Tag Archives: gaming

What'cha Watching Wednesday – Special: Evil RPGs

Well, I spontaneously decided that you’ll get another Special instead of the usual update, as I am a) too lazy to finish that one and b) have too much to say about one of the films which will also c) lead to a Lost in Translation post (potentially next week).

WWWWhat is the WWW generally about?

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.

Introduction

Last time I told you about The Gamers, this time I want to talk about some other projects Zombie Orpheus Entertainment (ZOE) is involved in – or created.
The movies are connected through the cast and crew, but still have a different approach to the same topic. But read for yourself.

Dark Dungeons

This short movie tells the story of Debbie and Marcie who come from a Christian background but are drawn into the depths and evilness of the world of RPG. Though through their ordeals and the loss of Marcie, Debbie finds her way back to Jesus.
Anyway.
The movie is based on the tract Dark Dungeons by Jack T. Chick LLC (from 1984) that tells the same story in an abbreviated version and therefore has some really strange views on the whole matter of what RPGs are really about.
It has a lot of „WTF“ moment, where you’re not entirely sure what you should think, especially when Roleplayers are put on a pedestal that is usually occupied by the sports-teams, people are chanting „RPG“ and are so deeply engrossed in the game that they forget reality. At the same time – especially the latter – it is something that could be true. People could lose themselves in a fantastical world and it’s a bit frightening to see it escalate like that on the screen – even if you still can’t take it too seriously. Not uncommon, however, is the portrayed fear that playing RPGs and letting your imagination grow through it is a gateway to hell and even though I’ve never experienced that first hand, do I know the weird looks one gets when you try to explain what it is your doing (and of course all the media hysteria towards it whenever something goes wrong…). It’s usually frowned upon to participate in such things, because their childish and ridiculous, so seeing it be the „in“-thing on a campus is kind of incredible, yet still really weird, as it’s portrayed so over the top that it’s not believable any more. Though I do believe the latter stems from the tone of the original tract that portrayed it similarly.
It’s interesting to see the two main characters switch personalities throughout the movie and the gaming Mistress is positively frightening, just as some of the other characters were slightly psychotic, very strange and stuff (I guess, I still don’t really understand the part with the Chuthulu-cult… guess that was a bit too much for my taste)…
Regardless of the characters involved do I believe that the most horrible scene of the whole thing was the book burning (which is especially weird, if you think about the fact that someone dies in this movie o.O). Everything hurt when I saw those beautiful (and expensive) things thrown into the fire…I guess I myself am too deeply involved to be unfazed by this. 😀
To sum this up: It’s a very weird and very strange movie and you should watch it yourself to make your own opinion – and to have a little more fun with:

Attacking the Darkness

Attacking the Darkness (AtD) is the first Mockumentary ZOE created that was filmed on the set of another feature film (guess which one ;)). It documents the trials and errors of a very Christian couple that is filming their own independent feature film to show the horrors and evils of gaming, especially RPGs. But they soon realise that film making is not really an easy business…
The movie was released for a week during the Kickstarter campaign (and is currently only available on private setting – so thanks to Producer Chris Ode for giving me the okay to include the link here) to help fund the DVD production and I took the chance to watch it.
Later on a few poor souls that volunteered to help with the translation received a link again. Well, who am I to pass off the chance to add German subtitles to something that I’m sure some of my friends (with less English knowledge than myself) would certainly enjoy? 😉
Anyway, (and I’m basically rephrasing a comment I made on one of the Kickstarter-Updates) when I watched the film during the trial run, it was okay, but not more.
Now that I’ve went through it minute by minute, I’ve seen way more stuff that makes it incredibly special. Things you don’t catch through casually watching it.
It was a lot of work, it was a bit annoying (especially the puns were hard to translate and this’ll be the topic of the Lost in Translation post I mentioned), but was totally worth it and I started to appreciate this film even more for all it’s hidden complexities.
As it is a Mockumentary the movie is told by either showing interviews with the different characters or their interactions as filmed through different cameras while „filming“ the movie.
This also means that the following very confusing description applies: The actors from AtD play the actors hired to play the characters – who incidentally are the same people/characters in the other movie – in the movie „Attacking the Darkness“ whose filming is documented in AtD. I really hope I got that right. >_<
Additionally, were most – if not all – of the interviews improvised, meaning that at least the actors who portrayed the main characters Harmony Hope and Brady made up everything they said in their interviews on the spot and the camera just kept rolling. The movie feels kind of similar to what you know from „Behind the Scenes“ stuff, but as the topic – and some of the characters – can be quite over the top, you never really forget that this is all make belief.
The characters themselves range from totally adorable (Lucy and Pastor Doug) to absolutely frustrating (Harmony Hope) or questionable (Pastor Canon, Godrick), but all so very realistic and refreshingly human, with a lot of puns, jokes and very human reactions.
My highlight certainly was when „real Gamers“ were introduced to the set and one of them turned out to be Gary from The Gamers (From what I read during the campaign, was there also a scene with Lodge, but it was cut because it made things too complicated). 😀 Though it is weird to hear Christian Doyle’s voice in almost every interview – except the one with his character – but not really know if it is Gary asking those questions after realising how much fun he could have with the creators of this movie or just a random interviewer that just happens to sound like him – which Gary’s questions in the interview would suggest as he talks to Brian Lewis (Brady) and wouldn’t say those things to the Producer.
[Edit: I just found this Tweet again that I do not want keep from you:

Yeah, I’m really good at (mis)reading stuff…]
All in all does the movie have several moments that are just really funny or absolutely adorable – the whole sub-plot with Doug and Lucy was adorable and provided quite a few funny moments and I do believe „Cheesus“ is still one of SaJaehwa and my favourites, even if it was tricky to translate – , but also some very questionable things (one word: credits).
One of the gaming unrelated things I appreciated most was that one of the pastors – Doug – was not portrayed as religious dimwit – which is most likely thanks to the fact that the actor is a real life pastor (Doug’s whole journey and story line was great and reminded me somewhat of Coelestin’s in Warlords – just with way less physical pain). 😉
Apart from the fact that the English „pastor“ is a very confusing term for me (it is the translation of both „Pfarrer“ – catholic pastor/priest, that’s not allowed to have a family AND „Pastor“ – evangelic pastor, that’s allowed to have a family), is the portrayal of clerics in modern media usually quite frustrating.
When I was preparing for my confirmation (Yup, I’m actually Evangelic – or Protestant or Lutheran or however you translate „evangelisch“) we had two incredible pastors in our and the neighbouring parish: Funny, open minded, musical and not too stern and focused on teaching us the religious aspects of our belief. They didn’t tell us that we needed to do this-and-that to be good Christians, they simply gave us a good example of how to be a good person. I still occasionally remember the hiking trip to Norway with them and if it weren’t for the few prayers and some biblical stories and songs you wouldn’t have thought this to be a religious group trip (Incidentally was this also the trip that turned the son of one of the pastors into a Metalhead – thanks to me and Avantasia – as I learned years later from Lil‘ kat, when we discovered that I „knew“ her best friend :D).
Anyway, what I want to say with this is: I get that it’s fun to ridicule religion/religious belief and that there actually are a lot of people in the profession that deal with things like Pastor Canon does, but in the end it’s people like Pastor Doug who actually help people through their difficulties, that show them that religion can be a good thing. And I think it’s incredible that they included him in the cast – even if in the beginning he seemed to follow Canon a bit too closely for my taste, but I do blame that on Harmony who wanted to hear such ridiculous prayers…
Either way, he came into his own and to answer ZOE’s question from another of their Kickstarter-Updates again:

„(Also, for those of you who have seen the film, who would want to see a Gamers special episode with Pastor Doug and Lucy leading an RPG session for the youth group?)“
Do I want to see more of the characters that easily became my favourites?
Hell – I mean – Oh, yeah! 😀

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!

Final Words

I hope you enjoyed this little look into this special project and are at least a little curious about what I’m going to tell you about creating the German subtitles for Attacking the Darkness. 😉
I’ll probably share this post again, when I receive my copy of the movie (with „my“ translation on it 😀 ). 😉
PoiSonPaiNter

What’cha Watching Wednesday: The Gamers-Special

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).

WWWWhat is the WWW generally about?

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.

Introduction

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…

The Gamers

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!

Final Words

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…

PoiSonPaiNter

Webcomics: Prologue – Looking for Something

Remember when I told you about the amazing female leads in two webcomics and dubbed it Chapter One? Well, seems like you’ll be getting a belated Prologue today, as one can’t start properly before talking about the beginning…
That and the fact that I really like Prologues….
Anyway, as I mentioned in the Introduction were Fred and Notfunny my „gate way“ into comics and Webcomics in general, but what really got me hooked on reading them was

Looking for Group

(c) Ryan Sohmer & Lar Desouza


The webcomic by writer Ryan Sohmer and artist Lar (Lartist) Desouza tells the story of the elf Cale’anon (the one in the front) who just wants to be a hero, to do good, to help people, but is more often than not faced with decisions he wouldn’t naturally approve of. It’s not helping that the group he ends up travelling with includes the fourth wall breaking, easily bored, over-powered, homicidal and basically utterly ridiculous un-dead Warlock Richard (the one in the upper right corner), the witty and destructive priest Benn’joon (short Benny – in the middle with the staff), her Bloodrage father and scholar Krunch (on the left with the book), the crafty, bardic Dwarf Pella and bloodthirsty panther Sooba (both not depicted).
What makes this story fun is the clashing of these characters and their ways of solving problems. E.g. while Cale is still negotiating, Richard gets bored and just „FWOOSH“es the opposition (aka burns them to crisps with a – red – fire ball).
It basically started as run of the mill parody comic for the fantasy genre, gaming and pop culture in general (it’s filled with references: Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, Star Wars, Mary Poppins just to name a few) and turned into something way more epic in it’s own terms. For any new reader it’s a long way to go, but a worthy one.
When I first discovered it through a recommendation in The Forum I didn’t really give it much credit, the art was strange and the story was over the top, but the humour soon captured me – especially Richard’s, he’s so delightfully, well, Richard. The more I read the better art and story became until it reached the standard it has today. Sure there are still story lines that don’t really make sense and I’ve lost track of a lot of side stories by now (I believe I caught up when they were around book 15 and by now they’re in book 36), but I still return to the site whenever there is an update or I want to re-read something old.
Sure Cale is a typical main character, but there is so much thrown into his way that it’s fun again to watch his journey – especially the Archmage story line is incredible.
Sure there are times where the story just doesn’t seem to move on, but that’s a small price for what Sohmer & Lar offer their audience.
By now the universe expanded far beyond just Looking for Group, there are now also NPC stories, telling more about characters that only appeared briefly in the main arcs in tales drawn by different unknown/young/new artists and the Tiny Dick Adventures, where Richard comments on real life happenings – with a twist.
It’s fascinating to see the world that Sohmer created grow, see old story lines come back around and new ones starting. It’s the mix of the (bizarre) characters, the oddities and the seriousness beneath it all that makes this one special.
And Richard will certainly be amongst my favourite characters for a very long time (it is partly his fault that I keep naming characters Richard o.O).

Afterword

I hope you enjoyed this little look into my first long-term-commitment Webcomic. 🙂
Have you read it?
Do you know others with similar themes?
Let me know in the comments below!
If any one is interested: I’ve been eyeing this thing and also been using a LFG wallpaper of Lil‘ Richard and The Bunny – that is seemingly no longer available except as cover art of book 4 – for years now.

For Pony!

PoiSonPaiNter
© For the picture lies with its creators. I merely used it as example of their work and hope that’s okay.