Tag Archives: zombie orpheus entertainment

Strowlers: The right story can change the world

This is a translation of my guest post for the Bücherstadt Kurier’s event „#kunterbunt: a feast for diversity„. You can read it in German on their page here: Die richtige Geschichte kann die Welt verändern.

Illustration: Worteweberin Annika

Strowlers is a multimedia universe created by Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, more precisely Ben Dobyns, the mastermind behind it. Stories in this universe tell of a world where magic is real. In addition to the pilot episode – also known as just „Strowlers“ – that takes place in Seattle, the episodes „Strowlers: Amaaji“ (Mongolia) and „Strowlers: Pepper“ (Ireland) were completed alongside it. All three released in August at Gen Con 2018. Each episode tells a different part of the story of the Strowlers from a different angle and of a different way of dealing with magic.

“The right story can change the world.”

At the same time, it plays with the concept that the right story can change the world. Because magic in the „Strowlerverse“ is partly done by telling stories with the help of a special deck of cards.

But what are Strowlers?

Strowlers” is the name given to those who use magic freely. They are unattached people who move from place to place and work small and large miracles in secret. But that is just one way of defining them. In their essence they are free spirited, creative people, be they writers, musicians, artists or whatever they want to be.

Opposite them are the Arcanologists, who try to tame any free magic and make it controllable and usable for their purposes.

What is the Pilot about?

The pilot tells the story of Whit, a librarian, and her girlfriend Amanda, an Arcanologist who tries to help young magic-talented children while creating a technology that could be dangerous for all magic-talented people.

One day Whit reads the children a story about a goldfinch that lures a young girl deeper and deeper into the forest as around them the forest comes to life. Leaves sweep across the floor of the library and branches stretch towards the children. But the spell doesn’t last long, because the task force of the arcanologists destroys it and suppresses the magic of a little boy, whom they suspect as the source, with a collar made for this purpose.

But soon Whit finds out that another child, Nikki, was behind it and tries to protect her from Amanda’s colleagues who want to burn the magic out of her…

The watching experience

I mainly know ZOE’s web series The Gamers and JourneyQuest, but the quality of this pilot episode is on a whole new level.

Not only is the narrative technique fascinating as it jumps between narrator and narration, but the visual effects are also breathtaking. The play of light adapts to the tone of the story and changes from threateningly dark to hopefully radiant, depending on how it is needed.

Added to this are the strong messages, not only about magic and fear of the uncontrollable, but also about storytelling itself. Especially as an author*ess a fascinating aspect.

“Every story is a labyrinth. You begin a journey to the center, then wind your way out again and end up somewhere new, but while you’re in the center you have chance to change things.”

The Characters

The three main characters are plausibly depicted and all follow their characteristics.
Whit, the idealist, who fights for what she thinks is right.
Amanda, the remorseful one, who tries to save others from her own fate, at all costs.
And Nikki, the frightened one, who still can’t really understand what might happen to her and what has already happened to so many others.

The side characters are only touched on, but you still get a feeling for them. Especially Nikki’s „burned“ father and the Strowler Josiah leave a lasting impression.

General Opinion

As a pilot for a much bigger world, it definitely makes you want more and lets you see beyond the limited development of the side characters, whose story may be continued later.

Visually, this episode simply captivated me, together with the story and the storytelling it is simply a wonderful interplay.

“The best fictions are the ones surrounded by truths.”

How true this statement can be, can be seen when you look at the dystopian elements that the Arcanologists introduce into history and see how quickly something like this could happen in our world.

You too can become a part of the Strowlerverse

With the release of the pilot episode, this world is made accessible to all, so that everyone can contribute a part to it. Be it in the form of new stories, films, poems or other creative ideas. It is licensed under a special Creative Commons license, which allows you to be creative by stating the source. And with a little aptitude, this contribution can also become official canon.

If this piqued your curiosity you can find the Trailer – an later the episodes – here: Trailer.

Anne/PoiSonPaiNter

New Year, new whatever?

It’s 2017.

Happy new Year!

Or at least I hope it will be happy and have lots of good stuff in store for everyone…
I mean after all that stuff happening in 2016, we are in for a treat, right?
Let’s do a headcount:
It was the first complete year with just Dad and me. Lots of ups and downs on that front, but that’s family for you. Still miss her a lot. Don’t think that’ll ever change.
It was the year the house I live in was renovated and my flat decided to take a bath. I still haven’t completely settled in again…
And of course it was the year that took away many incredible people and gave us some quite frightening things to look forward to. Though the people-part is arguable. With a celebrity-focused media like we have today it’s not really surprising that they talk about so many celebrities that have died this year, it’s what they do, but I’m fairly certain that before all this there would still be a time where the famous people you loved growing up or in your adulthood would still die at some point, because that’s life. It just wasn’t as broadly discussed as it is nowadays. Everyone knows the major players in popular culture, so of course we all have our own stories when they face their untimely demise. And with cancer and heart attacks being common disease spread across nations, why would they stop before people like them? Just saying…

But it wasn’t really that bad a year…

at least not for me.
I might only have been on one Concert (Van Canto as far as I can remember) and one Festival (Rockharz), but I’ve been to a couple of other just as interesting things.
I spent nearly two fascinating weeks in London with Janzy. A long overdue visit that couldn’t have been better. I’m pretty sure I’ll tell you about it one day.
I had a pretty fun (and exhausting) weekend of Convention-hopping with Schmusi and AnnaTao when we went from the German Comic Con Berlin to the TimeLash in Kassel (Review 2015) on the same weekend. I got to see James Marsters live in concert and panel and talk to two Doctors and Ace, so that was worth it. And we rounded the whole thing up with a visit to the incredible Wind Mill Museum in Gifhorn.
Two of my stories were good enough to be published on other sites (you’ve read about it during my Advent Calendar). A few others where published here and at DFPP Entertainment. A third story also won a minor writing competition again.
It was a great year for movies, Deadpool, Ghostbusters, Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, to name a few, and I got to catch up with some other movies and series I haven’t had the chance of watching before. I also read more than my usual average of books and even dived into a few comics I haven’t read before.
I wrote a couple of often read posts including my review about Mara and the Firebringer and The Gamers that were (recently) shared by their creators, though the most read ones are still my old ones somehow…(apparently WordPress didn’t do statistics like they did the years before so I can’t link you to an overview here, sorry…)
I also helped fund different projects on Kickstarter, including Nichtlustig-cartoons, Attacking the Darkness post-production and JourneyQuest Season 3. For the latter two I also helped create the German subtitles, which was an interesting experience altogether. Oh, and I also got to coin the Orcish words for „whimper(ing)“ – bawulai(/-lon) and „war drum“ – sabatam (based on „Bawling Baby“ and Sabaton – the band – respectively). 😉 And helped a few artists on Patreon…
Anyway…

What will 2017 bring?

Honestly? I don’t know.
I want to to finally finish a few stories that have been lying around all year while I either finished other stuff or was not in the mood to write at all. There are also a few stories that have a basic outline that I want to complete for a different project to be published with three stories I already prepared for it last year (including The Quest for Ore and A new Day 😉 ) and of course many other story ideas that are still floating around in my head.
Last year (that still sounds weird…) I made good on my self-imposed schedule for a while but then dropped it again after a couple of weeks, so I guess I’ll give it another try at some point…
But right now I’ll enjoy my last vacation days and next week I might be celebrating my birthday (unfortunately not in Dublin at a Sabaton concert 🙁 ) with a couple of friends, we’ll see.

All the best for the New Year!

PoiSonPaiNter

What’cha Watching Wednesday #13

As I’ve been putting up finishing this for quite a while now, I think, it’s about time to face the truth:
I’m bored by this segment.

I don’t really want to get rid of it entirely, but I do think I prefer doing it similar to what I did with the The Gamer’s saga and Attacking the Darkness.
In this one I’ll give you a brief overview of the backlog and starting with the next one the „Specials“ will be the normal version – hence the change of numbering, even if this one would have been #11. You will still get the occasional movie review, but I think I’ll use this segment more for talking about several things at once and not focusing on one thing alone as I do in those.

WWWWhat is this about?

Every other Wednesday I will publish a post in which I talk about (the latest or any episode of) a series or a (series of) movie(s).

In most cases this will be a collection of thoughts that cross through the different media.
You’re warned: There will be Spoilers.

Let’s start

JourneyQuest

A while after the successful Kickstarter for Season 3 I just had to re-watch the first two Seasons of JourneyQuest and with that link included I’ll leave you to read what I already wrote about this incredible show with many female leads, incredible characters and a hilarious and interesting story line.
By the way: In this campaign you had the chance to coin a new Orcish Word, which I didn’t do, I went for the „Bardic Immunity“ Badge instead. 😉

As I’ve already helped with the subtitles on Attacking the Darkness, it was a no-brainer that I’d also apply for Season 3. Let me tell you: It’s an epic (pun intended) Season and I’m proud to be a part of it, even if it’s only through contributing to the subtitles (Episode 5 and 8 are completely translated by me, Episode 9 until ~3/4 minutes and there are edits by me all over the place 😉 ). 🙂

Glitch

Another gaming related web series that was partly created by ZOE, featuring at least four of their returning cast members (Jesse Lee Keeter, Conner Marx, Brian S. Lewis and Trin Miller). The series is about a young Game Tester (Glitch) who’s bored with his life and wishes that it would become more like a video game – which of course becomes true, but different then he expected, as now he occasionally gets stuck in Glitches. The idea is fun and it has some funny moments, but also some really strange and weird ones. It is especially strange to see Keeter, the Glitch actor, out of his Rilk costume (though I have to admit, it took me a while to recognize him in The Gamers: Hands of Fate too…).

And now for the other stuff I watched in bulk, but was too lazy to discuss:

When you start a series, you have to catch up with new stuff, so of course I watched Orange is the New Black Season 4, started with Lucifer Season 2, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 4 (even if I forgot to talk about Season 3 – Episode 10-17 somehow) and Elementary Season 4 and continued with Marvel’s Netflix adventures and Luke Cage Season 1.

I think, I don’t need to discuss the horrible twist we saw in OITNB, it’s been discussed enough and I still think that losing Poussey (especially that way) was a bold, yet somehow necessary, move to stir up some things that are rarely talked about. She’ll be missed in the coming Seasons… (Did anyone read the book and knows if this really happened?)

Just as bold was the whole story telling of Luke Cage. I loved it. A cast true to the demographics of Harlem (even if that meant I had to watch it with subtitles, as I did not always understand people, but that’s a small price to pay), strong female leads that aren’t just there for the eye candy, important topics, no focus on unnecessary sex- (the one that we saw was an interesting contrast to the ones on Jessica Jones) or fight-scenes, everything that was said/done got straight to the point, interesting, multifaceted characters and all in all just an incredible narration (If your German is good enough, check out Joseph’s great review here: Luke Cage). The only thing I missed were comments regarding the Hulk who „broke Harlem“ during his last visit, though that was probably already water under the bridge.
As I summarized on Twitter, I’d quite like a show with this premise:

Daredevil’s theme song, Jessica Jonesdiversity & Luke Cage’s storytelling. Anyone knows something like that? 😀

S.H.I.E.L.D. and Lucifer had some nice turns this Season (Ward finally gone, Ghostrider, Uriel & Mom, telling Linda the truth), but haven’t gotten much different to what they showed last Season(s). Elementary is basically the same old story, but a nice diversion.

In addition to that did I also complete Dead Like Me (including the Movie), Lost Girl and got up to date with The Librarians. Where the first two had interesting premises the result was soon boring and weird (never entirely got over „Der Waffelhaus“, that grammar mistake just makes my skin crawl…). Both shows could have been something great the Grim Reapers and the Succubus? Yeah, that made for interesting story material, but it focused too much on trivialities and too little on actual character development. After Rube was gone Dead Like Me went downhill, probably even before that. Just like Lost Girl made a dive down with the whole Hades-thing and love-triangles/rectangle-thing and Bo’s horrible case of Main-Character-Syndrome, it got annoying after the second iteration of her saving the day because of … reasons … Other than that was it a great show, with a relatively diverse cast and an interesting premise. Even if again all the characters I liked either ended up dead or leaving the show…

The Librarians on the other hand still needs to find its footing. It’s fun and I really liked the movies preceding it, but there isn’t much in terms of character development. What little they had was either retconed or undermined by other actions. And the Point of Salvation was one of the better time-loop episodes I’ve seen so far and a prime example of what I just said. Both Season finales (And the Loom of Fate and And the Final Curtain) had me on edge and it’s generally great story telling, if I would get some deeper connection to the characters (and Agent Baird – I always want to hear/read Bard somehow – wouldn’t turn into a lovesick puppy whenever Flint is around…)…well, we’ll see what Season 3 brings.

I also tried Alphas for two episodes (two-parter unfortunately), but it didn’t quite catch me. My venture into Hemlock Grove lasted for Season 1 and the first Episode of Season 2, but I haven’t continued yet. Maybe it’s partly due to the fact that I want to know how it’s written after Season 1, as I’d like to see if the twist is as well written, as it is portrayed and partly because that ending was kind of good and I’m not sure I like the turns made in that first Episode of the second Season. Maybe I’ll try continuing one day, who knows.

When I’m not catching up with up-to-date shows I started watching Castle. Before I’ve only seen a few Episodes here and there when I was at my Dads at the right time, but now I’ve seen Season 1-4 and a couple of Episodes of Season 5, but I’m currently taking a break as a part of me is afraid to see what will become of Castle and Beckett and how it’s handled, while the other one wants to finally finish the Advent Calendar I have planned for this year. >_<

Hence my Tweet:

Is it weird that I started watching a show about a writer doing research, while I should be writing myself?

Different movies

Most of the movies in this list came through Netflix. I just scrolled through different categories and decided to watch them on a whim. This way I watched No Filter – I believe – my first Spanish movie (with subtitles) and I was highly surprised and amazed by the concept of a timid woman just blurring out everything that was on her mind. Some people need to do that more often. 😉 It was refreshing and well made, a recommendation for everyone who wants to try something different. 🙂

I also discovered Ellen Page’s Roller Girl and Tallulah through this. Roller Girl was great and it just shows that sometimes being yourself means becoming someone entirely different and that’s absolutely okay. More people should watch it. 😀 The pretty much only thing I got from Tallulah was an earworm of Sonata Arctica’s song by the same name. It was strange, jumpy, yet still well played, but not really my kind of movie.

Neither was The Fundamentals of Caring which felt like it wanted to capture the success of Intouchables, but failed pretty horribly. I did not want to see a five minute scenery shot of a boy peeing into a beautiful lake … Most of it felt forced and meh, not even close to the French stories‘ atmosphere.

Aside from new discoveries did I also re-watch some „old“ favourites. Namely Alfie and Avengers. Honestly I have to say that I did not remember Alfie as dark as it was and with a look into the Behind the Scenes stuff regarding the original version, I now know that it could have been worse. It’s a fascinating character study and known far too little. Unlike the other that is part of a high grossing franchise. I just felt like re-watching it.

It was a tiny bit a preparation for Doctor Strange that I saw in cinema earlier this month, but not really. The movie is visually amazing. The story is nothing new, Doctor Strange reminded me a lot of Cumberbatch’s other roles (mostly Sherlock though), but was still filled with some funny jokes and stunning visual effects (though – unlike Ghostbusters – they didn’t use the coming-out-of-the-screen 3D effect, at least not that I noticed… 🙁 ). My favourite was certainly the Cloak of Levitation. 😀
Only downside for me was, that you couldn’t really grasp the time line. Some say the initial accident takes place during Iron Man 2, potentially making the „man with the twisted spine from experimental battle armour“ the one from Hammer Industries – which is denied by Marvel – otherwise this could be Rhodey after Civil War, yet he is seemingly too old and it’s also denied or unconfirmed. We also see the Avenger’s tower which wasn’t really like that during the time – it wasn’t even Stark Tower back then if I remember correctly. If it all takes place after Civil War then the training sequence is far too short. Sure Strange might be skilled and desperate to learn, but mastering something in a couple of months, when he isn’t really mastering his own hands after weeks/months of surgeries and mistrials? Sound unreasonable to me – and I know we’re talking about magic, but come on…have at least SOME realism here….
(Again, if your German is well enough, check out Joseph’s review: Doctor Strange).

On an unrelated note do I now own an official movie poster after participating in a selfie-competition by Marvel and the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens, Mall of the West) Berlin. >_<

What were you watching?

What episodes (or movies) did you enjoy/dislike throughout the week/month(s)?
Anything you’d recommend checking out?
Let me know in the comments below!

Final Words

I hope you enjoyed this little look into the different stuff I watched throughout the last months.
Which version of the WWW do you prefer? The one were I split everything or were I focus on something?

No idea when I’ll even make one of these again, but make sure to keep an eye out for more information on my Advent Calendar. 😉

And I’m off now to attend the advanced showing of Fantastic Beasts and where to find them with Unmei and one of her friends as a birthday present for her. 😉

PoiSonPaiNter

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

JourneyQuest: The Epic you never expected to find

My Nerd-Week is long over and the next one isn’t approaching any time soon, but I feel the need to tell you a bit about this web series I already – indirectly – mentioned back then.

What is it about?

Season 1 Cover

JourneyQuest by Zombie Orpheus Entertainment tells the story of a group of adventurers consisting of the Priest Carrow, the Warrior Glorion, the Rouge Nara and the dyslexic Wizard Perf on their quest to find the Sword of Fighting.

It also tells the story of Bard-Apprentice Wren trying to become a real Bard through writing down the story of the adventurers as her very own first Epic. As Bard she has to stay neutral and not interfere with the Quest itself and can only gather information from the side lines.

Needless to say neither the groups‘ nor the Bards‘ plans go as they expected…

The watching experience

JourneyQuest currently consists of two Seasons with seven and ten ~10 minute episodes each, that can be found on YouTube and other sites.

The shortness of the episode makes it a fast watch, but it also makes you yearn for more, as you really want to know how the well written story will continue. It occasionally feels like the story isn’t moving forward because of it, but I guess that’s to be expected from a serial that is completely fan-funded and therefore limited in budget and resources.

Yet, that does not meant that they don’t put effort into it. Quite the contrary.
There are scenic shots of forests, castles, dungeons, there are interesting costume and make-up choices for both the main cast and additional characters/creatures like Gargoyles, Orcs and Zombie’s that look quite natural, even if still quite phantastic.
They even added an Orcish language and other additional things like spells and potions that sometimes aren’t that common in normal adventures (e.g. taking a potions to understand a different language instead of mastering the skill for it).

They use several questing tropes throughout the story (lying Gargoyles, talking Swords, spell-mishaps, … ), but they are incorporated well enough to not make them seem simple and dull.

All in all a great – if short – watch, where you just can sit back and enjoy the story.

The characters

The characters are as unique as they come, even if they follow some stereotypes as well.
Dyslexic (and therefore nearly entirely useless) wizard Perf certainly reminds me of Rincewind from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, but he is far less cynical and way more adorable and dorky. His antics are highlighted by his interactions with other characters like the single/simple-minded Glorion or clever/snarky Nara, who both hold their own in their respective fields.

Just as Wren’s struggle to complete her Epic is just as interesting as Carrows inner conflict with a certain predicament he was put into.

Though that doesn’t mean these sides are all the characters have. They are surprisingly versatile and have a few funny/interesting surprises up their sleeves. 😉

But not just the main cast is well thought through, the side characters all seem to have their own story that lingers behind their short appearances in the main storyline.

With the stereotypes you’re presented, you expect a few things, but it feels like the characters often don’t care about that and do something entirely different and that’s what I really like about them.
They’re just so unpredictable, funny and great.

General Opinion

I’ve known JourneyQuest for quite some time now, thoughI have no idea how I discovered it, but I’m glad I did.
The characters are great, different and just as much fun as the guys from The Gamers (which incidentally are partly played by the same actors, especially in the later movies).

It’s just a lot of fun to watch and follow the stories of these characters or in other words:

Go watch it! 😀

Stuff I’d like to add

They’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign. So if I piqued your interest make sure to check it out and support the production of Season 3!
I’m certain it will be as much fun as the previous Seasons.

Onwa~rd!

PoiSonPaiNter

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