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Showing posts with the label Electronic Games

DMs, GMs, and AIs (Oh, My!)

Playing TTRPGs solo has been around almost as long as TTRPGs have been a concept. While a traditional TTRPG is a social group activity, solo roleplaying games can be more like a journaling experience or guided storytelling through a gamebook (some of which involve dice and stat-tracking, and even modified versions of rules from group-centered games). We’ve talked a bit about solo-tabletop RPGs before - the trouble with solo gaming when want to go beyond the limits of what's been written into a gamebook or published electronic RPG is the GM/DM. There are, of course, many ways people have attempted to solve this . There are the Mythic Game Master Emulator books . There are storytelling dice if all you need is a nudge in a direction. There are even systems that attempt bring in a few different approaches into a single package like RPG Solo . While these are all fine solutions, they all came out before we had AI, or at least before we had what we currently refer to as "AI"

Analyzing Analyzing Horror

There's something of a cottage industry in dissecting people's interest and love of horror media - I've certainly delved into the discussion , myself. Nonetheless, the sheer number of words put into understanding the genre's appeal is simply staggering , to the point where I find myself asking why horror is widely subjected to unique scrutiny rarely applied to other genres. (Well, maybe porn, but I'm certainly not going to unpack that here.) So, for today's Spooky Season post, we're going to look into why the quest to understand horror's popularity remains a topic as perennial and evergreen as... well, as horror itself. After all, what's scarier than getting meta with media? To start with, a lot of these articles present an engagement with horror that I find... odd. Many focus on the psychological effect of the fear response, the adrenaline rush that comes with being scared (from the safe distance afforded by being an audience), and even some weird

Portal's Edge

You know the game I’m talking about, right? First-person action/physics puzzler that people first got a look at in 2007, starring a young lady of East Asian descent with specialized footwear? Where the levels are mostly figuring out ways to make it from start to finish intact, and a story that closes with your character, having removed the powerful immediate threat, but facing a totally unknown (and unseen) future, escaping while the song “Still Alive” plays over the credits? No… I mean the other one. I admit that, in my recent playthrough of 2008’s Mirror’s Edge , I didn't start thinking about the similarities to Portal (2007) until I caught the name of the closing song and it all just... came together. While Portal received something of a stealth launch as part of Valve’s Orange Box compilation a few months before ElectronicArts’ first announcement of Mirror’s Edge, I think it’s safe to say the two games were developed largely independently of each other. Which raises the quest


There's a moment in the 1977 Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit , oft-mentioned in this blog, when Bilbo Baggins is presented the map of Lonely Mountain and, incredibly, deduces the presence of a secret entrance to the Dwarves' catacombs. He passes this feat off by simply saying that he's "really quite good with maps." (The scene plays out quite differently in the original novel, where Bilbo is far more buffoonish and the secret entrance is identified by Gandalf. One advantage of the condensed adaption is that Bilbo gets to be more clever, hastening the story along at a much quicker pace.) I was quite young when I first saw The Hobbit , but I knew immediately that I, too, wanted to be "quite good with maps." There was in inherent mystique in these ancient documents, artifacts hiding away secret wisdom for those who knew where to look. Even the word sounded dusty and crinkly. (Not to mention the fantastic foley work in things like the 1977 The Hobbit . Ho

The Chatbot's Dreams are Half-Constructed: AI and the Ghost of Racter

Hello, I'm Racter. Are you Neversay? > Yes You are Neversay Dice? > Yes Hi, Neversay. How are things in Maryland? We were talking about optimism last time. You had just asked whether I do dream. Shall we continue? Lately, chatter about "AI" seems utterly inescapable, even if the term refers to predictive modeling synthesis for text and images, rather than the mysterious, self-aware, and (usually) dangerous manufactured beings that feature in so much of my favorite media.  As a user, abuser, lover, and loather of language, I suppose I should be more excited and invested in this latest form of engagement, but most of the output seems functionally correct, but generally uninteresting and hollow - something akin to the linguistic equivalent of fast food: attention-grabbing and easy to consume, but ultimately unsatisfying and lacking both nutrition and character. ChatGPT, the most prominent of these large language models (LLMs) brings to mind its structural predecessors

Taking Part in Pride Through Games

This year, it felt more important than ever that we do a post for Pride Month. But we found ourselves racking our brains trying to think of something that would be respectful, personal, and worth reading. It wouldn’t be fair for us to speak on behalf of our LGBTQ+ friends and players, and it wouldn’t be fair to you, our readers, if we simply regurgitated advice we'd read elsewhere. We want to encourage people to engage with more queer content in gaming (and partaking in work by queer creators - which isn’t always one and the same), but we simply aren’t doing enough of it ourselves to speak confidently about it. So we thought we’d make that our starting point: rather than coming from a place of experience or (heaven help us) authority, we’d talk about what we’d like to do this June to celebrate Pride through our gaming, how we'd go about finding them, and why these might be a good fit for us and for our tables. And, in our own process of discovery, we can help out some other gam

Frog Jumping

This weekend marks a very special holiday that's important to many of us* - National Frog Jumping Day! While one might argue that the holiday started in 1865 with the publication of Mark Twain’s famous short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," , it wasn’t until 1893 that the tradition of an annual Frog Jubilee complete with frog jumping competition started. Held every May 13th, it's a tradition that continues today, with the record high frog jump still standing from 1986 at 21 feet and 5 ¾ inches. While neither of us here at Never Say Dice had heard of Frog Jumping Day, the jubilee or the record before this week (that we can recall), at the very least we're familiar with the works of Mark Twain, and it got us thinking about some very important frogs from other media. Specifically though, the frog that came to mind this week is none other than the amphibian hero of Frogger (apologies to fellow Marylander Kermit). What exactly is Frogger ? It&

The Secret History of Wolfenstein 2009

I look down at the small disc in my hand. Such a minuscule thing, I think, but its significance and import is matched only by the scope of its historical absence - long-forgotten, even in legend. But this artifact is real, its existence embodying the sophistication of a once-mighty people... as well as the means of their ultimate destruction. I refer, of course, to the copy of 2009's Wolfenstein that I acquired for the PS3, but the description applies, somewhat more accurately (if less poetically) to the Thule Medallion, the mystical artifact that sets this game apart from the rest of the series by giving long-running protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz a taste of the supernatural abilities usually afforded only to his adversaries. First, a history lesson. Never Say Dice scholars may remember I covered the previous game, 20 01's Return to Castle Wolfenstein in an earlier post . While I talked about the experience of visiting that title in the modern day, I didn't discuss why I h