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Tycho / 17 hours ago

I didn’t really live in the Eighties people lionize, let alone lion-o.  I wasn’t allowed to like the music and shows people recall with such fondness.  I always mention this, but the extra part you should know is that I didn’t feel hard-done by it generally.  I didn’t resent it.  I believed in the mechanism that was being used to curate my mental diet:  I understood that the Devil was using the culture to mainstream concepts like witchcraft and, yes, even premarital sex.

So the way it worked was that you would be watching cartoons and then you’d see the intro of the next cartoon and that would tell you if you could watch it.  I was able to determine this by ascertaining if “my spirit was moved” by the content I saw there.  Sometimes there were hard stops where every cartoon on every channel at a certain time featured or focused on magic use.  Time to go outside, I guess.

Thundercats was pretty clearly gonna be a non-starter.  This mummy sorcerer dude was not gonna make the cut.  But I’d seen enough of the intro, enough times, for it to make an impression on me even if it wasn’t a show I could watch.  That’s how it came to figure so heavily in the bumper for Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series.

There is a new version of Thundercats now I guess, and because I was literally disallowed from watching it I don’t have too much of a dog in this fight.  Or, like… a cat.  I don’t have any pets associated with the show.  A lot of fans think it looks stupid.  Because this is the Internet, the conversation is already so depleted of intellect that it’s unsalvageable.  People don’t like it because it is silly, it is silly looking, and doesn’t respect the source material.  Now there are articles about articles, people want to make this whole fucking thing about it, but that’s it.

I could only watch the Vehicle version of Voltron, not the cat one, because of the witch Haggar.  The Avatar/Korra team resurrected this show - let me have the show I couldn’t before and bridge a generational gap with the kids.  It’s serious and funny and awesome.  Not awesome like rad, I mean, it inspires awe because these multidimensional magic war felines are a beacon of galactic hope.  This is a show my whole family watches.  Raise Dead is a complicated spell and the reagents are expensive, but it’s possible to do it in a way that honors fans and creators.

This thing where columnists get out there and “own” fans in the service of Global Capital is fucking reprehensible.  For Mike’s sake, I feel compelled to establish this firmly: I don’t mean that columnists are seizing and holding things with their tails.  I mean there is a trend here where the people who invested their heart in something - the ones in many cases that sustain an IP like this while it enters cryo for a decade or more - are being told to fuck off in an effort to give corporate art a soft landing in the marketplace.  They’re all competing to be buried with the pharaoh or something.  We’re supposed to be quite impressed.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 3 days ago

Gabriel’s experience with RPGs is a smattering of potent imports from Japan, the occasional Dragon Age game, and Mass Effect.  No Wizardry, no Ultima, no Bard’s Tale, no Gold Box, and certainly no Baldur’s Gate - the inheritor of that august fraternity.  No classic Fallouts.  And no Planescape.

What I mean to say by this is that the literary branch of the RPG typically constrained to the PC is not really in his experience.  It was once a point of contention: as proof, I offer a comic strip nearly old enough to vote.  So when he told me he was fuckin’ playing Divinity: Original Sin 2, not merely an RPG but literally some Kickstarted Euro CRPG type shit I assumed I had misheard him.  I tried to imagine him rubbing his beard, nodding sagely as he scooched a mouse the couple millimeters between two savory dialogue options.

Alas: it had been released as a Game Preview/Early Access thing on Xbox One.  This is generally a dangerous proposition, this kind of state change, and the genre is practically ozymandian with its partial monuments and eroded legends.  I have no complaints to speak of as regards the implementation here.  This is legit.

When I talked to him the next day, he was like, man.  I love Pillars of Eternity II.  And I was like, yeah?  I thought you were playing Divinity: Original Sin 2.  And he was like, oh, yeah, that’s what I mean.  So, you know, we can’t say that he’s a full convert just yet.  But.

He was trying to compare it to his previous experiences in the genre, and they don’t map.  He’s never had the sensation - not at this resolution - of a game whose execution is broad enough that it feels like you’re engaging with a bottled intellect.  You can drop a stone in this game and it will be minutes before you hear the splash.

I have started and stopped the game many, many times, because I know that to properly play it would be to play it co-operatively.  Because, yes: the game I just described to you can be played in multiplayer.  Never in a million years did I think I’d have a chance to play it with Mike.  I never thought the world would turn in such a way that he’d been able to appreciate Chris Avellone with me, but it did.

This last sentence was originally an entreaty to purchase Lexcalibur before it was sold out, but it sold out in the time it took me to write this post.  I had a lot of meetings about a lot of cool stuff, but it took a while and now the physical copies are gone.  We do have digital copies and the audiobook left!  I don’t think they can run out, but I wouldn’t know.  This has never happened to me before and we’re in terrifying new territory.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 6 days ago

My fever keeps riding a data set that, at its highest point, I think I can see; I’m traversing it on a kind of minecart.  I don’t mind.  Sometimes the thinking is disordered, and sometimes it is oddly interactive and sometimes it is revelatory.  I can see sages of the past from here, and they wave to me.  I wave back.

Gabe and I have often responded to queries of the form “what will you do in the future” with what I think is a fairly typical response for people who make stuff, which is to say “make stuff for kids.”  Depending on the age range, such books have a substantial art load so I think it was a natural vector for him.  I said yes also, because I think I can add text to his work to grant it a novel context.  But in general I think of projects like these as complicated puzzles: I figure out what I want the reader to feel, and then I reverse engineer that into a kind of linguistic machine designed to produce it.  I think my fever is spiking again.  But maybe that’s good; maybe I can tell the truth here without the sense of agoraphobic, exposed terror that so often accompanies truth-telling.  These are challenges I undertake on behalf of my friends in the hopes of maximizing their effort.  Occasionally I succeed.

In the summer of 2016 I started making work for myself.

The primary fruits of this are Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team and, now, an illustrated, hardbound book of poetry called Lexcalibur.  I wrote about half of it with my daughter asleep on my lap, using my off-hand, without bonuses.  It looks like this:

And under the dustjacket, it looks like THIS:

There is also an audiobook of it, technically two, performed by Liam O’Brien and Fryda Wolf, who - I mean, check those links.  You know these two.  They both put their spin on it, giving them “notes” was a rarity.  They burrowed into the work and were at home.

My hope is that the book will be useful to you; I explicitly state that much in the subtitle.  It’s a “children’s book” in quotes but I wrote it for everybody.  I know what it’s like to have to read a dumb book to your kids, and I tried to spare you that.  I think people who have no idea who we are - the vast majority of humans - could find something to enjoy here.  And, as long as nobody follows me back to my lair, everything should be fine.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

We played a bit of Battle Chasers: Nightwar back when it hit on Big Machines, got to the point where we realized that we felt very good about what they were doing, found some bugs and then waited for the Switch version which just came out.

Like I said when it came out, Battle Chasers was a book he could reliably get me to real when we were living together.  It kinda came out when it came out, but I was playing a lot of D&D back then and seeing some of those classic ideas through that lens was fascinating.  Of course, as we suggest in the strip, Gabriel’s worship of Joe Mad is an ancient religion as men reckon time.  I have my own gods, also, even if they are not drawn from any of the recognized pantheons.  And I don’t fucks with heresy.

We have something very cool hitting the store today.  A couple things, technically.  Writing it let me turn the worst months of my life into the thing I might be most proud of, which is an almost inconceivably positive result given the depths that precipitated it.

This is why you must always have a trick up your sleeve, some expression of yourself you have ground to an edge.  You must be prepared to, at the very least, impersonate a holy vessel.  You never know when you will be required to perform alchemy.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

I mean, sometimes this rubric might work.  Sometimes.  Maybe.  It’s like if you choose your Pokemon based on your favorites.  It works super well if all your favorites are also incredibly powerful and happen to create a harmonious symphony of types.  That’s a great scenario, and when it happens, look: it’s something to celebrate.

Baseline Magic, where you make decks and murder people with them, is very intimidating for me.  I feel like I’m entering my child in some kind of Kumite and it’s not a good feeling. For some reason I tend to prefer all the games that sail in the weird orbit around the core: Commander, where you choose a cool nut and build a deck around it, is fun and a little more casual in feel.  Two-Headed Giant is basically Magic: Co-op, which I like because it’s possible to blame the life I’ve lived and the things I’ve done on competent others.

I’ve always been like that, though; I’ve always had whatever this disease is.  I liked the WoW TCG, but mostly because they had a way to play against megapowerful bosses with cards that there like three times the regular size and you could get raid loot off them out of a booster pack.  That’s why.

I can keep about one set in my head at a time, that’s just where I’m at; most of the Magic I play is drafting around packs when a new set comes out.  If I put together something solid there, something whose operation feels good in my head, then I start using it in the other modes.  I might play those other modes so long that I hit the next release.  Then I typically wake up in the middle of the street, naked as the day I was born, sleeping in a nest made from bits of booster foil.

(CW)TB out.

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