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Showing posts with the label Characterization

Home Media for the Holidays

Another holiday season is upon us, and hopefully you’re reading this on the cusp (or in the middle) of some well-deserved time off where you can enjoy some media and games. But the clock is always ticking, and if you take too long to decide what to go with, you might not get to enjoy anything! This week, we thought we’d talk a little about strategies to help work out just what it is you want to experience when your available time is concentrated, but limited, whether it be film, books, television, or games of both the electronic and tabletop varieties. B : For me, the most significant starting point is always going to be tone and feeling. Even if you’re focusing on things specifically relating to the current holiday, you’ll still have a lot to choose from. Sometimes I’ll want something breezy and uplifting to inspire holiday cheer, but sometimes (most times, if we’re being honest), I’ll go for something darker and bleaker that fits the colder weather and shorter days - the first Dishon

Pak Chooie Unf: Something Awful and Communicative Identity

There's a good chance you've seen the name "Something Awful" somewhere in the past few days following the recent death of the site's founder Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka. While some coverage will certainly be about  the bizarre, "butterfly effect" story of the way a number of banned SA forum users would set the stage for the modern alt-right (as described in the rather exploitative book It Came from Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump into Office ), little seems to be about the site itself, which is, frankly rather bizarre and speaks to the relative absence of Millennial voices in the current media landscape. Not only has the site been a solid fixed point on the ever-shifting internet for over twenty years, many creators and media figures around the ages of your humble Never Say Dicers credit Something Awful for developing their identities, viewpoints, and senses of humor, from journalists to authors to comics art

...Spins a Web? Any Size?

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does whatever a spider can Spins a web, any size, Catches thieves just like flies Look Out! Here comes the Spider-Man. Spider-Man has been a pop culture stalwart since the early 60s, with no signs of that slowing down. He's had numerous comic series, spin-offs, cartoons, blockbuster movies and, of course, video games. His appeal is unquestionable, as most people can relate to his dilemma of power and moral responsibility. The Atari 2600 Spider-Man from 1982 may not have been a masterpiece, but electronic gaming has come a long way over the years. After a break from video games since the PS2 generation, Marvel's Spider-man seemed a perfect fit for Captain Jumpy Andy's return to consoles. Little did he know when he picked up a PS4 and the game early in the 2020 pandemic just how appropriate the game's plotline would be... Prophetic or not, what does Never Say Dice have to say about this incarnation of the world’s favorite web-slinger, and how

To the Pain

To the Pain! You may not be quite familiar with the phrase. Hopefully, you never mock anyone’s pain. In the TTRPG world, pain isn’t something that's touched on frequently. Certainly, in most fantasy tabletop games, healing a wound and removing pain is just a simple spell away. In real life, though, physical pain can be chronic, debilitating, and unavoidable. While many of us usually use these games as a form of escapism, sometimes a little realism is the spice that makes the games feel alive. That then leaves us with a few sticky questions: can you include realistic pain in your games? Should you even consider pain in your tabletop games? And, depending upon the answers to those questions, how would you go about including pain at the tabletop? So, this week’s post is dedicated to pain. After all, if you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything . - A A : Over the course of the last week, I’ve been doing an acute study on pain. Personally. On Friday night, I was convinced

Batman's a Scientist!

Once again we find ourselves posting on a day that celebrates a beloved fictional character . And why not? After all, we’ve had days (and posts) celebrating these holidays before, even if our inner cynics know they're mostly marketing ploys to sell media and merchandise. We’ve talked about the nature of Superman and his stories in Strange, Familiar Visitor from Another Planet . We've taken tips for our tabletop games from Mario's adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom with Details: The Power-Up Mushroom for Your Narrative . And while he's arguably a vigilante, there's no argument against celebrating the enjoyment of our favorite caped crusader - Batman! In various forms, the character has always been a big part of our households, with many birthdays and Halloween party themes featuring hero (and villains) of Gotham City. There's plenty of inspiration to be found in the tales of the Dark Knight, so let's race to the Batcave and discuss them in today's Bat-Po

Fun With Murder: The Narrative Ethics of Assassination Games

It's funny. As someone who views "detective" as an integral part of their personality , I sure have a lot of crime games. Well, crime media in general, especially movies, but games have certain... implications. You're the one committing the crimes , not watching other characters do them or following a protagonist as they piece together criminal events through evidence and investigation. You're right there, doing all the bad stuff yourself. Recently, in the ongoing quest to tackle my massive game backlog, I've been playing the first Tenchu game, released in 1998. I bought it because the creators would later go on to make my beloved Way of the Samurai series, but if one looked at my shelves, they could easily assume I chose it thematically, as Tenchu 's neighbors include numerous Hitman , Assassin's Creed , and Dishonored games - a subgenre we'll call "assassination games." I've seen it remarked that there's an irony that, while

Odd Taxi's Genre Subversions

No matter what (or who) we're engaging with, first impressions carry a lot of weight. But even before we've made them, we already have a set of expectations and preconceptions. These can be based on deliberate signifiers (this taxi is available because it's parked and the light is on), cultural preconceptions (I can talk to the driver, but they won't engage with anything I say in-depth), and underlying, unquestioned fundamentals of reality (the driver will appear human). This takes place in media as well, and largely defines the way we engage with genre works . When our actual experiences don't line up with expectations, we experience a sense of confusion as our brains struggle to catch up and make sense of what it's been presented, confusion that may (or may not) be proportional to the nature of the dissonance. If someone was familiar with anime conventions and the types of stories typically featured in anime, but not, say, the convoluted, darkly comedic crime

Whatcha Whatcha Whatcha Want: Crafting Character Motivation

There’s an old axiom that every story, regardless of medium, is ultimately about someone who wants something, but has obstacles standing in their way. While that’s probably overly reductionist, it’s true that both characters and plots are driven by desires and motivations. But how much do these need to be developed? Does every character need a complex motivation, or were Tears for Fears right when they said that everybody simply wants to rule the world? B : This will be a tough one to tackle, because character motivation comes not only from a creator’s intent, but also from their audience’s interpretations. Whether it’s someone reading words thousands of years after they were written or someone sitting on the other side of a gaming table, every audience member’s own desires and experience will determine how they see a character’s motivations, no matter how those motivations are being presented. Believability often comes down to accessibility. We might not want to become Jedi ourselves

Tales from the Grove: Storytelling in San Andreas

Recently, Andy and I found out that we had each started new run-throughs of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas , a game that both of us have loved since its original release, but neither had ever completed. We took it as an opportunity to play together (even while apart), keeping track of each other’s progress throughout. Now that we’re both done, we thought we’d discuss some of the game’s storytelling and characterization, and what San Andreas can teach writers and gamers looking to tell stories from the more… complicated side of the law. - B B : It’s appropriate that San Andreas starts with CJ’s return home, since picking the game up again felt a homecoming for both of us. My story (far less exciting and tragic than Carl’s) is that, now that I’m satisfied with my current hardware setup, I’ve been using the PS2 a lot more often, which meant returning to a complete Grand Theft Auto series playthrough I had started some years ago. Thanks to the lockdown freetime, I burned through Grand Thef