Friday, February 15, 2019

Pitch Black (2000)

Pitch Black (2000)

An interesting entry into the science fiction movies back in 2000. Especially with some of the promotional material that came along with it. Before we had a chance to see the movie there was a SciFi channel special to promote it's release. Shot in the movie timeline and included such things as interviewing the prison doctor who gave Riddicks eyes their shine job. Even more odd were Pitch Black themed raves that occurred where the music would suddenly stop and all the lights would go out and the screams of the aliens creatures were cranked out over the speakers. It all certainly sparked some interest back in the day.

What we were delivered was a decent not-so-standard scifi flick with a little bit of horror mixed in for taste. Opening up with the cast in cryochambers and a voice over from the character of Riddick giving us a voice over that did two things; told us a little bit about the world and made damn sure we knew he was the main character. Then catastrophe happens as the hull is penetrated by small objects, the Captain is killed in cryosleep and the last two crew members are left to attempt to land the ship as it burns though a planets atmosphere. We also learn that in the far future there are no alarms for random shit getting close to a spacecraft until it's already tearing everything apart.

We get drama followed by a nicely done big crash, the ship being torn apart, people scrambling and dying. You know, all the good times. Afterwards everyone is digging themselves out and trying to figure out what the hell happened. We also get a bit more of the most dangerous person on the ship, Riddick.

For those who may not know the character of Riddick is played by Vin Diesel. This is his break-out roll as a main star of a movie and he goes all out. Even actually doing an arms over the head escape trick that will make your shoulders hurt just watching. His character is an escaped con with eyes that have been 'shined' allowing him to see in almost complete darkness. While not actually mentioned by anyone we also get that his sense of smell and hearing are also enhanced beyond that of a normal person.

We start to discover there is something else very dangerous on the desert planet with them. Something even more dangerous than the convict in their midst. Working together they have to find shelter and hopefully a way to be rescued or getting off of the planet. Some neat scenes of vast boneyards, an abandoned geologist camp come along they are given a glimmer of hope.

That doesn't last long. In the camp the remains of the previous occupants are discovered after the death of one of their own. Then they figure out that the planet will fall under darkness from it's three suns at any time by a eclipse that only comes once very twenty two year. Talk about some crap timing to crash on a planet.

A desperate struggle for survival against light fearing aliens ensues. But, like any good mindless hordes are killing us movie, the survivors start to turn on each other as well. Their numbers are rapidly reduced and often quite abruptly. Leaving us wondering just who will actually survive. I do remember when I first saw this movie back in 2000 only one of my 'oh they will live' picks made it through to the end.

The visuals they put into this film are well done. Some of them are easy tricks like color saturation while others are full blown scifi coolness of very nearby planets aligning in the skies around them as the eclipse begins to occur. There was also a very obvious push to make some of the tech concurrent throughout. A great example of this is in the solar collectors. Most everything in the camp has them, from a small toy, to vehicles and larger equipment. While they may vary in size in complexity there is a uniform look between them all, a domed top with a spinning engine inside.

Now while Vin Diesel stands out as the best performance in the movie it's not all due to just his acting ability but in the way he is shot or place in scenes. Once again they put a lot of thought into something and that was how they portrayed their center character in every shot he is in. But we also have Keith David pulling off a great job, Claudia Black pre-Farscape is in there as well. The rest of cast does well enough and there is nobody pulling a Mannequin Skywalker.

What I really enjoy about this is how they used a lot of practical effects when they could. Saving most of the CGI for the alien creatures or the background sky shots during the lead up to the eclipse. Hell we even had a model of the doomed ship at the beginning of the movie. If this were done today you would have Riddick doing triple back flips off an aliens head while spinning and slicing open four more on the way through before landing on the back of another. But we get some down and dirty action shots that improvise as best they can using darkness and the limited light to leave some of it to our imagination.

One thing I want to point out. This is not, by any means at all, an EPIC science fiction film. This is a gritty down in the dirty science fiction film. Focusing on a small cast and a harsh reality that is closing in around them. The bits and pieces of what the rest of the universe is supposedly like are just tidbits usually having something to do with what is going on.

I have to recommend this movie to others who enjoy scifi stuff. Not so much to the horror crowd though. Interesting characters, some believable tech and some nasty aliens to deal with. Oh let's not forget a few great lines to quote such as; “I'd rather piss glass”, “You're not afraid of the dark... are you?” and “Looks clear.”.

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So is it a shine job or are you just another replicant?


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Jaded Gamers - My final opinion on Magpie Games

Here is my final stance on Magpie Games. I will NOT buy anything they have to offer no matter what it is. This has been footing every since they originally published the 'Two Minutes Hate' article back in 2016. Calling out and name dropping people for yelling back at the very damn well known abuse Zak Smith/Sabbath was a true low. The man stalked, harassed and bullied multiple people for years before and continued to do so. He even stepped up his aggression at the people mentioned in the article.

Several of those people asked for their names to be removed. Mark Diaz Truman refused. This shows just how little empathy he has for others that he deems to be 'bad' for some reason or another. He stood his ground and allowed Zak and his minions to continue to springboard from that article and go after them.

Then after Mandy Morbid bravely came forward with her story about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Zak Mark decided to apologize. Well sort of. He did not apologize by name to any of the people he harmed by name dropping them in the article.

He still has no human empathy for the suffering he has caused others.

I WILL NOT put a dime into the pocket of a man who enabled an abuser to continue to do harm. I WILL NOT put a dime into the pocket of a man who chose to ignore the pleading of those he was causing harm with his article. I WILL NOT put a dime into the pocket of a man who TO THIS DAY has not apologized to the people he hurt.

If those creators who go through Magpie Games to be published feel slighted by this opinion I only have a single response. Chose better people to work with, maybe somebody who doesn't throw other people to the wolves.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Jaded Gamer Diary - Mike Mearls is a coward

Mike Mearls is a fucking coward.

With the entire Zak Smith thing blowing the hell up a lot of shit came out about him that is very unsettling. Specifically when people were sending him emails explaining to him how Zak had personally affected them through stalking, harassment and sending his mindless fuckwits after them he did something unthinkable. Mike took those accounts and handed them over to Zak. He gave the abuser a list of those who were trying to talk about their abuse.

Then the spineless fuckwit went on to say that it was all looked into (which evidently means Zak saying it wasn't true) and found to have no merit. So Zak being a consultant on DnD 5e was going to be a fine thing.

Now fast forward to the shit storm going on right now when everybody is finally seeing that scumbag abuser for what he is.  You would think Mike Mearls would at least try to do some explaining. 

Nope, Captain Cowardly posts up an image of a statement instead.  This image in particular:

Yeah that's it. He fucked over several folks and handed their information over the very person who had spent, in some cases, years stalking and harassing them.

Then he lies right out the gate and says Zak was only an early playtester for DnD 5e. When he is fully credited as a 'consultant' in the credits. Also forgetting that he defended him as a 'consultant' back when people were arms about him being involved. He was not just a damned playtester.

At the end he slaps everyone Zak has hurt in the face again by saying he promotes a safe and welcoming environment. The guy who gave the victims names and, most likely, email addresses to their abuser they were trying to get away from.

Mike Mearls you are a lowly pathetic shadow of a person.

Cyberpunk 2020 - Superconsumer Part 4

The Police

Law enforcement still exists in Superconsumer, but like all things it's been twisted and changed by the media control and corporate enforcement. After decades of a continuous rise in crime despite a constant increase in funding and manpower the government just gave up trying. They handed over the running most law enforcement to private companies to handle. Giving them a frozen budget and simply told to do their best. If it failed the politicians had a scapegoat so they couldn't be blamed.

The three major corporations who handle running private law enforcement now are Peacekeep, The Badge Inc and Security Solutions. With Peacekeep and The Badge handling most major police departments across the nation while Security Solutions handles private police forces for gated communities and rural areas that were formerly Sheriff Departments.

First thing that was looked at was how to get around the static budget they were given. It was obvious there was no interest in giving them anymore than what the original contracts offered but there was also nothing limiting how to gain funds in other ways. Thus was born the idea of Corporate Sponsorship.

Various Corporations could now sponsor specific precincts for a tidy sum in the form of a donation to the department. Their logo would be slapped onto the patrol cars, uniforms and media presence for that specific precinct giving them mobile advertising that is also illegal to deface. This, of course, led to more influence by the corporations as time has gone on.

With a big enough donation officers could be told to turn a blind eye to specific activities being done in their patrol zone. If they are sponsored by Militech then they would be ordered not to interfere with a group of edgerunners extracting a corporate official from a rival in their jurisdiction. Other companies could order them not to report illegal dumping of chemicals or tell them to remove the homeless in an area with violent force.

Even the system that all on duty officers use for their weapon smart links has a list of 'friendly' targets loaded into them as designated by their sponsors. So in a firefight the police may not be able to return fire against a man shooting at them because he is a relative of old man Arasaka who is paying their bills.

On the other hand some use the police to test out new weapons and equipment. Arming them with the latest test run of smart gear and non-lethal technologies so they can get a better idea of how they work in the line of duty. What the police use one day may be the next big weapon trend a few months later. Or a sudden spike of weapon failures and officers killed in the line of duty could send something back to development or get it canceled altogether.

Of course this means there are place that nobody really cares about. The outskirts and slums around a city may be stuck with the bottom level of funding. Scraping by however they can. Maybe getting Slurps to sponsor them so they can put new tires on some of their barely running patrol cars. In these areas the police become less concerned about doing their job and focus on their own survival often looking away just to keep from being the next loss on a spreadsheet someplace.

Thus the crime levels in wealthier parts of the city and in areas around corporate assets have seen a dramatic drop in reported crimes. While the worst parts of the city continue to spiral down with criminal activity going completely unchecked. Or that if a corporation suddenly gets an interest in a specific section in a run down section of the city there could be a huge spike in funding over night.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Cyberpunk 2020 - The MacGregors

The MacGregors

A rapidly expanding poser gang has moved into Night City. Having originated over in the EU and then slowly crossing over onto the east coast then the midwest and now the east coast. This group has a huge fascination with Scotland highlanders of old, or more accurately an obsession of how they have been portrayed in films and media for the last thirty or so years. Decking themselves out in kilts, monoswords and old style armor they take to the the streets with a mean streak a mile wide.

Founded by Jason 'Cricket' MacGregor over fifteen years ago who followed a more traditional idea Scots heritage. But with the rise of popularity things changed by those who started falling in with his lot. Jason doesn't really care about the changes, he just sets back enjoying the cash, alcohol and women that his movement now provides him. Watching the carnage from a distance and occasionally joining it when it comes close to home.

Appearance wise they do love to dress up for the part. Wearing kilts in their own tartan patterns, matching plaid and sporran. Growing out their hair and decorating it with beads and braids. Armored boots, leather and bits of armor are modern additions to the dress, for both protection and appearance. The female members of the gang have dropped all of the traditional highlander garb in favor of this more 'combat ready' look since they can all throw down with the best of them. Now at formal private affairs full on traditional attire is appreciated if not outright required.

As a bit of an oddity this particular gang operates both illegal and some legal activities to fund itself. On the illegal front is the usual round up; drugs, prostitution, low end arms dealing, robberies and the occasional murder for hire. On the legal end they run events that are very like the Renaissance fairs that used to be popular years back complete with all the usual trappings. However they have made their centerpiece attraction at these events a melee combat competition. So drink, buy some trinkets and then watch several competitors beat the daylights out of each other while you eat Almost Haggis flavored Almost Meat Stix. This acts as both a flow of income that they can't get in trouble for and a pool of fighters to recruit from. They also seek out sponsorships and attract all the media attention they can get.


This folks really love their melee and it shows. Usually possessing a wide variety of standard swords, knives and axes for events or just for show. But they also pack Mono weapons for when the real fights start. Using a variety of different businesses they have the standard Kendachi models heavily modified in appearance. When they are finished they look like full sized two handed swords and other weapons of that era. Having this done does cost a bit, the price of the original mono weapon and then double that price (ex a two handed broadsword would be made from a Kendachi M-33 Powersword, costing 860eb and then another 860eb to do the mods).

Now don't let them fool you. They also pack around plenty of ranged weapons as well. They know full well that sometimes bringing a gun to a knife fight is the way to win. In this area they prefer firearms that are big, heavy and just look down right ugly.


Again they really go for the look and prefer to have their body armor modified to fit in. Paying to have standard body armor appear to be plate metal and chain. Like weapons this is all cosmetic and only affects the look and you figure the cost in the same way.


One of the biggest vices of this gang (well besides heavy alcohol consumption) is their preference to use drugs. Stim, Speedheal, 'Dorph and Smash are regularly found among the members in great quantities just for personal use. It is rare to come across a group where some of them aren't tripping on something. They buy, sell and trade just about any other type of illegal narcotic that you can think of as well. Rumor has it they also use a specialized drug they've nicknamed 'The Quickening', a bright neon blue injections that is said to cut back the affects of addiction. So far nobody has acquired a sample since they keep really tight control over this if it even exists.

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Jaded Gamer Diary - Mandy Morbid speaks out

"Please feel free to share this widely, on any platform you have."

This is what Mandy Morbid has stated and this is what we are doing. She speaks out about her former life with Zak Smith aka Zak Sabbath.  It is not pleasant to say the least. Most of us pretty much knew he was a terrible toxic person and not just online. We were right and it's so much worse.

You can read Mandy Morbid's account here:

It is not for the faint of heart, the level of mental abuse that piece of shit Zak is capable of is very telling. Thankfully she is seeing an outpouring of support from a lot of people. I hope those who blindly followed him start to see just what kind of scumbag they have been enabling for years now. Somehow though I'm pretty sure he will still have his little following that will never go away.

Some of them would praise anybody if they thought they wrote a decent game article.

So once again I say it. It's time to push the toxic mother fuckers out of the hobby, out of our communities and step up to try and protect those they abuse, manipulate and use.

I don't have much else to say right now. I'm still shell shocked after reading her account of what has been going on.

Friday, February 8, 2019

What Dreams May Come (1998)

What Dreams May Come (1998)

First and foremost this movie is visually stunning, I will say that immediately. Usually when a movie looks this good the story doesn't quite live up in the same way. Not here, this movie will rip your fucking heart out and show it to you while it's still beating.

What amazes me is the amount of people I've talked to over years that have never seen this film. I don't know how this is possible because it hits across so many lines all at the same time. Any how.... on to my review.

The story centers around Chris Nielsen (played by Robin Williams) and his life, meeting his perfect wife, having children, building a home together, losing his children, losing his life and what comes after. Chris is a doctor that runs into the woman of his dreams by accident while traveling. Later we are shown that he is a doctor and she works for a museum and paints. They get married, have kids and build that perfect but all to busy life together. Then we here Chris voice over as his kids drive away “That was the last time we saw our children alive” and this is where the movie starts to really become what it is.

This movie is about death. Losing the ones we love and how we deal with it. What happens after we die. How those we love can be destroyed by our passing. It doesn't do all this in one long shot, there are flashbacks perfectly timed throughout the movie giving us all these glimpses of how the death of their children almost tore Chris and his wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) apart. What happens to her once he is gone as well.

This movie is about life. Between all the death and terrible consequences of it we are also shown the life of those involved. The love they shared and how much they meant to each other. Coming into understandings of each individual, husband to wife, parent to child. Again this is scattered throughout the movie in a series of flashbacks that set the pace throughout.

This movie is about heaven and hell. Without beating us in the head with angels and demons. Mentioning only a couple of times the idea that there may be a God watching. It puts everything on a much more personal level than any other movie I've seen.

Chris builds his own heaven based around the paintings that his wife had done. Their meeting and hopeful future. With the help of his guide Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr.) on how to make what you want become a reality along with coming to terms with his own death. Later he is helped by Leona (Rosalind Chao) with dealing with the personal heavens of others.

But when the unthinkable happens Chris decides to travel across hell itself and will not be talked out of it by Albert who eventually decides to come with and recruiting a guide named The Tracker (Max von Sydow). Traversing the nightmare landscapes and littered with dangerous obstacles they finally reach their destination and we see that not only do people make their own slice of heaven, but they can create their own hell as well.

Now onto the visuals. Stunning is best work I can find to describe it. Everything has it's specific look from Chris' heaven being built out of paint and slowly becoming more solid. To the childs dream that is Leona's personal place. The library where we find the tracker gives us much foreboding and it helps tell you so much about the character. Then hell itself will leave you wide eyed and staring, especially that final personal hell that we venture to in the end. One that feels like we could end up there ourselves on our worst days.

Directed by Vincent Ward who does an outstanding job. So much so that I forgive him writing Alien 3, and trust me that's a big leap for me. Written by Ronald Bass who adapted it from a book by Richard Matheson. I cannot recommend this movie enough to anyone that has an ounce of human empathy or is a parent themselves. It is a hard movie to watch as bad things happen to good people with nobody at fault and nobody to blame. But in the end we find that the entire journey, including that after death, is what really matters.

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