Instead of my usual What’cha Watching Wednesday I’d like to focus on a certain project of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment (ZOE) and Dead Gentlemen Productions (DGP) that I re-watched since the last instalment (The other stuff will be included in the next official one).
Every fourth Wednesday evening I will publish a post in which I collected the thoughts I had throughout the week(s) while watching the latest or any episode of a series or maybe even a movie.
Depending on how my time allows it, the comment will also be for those that I watched that day.
You’re warned: There will be Spoilers.
All the stuff listed below are „Fan supported“ and „Creator distributed“, which means they were financed through Kickstarter campaigns or continued support over their creators Patreon pages (ZOE, DGP). There is no TV channel/network or huge sponsors behind it and the fans‘ praises and complains are heard directly by the people involved – not that there is much to complain about…
People can also be directly involved, depending on their pledge-levels in the campaigns. They can become extras, producer for a day, chat with the cast/crew and other stuff. During the productions people are also allowed to announce a „Red Card“ – that they acquired during the campaigns – that sends an actor or other part of the production into a 5-min time out when they said or did something offensive. 😉
Anyway, let’s take a look at
The Gamers Saga
When I first watched JourneyQuest I soon discovered The Gamers: Dorkness Rising and was easily taken into it, before I realized it’s part of a larger story, but let me start at the beginning…
In 2002 a group of independent film makers got together to create something very special, a story about gamers, with gamers, for gamers that turned into a whole saga consisting of so far three feature films (The Gamers, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising and The Gamers: Hands of Fate) and an in progress series.
The respective stories follow a group of table top gamers (one in the first one, one for part two and three) and their campaigns, but instead of just talking the audience through what the characters are doing, the actors also take up the roles of their characters and show what is happening during the game, sometimes narrating or commenting it with gaming terms (Attack names, „Critical Hit“, etc.).
If you ever participated in a table top round, be it D&D, Pathfinder, DSA (Das Schwarze Auge)/TDE (The Dark Eye), Shadowrun or one of the many other RPGs, you’ll soon be engrossed in this universe. The characters act natural, the jokes are funny and the more you get involved, the more fascinating it gets. You can also see the increase in production value and lessons learned from previous endeavours. It’s great to follow the paths they took (this pun was not intended, but worth keeping, as the game they play is – based on? – Pathfinder) to create this saga and certainly worth many, many re-watches.
But let me tell you a bit about the stories of the different parts…
In the first part the group of gamers plays its way through a campaign with unusual methods, like thief Nimble sneak-attacking/backstabbing someone with a ballista, the Mage of the group being replaced by another one that is accepted on the spot and all the while annoying their poor dorm mate that just wants to study. In the course of their quest to defeat The Shadow! The Shadow? The Shadow… the gamers ultimately lead their characters through a portal into their own/our world, where the characters end up slaying them (their players).
It’s basic, it’s simply, it has quite a few stereotypes, but it’s still not over the top and quite enjoyable and of course the begin of something special. 😉
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising
Part two follows a new group of gamers lead by Lodge, who just wants his friends to finish a run for once, so he can turn it into a new module for the game. After some failed attempts they decide to add more players to the group, which are Joanna a newbie gamer and a NPC-character Lodge himself plays. With some difficulty (Gary wasting Level 4 spells on frying innocent NPCs and constantly forgetting that he’s actually playing a female; Leo’s bard that keeps dying, when he isn’t seducing random NPCs) they manage to beat the campaign that Lodge has designed. Though as the reward Joanna chooses for their quest enrages one of the gamers (Cass, Joanna’s Ex and the I-beat-every-game-there-is min/max wannabe-leader of the group) he storms off and leaves the group, while the rest remain dumbfounded.
Alas the others do not share his view and quite like the decision and want to know how the story continues, supporting Joanna and her way of gaming.
When Lodge finally releases his campaign Cass returns and reluctantly congratulates him and asks if he can return to the group, which the former accepts, but still leaves him standing, so Cass can apologize to Joanna.
This one went deeper than the first one, we learned more about the characters involved and got to like them. I really do enjoy Garys way of solving problems in-game, they are just absolutely hilarious at times and always totally chaotic. Even if I like all the gamers, he is kind of my favourite…
I really enjoyed the resolution of the „gamer girl“ sub-plot. The way they supported Joanna was just incredible and I like the characters even more for it. This part basically made me fall in love with the saga – though JourneyQuest is still a tiny bit above it. 😉
The Gamers: Hands of Fate
Part three takes a different turn. As life gets in the way of their actual gaming the members of the party started other adventures (Joanna and Lodge became a couple, Gary and Leo are busy with work), but here especially Cass learns the hard way that some games aren’t as stupid as they look from afar. Leo hosts a Card Gaming competition in his shop and Cass mocks it, but wants to immediately hook up with the only female gamer, who flat out rejects him and tells him the only chance he has to get a date with her is, if he gets her queen on the throne. Naturally Cass accepts the challenge and lets Leo guide him into the game „Romance of the 9 Kingdoms„; a story line based, user influenced card game; and ends up hijacking Lodge and Joannas trip to GenCon to include their whole group so he can participate in the tournament that would decide the fate of the story line within the game. Throughout Casses games we learn that the characters within the nine kingdoms have a mind of their own and slowly but surely become aware of what is happening to them. With some funny side stories (Joanna over-reacting over a ring she found in Lodges pocket, Gary exacting revenge on a mascot of a TV show that caused the cancellation of one of his favourite shows and Leo just trying to keep his people in check – and stumbling across a murder that is told in a novel where I’m not entirely sure if it’s tie-in, but sounds amazing…) the story culminates into an interesting, but foreseeable ending – at least on the card game story line – that I don’t want to spoil here. 😉
Finally a year after the Con the group manages to game again and continue their quest in the dungeon of The Shadow! The Shadow? The Shadow… yes, the same one.
In a cruel turn of events the gamers are transported into the realm of the game, while their characters appear in their world.
With the additional gaming world and the focus on the card game this part feels different than the previous one. It’s kind of strange for me to watch as well, as Cass is the most annoying character of the group, but I like how his ego gets a damper after the whole ordeal. I just really enjoyed the character development this Season – even if Joanna was the difficult one this time around. It’s also great to see that most of it was actually filmed at a con –
even if I’m not entirely sure if it was the real GenCon and or the „fake“ ZOE Con , I lost track of what stuff was used from where [Edit thanks to Andi Dopieralski, see comments]- and it makes me want to attend an American con even more (we do have some Comic Con mock ups by now in Germany, but I don’t think they are anywhere close to the originals, I’ll find out in October).
Well, and this is where everything changes…
The Gamers: The Series – Season 0
It begins with a short that shows the old characters introducing themselves to the new ones which sets up the events of future Cross Over story lines (The Gamers was produced by DGP, the other two by ZOE).
The series 0 (zero not O) itself shows what happened to the original characters that got stuck in our world (at least they will as soon as the last part is released).
It’s a nice change of pace as the characters are narrating their fates that are visually shown. I already liked Nimble in the original movie (hello, ballista?), but his short made me like him even more, elven archer New Moon just has the most ridiculous short and I’m not entirely sure if I completely understood the one for the mage Magellan… The one for warrior Rogar is yet to be released, so I can’t say anything about it.
I’m really looking forward to the continuation of the series, where both stories connect…
So if you liked what you read – and maybe watched – so far, make sure to check out the Kickstarter DGP is running right now to fund the first episode of The Gamers: The Series! It will be a 45 min long episode that starts setting up the path that leads to The Gamers 4 (another path joke, I’m sorry…kinda…): The Gamers: Episode 1.
Natural One/Humans & Households
These two are also part of the Gamers universe, but more like add-ons than necessary to understand the whole plot.
Natural One takes Gary and Leo to Canada so Garys (possible) future brother-in-law can face his „Trial of Initiation“ in order to be allowed to marry Gary’s sister Monica. This time the game they play is set in a Cyberrun universe, but the concept is the same.
It is possible that this story is a prequel to ZOEs show Rude Mechanical, but I haven’t gotten around to actually watch it to make sure.
Humans & Households goes the other way round and shows a group of fantasy-gamers play a mundane game set in our world, where they have to survive crossing a street full of cars and house guardians (a very cute dog) and the simple fact that everything sounds too good to be true („The key is in the letter box“ – „It’s a trap!“).
While they’re fun, they’re not as great as the other parts as they’re too focused on being stand alone, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking them out as well. 😉
H&H is especially funny considering that they basically show how weird gamers act in a given situation (see trap-dialogue) and their kill-first-ask-questions-later mentality.
What were you watching?
What episodes (or movies) did you enjoy/dislike throughout the week/month?
Anything you’d recommend checking out?
Let me know in the comments below!
I hope you enjoyed this little look into the universe of The Gamers and maybe you find it in yourself to help them continue to make this incredible show. I certainly did. 😉
Now I’m off to translate a few more minutes of Attacking the Darkness between sneezing, coughing and trumpeting (aka loudly blowing my nose).
Yay, for the Festival-flu…