Ok, here is where I admit I needed some help, so a big thanks to my DM Eddie who has far more experience than I running tabletop games online.
Tim talked about Roll20 last week as a continuation to his previous article, have a read to get an idea of what features are available and how you can build some great scenarios, get a group together and run your campaign with friends wherever they are, for today though I will be going into how the differences affect your style of play, how you create and run your games. (more…)
Theme Hospital. This game consumed so much of my youth, it’s not even funny. It’s as if Theme Hospital was made to be one of these games that you sorta go “Okay, perhaps I’ll play it through again… Just because I remember it being good.” Then you play it… And you remember that it’s actually quite slow during the gameplay, so you’re constantly set to speed setting 5 (That’s the fastest)! Well okay, that doesn’t sound like a good thing but it actually is. I’ll explain more about that as we take a trip down memory lane.
The game was created by Bullfrog Productions back in 1997. Bullfrog were well known around this time, one of the most established British games companies out there in fact. They were in charge of the highly successful Theme Park franchise, which still goes on today under the guise of RollerCoaster Tycoon. The latest in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, RollerCoaster Tycoon World, is set to be released this year and utilising the Unity 5 engine.
This throws into sharp relief the cultural impact Mad Max has, I saw in it facets of Borderlands, Doomsday, the Orks of Warhammer 40K, basically any game, film or TV series that features cars and a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Already I’m hoping to see a sequel, even the beginnings of a new trilogy, and it looks like I’m not alone. (more…)
Anime, amiright? But no seriously, some anime is so damn strange that it’s worth stepping back for a moment and saying “woah, hold on now, just what the flaming heck am I watching here?” This anime might have topped a weird scale for me, but not quite in the same way as an anime such as Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo would have. To think, I wrote that article on Bobobo over a year and a half ago. Now, it’s mentioned again as I always like to compare weird anime to that particular series, as it holds a place in my heart: A series that I truly connected with… Because much like Bobobo, I too dreamt of being a sandwich.
Okay not really, so what is Orenchi no Furi Jijō? Well, how can I put this without it seeming like it’s really perverted… Umm… It’s a harem anime. Damn it, I’ve already made it sound bad, but please hear me out here. It’s not what you think it is.
This series is about a teenage boy, Tatsumi, who lives in a house by himself (for some inexplicable and unexplained reason). This strictly isn’t true though, for you see his bathtub has been taken over by a mermaid. Actually, not a mermaid… A merman. This merman loves it in his bathtub so much and all the hilarity and hijinks revolve around the merman, Wakasa and his friend and bathtub lender, Tatsumi.
Now, remember how I explained that this is a harem anime? Yet, the bathtub captor is a merman and the lender of the bathtub is a teenage boy. Before you start getting concerned that bad things happen between the merman and the boy… No. Nothing. Nothing bad happens. Instead, it’s an all around adorable and sweet little story about a teenage boy who happened to bring a merman into his house when he saw the man dying by a river. Basically, Tatsumi lends out his bathtub so that Wakasa can have a comfortable life… But that doesn’t stop Wakasa occasionally inviting his sea-friends along.
From an octopus man who likes to give suction massages, to a jelly-fish man and even a sea-snail man… Yeah, you read all that correctly. The height of interaction between these characters and Tatsumi is simply… A back massage. Or sharing the bath tub. Through all of this, the series manages to remain innocent and actually somewhat adorable. Featuring some chibi-styled artwork and a lot of silly banter back and forth between the characters, you don’t get any explicit situations. You sense a lot of embarrassment on Tatsumis part, but other than that, nothing bad.
The fact the creators of this series, Yuniko Ayana along with studio Asahi Production, have made what is effectively the sweetest, safest to watch harem series is simply stunning. There are only 13 episodes of this little hidden gem of the anime world and I’d highly recommend checking them all out. Best of all, each episode is only 4 minutes long… And they’re all available on Crunchyroll for those of you who are subscribed to the service. Outside of the service, you can get the whole set on eBay, but as pointed out in the comments, chances are these aren’t exactly legit.
Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to Tatsumi’s bathroom and the silly comedy that takes place inside and outside of the bathtub. The cast are a really colourful bunch of sea-people who are all incredibly innocent about living up on land like the rest of us. Also, I haven’t mentioned an important part of the series that made it truly special… The theme tune. It was so… Unfitting! It felt like a serious series was about to be shown, with some deep, developed plot… But no! We didn’t get any of that… Just one of the coolest theme tunes in anime history! Damn it, why did you do this to us, Asahi Production!? Still, I’d have had the series no other way.
Okay, so this isn’t the best drawn series in the world. It relies heavily on the chibi-style to actually get its points across, which ultimately is a fair bit easier to draw than a complex anime style. Don’t take this as a slap to chibi, however – I realise some chibi characters take a lot of effort to draw and the biggest selling point with chibi is to be consistent. The series manages a high standard of consistency. With the unfitting theme tune, following into the adorable little sound of the episode starting, along with the fact you can watch all 13 episodes in less than an hour, I’d say this series accomplishes a lot in a short amount of time.
Ultimately, I’m giving Orenchi no Furi Jijō a respectful 4/5. If you like harem anime normally, you could potentially be disappointed, but if you’re really into comedy above all else, even though the premise is somewhat creepy at first, it’s a really sweet and all together funny show. Has this review made you interested in the series? What do you make of the curious situation that Tatsumi has ended up in? As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you thought about this series!
I’ve briefly discussed the website Roll20 on here in the past, but I’ve never looked at the system for running or playing on a campaign. Recently, I have been getting involved in a Numenera campaign with some friends. Whilst I won’t be showing anything that’s happening from that campaign, I will show you what Roll20 does and how you can make the most out of the amazing tabletop platform.
Roll20 was designed to allow people across the world to have a virtual tabletop. Unlike Tabletop Simulator, Roll20 aims to provide an easy way to integrate your camera and microphone, as well as an environment fit for running an RPG campaign. It’s used by tens of thousands of people and the community is really buzzing, full of wonderful campaigns and rooms ready for people to jump right into.
To play a game in Roll20, you have two main options: Form a group with your friends, as you would in real life and have one of them be the DM, or use the Looking For Group system. This matchmaking system simply allows you to find and select a game to go and join. Of course, DMs can decide not to put their game on the LFG system, so it’s not like you’ll always be running a campaign and some random person shows up!
Okay, but what about for the DMs and the players? Thankfully, whenever you need to do a roll, you can do this within the Roll20 Campaign itself, by simply going to the chatbox and typing in /r d20. That will roll one 20-sided dice, which is useful to know, but as you can imagine, just rolling one 20-sided dice alone isn’t particularly useful. Instead, you can do combinations of things such as /r 5d6 to roll five 6-sided dice. It’s an intuitive system and you can have 3D dice appear on your screen to accommodate it, should you want so see something physically rolling. You can also make macros of your spells and abilities. For example, if I said I wanted to use Firebolt, which was 2d8 with a 50% chance of burning, I could have it so my character says out loud: Firebolt! Rolls 2d8 and immediately after rolls a d2. This speeds up the flow of gameplay, allowing you all to focus more on the story.
In the world itself, you can build up your campaigns by managing the three layers: Tokens, Maps and Tiles, Portraits and there’s also an Everything option. This allows you to search the internet for specific things. For example, in the campaign I’ve been building as an example, you’ll see Pikachu and Dugtrio standing on Kanto. The Kanto map was put into the Maps and Tiles slot, whereas the Pikachu and Dugtrio are on the Tokens layer.
It’s very possible for DMs to set up the whole game before it becomes available. Do you see the Meowth just above Pikachu, who is somewhat transparent? He’s like that because he’s on the DM layer, a way for a DM to set up a game before his party comes to play. When that Pesky Pikachu comes just close enough, Meowth will emerge from the shadows and start off a Pokemon battle… I mean RPG battle.
Not only this, you can put music in your game, to make it that much more epic. Of course, for this Pokemon themed adventure staring Pikachu who wants to go and defeat the infamous Dugtrio trio (How do I ever think these things up?) I chose a battle theme absolutely befitting this situation…
Along with this, you can build up characters, including their character sheets, so the game itself can reference these characters. It’s particularly useful to build up your characters before you start playing, as otherwise you’ll have to make them when playing your campaign: and no body wants to sit there and wait for you. Whilst an impromptu character is of course different, if you have main characters, prepare them before your campaign starts and the whole experience becomes seamless and almost interruption free. Unless you’re like me and you happen to keep playing music at people…
Okay, so I’ve given you a rather cheesy look through the Roll20 system. You can add music, you can add materials and now thanks to the way they’ve continuously developed the system, you can choose from the start a template for your campaign. This means you can build a game off another game, or you can just use the free template character sheets. You select all of these extra options back when you’re making the campaign.
To see more with Roll20 please do go and check it out for yourself – It’s free to use, but you get more features such as the powerful scripting API, if you become a mentor or a backer at some level. it seems that since I last wrote about Roll20, there have been numerous things added in (Such as the built in character sheets, for one!) It’s apparent to me there is a great community behind Roll20 so please check out the wiki for more information on using it. Do you use this service? What do you think about doing a tabletop RPG over the internet? As always, please put your comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you think of this awesome web platform.
Oh boy, did I ever make a mistake with the wording behind this Top 10? I mean, let’s face the facts here, I wanted to make this Top 10 Music in Gaming, but I accidentally said Top 10 Songs in Gaming. Joel found this oh so funny, that I of all people would use an incorrect word. So instead of sneakily changing this over to Top 10 Music in Gaming, we thought we’d take the word mistake on the chin and do Top 10 Songs in Gaming.
The difference between a song and some music is that a song has words within it. Music however doesn’t have words, but is the actual arrangement of instruments to make a noise. Okay, a bit of rhythm helps, but that’s really the jist of it. So how many games are out there that actually have songs, y’know, the lyrical kinds? Joel and I set out on a voyage to see if we could make a boat befitting a god… Or maybe I just wanted Joel gone… Either way, this is our Top 10 Songs in Gaming!
10 – Sailors Song, Black & White
Oooh, we’ve got this notion that we’d quite like to sail the ocean. Ah, I seem to have been caught singing along to this little ditty once again. Damn it, I guess I’ll have to hand in my manliness badge (I had one..?) and I should just go jump on the boat for myself.
But in seriousness, this had to get in. Sooo many people found these guys annoying, but I honestly thought they were a breath of fresh air. Black & White was well known for its brilliant blend of humour in amongst an otherwise amazing god game. Before this, you only really had Populous, which I guess is fitting as Black & White is designed by the guy who made said franchise.
You heard this song in several parts… And then, surprisingly if you actually help them out and get their boat out there to sea, they reappear once again near the end of the game and oh boy, is it ever worth hearing their song one more time!?
Taking from a YouTube Comment in the above video:
9 – Charlie Mops, Bard’s Tale
Is it really a surprise that within the first few minutes of a game about a Bard is filled with bawdy songs? The first place you walk into and the merry drunks are singing a song about beer and the man who invented it, a surprisingly long song but enjoyable number sung at full volume in accordance with tradition.
It’s one of many songs in the game and indeed in the series, and though I’ve only played the one – the Android version which is awesome, amazing quality for a mobile app – it’s a song that sticks in my head like a earworm. I love it, it’s cheery and bouncy and really sets the tone for the rest of the game, a rolling parody filled with daft comedy.
8 – LocoRoco
Gather your friends, start a choir, sing your way into the secret places and fight out evil invading tentacle monsters. In LocoRoco you take the role of a planet, rolling and bouncing your last great defence around the your surface. Doesn’t matter, they’re adorable, and the songs are amazing.
The songs are in a language very similar to Simolian, a put-together mash of syllables oddly representative of any and all languages, but they’re even composed in many different genre styles; reggae, brit-rock, blues. LocoRoco is a fun little game, sure, but it’s an even better listen.
7 – Master Onion’s Rap, Parappa the Rapper
Most people at some point of owning a PlayStation likely came across the Parappa the Rapper demo. This was the song that was on that demo, which was also the first level from Parappa the Rapper. The little rapping dog has to grow up pretty quickly through the course of the game and he does everything though the medium of rap. Joel and I have a little soft spot for geeky raps, as we’ve covered before (Try our Top 10 ERBs!)
However, the unique selling point to the songs in Parappa the Rapper is the fact that you actually make an impact on the songs. You see, as you play through the game, you get involved with the raps. So in this, you have to say the words: Kick, Punch, Chop, Block, Jump, Turn and Pose. By pressing X, ⬜ , ◯ or △, you end up with Parappa saying one of the words at the right times. A very unique game that earns a soft spot with me, but it also shows that you can make songs the entire point of a game… And that’s not including things like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, where you can be the singer. Very cool for its time and definitely a classic!
6 – I Am Murloc by Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain, World of Warcraft
A lot of you reading this may be feeling a little bit cheated with this one.
“But Timlah,” I hear you start, “That’s an actual band who made a song because of a game, not made a song for a game. It was just a song that made these guys famous!” You’re absolutely 100% correct too. This was a song that was made because these rockers were serious fans of World of Warcraft, to the point that they made an entire song about being a Murloc. I mean that’s pretty damn cool unto itself, but there’s another part of this story…
See, Blizzard saw this… and they also saw the popularity of L70ETC. Blizzard let them be a live performer at Blizzcon, but to top this off, they even included in-game performers of L70ETC and the song, I Am Murloc was added into the World of Warcraft. This is proof that if you’re just that geeky enough and you have that really fun little idea, uploading a video can get you into the thing you’re most interested in.
5 – A Pirate I Was Meant To Be, The Curse of Monkey Island
The fact it takes Guybrush Threepword the word Orange to progress the game after this shanty begins is absolutely superb and comedy genius. But of course, fans of the fantastic adventure game series, Monkey Island, would hold this song dear to them in their own little way. I must have only been about 10 years old when I first heard this song… and I still sing along to it to this day.
It’s catchy and it shows the predicament our hero is in. He’s gotten himself a crew of would-be adventurers (or pirates as he’s referring to them). They are so ecstatic about being officially called pirates, they can’t help but to just break down in song and dance… And the expressions on Guybrush’s face are a sure fire sign that he’s not really digging the fact his crew are so carefree about their singing.
Guybrush, how could you spoil this amazing moment in gaming? You’re as repulsive as a monkey in a negligee!
4 – Melodies of Life, Final Fantasy IX
The Final Fantasy franchise is full of songs which are worth listening to. Of course, everyone remembers One Winged Angel, but when you look at the actual words it’s kind of… Lame. I’m sorry, but when the lyrics of the song are literally saying about how Sephiroth is full of rage, you kind of just want to say “nope!” In Latin it sounds great though. So what about Final Fantasy 8’s Eyes On Me? It’s a beautiful song after all… But now we’ve gone from rage to “I love you!” It’s touching, it’s almost as good as…
Melodies of Life. A song that really discusses the whole game that you’re about to play before you even get to play it. Not only that, it’s a recurring song (like Eyes On Me) and guess what? Nobuo Uematsu, the composer for the Final Fantasy series, has said that this is his favourite track from the Final Fantasy IX soundtrack, which is full of some fantastic music. If you’ve not heard the soundtrack, I urge you to look it up, as it’s just fantastic. It’s composed beautifully and it’s downright sweet to listen to.
Yes, you literally can understand the whole game through this one song… But had I also mentioned that it was used in a lot of other media? Performed live all over and this even appeared in a Coca Cola advert which was also advertising Final Fantasy IX, it’s been around! Move over One Winged Angel, this is the truest Final Fantasy song. Pah, full of rage.
3 – Dovahkiin, Skyrim
For the first time, the Elder Scrolls theme has lyrics, along with an epic tempo, blasting orchestral score, and OH it’s all written in draconic script! It’s become known as the Skyrim theme, but the same tune (at different tempos, keys, but the same melody) is used in Morrowind and Oblivion. It’s Skyrim that we all remember!
Interesting fact: A choir of thirty people recorded the song Dovhakiin three times to sound like a much bigger ensemble, they had to work to a common pronunciation and emphasis of an entirely invented language, although one that obeys common linguistic rules. The anthem of the Dragonborn is one of the modern masterpieces, not just in games, but in pop-culture of the decade. But not number one?
2 – Katamari Damacy
The song for rolling up large chunks of planet to redecorate the sky. It’s fast paced, uplifting and oddly heart-warming. I’ve never really picked up the ability to memorize japanese lyrics like many anime and gaming fans have, but you can’t help but join in the chorus. It’s got a real party feel that just can’t be beaten, you just have to “roll with it”! Hah! Sneaky pun near the end of the list.
1 – Want You Gone, Portal 2
We debated this. One or other of the Portal songs was going to make the list, they’re beautiful, so why Want You Gone over Still Alive, or even the Aria of the Turrets?
Portal 2 may not have quite so many distinctive and memorable memes to its’ name, but its’ cultural impact was so much more explosive. Seizing upon the fame of its’ predecessor, its’ imagery, its’ music, its’ characters spread further and faster than that of any other game. It was endemic, and in a way Want You Gone was the perfect finale to it all.
Both songs were written by Jonathan Coulton, famous comedy musician whose entire personal works are in the public domain (at least they were last I heard) and performed by GLADoS actor, opera singer, and generally lovely woman, Ellen McLain. If there’s one reason to hope that Portal gets a third instalment, it’s that these two may never compose together again.
The above songs are in game, for sure, but hey, these ones are also in game… So they count still, right? Maybe, but these certainly aren’t on the same level as the above. Never the less, we thought we’d give a nod to these, as they kind of deserve it…
Guitar Hero / Rock Band
Literally you’re picking up plastic guitars, or picking up drum sticks, hey even the microphone or a keyboard… And this is the whole game. Unlike Parappa the Rapper where you are given freedom to be creative with your songs, even hitting the notorious COOL Modes, Guitar hero and Rock Band are requiring you to be as accurate as possible. The giants of the rhythm game genre…
Oh what’s that? Great Aunt Mable is over? Great, she can be our vocalist. Mum, get on the bass guitar, dad get on the drums and everyone stand aside for me, the greatest guitar hero player ever. *Clunk, clink clunk!* Oops, I missed a few, now that song sounds dreadful…
Covers by characters, various games
Just because someone’s a character in a game doesn’t make them any less human, they like to butcher songs in the radio just like the rest of us. Cruising around Saints Row with the radio blasting, who could resist the urge to pick up the tune and do worse things to it than you ever could pedestrians.
And of course, let’s not forget this cheery little ditty. Let’s never… ever… forget.
That’s all we’ve got for this weeks Top 10. Hopefully you found our lyrical content to be just the right blend of funny, epic and awesome… Or you just really liked listening to them sailors singing about their boat. Joel and I sure as hell know we do! But it’s now time for you to join in once again and let us know what you think our next Top 10 really should be. My personal opinion is that every single one of you should click Top 10 Music in Gaming right now, so we can actually settle this one and for all. Go ahead, click it. I mean you could press the others, but where’s the fun in that? Please vote for Top 10 Music in Gaming…
As always, what did you think of our list? Did you enjoy the songs we’ve included here, or do you think we fell just a little bit flat? If you think we were off key, then please let us know where you would have placed our entrants, or if you think we should change our tune entirely, what songs would you suggest for the Top 10 Songs in Gaming? Please leave your comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter!
Ah yes, it’s time for another look at one of the classic novels written by Terry Pratchett, the father of Discworld and all around awesome sci-fi/fantasy legend. In case you missed the last one, we had a look through the first in the Discworld series, The Colour of Magic, go check it out! We’ll wait right here whilst you go look… Are they gone? Good, let’s get on with this look at The Light Fantastic!
So this is the second book in the Discworld series and is a continuation from The Colour of Magic. As you may recall, that book finished on a cliffhanger. The Light Fantastic is the continuation and conclusion of this adventure featuring Rincewind the Wizzard and Twoflower the Tourist, along with their faithful companion, Luggage… the Luggage. Written in 1986, this was the only Discworld book to be a continuation of another Discworld book. No, seriously – I want you to go and find any other Discworld book that ends on a cliffhanger and is continued in another book. You won’t find one.
The plot of The Light Fantastic is about the journey of Rincewind and Twoflower coming to an end, but along the way, there’s still some unresolved business. Rincewind manages to fall over the edge of the Discworld and is brought back by the Octavo, thus saving him. Without their knowledge, Death goes and tells the leading wizards of the impending fate of the world… Unless all of the spells are read from the Octavo. Typical, isn’t it that it’d have to be with the inept wizard Rincewind?
Of course, this means that Rincewind is now a wanted man… So a damn lot of wizards go out to capture Rincewind and the Octavo. After a while, Rincewind meets back up with lovable tourist Twoflower, before they are accompanied by the aging Cohen the Barbarian.
Through the rest of this story, we see luggage become a hero that saves Rincewind (Which is amusing to think a little box with legs could be a hero)! We also see more of the Great A’Tuin, who has decided to change the path the Discworld is on. We also see Twoflower go toe to toe with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse… In a game of Contract Bridge. There are people who are heading to mountains after hearing about the impending apocalypse, because they want a better view.
The whole premise of The Light Fantastic is there to close off the events of The Colour of Magic and to bring resolution to this journey. It’s an amazing fantasy story filled with a lot of light hearted humour and wacky characters. Much like The Colour of Magic, there was a television show for this, which happened along side The Colour of Magic. Once more, David Jason retains his role as Rincewind.
Overall, The Light Fantastic is definitely worth the read. It’s got great pacing and it’s really satisfying seeing the end of the journey that Twoflower and Rincewind set out on. I won’t spoil the ending for you all, as I reckon you’d enjoy experiencing the story for yourselves. But that’s all for now, so what do you think? Have you read The Light Fantastic? What Discworld book should we have a look at next? As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter. Keep the fantasy spirit strong!