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My “Little Bird”

So uh, the response to today’s comic is a little overwhelming. I had the idea on the way into work and when I got to the office I wrote out the script. Jerry came in as I was furiously typing and asked if I was writing a news post. I told him no, I was writing some fan fiction. He asked if he could see it and I shared the document with him. He tweaked a couple lines but he essentially left it as is, which made me feel pretty fucking good.

We sat down to write a strip for today and he suggested Gabe writing fan fiction might be a funny comic. I asked if he would be okay with me just drawing the actual fan fiction I wrote and using that for the comic. He was skeptical I could get it all done in time but told me to go for it. I started drawing around 11 am and didn’t really leave my desk until almost 8 pm. As Jerry was leaving he asked if I was okay and and I nodded. “this is exactly what I want to be doing right now” I said.

So yeah, I was very proud of the comic but I honestly didn’t expect it to blow up the way it has. It’s true I am a huge Destiny fan. I love the feel of the game and the world. I know there isn’t much story there, but honestly that just leaves me more space to tell my own. It’s easy to go online and read about why a game is stupid or why it’s a waste of time. I’m just not interested in that anymore. I’d much rather talk about why games are awesome and share how inspiring they can be.

This is how I feel when I play Destiny. This is the world I’m playing in.

(click for the big version)

-Gabe out

Tycho / 1 week ago

When the DLC came out for Destiny, something about it being Dark, Grob-Grob willingly fed himself back into the machine.  Imagine my surprise when I open up a mail from him yesterday morning and it contains - steady yourselves, friends - a bundle of fan-fiction.

These are vital junctures, and they need to be played correctly.  When he started his D&D phase, I could have tried manning the gate and making sure I established a pecking order - that’s the urge we make fun of in the many D&D strips we’ve done.  I could have made it like one of those Japanese Game Shows™ where I create some impossible shape for him to fit through and then laugh when he is unable to do so.  No.  I prefer to create subtle channels for others, like the Ariloulaleelay, and then occupy the shared space.  It’s like parthenogenesis, or something.  That’s how I reproduce.

Fan Fiction gets a bad rap, but we live in the age of fan fiction; devotees of weird works like J. J. Abrams or Joss Whedon simply have access to the Intellectual Property they’re playing with.  The infectious energy that animates this sprawling, apex form of culture is fundamentally that of the fan.  Occasionally, in what must be considered the Scam King of Fraud Mountain, we occasionally trick people into paying us to make fan fiction.  And he’s done sketches before, certainly.  But a little story?  Brave to write it, all by itself, and then brave to show it.  It is like opening your ribcage, and letting someone see the little bird you have inside.  What if they don’t love the bird?  It’s not like you can change it.  I mean…  That’s your bird.

I originally suggested that we do a strip about being shown these “materials,” and then actually do the strip, but the case he made - and I liked this case - was that he had just written it, he was cranked up on it, and if he didn’t do it now it might never happen.  So I helped him polish it up a bit, just little stuff, light suggestions like choosing between the word equivalent of Dijon or Whole-Grain mustard.  And then he stayed at work while I grabbed him a sandwich for lunch, and then when I left he stayed several more hours essentially in the dark toiling like a Benedictine until he sent me this.  But he was really sending it to you.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago


I saw a mention on a news site that I wrote the story for the recently released Scrolls, which isn’t entirely true.  In case this is out there in other pieces, I can clarify.

They asked me to write for the game, and I turned in a story which I liked and they liked, but it was early days for the project.  I don’t think Scrolls as it is currently conceived has a story, really.  It’s entirely possible that they thought about what I wrote when they were making the game, but as for super direct influence, I’m not sure you’d be able to find it.  I didn’t name any cards, for example, and this is a card game.  The last mail between us on this topic was in 2011, more than three years ago now, and the person I used to talk to doesn’t work there anymore.  I’ll go grab it now that it’s out, but I haven’t seen it in a very, very long time.  In any case, it’s not accurate to say that I wrote what you’re playing as Scrolls; it’s launch day, all honor should accrue to the team.


Tycho / 2 weeks ago

There are some very fine-grained distinctions as regards our hobby.  The learning curve to be good at it is “real.”  It requires a specific type of conscious, 4D literacy to understand why some conversations are being had, let alone assess the merits of a specific argument.  Our parents and grandparents are mostly glad that we are not on the streets, that we have found something to do with ourselves that doesn’t revolve primarily around servicing trucker dick.  But they don’t understand it.  And most people can’t.

So, the equivalent of a Weekly Quest with Special Rewards in Destiny available only to fans ardent enough to make a purchase rankled; we can sort of explain that part, with some groundwork laid.  In any other Bungie game, DLC - I very nearly said “DLC content!”  I know, right?  Hang on, let me start over.  Customarily, the DLC for a Bungie game is cordoned off in its own playlists or managed entirely by the matchmaker.  It’s multiplayer stuff, and it doesn’t exist in the “mingleplayer” loop they’ve embroidered in Destiny.

I don’t really have a dog in this fight.  We talked about this a bit in the podcast you’ll eventually be able to download from the podcast page: maybe he is the dog I have in this fight.  Or maybe my friend has a dog, and that dog is fighting.  I don’t know.  But the solution seems fairly straightforward to me, probably just because I’m outside that entire continuum and I can see the whole shape.  There needs to be a weekly strike and a DLC weekly strike.  The bonus strike is just a perk of owning DLC.  It mirrors the old Corral for extra content and further incentivizes the dedicated Guardian.

I’ve spoken with two different people offered jobs there, that is to say, two people who have survived their harrowing interview gauntlet and emerged with enough sanity to accept a job, and they are both almost too smart to talk to.  Like, I want to talk with them, but They are already at the end of the conversation I’m trying to have with them because they have simulated the entire thing and found it wanting.  So now they are enduring me for the five or ten minutes it takes me to physically vent the language.  Suffice it to say that solving this would not be hard for them, provided they agreed it was a thing.

Two things:

It may still be surprising, because it is so new, but there is a PAX coming up here very shortly - PAX South!  The inaugural show happens January 23-25th, and stocks are listed as “low” but there are still passes for Friday and Sunday available and you should go.  Or, come:  whichever one means you attend the show.  We’re also soliciting questions for the Q&As at South right here, if you got ‘em.

Also: they’re in about the last two days on That Dragon, Cancer‘s Kickstarter, and they just cracked the Pledge Goal so this thing is on the way.  This is what I wrote about last time I played it.  When I talked to developer dad Ryan Green back then his boy was still alive, and the frankly brutal video that accompanies the Kickstarter details how developing the game was a kind of ritual prayer of healing that he had invested himself in.  Ryan and I spoke at length about what he had done with the project - he had encoded his boy into it, and he never stopped, even when most people would have.  It’s brave work, and you can help it happen.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

We received some Dungeon Master’s Guides in the mail, no doubt as a result of our tireless service to these coastal sorcerors, and spent some time perusing it.

I have a special fondness for huge tables of magic items.  When you think about how much story they got out of a single sword with Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, it’s hard to look at even the most rudimentary arrangement of items and not see them instead as algorithmic seeds from which a thousand different stories might be told.  I have cautioned him in the past about items like The Deck of Many Things, not because of its cards necessarily but because there’s no way to yoke it once its out.  It can be fun to have a curve thrown at you, and seeing what those cards mean in your campaign is cool, like messing with The Tarot in game.  I think the dice system in the new Star Wars game plays with chance in neat ways that won’t split the seam of a campaign, too.  But I’ve also seen campaigns where the Deck Of Many Things becomes the Dungeon Master, when that’s supposed to be your job.  I don’t know if there’s a Deck Of Maybe Just A Couple Things that could fill in, or what.  Just a couple neutered cards that primarily determine where the party goes to lunch.

There’s a pretty long tradition, though, of goofypants items that go somewhat beyond the Sword +1 in these books.  Gonzo shit.  The one we talk about in today’s strip isn’t even that weird, I don’t think, but it’s of a piece with highly specialized implements that are vital for very specific campaigns.  I was about to say “ha, ha” imagine if this ended up on Athas, and how useless that would be, but then I thought about what a profound discovery such a thing would actually represent; it is hard evidence, essentially, of a radically different planet peopled (and apparently “fished”) by radically different…  people.  And fish.  Now I’m thinking about it really hard and it is taking up the cycles I use to form speech.

Now I want to run that game.  Hmm.

(CW)TB out.

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