Thursday, February 28, 2019

Febuary in review

Last month I talked about how Tumblr was a ghost town for driving traffic anywhere. I'm going to start posting up some of my older articles over there, full text, and pushing some of them into the queue. Well that ended up as a damned dead end that's for sure. I'm giving up on Tumblr except maybe throwing up a link or two over there when I'm bored.

My movie reviews seem to attract a higher amount of hits than my regular gaming material. So I'm going to continue to do one every Friday and I also started letting people vote on what movie I do next. So a bit more interaction with readers and potential readers.

Hit a bit of slump on gaming material there at the end of the month and my writing quality went to shit as well. Got some stuff partially done ready to go up the first week of March though.  Hopefully it turns out better.

Through sales of my stuff on DrivethruRPG, my affiliate links, donations and stuff like that I managed to make another thirty dollars this month to throw at my electric bill. Thankfully I'll be able to catch up once my tax return makes it into my bank.

MeWe is picking up for me. Pluspora I started using and it is slow but still growing. Twitter has been where I've seen the most interaction but also the lowest click through on links. Odd.

Jaded Gamer - Security


Last time I talked a bit about gatekeeping and how it can be a misused term depending on the scale you are talking about.  In an attempt to broaden up terminology and push back against how people misuse terms to get their way I'm working on a better standard of framing some discussions.  This time I'm going to bring up something I call Security.


Security is basically feeling safe in the hobby and keeping those who make you feel unsafe away from you as much as possible.


First I will start with the base level, the individual table. If you are the person either running or hosting a game you have near complete control over this. When somebody shows up or begins to take actions making you feel uncomfortable or threatened you have the full right to stand up and ask them to leave. There should be no question on if they should get to stay or not, they can move along and find another group. A conflict in this that can happen is when the host wants somebody to stay at a game you are running. Then it becomes a tougher issue, especially if they are unwilling to budge on the issue, in which case it may be time to find another place to run the game at.


Please note that this GM/Host issue can happen at cons. Especially ones that don't have clear cut rules on who can play in games being ran there and whether or not the GM can say 'no' to somebody who has shown up to play. If you are worried ask about policies covering this issue, at place with a pay to play gaming area there may not be much support about kicking people off a table once they have put their cash down. Forewarned is forearmed so always ask before volunteering to run games at a con.


As a player it can become difficult to keep your own security where you want it to be also. Especially if the threatening individual is a friend of the GM or host. But always try talking with them before, sometimes a bit of communication can help open their eyes to somebody that has become toxic to play. If there is no choice on that person being there then you may have to move to a different group for play. This isn't idea but it is an option.


There are those who will try to find a way around the Security of others. Either through claiming it is 'gatekeeping' and therefore bad. Maybe by gaslighting and trying to convince you that it's all in your head and they are no threat at all. Or by pulling others involved over to 'their side' and making it a conflict, even pushing them to gaslight or otherwise convince you that there is no reason for them to leave. One person doing this can ruin entire groups for certain people, including trying to influence other groups you may move too.


But keep pushing back for your own safety and be verbal about it. If you vanish off into silence then the abuser gets the satisfaction of 'winning' while cutting down your circle of trust even more.


Next time I bring this up I'll move onto the larger situations like conventions and online social circles where Security gets harder and harder to manage.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Jaded Gamer - Gatekeeping in depth


The last couple of weeks have had me thinking about the gaming community at large. There has been a nice uptick in the diversity of backgrounds among those coming into the hobby. More people of color, different religions, gender diversity and those living with disabilities. This has created a rich pool of influence in the games coming out and how new viewpoints to listen to.


A lot of talk over the last few decades has been about pushing aside the gatekeepers. Those who wish to keep our hobby small and open only to a very slim slice of people, people of their choosing, to enter into. It is very obvious that this is a bad practice and moving out of the way has been nothing but productive and healthy to the community.


Now I say that on a broad level. Gatekeeping at a complete community level is bad. However, gatekeeping at the individual personal table level is something that needs to be thought about in more detail.


I'm sure some people are already pissed just at that last bit. Let me get into a bit more.


At my own gaming table, when I run games, there are people I don't want to engage with. Top of that list would be sex offenders of nearly any stripe. I'm not saying they should be allowed to game someplace where they are welcome but that won't be happening at my table. I have children, I have family and friends who have been victims, I have seen what kind of damage they can do. So I don't want them around me or mine.


I've been called a gatekeeper for that.


Now if there are groups that want to allow them in, fine, that's their personal choice. But I shouldn't have people telling me to allow them into my personal games. Which is something that we have. Another case in point, a few years ago I discovered that a local player was an active member of the KKK and I made the statement that I didn't want to have anything to do with him. Some people were shocked about that. I heard “but he's really a nice guy”, no... he's an active participant in a hate group that wants to stomp out all people of color. I heard “but you should be open to other viewpoints”, no the viewpoint of a white supremacist is not one that I have any need to be open to.


I've been called a gatekeeper for that.


The word has been thrown around a bit to much and being used to define something broad and at a very small level. I agree with the use of the word at the broad level and I'm against keeping others out of the hobby at a broad level. But at an individual table level there needs to be a line drawn on throwing that word at somebody being particular about who they want to engage with during their free time with their hobby. If I HAD to game with a sex offender and a Klansman at my table I would stop gaming completely.


Who else do I not want to game with you may ask? Well people who say liberals should be deported, gay people thrown into concentration camps, that fascism is a good thing, atheists are devil worshipers... you get the idea. Those are the kind of people I don't want at my table.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Spacehunter (1983)




Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)

 
The poor mans Han Solo, that's what this is. Although instead of a Wookie he starts out the movie with his own Cherry 2000.


This was a rushed into production movie that was trying to capitalize on the current popularity of science fiction films at the time. Which of course was caused by the StarWars franchise blowing everything up at the time. Then, part of the way through filming, they decided to also capitalize off of the current 3D movie trend at the time. That trend I'm not sure what caused as most 3D effects at the time were pretty crap and most of the movies using it weren't much better.


One of the first thing noticeable is the music. Oh the damned music. The loud obnoxious music that is supposed to be 'adventurous' sounding or something. Instead it's very grating on the nerves and repetitive so much I think it may have inspired the electronica house bands. You get a really good dose of it right off the bat during the second thing you will notice.... the really long stream of credits at the beginning. They give the Superman movie a run for it's money but at least the man from Krypton had a much better musical score.


The basic story is pretty straight forward. Three survivors of a spaceliner explosion get stranded on a hostile planet and a reward is put out for their return. Thus Han Solo, no wait, I mean Wolff (that's right to f's in there cause he's bad ass) rushes over to save them and collect the reward. Problems on the planet ensue, we get a plucky young sidekick, a gruff old buddy and then we set off to save them from the planets big bad guy aptly named Overdog (what no two g's on dog?) and save the day.


Highlights among the cast are a young Molly Ringwald playing that plucky young sidekick named Niki. Ernie Hudson as Lando Cal... wait sorry did it again, as the gruff old buddy Washington. Peter Strauss as Wolff trying to climb out of television movies with this film but failing and falling right back into them afterwards. Micheal Ironside, the man who knows just when to chew on the scenery, as the planetary bad guy Overdog. Also I will admit my male gaze did enjoy Andrea Marcovicci for the short time she was in the movie as Chalmers the android replacement for a wookie.


This movie takes one of my biggest scifi movie complaints and turns it back around on me with a slap on the face for good measure. I dislike it when they make movies sets all shiny, new and almost untouched by human hands instead of lived in and a bit rough around the edges. In this movie they decided to make it all look like a junkheap in space. Everything, even Wolff's ship looked like a jumbled heap on the inside. While the planet is supposed to be all nasty and rough they went overkill with it so much that it looked like garbage instead of a set. They went to far with the trashed out look.


As I said earlier, this thing was done up for 3D effects. So you get some really cheesy shots in here that look out of place for any other kind of movie. The slow motion bad guy pushing a needle towards the screen. The same mad max style bladed up car coming towards you. But thankfully they are kept in rather low doses.


All the negatives aside. This movie was actually kind of fun to watch.


The action starts up rather quickly and it keeps going. You get a tabletop RPG in the 80's feel from the plot line as they travel from one strange ass situation to the next each with a new creature to encounter each and every time. But you don't get bored and you just wonder what the hell crazy ass thing is going to happen next. The dialogue is cheese more often than not and the main character evidently walks around wearing a pouch with shampoo and soap in it on his belt but it's all in good fun.


So in the end I recommend this movie for scifi fans but to be watched with a group of fellow scifi enthusiasts preferably with beer and pretzels in plentiful amounts. Nothing here is to be taken seriously at all. Just set back, toss back a few cans and laugh with your buddies while it plays out.


Just wish there was a way to cut out that damned music.



If you like what you see here please think about hitting the 'support this blog' button at the top or the 'Ko-Fi' link at the side for ways to help me keep this blog going.

If you want to pick my the next movie that gets reviewed I run a poll every week over on MeWe now. Click here to add me to your contact list. 


"Hey Wolff I'm just going to hang out back here with the rest of the garbage m'kay"

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Jaded Gamers - GenCon does the ban dance


Finally GenCon has stood up and publicly banned Zak Smith from attending. This is a very good thing as it will make others think twice before attempting to abuse anyone at a con.

Friends,
At Gen Con we have a policy of not disclosing the names of individuals who have been sanctioned or banned from our events. However, our statements regarding a recent ban have caused confusion and more importantly, made people feel that Gen Con doesn’t care about attendee safety. To clarify, I want to state that Zak S has been banned from Gen Con and that we flat-out don’t tolerate harassers or abusers in our community or at our convention.
As a gamer and con-goer myself, I believe that everyone deserves space in their lives for the fun, excitement, and community that tabletop gaming brings, and that action needs to be taken to make spaces safer and more inclusive, especially for marginalized communities and survivors of abuse.
We have and will continue to ban from attending those individuals who threaten the safety of our attendees or members of our community. Before, during, and after the show, we review incident reports and accusations, we investigate claims, we coordinate with local authorities, and we ban people who violate our policies regardless of their stature in the industry or their relationship to Gen Con. We ban people for actions that range from theft and counterfeiting all the way up to harassment and assault. We also ban people for actions that occur outside of Gen Con’s immediate control in accordance with our policies. When we decide to ban someone, we inform the individual they are no longer welcome to attend our show, we block them from buying a badge through our site, and if they show up anyway, we remove them from the convention center and event spaces. It’s a very important part of our regular process for managing the show and the community that surrounds it, and we are always looking for ways to improve.
We admire the bravery of victims who report their abuse or harassment, and we’re here to support you. If you witness or experience abusive behavior or harassment at or around our event (or in online spaces), we want to know about it so we can take action. That said, reactive bans alone are insufficient and as an industry we need to do more. Earlier in the year we revised our Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment policies and published them on our website under a Creative Commons license for anyone to use and improve upon. We’ve improved our on-site reporting procedures and developed a Policy Enforcement Team to review incidents and take actions, whenever they arise, anytime of year, and we will continue to focus on this going forward. You can email us confidentially at policyteam@gencon.com if you have any questions or need to report an incident or concern. We will continue to work to make Gen Con safer, more inclusive, and of course more fun. Please do reach out if you have further thoughts or questions.
Sincerely,
Peter D. Adkison
Co-owner of Gen Con and Chairperson of the Board
Here is the link to the actual page if you want to see it yourself.
https://www.gencon.com/attend/gencon_policies


Meanwhile the shitlord is over on his Twitter account blowing things off like this will all be over soon.

nah,  this will be cleared up in a few days" and "shunning and ostracization should be used against bad actors, not good ones"

So yeah he is still delusional and completely full of himself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Jaded Gamers - More Zak Smith/Sabbath fallout


Thankfully the fallout from the revelations about Zak Smith/Sabbath that is coming from his closest victims isn't going away. More companies are being called out for answers, some are giving them, some still have their fingers in their ears.

Let's start this update with Lamentations of the Flame Princess. They finally issued a statement today concerning their working relationship with Zak.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156179503045886&id=88524315885

From a business stand point I understand much of what is said. Deciding to sell through remaining stock and what has already been paid for to be printed instead of pulping it.  That's a lot of money that most game companies cannot afford to just throw away. Then adding on that they will not be reprinting anymore material by Zak himself and cancelling one gig they already paid him for. So that is a loss on the books for them but not to great, something they can recover from.

However they then makes some personal remarks at the end. It becomes very obvious that what they are sorry about is that Zak got caught, they make no mention of being sorry for what Zak has done or sorry about not listening to warnings about him being a toxic person in the hobby. Completely tone deaf response.

Now another new post at a blog discussing this issue has gone up.  This time at a kink/porn blog on which they discuss what kind of person Zak is and why people like him need to be avoided.

https://www.omisspearl.com/nonfiction/on-missing-stairs-libertines-zak-smith-pimps-bdsm-and-roleplaying/

The author goes forth to say that Zak is nothing more than a pimp, specifically:

The best archetype I can use to describe Zak Smith is a pimp. Not in the oogie boogie woo woo sex traffickers gonna getcha horror stories, but in the sense that matters, a parasite that exploits the objectification of women while adding back nothing.

I can find absolutely zero fault with this description of the man. Take note that this discussion of him is taking place outside of the normal tabletop gamers circle where nearly everything has been taking place. It is now starting to bleed over into the other aspects of his life and the people he could affect there.  The BDSM and kink scene and artist lifestyle are starting to look at him with a bit of side eye.  Hopefully this leads to him being evicted from more communities in the near future.



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Jaded Gamer - Positive fallout continues.


As the fallout from the huge push to get rid of toxic elements from our hobby continues there are some positive moments.

First off Wizards of the Coast expanded their apology to something better than what Mike Mearls did. They also removed the consultant list from the online version of the PHB and it will not be in any future printing as well.  Instead of just removing those who have proven themselves to be shitheels over the years (Zak and Tarnowski) they just blanked out everybody. So far I haven't seen any complaint from the non-asshole members of that list.  Here is a link to their statement:

http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/news/dndstatement

Second GaryCon has officially uninvited Frank Mentzer as GoH. They also spoke out about how terrible his behavior has become. Although they don't say if he is going to be allowed at the con as a regular attendee yet. Personally his actions towards others over the years should land him a ban from any game con that wants to keep out those who are nothing but trouble.

https://garycon.com/blog/2019/02/18/harbinger-unheeded/

Hopefully there are more good things happening that I have missed. But my free time is very limited this week due to my regular job.



Sunday, February 17, 2019

Elimination Chamber 2019 predictions



Time for another WWE pay per view and I'm once again giving out my predictions for who will win.

WWE Championship -- Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kofi Kingston (Elimination Chamber):

Daniel Bryan will retain the title.

I was RIGHT.

Women's Tag Team Championship -- Nia Jax & Tamina vs. Riott Squad vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville vs. The IIconics vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Naomi & Carmella (Elimination Chamber):

While I would like to see Banks and Bayley win they will not. I see the titles going to Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.

I was WRONG. But at least the ones I wanted to win did, I just didn't think they would.

Intercontinental Championship -- Bobby Lashley (c) & Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor

If Finn comes out in Demon make up he will win, if not Lashley will win.

I was WRONG. But I am damned happy I was wrong.

Raw Women's Championship -- Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Ruby Riott:

Ronda will retain the Championship otherwise nobody will really care about the womans WrestleMania championship match.

I was RIGHT.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- The Miz & Shane McMahon (c) vs. The Usos:

Miz and Shane will retain the titles.

I was WRONG... dammit.

Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin:

Braun Strowman will win.  However if I am wrong and Corbin wins it will be because of shenanigans.

I was WRONG but RIGHT about why.

Cruiserweight Championship -- Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Akira Tozawa:

Buddy Murphy will retain the championship.

I was CORRECT on this prediction.

Jaded Gamer - The McFarlands have left the building.


Well some of the abusers are taking the hint and getting the hell out of the table top roleplaying hobby. The McFarlands have officially declared that they are leaving, closing down their company, not attending conventions and staying away.

Their official 'shutting down' announcement.
Engine Publishing is removing a section in one of their books.
Indie Press Revolution will no longer be carrying their works.

Now of course there is more trash to take out. Hopefully people will continue to push on and continue to ask companies the hard questions. Why are these people allowed in our conventions, getting jobs writing books, etc?

Charlie Mike everyone.




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.”.



If you like what you see here please think about hitting the 'support this blog' button at the top or the 'Ko-Fi' link at the side for ways to help me keep this blog going.

If you want to pick my the next movie that gets reviewed I run a poll every week over on MeWe now. Click here to add me to your contact list. 


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.


To find the rest of my Superconsumer articles check out the 'Cyberpunk 2020' tab at the top of this article.

Or if you like what you see on this blog you can also check out the 'Support this blog' tab as well.

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.


Weapons.


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.


Armor.


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.


Drugs.


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: https://m.facebook.com/amandapatricianagy/posts/10215845527064252

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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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Jaded Gamer - When the new giant bought the old giant.



A little bit of gaming history here for a change on this Jaded Gamer entry. I thought something different then my usual rants would be refreshing. This is a release from Ryan Dancey about the time when WOTC bought out TSR. He discusses the state of the company when they took over an what he thought what was killing it. Interesting to read if anything along with giving us a look at the mistakes made by the once gaming giant known as TSR.

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Originally Posted by Ryan Dancey: the man, the myth, the legend

In the winter of 1997, I traveled to Lake Geneva Wisconsin on a secret mission. In the late fall, rumors of TSR's impending bankruptcy had created an opportunity to made a bold gamble that the business could be saved by an infusion of capital or an acquisition with a larger partner. After a hasty series of phone calls and late night strategy sessions, I found myself standing in the snow outside of 201 Sheridan Springs Road staring at a building bearing a sign that said "TSR, Incorporated".

Inside the building, I found a dead company.

In the halls that had produced the stuff of my childhood fantasies, and had fired my imagination and become unalterably intertwined with my own sense of self, I found echoes, empty desks, and the terrible depression of lost purpose.

The life story of a tree can be read by a careful examination of its rings. The life story of a corporation can be read by a careful examination of its financial records and corporate minutes.

I was granted unprecedented access to those records. I read the TSR corporate log book from the first page penned in haste by Gary Gygax to the most recent terse minutes dictated to a lawyer with no connection to hobby gaming. I was able to trace the meteoric rise of D&D as a business, the terrible failure to control costs that eventually allowed a total outsider to take control away from the founders, the slow and steady progress to rebuild the financial solvency of the company, and the sudden and dramatic failure of that business model. I read the euphoric copyright filings for the books of my lost summers: "Player's Handbook", "Fiend Folio", "Oriental Adventures". I read the contract between Gary and TSR where Gary was severed from contact with the company he had founded and the business he had nurtured and grown. I saw the clause where Gary, forced to the wall by ruthless legal tactics was reduced to insisting to the right to use his own name in future publishing endeavors, and to take and keep control of his personal D&D characters. I read the smudged photocopies produced by the original Dragonlance Team, a group of people who believed in a new idea for gaming that told a story across many different types of products. I saw concept artwork evolve from lizard men with armor to unmistakable draconians. I read Tracy Hickman's one page synopsis of the Dragonlance Story. I held the contract between Tracy and Margaret for the publication of the three Chronicles novels. I read the contract between Ed Greenwood and TSR to buy his own personal game world and transform it into the most developed game setting in history - the most detailed and explored fantasy world ever created.

And I read the details of the Random House distribution agreement; an agreement that TSR had used to support a failing business and hide the fact that TSR was rotten at the core. I read the entangling bank agreements that divided the copyright interests of the company as security against default, and realized that the desperate arrangements made to shore up the company's poor financial picture had so contaminated those rights that it might not be possible to extract Dungeons & Dragons from the clutches of lawyers and bankers and courts for years upon end. I read the severance agreements between the company and departed executives which paid them extraordinary sums for their silence. I noted the clauses, provisions, amendments and agreements that were piling up more debt by the hour in the form of interest charges, fees and penalties. I realized that the money paid in good faith by publishers and attendees for GenCon booths and entrance fees had been squandered and that the show itself could not be funded. I discovered that the cost of the products that company was making in many cases exceeded the price the company was receiving for selling those products. I toured a warehouse packed from floor to 50 foot ceiling with products valued as though they would soon be sold to a distributor with production stamps stretching back to the late 1980s. I was 10 pages in to a thick green bar report of inventory, calculating the true value of the material in that warehouse when I realized that my last 100 entries had all been "$0"'s.

I met staff members who were determined to continue to work, despite the knowledge that they might not get paid, might not even be able to get in to the building each day. I saw people who were working on the same manuscripts they'd been working on six months earlier, never knowing if they'd actually be able to produce the fruits of their labor. In the eyes of those people (many of whom I have come to know as friends and co workers), I saw defeat, desperation, and the certain knowledge that somehow, in some way, they had failed. The force of the human, personal pain in that building was nearly overwhelming - on several occasions I had to retreat to a bathroom to sit and compose myself so that my own tears would not further trouble those already tortured souls.

I ran hundreds of spreadsheets, determined to figure out what had to be done to save the company. I was convinced that if I could just move enough money from column A to column B, that everything would be ok. Surely, a company with such powerful brands and such a legacy of success could not simply cease to exist due to a few errors of judgment and a poor strategic plan?

I made several trips to TSR during the frenzied days of negotiation that resulted in the acquisition of the company by Wizards of the Coast. When I returned home from my first trip, I retreated to my home office; a place filled with bookshelves stacked with Dungeons & Dragons products. From the earliest games to the most recent campaign setting supplements - I owned, had read, and loved those products with a passion and intensity that I devoted to little else in my life. And I knew, despite my best efforts to tell myself otherwise, that the disaster I kept going back to in Wisconsin was the result of the products on those shelves.

When Peter put me in charge of the tabletop RPG business in 1998, he gave me one commission: Find out what went wrong, fix the business, save D&D. Vince also gave me a business condition that was easy to understand and quite direct. "God damnit, Dancey", he thundered at me from across the conference table: "Don't lose any more money!"

That became my core motivation. Save D&D. Don't lose money. Figure out what went wrong. Fix the problem.

Back into those financials I went. I walked again the long threads of decisions made by managers long gone; there are few roadmarks to tell us what was done and why in the years TSR did things like buy a needlepoint distributorship, or establish a west coast office at King Vedor's mansion. Why had a moderate success in collectable dice triggered a million unit order? Why did I still have stacks and stacks of 1st edition rulebooks in the warehouse? Why did TSR create not once, not twice, but nearly a dozen times a variation on the same, Tolkien inspired, eurocentric fantasy theme? Why had it constantly tried to create different games, poured money into marketing those games, only to realize that nobody was buying those games? Why, when it was so desperate for cash, had it invested in a million dollar license for content used by less than 10% of the marketplace? Why had a successful game line like Dragonlance been forcibly uprooted from its natural home in the D&D game and transplanted to a foreign and untested new game system? Why had the company funded the development of a science fiction game modeled on D&D - then not used the D&D game rules?

In all my research into TSR's business, across all the ledgers, notebooks, computer files, and other sources of data, there was one thing I never found - one gaping hole in the mass of data we had available.

No customer profiling information. No feedback. No surveys. No "voice of the customer". TSR, it seems, knew nothing about the people who kept it alive. The management of the company made decisions based on instinct and gut feelings; not data. They didn't know how to listen - as an institution, listening to customers was considered something that other companies had to do - TSR lead, everyone else followed.

In today's hypercompetitive market, that's an impossible mentality. At Wizards of the Coast, we pay close attention to the voice of the customer. We ask questions. We listen. We react. So, we spent a whole lot of time and money on a variety of surveys and studies to learn about the people who play role playing games. And, at every turn, we learned things that were not only surprising, they flew in the face of all the conventional wisdom we'd absorbed through years of professional game publishing.

We heard some things that are very, very hard for a company to hear. We heard that our customers felt like we didn't trust them. We heard that we produced material they felt was substandard, irrelevant, and broken. We heard that our stories were boring or out of date, or simply uninteresting. We heard the people felt that >we< were irrelevant.

I know now what killed TSR. It wasn't trading card games. It wasn't Dragon Dice. It wasn't the success of other companies. It was a near total inability to listen to its customers, hear what they were saying, and make changes to make those customers happy. TSR died because it was deaf.

Amazingly, despite all those problems, and despite years of neglect, the D&D game itself remained, at the core, a viable business. Damaged; certainly. Ailing; certainly. But savable? Absolutely.

Our customers were telling us that 2e was too restrictive, limited their creativity, and wasn't "fun to play'? We can fix that. We can update the core rules to enable the expression of that creativity. We can demonstrate a commitment to supporting >your< stories. >Your< worlds. And we can make the game fun again.

Our customers were telling us that we produced too many products, and that the stuff we produced was of inferior quality? We can fix that. We can cut back on the number of products we release, and work hard to make sure that each and every book we publish is useful, interesting, and of high quality.

Our customers were telling us that we spent too much time on our own worlds, and not enough time on theirs? Ok - we can fix that. We can re-orient the business towards tools, towards examples, towards universal systems and rules that aren't dependent on owning a thousand dollars of unnecessary materials first.

Our customers were telling us that they prefer playing D&D nearly 2:1 over the next most popular game option? That's an important point of distinction. We can leverage that desire to help get them more people to play >with< by reducing the barriers to compatibility between the material we produce, and the material created by other companies.

Our customers told us they wanted a better support organization? We can pour money and resources into the RPGA and get it growing and supporting players like never before in the club's history. (10,000 paid members and rising, nearly 50,000 unpaid members - numbers currently skyrocketing).

Our customers were telling us that they want to create and distribute content based on our game? Fine - we can accommodate that interest and desire in a way that keeps both our customers and our lawyers happy.

Are we still listening? Yes, we absolutely are. If we hear you asking us for something we're not delivering, we'll deliver it. But we're not going to cater to the specific and unique needs of a minority if doing so will cause hardship to the majority. We're going to try and be responsible shepards of the D&D business, and that means saying "no" to things that we have shown to be damaging to the business and that aren't wanted or needed by most of our customers.

We listened when the customers told us that Alternity wasn't what they wanted in a science fiction game. We listened when customers told us that they didn't want the confusing, jargon filled world of Planescape. We listened when people told us that the Ravenloft concept was overshadowed by the products of a competitor. We listened to customers who told us that they want core materials, not world materials. That they buy DUNGEON magazine every two months at a rate twice that of our best selling stand-alone adventures.

We're not telling anyone what game to play. We are telling the market that we're going to actively encourage our players to stand up and demand that they be listened to, and that they become the center of the gaming industry - rather than the current publisher-centric model. Through the RPGA, the Open Gaming movement, the pages of Dragon Magazine, and all other venues available, we want to empower our customers to do what >they< want, to force us and our competitors to bend to >their< will, to make the products >they< want made.

I want to be judged on results, not rhetoric. I want to look back at my time at the helm of this business and feel that things got better, not worse. I want to know that my team made certain that the mistakes of the past wouldn't be the mistakes of the future. I want to know that we figured out what went wrong. That we fixed it. That we saved D&D. And that god damnit, we didn't lose money.

Thank you for listening,

Sincerely,

Ryan S. Dancey
VP, Wizards of the Coast
Brand Manager, Dungeons & Dragons

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

TBOT - Crossing the 'Verse


Now while I'm not a big Dungeons and Dragons fan anymore I do pay some attention to various discussions and blogs about it. If anything I can always find some inspiration for fantasy stuff I'm working on or maybe even stumble across something that is just a delight to read.

On this weeks 'That blog, over there' I am looking at a Dungeons and Dragons blog that is just those things. Inspiring and just plain fun to read.  You can also look at it and tell there is a labor of love going into the maintenance and writing going on there. Simply titled 'Crossing the 'Verse' it is chock full of great articles along with some subpages offering up resources and advice.

If you like Dungeons and Dragons you should definitely give it a look. If you like fantasy you should also check it out.

Click here to go to "Crossing the 'Verse"!


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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Cyberpunk 2020 - Superconsumer part 3



In the world of Superconsumer not everyone is happy with the current state of how the world is run. Some have grown tired of the constant televised stream of corporate influence on their lives. So they work to limit just how much they have endure and are constantly looking for more ways to separate themselves from the brainwashed masses and their masters.

They call themselves Slates in a reference to 'blank slate' as they wish to become clean of outside influence.

Of course different Slates have different levels of dedication. Many of them just want a break from the TV screen that is always going on around them. Others go to more extremes of separation by moving to the worst, least monitored sections of a city and having their data erased from the Net by some very sneaky netrunners. So not all of them are the same and you never know exactly what type of Slate you are dealing with.



Drowning out the Television.

Being creative is the key since the government doesn't like it when you don't get their propaganda streamed into your life. 'Mufflers' are the most common things used, these are heavy blankets made with light stopping fabrics that are draped over a television set in the home. Reducing the sound as much as possible and cutting the light emitted to almost nothing. They are also the most legally viable alternative since all one has to do is claim a medical reason such as headache, eyestrain or extreme fatigue as the reason why you 'temporarily' covered that screen.

The off switches and mute buttons are the next level up. While illegal they are still quite sought after as they completely cut off the set or just the sound. Commonly built in disguised shells so they appear as something else entirely. Such as older TV remotes, children's toys, ink pens, just about anything you can think of. Some have even gone as far as to have their home set up with fail safes such as the Television turning on whenever an entry door is opened or on voice control.

Blackout goggles have started appearing on black market stands as well. These are smart goggles tricked out so they whenever a television screen comes into view it gets blacked out in your field of vision. Although it doesn't do anything for the sound. While not technically illegal yet there are laws currently being pushed through and revised that will make them a criminal offense to possess.



Communities
In several places in the run down outskirts of modern cities you find communities of Slates living together. Occupying abandoned buildings and subway tunnels creating their own form of self reliance with each other. Some form gang like levels of hierarchy while others make democratic microgovernments to rule themselves. The further out from the center of a city they are the less likely they are to be bothered by the law. Mainly because it is not profitable to try and police such hostile areas and would cost more than they could ever be worth. On the downside if there is trouble in these communities they have to take care of themselves as nobody is coming to help.

One thing these communities are really good for is the black market selling of goods and services. Such as finding old tech and those who know how to repair or even build it. An endless variety of off and mute switches. Stolen property by the truck load. If you need to sell something that would get you put in jail for anywhere else, this is the kind of place you want to take it.

The really big downside is that Slate communities also tend to attract a less savory part of society. Not because they want to escape the government televisions and brainwashing but to escape the police who are after them for what they have done. Career criminals will pass off as a Slate while continuing what they do on the side. Sex offenders sadly find this a preferred environment as well since they aren't known for what they are guilty of. Even the Kindred will live here just to escape prying eyes.



Adventure Seeds

The edgerunners have acquired a large quantity of military grade weapons. If they get caught with them there will be jail time so selling them is a better option. Following a lead they hear the best place to move them is in a Slate marketplace. What they don't know until they get there is that this particular Slate community is sat up more like a gang dictatorship and they see the PC's as potential threats.

The edgerunners are hired by a community to help track down a sexual predator who has moved in and is preying on their members. They don't know who it is but they want him removed from the community altogether. There may even be a reward for this person by the police after they skipped out of their registration.

A police officer who is partial to the Slates has caught wind of a large scale action being planned for one community. The abandoned city block they are residing in is being looked at by a corporation as a possible purchase IF the 'vagabonds' are removed from the structures there. He tells a friend who is with the edgerunners and they can chose to help. Either by finding another suitable location, fighting off the police action or they may end up having to run delaying actions so the people can get out in time.



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Monday, February 4, 2019

Cyberpunk 2020 - Hypnotica


Hypnotica

Designers of high end virtual environments and scenarios. Well this is what they say, actually they are more like a design company that makes the best virtual sims they can for those with the minimal amount of neuralware. All one needs to use Hypnotica VR products is a one of their consoles with a set of goggles and a pair of free interface plugs.
The goggles show the user what is going on around them with a bit of direct interface leading to the first free plug slot. The second plug is connected directly to the console and detects user movements before they happen and uses that information to adjust what the user is seeing. Thus a person hooked into the console will only display small twitches but will see and feel a full range of motion taking place in their environment.

With hundreds of various VR sims available ranging from video games, tactical training simulators and some adults only material this has become a popular system. Third party titles are starting to flood into the marketplace along with several bootleg products as well.




Costs

A base Hypnotica home unit costs 600eb and comes with the console, goggles and connecting wires. Sims can range from 100eb for new releases down to 10eb for older material. On the blackmarket they can fetch whatever the seller thinks they can get.



Sponsorship

While Hypnotica does offer Sponsorship they don't do it like many other smaller companies do. Instead of going by television or net air time they prefer to sponsor individual events or actions. This works out especially well for Rockerboys and Media covering preset games or newsworthy displays.

They pay 20eb per event for those who are small and starting out. Providing banners and vids to be displayed on screens. These do, of course, have to be returned in order to get paid and must be openly in view of the majority of the audience. Performances by bands are what comes to mind immediately but Hypnotica has also sponsored large tech swap meets, political announcements, sports events and protest rallies.

Once a sponsored individual has worked a few times for the company and is bringing in larger crowds then the pay goes up to 40eb per event. Also a larger selection of promotional items will be provided in the form of give away gear like shirts, key-chains, logo emblazoned firearm magazines and such. Sometimes even a few copies of their latest Sim to create contests as well.
Higher levels of sponsorship are negotiated behind closed doors in private.

'Static' Jones is a very well known Techie of amazing capabilities. He is what other tinkerers hope to become. Besides building specialized devices for high paying clients he also enjoys hosting very large 'flea market' style meets in various cities. These attract thousands of tech dedicated individuals and those who wish to hire them. Always hanging from banners and across the ceiling are Hypnotica logos along with a stall for the company to sell and demo their wares.



Story seeds

Somebody is selling some black market copies of popular programs on the down low. What the users don't realize is that the version they are using sends a location signal back to the techies who burned up the hacked version. They in turn show up while the user is jacked in to the simulation and remotely crank up the interface so it minimizes what they can hear going on around them. Then once this is done they enter their home and rob them blind while they lay on the couch playing their game. Well somebody has traced the signal back to the techies now and have hired the runners to take them out.

A mysterious third party has released a sim based around several popular adult film stars. But they have also loaded it up with subliminal messages that cause a heavy user to spend even more money on their vices than normal. Maybe one of the victims could be a runner in the group or a close friend.

Another punk rockerboy band has fallen in popularity and decided to skip off without returning their Hypnotica promotional material. Now when they do play they display the banners and such while shouting obscenities about the company, blaming them for their drop in the market. Well Hypnotica wants their stuff back and they don't care if you rough up the band or not.


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Friday, February 1, 2019

Nemesis (1992)



Nemesis (1992)

Before I begin I will say that I do love the cover image for this movie. It captures that cyberpunk aesthetic so well and is one of my favorites, hell I want a poster of it on my wall.  To bad the movie doesn't live up to this.

It seems anytime you bring up cyberpunk themed movies that someone will always bring up this one. Which it is certainly a film fitting into that category but... it's probably also the most generic film to fall in there as well. Which is very appropriate since I remember the early nineties as a time when so much of the cyberpunk stories being pushed out in paperback were very generic. Pumped out rather quickly in an attempt to get in on some of the cash that was pushing that newest sub-genre of science fiction into the mainstream.


Directed by Albert Pyun, who seems to be a master of making very limited theatrical release quick to video scifi films. The writer is listed as Rebecca Charles who only has two other movies in her credits; Nemesis two and three so I'm thinking that name is a pseudonym. Most likely for Albert Pyun himself since he has also gone by Hannah Blue and Kitty Chalmers in some of his works. Casting includes Olivier Gruner who goes on to become a regular in the direct to video scifi market, Tim Thomerson film veteran and scifi legend, many other direct to video scifi folks who you will recognize when you see them and a young Thomas Jane who was still going by Tom Janes even shows up. So honestly not a bad round up.


Our main character Alex Rain is a LAPD cop who starts off our film as mostly human and in short order becomes mostly machine after a run in with the Red Army Hammerhead terrorist group. After extracting some vengeance on those who caused his grievous injuries he decides to leave the force but ends up being blackmailed into doing one final assignment for his former employers. Tracking down a former colleague of his and recover what she has stolen. Leading him to a jungle town where he once again confronts the Red Army Hammerheads and discovers their true motives which leaves him questioning his allegiances on which side he should stand on.


Now the actual great thing about this movie is the amount of practical effects pushed into it. This is before the age of using CGI in low budget films, after all Terminator2 just came out the year before and the effects is had were very costly and experimental. We get to see faces open up, eyes being pulled out, lots of gunplay and all the things you would want to see in a film like this. Their budget is pretty low and near the end we are subjected to some really subpar stop motion shots that are really groan inducing.


So visually, this is a fun movie. Just be prepared to turn your brain off.


Because the writing itself is just barely passable, as is the plot, so be prepared. This is a movie full of ideas borrowed from other movies and books, which is obvious throughout the entire span of the film. We even get the 'bomb in the head' from Escape from New York tossed in there. Sometimes what little story there is feels like nothing more than quick inserts to move you from one action scene to the next. Try not to listen to the dialogue to closely either, much of it is a failed attempt at gritty tough guy banter or information dumps to let you know why people are killing each other.


In the end I will put this movie into the category of “You need to see it once” if you are a science fiction fan. If you are trying to put together a cyberpunk film collection this does warrant a spot somewhere near the bottom of the stack but be sure to find it at a discount price.


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"What the hell did we just watch boss?"
 


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