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Showing posts with the label SciFi

Pew-Pew Zoom: Star Commander Elite Wing

Forty-five years later, it's easy to take Star Wars (1977) for granted. Sure, as film scholars both armchair and professional love to point out, George Lucas wore his influences on his oversized Tattooine-robe sleeve: 1930s serials, Akira Kurosawa, spaghetti westerns (particularly ones also influenced by Akira Kurosawa), teenage hot rod racing films, WWII fighter pilot movies... but nothing had ever blended it all together like that. And while the joints between the various segments seem obvious now (thankfully, Marcia Lucas is finally getting credit for her part in turning her husband's unfinished mess of a movie into a cultural-defining juggernaut), at the time it was largely seen as a non-stop thrill ride of excitement and energy. Previously, we've talked about the influence (and very lucky timing) Star Wars would have on the nascent video game industry and how, within a year of its release, space games had become the dominant force in arcades as fans could experien

In the Arcade, Everyone Can Hear You Pew-Pew

You take aim at the enemy vessel and fire, but a huge rock, slowly tumbling through space, comes between you and your target. It splits, breaking into smaller chunks, each moving twice as fast as their predecessor. You swear under your breath as you rotate your ship and push the throttle to its maximum... the last thing you needed was another deadly navigational hazard to contend with. Your irritation turns to panic, however, when a alarm starts screaming at you - one of the small, deadly accurate fighters has entered the region and is coming at you fast, guns blazing. Suddenly, one of the small rocks careens directly into your flight path. By the time you've rotated again and hit the thrust, it will be too late. There's only one option, but it's risky: a quick jump into hyperspace will get you out of the way, but there's a good chance you'll break up on re-materialization or come out right on top of an asteroid. You pray to whatever lowly god is watching over this

The Mission Will Be Very Safe and Fun for Everyone: Some Thoughtcrimes on Running Paranoia

  I'm sorry citizen, but the question "why hasn't there been a Paranoia post in over fifteen months" cannot be processed. Records indicate that the previous post, " [Backstory Redacted] - Getting Ready to Run Paranoia " was activated in the Year 214 of the Computer, and, as this is currently Year 214 of the Computer, your internal chronometer must be malfunctioning. Rumors that is has always been Year 214 of the Computer are treason. Please report to Internal Security for cerebral re-adjustment. Have a nice daycycle. So, why hasn't there been a post about Paranoia in fifteen months, anyway? The previous two have been quite popular , and, as I'm fond of saying, I've put more thought into this game than nearly anything else in my life, formal education included. As time went on, I found myself procrastinating on the follow-up. I didn't have enough time to work out everything I'd want to cover, I'd tell myself, or that some other top

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

Star Trek v. Star Trek: The Starship Enterprise's Fifty-Year Confusion

The question "what was your first Star Trek" carries a very different weight today than it did thirty-five years ago. All the classic (i.e., pre- Discovery ) series are instantly available across multiple streaming services, and the films aren't much harder to find - they were some of the first shows to be made available via streaming, in fact. And even before then, there were both broadcast and cable reruns, along with physical copies for sale and rental. For today's viewers, the question usually means "which show or movie is the one that 'clicked' for you, that made you want more?" And, from there, we can deduce what they like about the franchise - stylistically, thematically, and tonally, since Star Trek can be a lot of things for a a lot of people. But it wasn't always this way. For a while, Star Trek was only available sporadically. Even while the movies were doing well at the box office, prospective viewers were at the mercy of whoever mad

The Space Between Blows: The Audience's Role in Narrative Combat

POW! BIFF! ZOT! Fight scenes have been a part of narrative media for... well, as long as there has been narrative media . The Illiad , for instance, is full of the granular blow-by-blow we expect of fight scenes today, regardless of medium . So this is not a topic for which I can do any kind of justice - I'm sure there are people who have dedicated their entire careers to the study of narrative combat, and there will always be more to talk about, more to discover. Rather, this post will explore some recent thoughts inspired by (what else) a mostly-forgotten twenty-year old video game. Oni is a third-person action game with a focus, despite the arsenal of weapons featured in the official art, on melee combat. Today, it's remembered mostly as the game Bungie made after Marathon and Myth , but before Halo . Culturally, it's a rather bizarre relic: a western attempt at making an "anime game" based on limited reference points that the creators lifted wholesale, partic

Support Your Local/Virtual Con!

We should start this post off with a minor disclaimer: I am involved in the running of Balticon , our regional literary science fiction and fantasy convention, and have been for a number of years. There is no financial incentive for me to promote this or any other volunteer-run convention - as the descriptor implies, there's no money to be made. I simply would like to use this platform to share something I care about, and that I think Never Say Dice readers will get a lot out of. With that out of the way, let's define what we're talking about here. There are a number of different types of conventions for the nerdly-inclined and they all have their own culture, history, and goals. A "literary" convention like Balticon is different from a comic con, a media con, or a fandom con. The first two have blended together over the past few decades, with less of a focus on comics (and the collecting thereof) and more on the proximity of media properties and celebrities, freq

Stay on Target: Bringing Star Wars to the Table

Star Wars, as a roleplaying universe, is one that is near and dear to my heart. In fact, long before I got into Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars was my gateway into the world of tabletop roleplaying games. My father had mentioned D&D to me before, and we’d even played Dungeon! , but Star Wars was my first foray into what would become a lifelong hobby. It should be no surprise that the universe of space wizards and scruffy looking nerf-herders drew me to roleplaying. After all, I was already wearing “Jedi robes” and swinging around plastic lightsabers as a wee lad. Obviously, it was an already beloved world of pretend play, I just needed some dice to go with it. Add a best friend who had acquired the West End D6 system books, and the rest is Never Say Dice history. How do you recreate the excitement and magic of Star Wars at the tabletop though? In celebration of Star Wars Day , I’ve done my best to answer that question for my regular Dungeons & Dragons players in what may becom