Thursday, December 14, 2017

Notice of Slowdown of Service

Due in part to the employment market and housing costs in Illinois, as well as some other factors, my focus has to shift away from writing and blogging for a time. I will be abandoning the state and not wave on the way out. It's dying, and has been losing jobs and people for years.

My future location will remain undisclosed for at least a time, though it will be far less hostile for my faith and politics.

I will try to keep posting a couple times a week, but have no guarantees. If all goes well, regular posting will resume shortly after the start of the new year.

Thank you for reading and following.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Injustice Book Review: The Revelations of Zang by John R. Fultz

Cower not, fierce reader!  Today we look at a set of stories in a land that well, feels a bit familiar and new at the same time. Let's take a look at some of the structure, and some of the crimes of this book.

Before I begin, I will say for my more "sensitive" readers, that there is a fair amount of sex in the book. I don't believe it's in every story, and well, it's not a Christian world.

To the structure: This follows a number of characters in the world via individual stories. The stories aren't directly connected. So, when one story ends and another begins, it can be a little jarring.

That's merely a weak point, though. The world has a really rich history to it, without detailing it outside of necessary times. There's magic, though it's not systemtized like a lot of modern fantasy. And some of it is more standard than others, such as bargains with dark things.  Others involve the word of silent ones and necromancy.

For a strong point, all of the stories tie together very well, and I was pleased to see some of the interacting points throughout.

Now to the crimes of the book.

First, the book places value on faith. Not a specific faith, but it has a recognition of the dehumanization and decay of the soul that society undergoes without faith. There's regret and repentance and mercy.

Second, the book decries a number of leaders in this book, while praising others. Vice and virtue both have leading examples here, and see growth and change through their faith. The faithless ones, well, they have less pleasant outcomes.

Overall, this is a really cool book, and while there's more sorcery than swords by far here, I really dig it and commend to any lover of both. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Adaptations part 2

Yeah, I know I didn't go through and look at any GOOD adaptations. And I realized it's a really good idea to do so, as many will hold up the Marvel Cinematic Universe as good adaptations. Largely, they aren't adaptations; they're standard "hero's journey" action films, with some notes from the comics stories and characters.

So, what's a good adaptation? I'm going to look at Road to Perdition, as I hold it is quite possibly the best comic book adaptation yet. Oh, there are changes made in the story, but most of them are sensible to the translation of time constraints and well, a minor bit of believability, regardless of history.

First change was the name of the Quad Cities crime family leaders. They were the Looney family. Max Allan Collins wrote them as such, as they were a historical truth, The book was part gang history, part Lone Wolf and Cub. Why the change? It's not a common name, and some might think it was too on the nose, never mind that it wouldn't be very recognizable as Irish anymore.

The scene in the Capone headquarters? It's in the comic. I'm not sure on the history, though there are several tomes on the Angel of Death.

What else got changed? Well, the amount of the time on the road, robbing banks feels very condensed. That's FINE, they manage to give the impression without the time. Going from a novel to comics, somethings won't work as well, due to sheer descriptive ability vs. having the art present.

There were multiple hitmen after Michael O'Sullivan, not just one. Again I don't have a problem with the condensing of this as he was portrayed as a real threat, and a fairly constant presence.

One last change they made, and that's more a movie audience(normies world wide) versus a crime comic audience(gritty is good). The graphic novel ends with the son being the one that shoots the final hitman. Likely that would have caused an outrage, and there was no reason for that. The movie was a one off, no sequels, while the comic is written so that sequels could happen(and they do, in both novel and graphic novel form).

There's a few other really good adaptations out there, and I might cover more later. Or more bad ones, even if they make decent stories themselves.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Doing adaptations well or badly

Why not talk about this a bit? There's been a lot of adaptations over the years, and I don't just mean film and TV.  The Shadow started as a radio theater host character, and was spun off into his own show, with books, comics, and film following. Recently, Castalia House has announced an adaptation that may be their first foray into their alternative comics distribution model. 

Personally, I don't have any excitement for this, though I know the series has people that love it. Whether that will translate to folks buying comics, we'll see. They also mention a Lovecraft Noir series and a military science fiction series possibly being adapted. I think the Lovecraftian may work, and I'm confident the milsf books will if and when they happen.

For an adaptation to do well and be good are, of course, two very different things. In comics, I've seen adaptations of opera that are amazingly beautiful, but they lack the music. There's also been so many comics adaptations of movies that are just lazy that it's ridiculous. 

One thing that I can guarantee is disastrous in adapting a property is not having a coherent version of it. My best example would be the Jonah Hex movie, which opened with a great animatic. One of the big issues was the fact that there was no one version of the character or type of story they wanted to tell, and instead tried to mix up the weird west and regular western versions of the character, and landing in a disjointed semi-weird, semi-regular version with a twist of steampunk.

So what works? Start with knowing and respecting the work. That's why Henry Cavill fails as Superman, there's no respect for the history or mythos of the work. Oh, you can point to Superman Year One, but even that has Superman as more human than these. 

Look at the origins, and I don't mean Krypton. His planet of birth matters for the scale of what he is capable of, but not the directions he chooses. No, his origins are not as Superman, but Clark Kent from Smallville, Kansas. Not the show, the place, and what that means, which is mostly beyond anyone in the film industry anymore. No culture of faith, instead he's taught to sacrifice others rather than self.  

Maybe if there was a better cultural awareness instead of coastal elite smugness, they could move beyond playing to their social justice ideals. Nah. Keep playing, guys, you're making huge openings for everyone that wants better stories.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Product Review: Havit Vertical Wireless Mouse

Yeah, I don't do this as a gneral rule. But, I'm a musician and writing, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has been a fear of my for decades. I've had problems with regular mice for years(hand cramping or part of the hand going numb), and finally decided it was time to try something else.

Now, I didn't want to spend much, so I thought I'd try one of the less pricey vertical mice. This one is from Havit, and it arrived yesterday. My old mouse was bothering me enough I left the coffee shop to get batteries, as it uses AAAs, where my old mouse used AAs.  But, for a pic of how it fits(from Amazon, but it's pretty accurate):



Yep, it lets my wrist work the mouse at its normal angle. After trying it with web browsing(the page back and forward buttons are placed a little high, but you won't hit them by mistake) and normal use, I decided to go for the big thing last night: how did it work for play? So I pulled up Grim Dawn, as that would let me test the mouse best of what I have.

And I have to say, I'm happy with it. My hand never cramped, my wrist never needed a break. So, if you're a righty and a susceptible to CTS, I gotta say this might be worth your money. There are vertical mice for lefties as well at some comparable price points, but I won't attest to those.


When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.15

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we have a spread before us including death, mystery, action, ancient history retold, talking apes, and mythic warriors. Let's take a look at our selections.

Star Legions: Warlords of Cunaxa by Michael G. Thomas- It's been a good while since I read the first two, and I have to say, it was easy to get back into the series. The link is to a cheap omnibus version, so you don't need to dive into the middle, though I think you could if you wanted. Major crime: showing the heroes of the past as such, even in complex situations. 7 of 10 fell deeds

The Slayer by James Alderdice(David J. West)- This is a reprint collection under the name he chose for fantasy works. We follow a pair of warriors through a series of adventures during the Crusades, dealing with men of honor and dishonor. Major crime: Honor in men of action. 8 of 10 fell deeds

Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins- This is the third in his Crime and Comics trilogy(kinda hoping for more later on). We cover a fictional version of the comics outrage stirred up by Dr. Wertham and his book of the same title. Once again, in many ways a love letter to comics history and crime novels. Major crime: Admitting the consorious nature of the Democratic party. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

Galaxy's Edge: Sword of the Legion by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach- Look, it's Galaxy's Edge. I am beyond apathetic to Star Wars anymore. Galaxy's Edge is the real deal, and any support going its way helps the possibility of other media picking it up. Major crime: Irking the Mouse. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

The Invisible City by Brian K. Lowe- Checked it out because the guy's a Cirsova contributor. And I have to say, he knows how to work in long form really well. The start is a little slow, but things pick up, and well, there's racial oppression, talking apes, and more in a world close to our own. And I really want to dig through that library. Major crime: Taking notes from ERB, and making it feel fresh. 9 of 10 fell deeds.


When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Game Mechanic: Diminishing Returns

Yeah. This one is a bit trickier as I can't just search for it as a mechanic on BGG. But, we talked a bit about it when I was on Geek Gab Game Night, and I also haven't done a post on game mechanics for a bit. Oh, yeah, you might want the show.


Anyway to some diminishing returns.

I mentioned Terraforming Mars, as it was in my mind. The first player gets more points than the second for each milestone. It's not unique to this game by any means, but it's a good example.

Dominion and many other deckbuilders in many ways feature a combination of opportunity cost and diminishing returns. The Victory Point cards are limited in quantity, but they are part of the deck, so early purchases  can limit later ones. For the unfamiliar, each player starts with a small standard deck(identical, and usually 10 cards), and add to it throughout the game.

War games also have a version of diminishing returns in that there's limited benefit to adding more units to a conflict or point within a conflict. The general attack ratio for victory is 2:1 in straightforward military conflicts. Past 3:1 there's limited benefit.  Some wargames model this through number of dice, and there's a target number/symbol.

Games like X-Wing add defense dice, and Warhammer has a save roll against death. Warhammer's is less likely to be overrun by sheer number of dice, but both are overwhelmed.

The flipside is increasing cost, and we see this in games with supply/demand mechanics. Power Grid is the key example for this, with prices adjusting for each of a commodity bought. The Korea board even has two markets, and a player may only purchase from one.



Planet Steam also has a supply/demand aspect, with some things becoming unavailable for parts of the game, and market manipulation being a key aspect of play. The below image is mostly on the market.


As usual, these are but a glimpse, and hardly definitive examples, though I hope they are clear. I think next time I might cover incentivizing suboptimal decisions.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.