Gaming at The Keep

And Now, In Context
Tuesday, January 10th, 2005

More than a few of you have emailed me to let me know that Uwe Boll, the executive producer and director of BloodRayne, has produced and/or directed other stinkers. To this I say "I know." My review of BloodRayne was contextless. I attempted to judge the film based on what appeared on the screen, rather than on what I believed was going on behind the scenes.

As horrible as the on-screen material was, the behind the scenes story is worse. Begin, if you will, with this Cinema Blend article which explains that Uwe Boll is out to make tax breaks, not movies. You know that hit Broadway show The Producers which is coming back to the big screen? Well, Uwe is doing exactly what the protagonists do in that film -- he's making money through tax laws, while destroying the intellectual property he licenses for production.

Yes, I've seen House of the Dead. I can be forgiven for that, right? I mean, I had no idea Uwe Boll was a scam artist back then. I really enjoyed the game (I played all the way through it once, using both players' stations for that "John Woo" two-pistol mayhem). Oh, and I've got a thing for zombie movies. It LOOKED like something I'd enjoy. To say that it was every bit as bad as BloodRayne would be two years later is inaccurate, though. It was bad, sure enough, but Uwe Boll was still working on his "craft." In BloodRayne I believe he has perfected the "art" of taking good actors, beautiful locations, and expensive equipment and churning out worst-case scenarios.

What's the answer to all this? If we stay away from his films, he makes a mint. If we go and SEE his films, we're throwing away time better spent buried up to our necks in anthills, and money better spent donated to webcartoonists. Stuart Wood, the Cinema Blend reporter, may have the right idea: boycott Uwe Boll's work "in screening, review, interview, or any other form."

To that end, I probably should stop talking about him...

Gaming at The Keep
Tuesday, January 10th, 2005

I've been having a great time lately gaming at Dragon's Keep. This last Friday night we had a role-playing session, and the gamemaster had shamelessly borrowed, stolen, lifted, and plagiarized material from an unknown number of horror-genre works in order to create a really enjoyable campaign. I actually got the creeps a couple of times-- like when I turned on a TV set and saw myself staring back at me, only from a room that was different from the one I was standing in.

(When I say "I," I of course mean "my character," but when I role-play I try to get into it. I may munch a little kin when it comes time for combat, but mostly I RPG for immersion.)

Yesterday I headed down to the Keep after coloring a week of strips. I needed to get some pencilling done, and getting outside of my box often helps. Well, I ended up pencilling six rows while playing Arkham Horror. This was my first time with the game, and I enjoyed it. I really like games where the players play WITH each other rather than AGAINST each other, and in Arkham Horror the players work together to beat the game board. My only gripe with the game is that just setting up and sorting the different play decks and tokens takes half an hour. Oh, and the rules are so byzantine they're nigh-incomprehensible. Oh, and it takes too long. But other than that? Great game.

Three hours in we realized it was time for everyone to go home (closing time at the store, after all), so we checked the next few cards in each deck, rolled a few dice, and determined that we would have had about 2 chances in 3 to win. So Jason, our dealer, rolled a six-sided die. On a 1 or a 2 we "lose." He threw a 6.

For me, putting the entire outcome of three hours of game play on a single die roll was thrilling. No, that's not in the rules anywhere, but I suspect that often enough it comes down to that, one way or another.

Stay Away From BloodRayne
Saturday, January 7th, 2006

I originally posted this review in full over at howardtayler.livejournal.com, but it deserves wider exposure. Yes, I went to see BloodRayne with my friend Shaggy (who happens to own the finest comics and games shop in Utah Valley). Yes, we expected it to be a rotten movie. No, neither of us expected it to be as bad as it ended up being. I'm not upset at myself for seeing it -- I saw it so that you don't have to. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I'd be doing a good deed.

So let's start with my instructions to you: no matter how enticing I may make this film sound, do NOT spend money on it. Don't see it in the theater, and don't rent it. Buying the DVD would be a crime against humanity. For that matter, don't bother seeing it for FREE, either. Spending your TIME on this film is a crime against your employer, your family, and the Baby New Year. You would be better off using an hour and thirty-four minutes eating junk food and watching Weather Channel repeats you've accidentally TIVO'd.

I'm serious. If I find out that you went and saw this film after I told you not to, I'll phone your friends up and tell them to go to your house and pour ants in your bed. And when you wake up screaming, covered in ants, you'll think "at least I'm not still watching BloodRayne."

(Click here to read the complete the review, and to see the LJ user comments.)

I'm not trying to tear this movie a new anal orifice. I assure you, the film already has SEVERAL, and it defecates simultaneously through all of them. You don't want to get any of this on you.

The best possible thing now would be for BloodRayne to fail so profoundly and so expensively that Uwe Boll (who, as executive producer, is the only person on the planet stupid enough to hire himself to direct) is forced out of the film business before he can contaminate anybody else's intellectual property, whether as producer, director, or the 3rd-unit gaffer's poo-flinging donut-monkey.

Basic Training: the Acid Test
Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Lots of you have emailed me or otherwise posted to say that you liked Schlock Mercenary Basic Training. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not brand new readers will like it.

Got some spare cycles on your hands? Round up a friend who doesn't read Schlock Mercenary, and dump them into Basic Training. Then have them report back to you and tell you how they liked it. Then you can report back to ME and give me your results. If the pages need tweaking, if the text is too back-storyish or not peppy enough, if the pictures aren't engaging, or, in short, if there are PROBLEMS, you folks will find them for me, and then I can fix them.

And fix them I will. It's important to me. I want this strip to be accessible.

Schlock Mercenary Basic Training
Friday, January 6th, 2006

If today is your first day reading Schlock Mercenary, you're in luck. Everybody ELSE who reads this strip had to slog through 1000 strips' worth of back-story in order to get caught up to the beginning of "Book I," but you, you lucky dawg, get the chance to fast-track it with Schlock Mercenary Basic Training. In just six short pages you'll meet the key characters, learn what makes them tick, and figure out everything you needed to know in order to begin the story from the 1001st strip.

"Why," you ask, "do I want to begin from the 1001st strip.?"

"Because the artwork sucks a lot harder for the first 1000 strips than it does for the second 1000, that's why."

The first Schlock Mercenary compilation will begin with the 1001st strip. If it didn't, children might pick the book up and expose themselves to my early artwork. The thought of those virgin eyes running with bloody tears makes my heart stop. Really, it does. Besides, the books wouldn't sell very well.

So there you go. The barracks are filling up for Schlock Mercenary Basic Training, but since they're VIRTUAL barracks, there's always plenty of room. And I promise that there will be no PT required.

(I know, I know... it hardly qualifies as Basic without PT, but I'm trying to raise an army on the cheap here. I can't afford to be discouraging the recruits. Pipe down, you, or I might just start asking for push-ups.)

Looking for previous blogs?
Here are links to the The $100 Christmas Report and Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Me

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