This is Audio EXP for the 19th of October 2019, and the title of this episode is ‘No offence, but…’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #14]
This is the Geek Native highlights show, and in this brief podcast, I’ll chat you through some of the posts that appeared on Geek Native in the last week.
Before we start, let me ask you a question. Would you rather have peace and quiet or find yourself in the centre of a bizarre adventure?
A few weeks back, we discovered that most geeks would turn down adventure if it meant never seeing friends, family and pets again. This is a slightly different question. The sacrifice is less.
Have a think about it. Adventure or peace and quiet? I’ll tell you how geeks and non-geeks answered at the end of the podcast.
This podcast is a tiny bit different this week. Rather than being recorded on Saturday morning, I’m recording Audio EXP on Friday night.
It’s the Witching Hour here on the coast of Scotland. It is tipping down with heavy rain, and the flashing blue and red lights of an emergency response vehicle are splashing against my wall.
While it might feel different to me, there should be no practical impact on you. If anything truly significant happens overnight, we’ll pick up and chat about it later.
So, why the change? Tomorrow I’m at the Scotland Loves Anime festival at the Filmhouse. It’s a chance to see some anime of the big screen and one or two premiers while we’re there.
I’ve seen three shows so far, written one up as a Geek Native review and therefore have quite a lot left to review.
The first feature-length animation I watched was The Relative Worlds.
It looks stunning, and I knew very little about it going into the cinema. When, in the opening segments, a young boy’s mother mysteriously died, I thought I was about to watch a slice of life anime.
I was wrong. The Relative Worlds adds in killer cyborgs and bio-borgs, and has the two main characters as potential love interests in one dimension while they’re trying to kill each other in a different one.
I’ve also seen Human Lost. That’s a dark sci-fi where the world is horribly polluted, but we’ve come so far with medicine that we don’t need doctors any more. Even death can be cured.
Should we cure death, though?
There are good philosophical questions in Human Lost. Questions about; what does it mean to be human, what is the cost of progress and what sort of future do we want?
Those questions, though, are hidden under lots of mutant monsters fighting each other, action scenes and punks on bikes.
It was good, but if of the three films I’ve seen so far, I’d give the action title to The Relative Worlds.
My favourite, so far, and I’ve a half-dozen still to watch is the Case of Hana and Alice.
This is a rotoscope anime which means it was filmed with real people and then animated over. I think of Lord of the Rings, the first animation, whenever I think of rotoscoping but the Case of Hana and Alice looked nothing like that.
It looks like a normal anime except with a genius-level of attention to body movement and mannerisms. Of course, it achieves that level because actual humans were acting.
Nothing happens in the Case of Hana and Alice. Sure, we’re always a few minutes away from something dramatic happening, but the rebellious girls struggle through.
That may seem boring. There’s no giant robots, no ninja or warrior princesses, but there is brilliant storytelling, great characters and lots of feel-good moments.
That’s why I like anime so much. As a medium, it’s well placed to tell great stories, and the talented people who work in the industry dedicate their lives to precisely that.
Speaking of dedication, I’ll very quickly mention that the patron thank you gift this month is a little glowing Kodama spirit model. If you’re a patron before the 28th then, when Patreon processes subscriptions at the end of the month, a Kodama will be sent to you as a thank you for backing Geek Native.
Another bargain worth knowing about is an offer on Humble Bundle this month. There’s a bunch of old World of Darkness werewolf and vampire supplements up for grabs.
You get three for a Dollar and treble that for eight Dollars. There’s no core rulebooks or anything like that, but if you’re looking to backfill your collection, then it may well be of interest.
Cubicle 7 did a nice thing with Humble Bundle this week. The publisher’s Dark Heresy offer is over, but they wrote up just how much money the bundle deal made for Doctors Without Borders.
Impressively, gamers helped raise $80,000 for this amazing charity by buying grimdark sci-fi RPGs. Good!
Sticking with big money, let’s talk about 1.5 million Dollars. That’s how much the Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood Kickstarter has made.
That’s a lot of money, but Oathsworn has worked the convention scene all year, made a lot of friends, recruited a lot of YouTubers and, well, the game looks amazing.
It’s a legacy game which means the actions you take in it affect what happens later on.
You play characters, and if there are not enough PCs, you control supporting characters too. Each has different abilities, a well-written background and motivations. You know, just like an RPG.
The first half is a story. It’s a choose your own adventure, written by a New York Times bestseller grimdark author.
The second half is a monster battle in the Deepwood. They’ve only shown us what a few of these super-sized monster minis look like because they want to preserve the wow-factor of people playing the game.
In fact, the boss monsters come in little boxes and ship inside a larger box, to try and keep them secret.
It’s all very impressive. It’s also expensive if you want both boxes; the main game and that creature crate then before shipping, you need to find $300 for the game.
It’s not all good news and successes in the headlines this week. Early on, I found myself writing about the technical troubles Ingress faced.
The timing could not have been worse.
Ingress is a game from Niantic. They’re the people who made Pokemon Go and the Harry Potter game Wizards United. Those two games are licensed properties, but Ingress is their own.
They’ve had to update their app, launching Ingress Prime on Unity and withdrawing the old app. Niantic has also started to charge for attending the big mass battles known as anomalies.
Making gamers pay for something that was once free is never easy. Niantic didn’t do hugely well with this and enforced the change at relatively short notice.
So, for the servers, app or both to fail during the very first paid-for event is horrible timing. That’s precisely what happened.
I still play Ingress a lot. If I’m out for a walk, which I try and do, I’ll often open up the app and try and rescue part of the city.
I noticed when Niantic invited players to come up with ways to make the game sustainable. That sounded like code for; we better make some money from this game, or else.
If that’s the case, I think they need to expand the game and introduce payments in the new areas. They also have to stick clear of the pay-to-win fail point.
The problem with an app that works on the scale that Ingress does is that it’s hard to test and learn.
Wizards of the Coast do not have that problem. They’ve been ramping up the Unearthed Arcana playtests.
This week they’ve given us the Rune Knight, Swarmkeeper and The Revived to test.
I’m sure that mechanically speaking they’re all fine. However, I suggest Wizards of the Coast seem to be underexposed to gamers with imaginations.
You see, at level three, the Revived, which is a rogue archetype, no longer needs to eat, drink or even breathe. These are all concerns of the living.
A character that does not need to breathe does not have a considerable advantage in a swordfight, I know. Layer on politics, drama and intrigue and I think it’s a very different story. I’m sure imaginative players can go to town with the Revived.
I think the Rune Knight will be popular too. Here was have fighter archetype, someone who’s mastered the magic of runes to become a magically enhanced fighter. I recommend the Svilland Viking setting for 5e if that sounds particularly good.
Oh, yeah. The Swarmkeeper. Sounds cool. Well, if The Revived no longer needs to bother seeming mortal at level 3, then the Swarmkeeper can summon some fish.
Or, I suppose, they could summon some bees. Whoopee.
As you can tell, I’m not entirely sold on the poor Swarmkeeper. That, after all, is the point of releasing this material early so that Wizards of the Coast can adjust according to feedback before adding them to D&D proper.
Although, I think most of the feedback Wizards of the Coast got this week was about a video from Kat.
The D&D Facebook page posted a short video made by BBC3. Already this is risky. Look at the comments, if you can bare Facebook, and you’ll see dozens of gamers who thought the video was Wizards of the Coast marketing material.
It wasn’t. It wasn’t even made by them.
In the video, Kat says that D&D isn’t just for nerds.
And what’s wrong with that?
I’m still not sure, but I do know that the video didn’t fit well with me.
I think my issue is that Kat clearly doesn’t think she’s a nerd, but is now pleased D&D has become so mainstream it’s socially acceptable to play it.
I’ve written more about my thoughts on the blog, but, in summary, it’s okay to be a nerd Kat. If you enjoy exploring fantasy worlds in the theatre of your mind, with friends, dice and books then, Kat, you’re at the least a little nerdy.
On reflection; starting with “No offence, but…” sets the video up for a fail.
And on that note, let’s wrap up with a head to head of geeks versus non-geeks on the question of would you rather live in peace and quiet or find yourself at the centre of a bizarre adventure?.
Have you decided which you would prefer?
Like Kat, if you don’t consider yourself a geek, then you’re a little more likely to want the adventure to peace and quiet. Geek Native’s survey shows that 51.9% of non-geeks would go for an adventure.
It’s a different story for people who identify as geeks. 54.7% of geeks would rather than peace and quiet than the bizarre adventure.
Thanks for listening. Until next week.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.