my resources or something, but that's not how I roll (very punny, eh?). We'll stick with what we got. Now all I have to do is write up the character's background, name, and all that stuff. I still like the time travel schtick and maybe the only way that's possible is to be in the body of an android. Maybe my guy's a pioneer of sorts, or scout. He anticipated the increased physical prowess and, by extension, the leaping - but not the matter animation, that's a side effect of the time travel. I'll have to figure out whether I want to limit it to one type of thing or just extend it to all solids but that'll mean taking a look at some numbers and doing a wee bit o' math, and I'll include that in my next post. Stay tuned for... The Chronicles of the Bwog!
***

With Brightest of (shades of outdated comic book) Greens,
BW

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bwogosphere, The Game

I don't consider myself a hardcore gamer, I'm more a casual player whose wife beats him easily at Super Mario (seriously... it's bad). Despite this, I've spent more than the average amount of time thinking up and designing my perfect game. Often this is just a synthesis of games or game elements that I know already exist with a little bit of originality and preference thrown in, though some games are great as they are - if you're content with that (and I'm usually not). I really like some side-scrollers and I think they're more fun to play in general than most of these open-world ultra-three-dimensional pieces of eye candy we're becoming used to, but they have their limitations too. Here's some of my ideal games. If they don't exist, please make them. If they do, please buy them for me.

Survivor Earth: This is basically a mish-mash of concepts I've come to love over the past few decades. Imagine, for once, the aliens are the good guys. They show up on the scene in the near-future and offer to take any humans willing to leave to a brand new planet, free from pollution/crime/country music (they're not big on rap either but they like all the other kinds) in giant transport ships. People can choose to remain behind, and some folks might not be invited because of... whatever. Fill in the blank. Maybe there's a faction of alien-haters in the mix. Fast forward about one hundred years. Humanity is alive and thriving on Earth 2.0 while the remnants (but we won't call them that because good grief is that word becoming cliche) find themselves in a precarious existence. The aliens have learned about reality television and have setup broadcast stations on Earth to record the exploits of those still alive and kicking. Some humans ignore this, content to live in the communities that have developed and safe from the new dangers that they face. What dangers? Things like mutant scorpions and giant spiders and tyrannosaurus rexes and hunter-killer androids. They'll mostly be left alone though, because no one really wants to watch that. Those who enlist as members of the Cast are given a set of basic supplies (like a simple uniform and a not-a-Pipboy) and followed 24/7 like Hunger Games (but way better because I thought of this idea in high school). Players would be allowed to roam free, collecting all manner of things (weapons, ammo, vehicle parts and schematics, armor, genetic mutations, cybernetic augmentations, etc.), and fighting all the aforementioned baddies. Gaining XP by dispatching foes, finding secrets, exploring locations, and all the normal things is recorded only instead of leveling-up you'd be offered a mission. These would be called Episodes. Defend the settlement, collect nine T-Rex teeth, race not-Optimus to the other side of the island while it's raining cats and dogs and missiles - whatever. The XP is called Fame and you cash it in at broadcast stations or via your not-a-Pipboy for all those lovely upgrades we talked about. The setting is loosely post-apocalyptic in the sense that there aren't very many folks around and those that are tend to be agricultural (or raider jerks) using way-outdated technology and run-down machinery from a hundred years ago. Cities would be overgrown with undergrowth - that sort of thing. I image saber-toothed cats roaming the wooded areas too. You get the picture. I suppose it's like a hybrid of Fallout, Just Cause, and Mechwarrior (because there will absolutely be schematics for those) with a hint of I Am Legend (with the alternate ending because it's way better than the stupid one they used) and Hunger Games - but all relatively tongue-in-cheek. The more I play Just Cause 2, the more I realize the plot is just an excuse to sell the game - it's really about driving/flying/running around blowing things up and collecting insane amounts of dozens of categories of boxes of things to be able to unlock and upgrade more things to drive/fly/shoot. Which is just about perfect, because the game world is amazingly huge. I'd want weather and a day/night cycle of course, with things like wind and sunlight affecting different things (maybe you can built a hang-glider or find solar panels, for instance). I enjoy RPGs but I think attaching statistics to too many things would ruin the experience, so maybe have a health bar that can be increased, a charge for your cybernetics (if/when you get them), maybe a power bar for mutations, and a carrying capacity. Everything else would be modular so you'd be able to achieve the normal array of perks simply by upgrading. I think we'd say that your not-a-Pipboy utilizes pocket dimensions to store your things on-demand but you can always increase its size. There could be some vehicles laying around still that could be drive-able if repaired, or you can buy/steal/borrow one from someone else still around, or you can find some schematics and search for parts for custom ones. And I think that's huge - you should be able to customize modular vehicles and weapons in a vast number of ways. I want an airship and I want to be able to make a scoped rocket launcher that shoots aluminum cans full of gasoline, but I want them to be the result of a ton of hard work when I was using a broken bicycle and rusted pipe to get around and fight dinosaurs with. Include some sort of specified zones for Episodes where themes can be explored - a zombie city, those things from Tremors, Medieval zone, etc. The goal, if there needs to be one, would be simple: gain a certain amount of Fame.

If we go the online route, I think I'd allow each world to be a server for about a hundred people (something the size of Just Cause 2's island chain would be about right). The goal would be to reach a certain amount of Fame in a set amount of time, or whoever can get the most in that time, measured in real-time. You could set an Episode to allow players a full week of real-time to accrue a thousand Fame points, or you could just make it so that whoever gets the most in an hour wins. What do they win (besides bragging rights)? I think the server would record a player's victories and allow them certain perks on the server like a multiplier for Fame (to represent a returning Cast) or Fast Travel Tokens or something. Having the singleplayer feature is fine too, since all this would be recorded on your Resume where all your stats can be published for all your real-life friends to ogle at, but sometimes you need a buddy to take down those cyber-raptors, you know? PvP would be set per server, and I think you'd just get a percentage of that players current Fame as a reward.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: Seriously, this game rocked. I wish I still had it.

With Brightest of (I also like the title Dramacalypse) Greens,
BW

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Elder Bwogs Online (Elder Scrolls Online Thoughts)


I know they released some beta keys and a rockin' trailer a while ago, but I want to take a few minutes to talk about what the Elder Scrolls Online experience should - and shouldn't - be. I haven't played the beta nor have I looked up footage because I don't think it matters much, things change a lot this early on and I wouldn't hold anything specific against Bethesda right now. These are more like my general thoughts on how it should be done.

1) Character creation should continue to be ultra-detailed. The biggest argument against having thirty sliders for your eyebrows is that players don't need that much control over their character's appearance - but that's why you have the random option and a couple presets. Your argument is invalid. They've done a fairly good job lately in facial features and skin tones, so let's add body types to the mix. Some good body tattoos, scars, a couple different height and weight options (not just big and muscular or slightly bigger and still muscular). Maybe even something completely outlandish for premium members, like dwemer prosthesis! Consider barber shops too, where we can re-choose our hair and beard designs when we get bored of them.

2) Bring back all the armor slots. I've mentioned this previously but it bears repeating: I want to wear twenty different pieces of armor, rings, and pants and I see no reason why I can't be allowed to. If my character has ten fingers I should be able to wear more than one ring. I want separate pauldrons and gauntlets and boots, not three pieces of pre-assembled vault sui...ahem, I mean armor.

3) Consider backpacks. It's something I think most games that use encumbrance leave out, but I think it's a cool addition. You get your normal carrying weight for sure, but then you can buy and equip a number of packs that allow further storage and organization. It adds to the roleplaying experience and it makes your character look more like an explorer or gatherer or what have you. And you can carry more loot!

4) Bring back languages. There were a number of different languages in Daggerfall and I think now's an opportunity to bring them back. Maybe not on every server, or maybe it's a toggle thing, but it'd be neat if you could publish your chat in a couple different languages, or at the very least have there be artifacts or books that would only display in your (real-life) native language if your character had the skill. It allows for folks to roleplay scholars and explorers in a much more valuable light. The lore has a lot of examples where magic-users and scholars hire mercenaries to accompany them into some dungeon to find some legendary dingus. It'd be neat if players could replicate this experience by teaming up with each other like that.

5) Forget about fast travel, use Mark and Recall. Morrowind lacked fast travel and had, instead, scrolls like Divine Intervention and potions of Mark and Recall. There were also silt striders, which were sort of a poor man's taxi. Fast travel has no place in an Elder Scrolls game. These folks are spending a lot of time in crafting an amazing landscape and you're paying to see it - so get out there and see it! The lore includes its own methods of transportation and teleportation, so use that stuff instead. Make it party-based too - a Recall spell that works on the whole party, not just the caster.

6) Give us journals. If Minecraft can do it, so can ESO. Let players write their own notes in the default journal or mission log. Sometimes the wording is weird (remember Morrowind - trying to follow directions in the journal? Ugh!) or just hard to understand specifically, and for those of us who like to roleplay our roleplaying games it just adds that fun little feature. Go the extra mile and make them able to be exported to a blog and you've got yourself an awesome niche component.

7) Kick up the crafting gimmick. Skyrim allows some limited crafting and such but as a singleplayer experience it's of limited value (except roleplaying, of course). With thousands of other players out there - keep crafting and give it even more features, like special appearances (jagged blades, mace heads that look like famous faces, etc.) and colors.

8) Use classes. Here's the thing about classes - no one should be able to do everything ever in any game, that's why we get more than one slot for characters. I know there will be complaints though, so let's compromise: you can play up to level 10 without declaring a class, at which point you can opt to choose from among a selection of at several classes (not just the three archetypal ones!) or continue to vanilla it up. The restrictions would be for things like making specialty armor, using high-level spells, wielding high-level weapons, access to some guild stores/quests, etc. It's not that you're punished for not choosing a class as much as you're rewarded for doing so.

9) Climbing should be a skill. Daggerfall had it and that was a long time ago - can't you just bring it back? I know things are different physics/engine-wise but there are ways around it. Use the Climb skill on ropes, which can be thrown with a grapple or shot with an arrow. See that spot on the roof? Buy a rope, toss it up there, and then pull yourself up. The skill determines how long you're able to stay on the rope and how fast you travel along it (like Shadow of the Colossus' little meter), so better skill means you can get to farther places. Have different lengths or rope, maybe some different grapples, and even some specialty equipment (like for lateral crossings, and pulleys for party members that can't climb well, and spikes/pitons/harnesses to be able to throw another rope up from half-way up the rock face/temple wall. In a pinch, discard all that and give us Scorpio's hookshot glove from Just Cause, dwemer parachutes sold separately.

10) Don't give us useless items. Bolts of cloth should be craftable into clothes or tents (or parachutes and gliders!), spoons can be melted down for iron ingots, wooden bowls can be worn as armor... well, you get my point. There's this horrible trend where players just take everything not bolted down to sell to the nearest pawnshop - you'll never get rid of that. But when that's pretty much the only realistic solution to what to do with the default tea set your house comes with (other than leave it alone because it looks nice...), what else should you expect?

There are more and maybe I'll post them later, but this is a huge step for the Elder Scrolls series and one that folks have been waiting for going back a long time - let's not make a WoW clone, mmkay?

With Brightest of (Glass Armor) Greens,
BW

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bwarship Troopers (Starship Troopers Book Review)


I just finished reading Starship Troopers the other night and I thought I'd bwog a bit on it. The first thing to do is forget the film that came out in 1997 - it has almost nothing to do with the book. Other than a couple names and one event... sort of... they could be entirely different stories. Rather, they are entirely different stories.

Anyway.

We follow Johnnie Rico in a first-person past-tense narrative as he recounts his journey from high school graduation through Military Infantry boot camp and service during a time of war. The war itself involves more than just Humans and Bugs (as the book cover would lead you to believe) but the other participant is such a minor player that it really doesn't matter too much - the Bugs are the Bad Guys here. I don't mind saying the ending was anti-climactic (I suppose there are other titles in the series but I'm not interested in them at all) and that my favorite parts were actually during non-combat moments. Everyone born in the Federation (read: Earth or its outlying territories) has to earn citizenship, if and when they want it, after turning eighteen. The benefits of this seem to really only be that a citizen can vote and some of the best dialogues in the book actually deal with topics like freedom, responsibility of a citizen, and why the form of government currently practiced by the Federation is superior to all others before it (and once again we have mention of the world falling to pieces as a result of our horrible twentieth-century policies... a common theme in science-fiction I'm discovering). I don't agree with everything that the author puts forth - or at least the conclusions he draws - but it was really thick stuff and wonderful to think through. There's the military stories and then it ends with a bug hunt that, I guess, is slightly more important than any other before it.

Meh.

The movie is a sort of tongue-in-cheek parody of itself and I think the book is too, in ways respective to their media. The film is inter-cut with obvious propaganda advertisements to "join up" and that glorify life in the service while we see very clearly that it's bloody and far more people die (horribly) than you'd believe from the commercials. At the end you finally see the main characters featured in a commercial, which lends itself to a sense of hypocrisy that you're not certain the heroes even recognize - you'd expect them to be more honest about losing friends and such. There's far less emphasis on specific friends for Johnnie in the book but the sense of camaraderie is still present in full and lots of people die from his platoon. Where the film uses commercials to bring the propaganda element to the forefront I think the book uses the actual characters - they really do believe what they're saying. Most of the superior officers/non-coms have a part in illustrating the virtues of the Federation in one way or the other but it's not that different from our present-day situation. They're still engaged in a war without assured victory, there's still political corruption - or at least hypocrisy (represented by the inside looks we get at what happens when Johnnie is eaves-dropping on a conversation between to superiors) - and lots of people are still dying needlessly for an uncertain goal under orders from an unseen but all-powerful Authority. The book is itself its own propaganda commercial, and I think the anti-climactic ending is appropriate only in this sense. Sort of a "It's a Military Infantry thing, you wouldn't understand," conclusion, which fits because, well, I'm not.

I'd recommend the book for the thinking and not so much for the action. There's a lot left unexplained - like just about all the technology, how the bugs use weapons and spaceships (unlike in the film, where the problem is equally awkward to explain), or any policies that don't directly relate to serving... like if there even are any, or who started the Bug War and why. There's a lot of jargon related to military hierarchy and formations too, which further alienates the reader and adds to the feeling that we just couldn't possibly understand what it's like for Johnnie, even though he's telling us in his own words. There's some interesting things mentioned peripherally to the main plot too, like the prevalence of hypnosis and a sort of accepted sexism where women make the best pilots and everyone knows it but you can't ever see a girl except under rare and specific circumstances. What we really see, then, is a way of life that is touted as superior to all others while it's actually exactly the same - those "up top" use coercion in all its forms to convince the "sheeple" that signing up is not required and only for those who have a real sense of civic responsibility (i.e. those who aren't wimps) but rewarded with an ambiguously quantifiable prize in order to prolong a war against an Other that we may or may not be winning and which we may or may have not started where only strict obedience to your superiors will guarantee victory and no one soldier should be afraid to die for his comrades.

Sounds somehow familiar...

With Brightest of (Intergalactic Planetary, Planetary Intergalactic) Greens,
BW

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bwogmetheus (Prometheus Film Mini-Update)



This article has some interesting ideas about the movie as well, some that we here in the Bwogosphere agree with and some that we don't. I've already made my review but I think it's really important to stress that there's a lot of "it means this, not that" but consider that a movie can have many layers and a film as loaded as Prometheus may, in fact, be about "this and that" at the same time. If you haven't looked at Rob Ager's videos on YouTube yet, do it right now.

Seriously. Go do it. Here.

With Brightest of (Multi-layered) Greens,
BW

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Just Bwuase 2 Glitch Of Joyness (Just Cause 2 Mini-Update)


Life has been pretty quiet for ol' BW this week in the gaming department. A couple hours with Beedub in Skyrim and some casual gaming elsewhere was about it. I also started a play-by-post using the d20 Modern system which I'm wicked pumped about but I'll report on that later in the week with a broader bwog on RPGing in general.

Oh, and I discovered this glitch in Just Cause 2 where you start with a mini-gun all by myself.

Fill the rest of this post with the noise of unlimited ammunition screaming across a lush tropical landscape and making splodeyness of anything that comes close to Scorpio as he climbs through the Heat Levels faster than a Panau soldier on a motorcycle.

With Brightest of (Unlimited Ammunition) Greens,
BW

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bwogmetheus (Prometheus Film Visual Addendum)


In my review of Prometheus I mention how I thought there was some alignment stuff going on. In 2001: A
Space Odyssey there are clues that the monolith in the film represents the silver screen - the movie is actually referencing itself (or at least its own medium). This has to do with the stars being lined up in a vertical row at the beginning (the way the monument is) and then later changing to a horizontal orientation (via the crazy laser light scene that suddenly changes its orientation). There's a far better explanation here from an amazing film analyst named Rob Ager. You have my permission to go watch all his videos right now.

...Back? Ok. There's a couple times in Prometheus that we see planetary alignment coming into play, though I think it's poorly executed in comparison, and that way I wonder if there isn't some sort of attempt at throwing an Inception-style red herring our way. If what I've read of the film is to be believed (and I haven't read tons, mind you), it seems the original script was very different from the final product in it's main story focus. It reminds me more of some of the Aliens comics that came out years ago more than any of the other Alien movies where plots were episodic and not too-tightly tied in with the major movie story. No xenomorphs escape the planet to terrorize Earthlings - just one at the very end - and neither Ellie or David is contaminated when they leave (which we have to assume they do because we see a ship blast off). The only way it could possibly relate to the franchise is if Ellie somehow crashes on LV-Whatever-It's-Called-In-The-First-Movie and her ship was carrying a variant of the black ooze that was more advanced (not the snakelike things that killed Mr. Biology but the facehugger types), but then you'd have to wonder about why there was a Jedi pilot in that seat and not a human skeleton with a robot head. Or it could be that Weyland - in the perpetually sneakiness typical of greedy corporate types - had sent a follow-up team that investigates afterwards, possibly even finding his body and the wreckage present. It could be a sort of espionage by a Yutani corporation too, which would dovetail nicely for the future.

The possibilities are endless of course, and I think that's a combination of my lack of knowledge of the franchise in general and a film that seems to have Lost Syndrome. Sadly, I've also just learned that Mr. Abrams will be involved with the next Star Wars. Expect a bwog on that later.

With Brightest of (Where Was The Acid Blood?) Greens,

BW

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fallen Bwarth #2: Launch of the Bwogonaut! (Fallen Earth Mini-Update)


Ladies and gentlemen of the Bwogosphere, I give you... Bwogonaut One!

Yes, I haven't played Fallen Earth since I bwogged about it and yes, I was disinterested in my old character so yes, I made a new one. His looks aren't terribly striking, partially because I had my little bwoglings helping me (there are currently three of them that love to watch me play anything on the computer). I plan to take a break from Skyrim for a bit and just play FE for awhile, so if you see me hanging around don't be shy (or stingy with the cotton - I love making flannel shirts)!

With Brightest of (Post-Apocalyptic Sunrise) Greens,
BW