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Monday, July 6, 2015

SEMI-POPULAR CULTURE

Since I'm currently not wandering around - and nothing special is happening in the town - this is a blog entry about various forms of entertainment Logan has been doing while he waits for August first!



MOVIE REVIEWS

The Age of Adaline, 2015.

Unfortunate name of the film.

There are some of the normal tropes one would expect to find in a "I live forever" movie.  The woman (immortal) has the Sherlock Holmes look at someone and know a bit about them thing going on - which is nice.  Her money is in long term stocks - great.  She speaks a few languages.  Her daughter now looks like her grandmother.  She makes out of date references.  (I don't have the stocks thing going.  Sad.)

Generally though it is a love story.  Which makes Logan sad.

You'd have thought this would have tipped me off.

There are some gaping plot holes in the story.  Early on (organization) tries to (spoiler) her and she escapes.  The logical thing to do for (organization) is to keep an eye on her daughter.  This is not complicated stuff.  Naturally, she keeps in contact with her daughter.  Illogically, they don't manage to find her.  It's a whole lot of WTF.  Also, the writers seem to think (organization) will give up on chasing someone they believe to be an immortal after a couple decades.  Because they obviously don't keep written records.

Also, she gets her new ID's from some nerd who works out of his own house.  This guy is clearly not a professional and I wonder how the hell he is doing this without getting busted.  At his house.

Generally, with fake ID's you get what you pay for.

She also decides to go on a date with someone who is either persistent or a stalker - depending on your point of view.  I'm thinking he's going more toward the creepy stalker type.  But, he's rich and women forgive rich guys for a lot of bad behavior.  See Fifty Shades of Gray for more information.  After just a couple weeks he is expressing love.  Rich and good looking apparently works.

One of the little romantic flourishes they do in this movie is offer to take each other to "some place they've never been before".  I keep hoping "bum fight" but apparently, it's not romantic enough for them.

I do like her 'move every decade' thing.

Though Highland did have some WTF plot holes, it was still twice the story.

I understand that she's still emotional and all but I'm wondering how much involvement with regular folk you'd want after a bunch of decades.

Sadly, wild coincidence meets the plot when the immortal meets up with (spoiler) who just happens to be (spoiler) and what do you know!  Riiiight.

Wild coincidence continues to rear it's ugly head when they play Trivial Pursuit and (ola!) all of the questions seem to be from the time period the immortal was alive during.  Which is to make the audience think since she was alive then, she would know.  Like people alive today know all of the trivia that is going on right now.

Harrison Ford is in the movie though, which is neat.  Sadly, not even he can save this rather lackluster movie.

"Even my stupid looking glasses can't save this horrible movie!" - Harrison Ford.

It is funny that - if you think about it, the (spoiler) ends up tagging the same (spoiler) that his (spoiler) did.  This is usually something people might vomit about or morally object to.  I'm guessing not a lot of people think in these terms though.

Unfortunately, rather than staying (spoiler) she became (spoiler).  I'm thinking "This is not a fucking happy ending."

This movie also highlights the importance of doing background checks on all your lovers if you are an immortal.

Because hey - they might just be The Kurgan.  You can never tell.

4/10


Comedy movie "Spy" (2015)

They were making fun of the hotel room the lady was in and I was thinking "Hey, that's pretty nice!  Look how big the bathroom is!" and so on.

Sigh.

There are several good laugh out loud moments in the film.

I'd thought that this might be one of those movies that only makes it through the first ten minutes before being deleted forever but I liked the action, the jokes and even the story.

This scene wasn't in the movie at all.  But, ever since my traumatic childhood incident I have been careful NOT to spoil movies for others.  Why this picture?  Because when I googled 'spy 2015' it came up for some reason.  Totally different movie.  Weird.  But, it fits in that it is wacky.  And Spy was a wacky movie.

8/10 - bumped up from 7/10 for the number of actual laughing out loud moments.  I am not an 'easy audience'.



MMORPGS

(If you don't like MMORPG's, skip this entry)

I've been looking around the internet to see what MMO's are out that don't suck.


Only ESO doesn't suck - but I've played the shit out of it.  Oh, but they have so much new stuff, yada yada yada.  Yeah.  It's the same game of kill shit, level up and get gear.

Oh but Logan, all games are like that!  Well, unless they have good crafting systems are more 'sandbox' than 'theme park', I suppose you could be right.

A picture of a theme park game.  Eh, close enough.

But there are several good games, I'm told, on the horizon.

Which is the problem.

They are always on the fucking horizon.

"Well, yes, most of the released games suck so much ass that you will want to kill yourself for having spent money on them after a mere couple months but in the future - IN THE FUTURE!"

I've been hearing that rubbish for about fifteen years.

They've put in a new twist called 'early access' now.


That means you can pay money to get access to a half completed buggy piece of shit.  Which people do in droves.  I suspect simply because there aren't enough good finished games out there they haven't already played the hell out of.

With all these games that are going up on Kickstarter, I'm wondering what their motivation for upkeeping and updating the game after it is released is.  You've paid for the game, they released it.  It will be buggy as all new MMO's are.  I suspect they'll fix the biggest of the bugs but after that, the product is 'done'.

Good luck with paying for half (well or much less) completed shit.

We'll see how this goes.

There are several games which I looked at on various youtube videos.  It's amazing how well they get reviewed and when you go over to look at Steam, they basically warn you that you'll be bathing in dog shit if you buy this game.

"Don't do what Johnny Don't does."

But in the future!  Oh, in the future we'll have flying cars and games which don't suck!

Picture is inaccurate only in that both these bitches aren't texting.

So what am I looking for in a MMO?

Well, I've done the kill stuff level up, get better gear, kill bigger stuff quite a bit.  Theme park style games are where you go to the area you'll hunt in when you're characters around level twenty then over to here when you hit level twenty five and so on.  Been there, done that.

I still feel Minecraft is a landmark game though many can't get past the graphics.

Open worlds are nice when you have the option of going to anywhere and hunting anything.  Better still if it has a good crafting/gathering system.  I would like it if you can build stuff and change the terrain around.

Games which look interesting then I become wary of are ones which have forced PVP.  An example of that is the partially completed alpha buggy you can pay twenty dollars to get in on it 'Reign of Kings'.  In addition to forced PVP, you can also tie a rope onto someone's ankle, drag them around, stick them in a cage and torture them.

Which all sounds fine until you consider this could be done to you.  Over and over and over.

Possibly by this guy.

Reading up on their reviews, it looks like as with every other forced PVP game I've heard of, they have gotten the cream of the crop in terms of scumbags.

Other than what looks to be an Ultima Online 'hey lets grief the new people till they quit' type of community, it doesn't look too horrible.

I am hoping they address two of the big problems I brought up a decade and a half ago (bet they don't) about being able to build/destroy stuff.

If destruction is free, your shit will be destroyed and looted pretty much as soon as someone finds it.  Which apparently is happening in 'Reign of Kings'.  Regularly.

If you can build stuff which doesn't have any real purpose other than 'being pretty', you get large waste lands of 'pretty buildings' which serve no purpose.

We'll see how it plays out... IN THE FUTURE!  Oh, the future.



LARPING

How to write a character background for LARPing.

by Logan Horsford (player of Lumsie) with a special thank you to Kyle Kent.  He reviewed this article and gave valuable feedback and insights to it.  Thank you, Kyle.


Before starting, realize that the entire purpose of a 'character history' is to inspire plot to use parts of it in an ongoing game.  Histories filled with deeds of no current relevance are just poorly written fiction.

It's all about plot hooks.  If you can't write things that fire the imagination of the plot team, just submit a 'hi, my name is' badge instead.



1.  Since you are probably not a professional author, brevity is your friend.

Even if you are a professional author (such as Jim Butcher, who has played NERO), your initial character history turn in should be a double spaced paragraph.  Double space it so plot may easily write notes or comments.  Note that some plot people want to read longer histories.  The safest course of action is to ask them ahead of time but generally it will be a page or less.

Rather than using descriptors, use bullet points.

(Note, I wanted a picture of bullet points using real bullets.  Apparently, nobody else on the internet has yet come up with this idea and my current lifestyle doesn't do well with the whole 'hoarding ammunition for funny pics' thing.  So, use your imagination.)

If the plot person wants more information, they will ask for it.

If you don't see anything enter game within three events, tell them you are going to approach your character history from a different perspective and you will write up something different.  Obviously, your first effort wasn't good enough to warrant getting bumped up to get in game after three sessions.


2.  Most character histories follow a tired pattern.  Don't.

The normal character history is "My character's parents were killed by [fill in creature] and the [fill in over powered object that your low level ass is never going to get hold of] was lost.  I am now seeking revenge on those creatures and to find the bauble.

As an addendum to this, be sure that whatever you write will be fun for the plot team.  If it is something that has been done before, it probably won't get run.


3.  Writing character histories is ongoing.

Update your character history as you go.

You don't have to flood the plot team with information all at once.  When I first started playing Lumsie, the only part of my character history I knew was that both of my parents were dead.  Twist - they were still moving and talking.  Undead.  Dad was a liche, mom was a vampire.

Later, it was revealed they were from an evil kingdom named 'Fa'.  Still later, this kingdom is in a different dimension.

Had I submitted the fact that my character could travel at will through dimensions, was a product of cloning, had been to the USA with a bunch of clones and watched the film "The Highlander" in a theater at the outset, any reasonable members of plot team would have said "Yeah, no."  But since it was brought up a little at a time over a period of years, everything in Lumsie's history ended up getting played out in game.

You will have to get a feel for how often to update your character history.  If you go to events outside your home chapter and plot doesn't 'happen to you', it won't need to be updated often.  Otherwise, every three or so events where your character has plot happen is a good amount to keep it updated without becoming a nuisance to plot.  Be sure to let the plot team know what direction you would like your personal plot to head in.  They may or may not accommodate this.


4.  Do not connect your character history with current plots

Keep all organizations generic.  Let plot choose to plug it in to already existing things.   This allows them to have more creative control and no other players can get pissed at you for getting in on what they thought was their proprietary character history.  Don't try to specify levels, gear and so on for NPC's.  Don't put in too much detail - that is for plot to do if you have an idea that grabs their imagination.

If plot has published anything about the world, you can get a village name (like 'Janis Falls') to be from.

5.  Anything you write should use a minimum amount of NPC's.  If your plot stuff can get done by one person, it is much more likely to happen than if it takes three.

There was a character named "X" (he had a much longer name but everyone just called him X) who was being hunted by the sorcerer tower that had trained him for some reason.  Due to matters of honor and custom, they would only send out one guy at a time to duel him in hopes of killing him.  This was a brilliant bit of writing and only used one NPC at a time.


6.  If you want to have other PC's in your narrative, be sure to talk to them about it beforehand.  Unless it is hearsay (I heard Tempest the dragon passed this way or I saw the Drakes go through town) people may rightly object to you dragging them in to your poorly written fiction.


7.  Why are you with the adventuring party you are with now?

If the reason is mercenary, met at a pub or old family retainer, skip the background and hope the plot team comes up with something more creative than you can.

Mercenaries - not so cool as this looks.  Plus, due to safety, no actual mounts in LARPs.  Ain't that a bitch?

Side note, avoid being a mercenary at all.  The nature of the world makes nearly everyone a mercenary as it is - you are being dull.  "Oh, you need to hand me some coins to go...or I could just get my cut like everyone else."  It's annoying and over used.

Ignore this section if you are traveling alone.


8.  Don't write yourself as an evil prick.  You will be playing with these same people for years.

Lumsie was a completely evil person - but only to NPC's.  He would execute them, enslave them, turn them into undead, torture them for his amusement and taunt them.  To the PC's, he was the soul of kindness.  Back in the days of ward keys, people would often leave theirs with him knowing he would keep it safe and not burgle them.

If you play an evil person in game, people will assume you are an evil prick outside of game - even if it is subconsciously.  Since Lumsie was the kind of character who would do his best to help his fellow adventurers and was a fun person to hang out with, people assumed Logan was nice.  I've been invited to stay (and have done so) at people's homes who didn't know me but had heard of my character.


9.  Do the twist.

Old timey people doing an old timey dance.  You can use them in your character history and say they were killed by 'good taste' if you want.  You're welcome.

Lumsie's parents not dead but undead.

A good plot twist may inspire plot to actually use your stuff in an ongoing game.

The best twists are done over a period of time and should not be so convoluted as to just be confusing and ignorable.


10.  Write someone you can play for a long time.

An example of what not to do is the 'mysterious guy who sits in the corner and broods'.  Those tropes only work in the books either because they are setting the ambiance of the scene or the main characters have to go talk to them.  Being the brooding lone guy in the corner with his face hidden under a hood is only fun for the first hour.  After you realize that nobody cares it gets boring and lonely pretty quick.

I remember walking into a tavern and finding four of these guys - one per corner.  I laughed my ass off as each tried to out brood and out sinister the others.  Nobody else noticed or cared.

Avoid is using a published character history as your own.   Years ago, we had 'Link' from 'Legend of Zelda' playing.  He'd pretty much just copy-pasted the whole history.  It's good for a chuckle and that's about it.  Do you want to play a stale joke for a few years?

Some plot teams won't allow the remarkably uncreative to steal names from popular media.  If you can't think of a name, grab a Scrabble game and give it a good shake.

I'm no longer allowed to play scrabble with children.  Or adults.


11.  Write it like a TV show.

If a character story arc isn't finished in three events, chances are it never will be.  Realize this limitation and write for it.

Just like your narrative, your goals should also be updated as you go.  Good plot teams may also come up with additional goals they see in keeping with your character.


Derek J - an expert LARPer and chapter owner - also adds:

Sadly, most character histories are just bad, if not completely wrong for the campaign that the player is introducing it to. It is best to work with a plot member that you think is skilled at creating interesting stories to aid you in writing your history. If you have a history already, work with a plot member to integrate it.

Do not just write a history and submit it to plot without working with them to integrate it into their game. Do some follow up on their thoughts of your history, how it can be reflected in the game, and how your character can become intertwined in the history of the campaign. Character histories are not a one way conversation from player to plot.


LARP biography:

Logan has played NERO for over a decade and has done more events than he can remember.  He has played NERO on more than one continent.  During his time in NERO, he has run rogue plot, assisted with many aspects of running events, written four in game books and compiled NERO terms from around the USA.

This picture will make sense only to some.

Logan is semi-retired from NERO and spends his time traveling the world like some sort of TARDIS-less Doctor Who.  His exploits can be read about at http://logansvoyage.blogspot.com/



TWITTER

Did you know you can subject yourself to one hundred and forty character rants from Logan?  His Twitter handle is Logan9a.  Go follow him there if you want to hear random short crap which spews forth from his gob.  At the time of this writing, he has done over nine hundred tweets, mostly to various celebrities who have no way of defending themselves from it.

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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