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Showing posts with the label Bugsy

Traditions at the Tabletop

The holiday season is trucking right along once again with stores starting to tout their Black Friday deals weeks in advance. After all, Black Friday is a tradition ( sort of) . Americans are busy celebrating their Feast of Maximum Occupancy Thanksgiving, Canada just celebrated theirs last week, and before you know it we’ll be looking at Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, etc. etc. A time of year thick with celebrations and chock full of traditions. Although for Never Say Dice, as we mentioned in Home Media for the Holidays , our traditions mostly consist of trying to take some much needed time off and spend it consuming some of our backlogged media - be it traditional films, books, TV, or games. This year though, I thought we might dig a little deeper into some of our own traditions.- specifically, those that involve tabletop gaming. So pull up a plate of leftovers, and let's all ponder while we gorge ourselves. - A B : One of the joys of gaming with other people i

Dice, Danger, Dopamine, and Delight: Balancing the d4 of Player Experience

The battle has nearly reached its climax, but the outlook is dire. The Healer just went down... along with the Tank. You’re down to a handful of cantrips, and you send out one last firebolt. Natural 20! The Big Bad Evil Guy goes down and you save the day! The chase through the asteroid field has been dangerous and the shields can’t take any more. There's one last stretch to get through before the ship can make the jump out and you need three successes on four dice. Time to roll! Your group has snuck into the base to steal valuable intelligence in the war effort, but an important general is mere feet away from you with his back turned. One shot could change the tide in this war, you pull your side arm and… hope you get that dopamine hit once again. Our tabletop games are often about risk (no we don’t mean the board game) and the rewards aren’t just in game victories. We feel the success just as much as our imaginary characters do. So how do we balance these player experiences? -A B

Style as Story in CounterSpy

It's time to come clean: most of my recent electronic gaming selections have been inspired by genre discussion threads on the Something Awful forum , particularly explorations into the "Shoot 'em Up"( SHMUP ) and JRPG genres. There are plenty of holes in my experiences with the medium, and I always love to hear people talk about why something does (or doesn't) work for them... especially when their suggestions are already part of my gargantuan game backlog . The most recent one, though, was for a genre I was more familiar with: "Stealth Games." Regular readers shouldn't be surprised here - given how often I bring it up, it should be obvious that my all-time favorite series is Metal Gear , which has defined much of the "stealth" genre. Not only those games, though, but also Tenchu, Hitman, Assassins Creed, and Dishonored , all of which I've discussed before as part of the "assassination game" sub-genre, and well as those tha

Putting the Howl in "Howl-loween Specials"

There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin. But this is our blog, and that means we can discuss whatever we want. Being the spookity time of year, it's a good opportunity to do just that. While "horror" might be the word of the month for many, there's also something to be said for the more mundanely macabre - the things that, while not horrific, blend right into the spirit of the month. Here at Never Say Dice, one thing that brings us into that space are the old Halloween specials of our childhood. While some should probably  stay buried in the past, worms crawling in and out of their corpses, others seem to endure over the years. The favorites might vary from household to household, but shows like It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown or Garfield’s Halloween Adventure are still commonly well-liked. That begs the question, though: what makes a good Halloween special work, and what can we take from t

Creeping (Un)death!

We’ve once again entered that month full of spookiness. Witches, goblins, bats, and other creepy crawlies abound. One particular category of creature has been stuck in our skulls of late, and that's the undead. From skeletons to vampires and zombies, and a great number of spirit types in between, the undead are a large part of the creatures that populate the Halloween season. While scary ghost stories might appear at Christmas as well, this time of year sees a surge of interest in movies, books, and games featuring the undead. Though they appear in stories set year-round, this is when they get their chance to shine in the moonlight. Something's been troubling me though: while there are notable exceptions, the majority of the undead that appear in our stories are humanoid. Why is that and should we work to change it? -A A : The question of why our undead tend to be humanoid can be difficult to answer. It could simply be a matter of depiction - human/humanoid undead are just eas

Take Me Down to Parody City

The NSD Team are both 90s kids, and nerdy ones at that, so the recent passing of rapper Coolio hit us both because of his own work (near-inescapable for a period in our adolescence) and because of the odd relationship he had with "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of his biggest hit, " Gangsta's Paradise ," as " Amish Paradise ." Al had been given permission by Coolio's record label, but not Coolio himself, who had issues with his work being parodied. To my knowledge, this is the highest-profile of a parodee being upset about Al's version, and it's certainly the one time I was around to experience it. But what makes a parody stick with us just as long as the original, and, in some cases, even longer? What do we, as audiences, get from them and how should we approach them as creators, ourselves? "Weird Al" Yankovic,as I've written about before , played a vital role in my musical journey. He wasn't constrained by genre, so eac

Attitude Adjustment: Sonic, Poochy, and an X-treme Conundrum

I admit it: I'm not up to date on the Sonic Fandom . My familiarity with the character is limited to the original Genesis games, although I've certainly known people around my own age for whom the name "Sonic the Hedgehog" meant the animated series, comics, or (heaven help us).. newer video games. There have been the recent movies  keeping the character in the public eye, not to mention Sega embracing fan creations using the old 2D format though Sonic Mania alongside slicker, modern titles like Sonic Forces . Nonetheless, I've been spending a lot of time with the character lately - thanks to a couple of miraculous devices , I have the complete Sega Genesis library at my fingertips and I've been slowly working my way thorough the classics . Things are stressful for just about everyone these days, and being able to quickly pull up a something colorful and energetic for just a few minutes provides great comfort and relief. I beat the first Sonic the Hedgehog

Storylines of Succession

Even if you’ve been keeping your nose in dusty tomes of RPG lore, word has probably made its way to you that Queen Elizabeth II has died. As heathen Americans, we’re more used to the idea of Kings and Queens (and Czars and Emperors and Kaisers and…)  from history and works of fiction than in our day-to-day lives. But those works of fiction, even the ones we make ourselves, are inspired by history and the world around us, so this week we thought we’d talk about the way that shifts in leadership (monarchical or otherwise) can affect the worlds we create for stories and games. - B B : The more you think about it, the more you see things that are affected by these kinds of changes. Whose face is on the money? Who even declares the value of said money? Even if your setting is based around bartering systems (something of an inevitability when much of the wealth the Player Characters encounter is in the form of plundered discovered treasure and artifacts) the availability of goods and servic

Formatted

In last week's post (" Retrogame Therapy ") Bugsy discussed some ways that  playing “retro” video games are beneficial to us. That got us both thinking about the technology and media formats of these games. Do you go with newer digital formats of your favorite games or strive to consume media through the technology it was originally released in? Certainly, there's an ease of use factor with purely digital consumption, but is there something to be said for taking a more involved approach and adopting Bugsy’s aforementioned hydra of gaming systems? The question doesn't only apply to electronic gaming, either, with digital tabletops continuing to increase. To boil it down to a single specific question: how much does the format matter when it comes to games? -A A : To me, the most obvious argument to me that specific format shouldn’t matter is ease of use. Do I need extra cables, to fiddle with settings, to clean any old components, to find the space and time to get

Retrogame Therapy

By this point, my love of older electronic games should be well-established . I've always been a little out of step with the times - my family didn't have a lot of money when I was a kid, so most things were acquired used through yard sales, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs. Even as an adult, I tend to acquire systems towards the end of their eras, with the exception of the PS2... and one of the reasons I went for that console back in 2001 was the backwards compatibility that made its predecessor's huge library available, with games already starting to show up on "used" shelves and in discount bins. It's been greatly accelerated in the pandemic years, of course: I've rescued all the old yard sale consoles from my parents' house incorporated them into the nightmarish hydra that makes up my desk/music area. This is thanks to a few recent developments that have made old consoles accessible in ways that would have been impossible just a few years ago and