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Showing posts with the label Bugsy

In Memory of the Manual

Electronic gaming has changed a lot over the years, and we at Never Say Dice have been lucky enough to experience these changes first-hand. As the scope and potential of games has grown, so too have distribution networks, allowing us to find and buy games that physical stores might not have thought worthy to stock. The shift to digital distribution has brought countless benefits (and, we must acknowledge, a fair number of drawbacks), but it’s completely removed one element that seemed an integral part of electronic gaming in our youths: the printed manual. This week, we thought we’d take a moment to appreciate this now-lost aspect of physical gaming media and how it helped define the gaming experience of its era. - B B : The shift away from manuals predates the rise of the digital storefront, of course. As storage media developed and games were able to integrate more and more of the material that had to be offloaded into a physical manual, packaging got smaller and smaller. In the cart

Beyond Bad Dads: Breaking Cycles of Toxic Fatherhood in Yakuza and Metal Gear

Like it or not, the electronic gaming landscape is dominated by long-running series, and has been since its early days . No matter when you read this, if you take a look at the current best–selling games, you’ll see a list that’s almost entirely sequels, off-shoots, reboots, or remakes of any of the above. This is something the medium inherited largely from the comic and cinematic industries it’s modeled after, but also reflects a certain risk-aversion as development costs skyrocket and mere success is insufficient to keep a studio afloat : name recognition is a safe bet. Publishers can assume some baseline of sales from dedicated fans who will always buy the latest installment of their favorite series. We at Never Say Dice can’t say that we’re totally immune to established gaming franchises , but for the most part we don’t stay on top of series with numerous installments like Assassin’s Creed , Final Fantasy , or Call of Duty . (Not that this will keep these games from filling out

Pew-Pew Zoom: SHMUPdate

It's been just over two years since I first talked about SHUMPs as part of " Pew-Pew Zoom ," a series of posts on the history of narrative in video games set in space. (At some point I'll have enough experience to cover 4X and other strategic space game genres as well.) Since then, I've found myself bit by the SHMUP bug and put a lot more time not only into playing these games, but learning more about their history and the culture surrounding them. So this week, I thought we'd do a quick update on the fastest growing genre in my game collection and the discoveries I've made along the way. To start with, while my first SHMUP post was almost endearingly retro-brained (the most recent game I mentioned will turn 30 this year) and that, even though I've acquired many newer games, most of my actual play falls in the era I originally covered: the late 80s and early 90s. My genre associations were largely with the 16-bit era of consoles, so most of my foray

Never Say Disc: Steve Albini

Many years ago, more than I care to count, my girlfriend at the time accused me of saying that "everything cool was invented by Pink Floyd, the Melvins, or Steve Albini." Up to that point, I was unaware of the degree to which I was singing his praises, but it's no surprise that I was doing so to the point of annoyance - at the time, I was listening to his catalogue with alarming regularly... much to the chagrin of anyone who happened to be riding in the car with me. And while that girlfriend did end up a Melvins fan before long, I don't think I converted many members of my captive audiences to Albini's music.. their loss. But then, this week was everyone's loss. I suppose I got to see the news of Steve Albini's death a little before it entered the general consciousness - I'm friends (in both the original and social media senses) with enough musicians and music fans, people who appreciated for him for himself and his work, rather than his adjacency to l

Star Wars Gaming in the Outer Rim

B : There’s a term Doctor Who fans use to describe the period from 1990 to 2003 when, with the exception of the US-made 1996 TV movie, there were no new “official” installments of the series: the Wilderness Years. The reason they have a specific name, as opposed to simply referring to this time as “when the show was off the air” or simply a lack of new episodes, is that the Wilderness Years were anything but devoid of new Who material. Entire series of novels, comics, audio plays, and even “ serial numbers filed off ” fan movies starring the original actors proliferated during this period - many of which were made by people who would be involved in resuscitating the “official” franchise in 2004. One thing that characterized  Wilderness Years years works was a willingness to expand far beyond what had been seen in the original series, both thematically and tonally, taking the franchise in wildly different directions. Without having to worry about tying things back to the status quo o


Last week , Andy dove into one of the most "D&D" of all topics, Alignment, to ponder (if you'll pardon the expression) the role it can  play in our modern tabletop experiences. As editor, of my (self-assigned) roles (I swear I'm not doing this on purpose) is to add links wherever possible to back background information, support claims, and, if it's a topic where I have interest, but little experience, act as bookmarks for further research on my own. The links in " Misalignment " largely fell into that last category. I am something of a Dungeons & Dragons outsider - ironic for a person who co-founded a gaming blog, as the game/system is largely synonymous with tabletop roleplaying as a whole. Aside from sitting in on a few games and haphazardly reading the handful of TSR books (spread across multiple editions, naturally), my D&D experience comes from media attached to the franchise: several generations of gamebooks, the original Dragonlance

GMing on the Cheap

Let’s say upfront one thing we lifers tend to take for granted: TTRPGs can be an expensive hobby, especially if you prefer (or need) printed editions of materials. To be fair, a well-made book can last for years or even decades, and the costs can be spread across numerous purchases. But, as is often described via boots and toasters [find appropriate link or alternate metaphor], it doesn’t matter how much one saves over the long term if you can’t afford the initial investment… not to mention that beginners are often only aware of the most prominent (and, thus, expensive) RPGs on the market. While old-timers like us know well how to navigate and/or mitigate costs when it comes to our TTRPG purchases, it can seem like a wild, pricey world out there for newbies. So this week, we thought we’d talk about the different ways to battle fiduciary gatekeeping, whether it be for yourself, or any newcomers you know looking to break into the hobby. - B B : If there's a standard baseline form for

Explosive Realism

Let's get this out there now: I love explosions. Like any 80s kid, it originated with cartoons - although I'm sure each of us has our own story, going back to a specific movie or show. For me, it was the original Danger Mouse , which premiered in the UK the year Andy and I were both born: 1981. By the mid-80s, it was on Nickelodeon here in the states, and required viewing for my father, my sister, and myself. The opening is a frenetic, yet oddly sparse, mess of energy, serving as a great lead-in to the show itself, with the titular Danger Mouse and his hamster assistant Penfold running from a number of old-fashioned  bombs, each punctuated with an onscreen "BANG" or "BOOM." With each of these "blow-ups," as I called them, my father would lift me and my sister into the air and we'd go into the episode energized and giggling. Blow-ups were not only moments of excitement, but familial joy. Before long, I'd be exposed to the ur-text of cinemat