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Chiptune is Best Tune

Like me, some of you are gamers.  And if you’re, um, of a certain age, there are few things that can punch you right in the pleasure centers like chiptune music.  In the same way that the smell of cherry pie or salt air can bring a memory back with palpable force, 8-bit music has the power to invoke a sense of wonder and adventure in our kind.  I have even been known to purchase entire games because I was hooked by the soundtrack.

I’m bringing this up because I just discovered Adventures in Pixels by Ben Landis.  You can literally listen to this and do ANYTHING YOU LIKE, and still feel like you’re embarking on something grand.  Crazy, I know.  And as a bonus, you get a comic page for every track.  That’s pretty cool, but frankly, I’m in it for the music.

Here’s a sample:

Thanks for making me smile today, Mr. Landis.


Today is for Dog Pics

Now it is you who are it.  Understood.

Cher:Now it is you who are it. Mojo:Understood.

Observe!  The laziest game of tag in the world.   I think Mojo is fitting in nicely, politely matching his sloth to Cher’s own complete lack of motion.

Not pictured here: the twenty minutes of dog acrobatics that preceded this collapse.  Fun fact, fifty and sixty pound dogs can reach speeds of mach 3 on a set of stairs and have no brakes whatsoever.





Kingdom Death:Monster and the Power of Story

You might have missed it, but yesterday on Kickstarter a board game called Kingdom Death:Monster successfully funded at at 2 million dollars.  On a pledge level of 35 thousand dollars.  That’s flat out amazing.  Very few games come close to that kind of response from the community, so why KD:M?

Part of it is the presentation and the art.  No exaggeration, it’s some of the most imaginative and detailed stuff out there:

But it’s not universally loved.  In fact, one of the biggest complaints about the artwork is that the female characters are highly sexualized and, um, clothing averse.  The men are as well, but not at the same level.  Think anime volleyball team.

Another part of it is the fantastic selection of goodies available when you pledge.  Check out this chart to see what I mean.  Not only is there a generous volume of rewards, but the variety is terrific for a game, as opposed to a collection of miniatures that doesn’t need to worry about mechanics.  It’s not up to the insane levels of, say, Zombicide, but it’s very good.  It is not, however, good enough to carry the project to two million dollars on its own.

There’s also the gameplay.  This is a cooperative miniatures game, so right off the bat you have an idea of how it will play.  There are a couple of nice twists, like the AI cards that not only drive a monster’s behavior, but also count as its hit points, which means the more wounded a beast becomes, the fewer tricks it may have up its sleeve.  Of course, you may also whittle it down to only it’s most powerful attacks, which is also pretty cool.  Here’s a peek at the gameplay:

Again, very well done, but not too much you haven’t seen elsewhere.

So what is it?  What resonated with over five thousand backers at an average spend of $200 dollars each?  It was the story.  Go to the Kickstarter page and watch the video.  It’s not about the mechanics or the cool figures or anything remotely board-game-like.  It’s 100 percent about facing monsters in the dark with nothing but a shard of rock.  There’s nothing but a tiny group people with no knowledge, culture, or industry to fall back on, standing back to back against the unknown.  That immediacy and intimacy, coupled with the extreme vulnerability of the heroes, is where that two million dollars comes from.

It’s the pure essence of a great horror story.  The trappings of art and rules and miniatures simply make it possible for us to see how we would be able to be part of the story ourselves.

That’s something I’d gladly pay for.  And I did 🙂


Not In My Back Yard

You know why this was taken at night? BECAUSE IN THE MORNING, IT WAS GONE.

You know why this was taken at night? BECAUSE IN THE MORNING, IT WAS GONE.

The wife showed me this pic from Reddit.  I hope to god it’s a photoshop.



Thanks Caffeine!

This has been one busy year so far.  All four days of it.

I’m not complaining, mind you.  The new dog is a delight and the new book schedule hasn’t caused me to murder anyone yet.  Nonetheless, please join me today in a celebration of coffee.  Precious, precious coffee.


2013: No Resolutions Needed

You know how it is.  The new year rolls around and suddenly we’re all about self-improvement and good intentions.  Here’s how it usually goes:

This year I’m only going to eat broccoli and sunshine.  While exercising.

I swear to give up booze/smokes/panda livers/Bon Jovi for the rest of my life, starting at midnight.

I will not kill another clown, so help me god.

And what happens?  As soon as March rolls around, you find yourself singing along to Livin’ on a Prayer while burying another sack of rubber noses in the backyard.  I know, I’ve been there.

As a self-help tool, resolutions are crap.  First of all, they’re always some big dramatic change which is impossible to stick with over the long term.  Big changes happen over time, small success by small success.  Unrealistic goals are a sure-fire way to get discouraged.

Secondly, they’re tied to a time of year.  When was the last time somebody asked you how you were doing on your new year’s resolutions in August?

And lastly, the whole tradition has failure built right into it.  It’s easy to make a crazy resolution on the first day of the year, because nobody expects you to live up to it.  It’s a given that you’ll do it for a few weeks and then move on with a laugh and a wave with everyone else.

No more resolutions.  No big declarations.  Just one measurable step towards success every day.  Let’s do it together.  I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, so while you’re doing what you need to do, I’m going to let that clown out of my garage right now.

Baby steps.