Jan 30 2011

The Horror! The (Arkham) Horror! [Review]

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So I finally played Lupus In Tabula (a.k.a. “Are You a Werewolf”) at Further Confusion, and last night we finally broke out Arkham Horror. I suppose now all that’s left will be to play Settlers of Cataan and my initiation will be complete. (NOTE: I may have actually played that and forgot.)

What to say about Arkham Horror…? Well, first, it’s long. Really long. Really, really long. Being a bunch of newbies, we chose Yig, the Ancient One specifically mentioned as making for a “shorter” game, and we still went from 7:00ish until midnight.

Have I mentioned that it’s long?

The other thing is that it’s complex. Really complex. Pointlessly complex. Why bother with money, for instance? With all of the “Gotta find a clue! Gotta seal the gates! Gotta get back home from the Plateau of Leng — again!” going on, the time spent getting to a shop and then actually shopping there, hardly feels worth the effort for what you get out of it. There are lots of other ways it’s pointlessly complex, but that was the one that most felt like extra baggage to me.

This is a game that’s packed to the gills with stuff. There are something like 16 characters, each with their own sub-rule, eight Ancient Ones, each with their own sub-rules, 10+ different decks of cards that all do different things, six different skills to make checks on, modifiers to every check, rules about how many monsters can be on the board, rules about how to fight or evade monsters, horror checks to see if monsters drive you insane, rules for which shops close down in which order as monsters start to take over town, rules about what order you have encounters in, rules about which player goes first on any turn, rules about how many times you may change your characters’ skill allocation, rules about different ways the different monsters move, fight, or lurk around — oh, and the cultists all have different stats depending on which Ancient One you’re fighting, and so on.

And yet, with all that, we still ran into situations where the rules didn’t cover it and we had to come up with an answer. Specifically, at one point my character (the nun) encountered a monster. Being a nun, my character couldn’t fight worth a tiddlywink and the only weapon she had was a cross — which was only useful against undead. But she did have a spell that negated damage from a single source, and cast that. So she couldn’t hurt the monster, but the monster couldn’t hurt her, either.

And so … what? The combat system in the game assumes that the monsters generally beat the snot out of you unless you manage to single-shot them. So normally if you can’t hurt a monster, it just means you get mauled. They don’t seem to have a contingency for what happens if the monster can’t hurt you either. We took a vote around the table and decided to treat the encounter as if I’d evaded the monster instead, just to keep the game going.

During the first hour or so of the game, half of the people around the table were saying, “This should be a computer game!” because of all the fiddly stuff to keep track of. Honestly, tho, I can’t imagine it being a very fun computer game, even if I can totally see how that would work. Progress is too slow and too nebulous — “Am I doing well? Am I doing poorly? Am I just wandering around wasting time because I don’t know what I should be doing?” I realize that, being based on Call of Cthulhu (which is in turn based on Lovecraftian horror), that “slow, nebulous, and uncertain” is exactly what they’re going for. But y’know, I could get that just from running an actual game of Call of Cthulhu and do a lot less dice-rolling and card-shuffling.

So, net result? Unless people specifically ask for it, I doubt we’ll be doing Arkham Horror again; the amount of fun delivered doesn’t justify the amount of work.

-The Gneech

Jan 25 2011

Attention, Furries! Get Ye to InterventionCon!

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From a Twitter conversation: (@the_gneech is your ever-lovin’, blue-eyed blogger, @RebelsHeart is also known as Tango in the fandom, and @onezumi is the founder of InterventionCon…)

@onezumi: @RebelsHeart lot of my friends are furs-would be nice to get more @interventioncon I did flyer a lil last yr

@the_gneech: @onezumi Hey, if you want more furries at @interventioncon, I can help with that! But I’ll warn you, we tend to take over. 0=)

@the_gneech: @onezumi Start by making Bill Holbrook (who was on panels and in the dealer room last year) a GOH. 😉

@onezumi: @the_gneech he was a guest last year, I believe he has been asked about returning

@Rebelsheart: @the_gneech @onezumi @interventioncon we can both help with this, but the takeover comment is not a joke. Ask DuckCon

@Rebelsheart: @onezumi @interventioncon I’m on 4 regional mailing lists, a number of regional LJ groups, and I know there are groups on @furaffinity

@onezumi: @RebelsHeart @the_gneech we don’t mind 🙂 if ppl bring their fandom we will facilitate awesome

@the_gneech: @RebelsHeart @onezumi On the other hand, we are loveable and awesome people! ^.^

@onezumi: @the_gneech @RebelsHeart very true-I’ve attended AC 4x now 🙂

@the_gneech: @onezumi @rebelsheart Okay, we’ll get on it, then!

@onezumi: @the_gneech @rebelsheart I would love to make furry art, but I haven’t had the chance. I’ve illustrated friends’ fursonas

@onezumi: @the_gneech @rebelsheart hilariously haven’t illustrated me LOL

@onezumi: @the_gneech @rebelsheart last yr I think many furs were reluctant to go bc it wasn’t only for furs? It’s like a chicken and egg thing

@onezumi: @the_gneech @rebelsheart need furs to make programming but first need furs to go lol

So, consider this the opening gambit. Furries: Get yourself to InterventionCon! It’s September 16-18 in Rockville, Maryland and is a very cool little con that packs a mighty punch. I’ve been to every one!

Well, okay, last year was the first one. but I went to it! And it was very cool!

So go register already!

-The Gneech

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Jan 23 2011

When Fandoms Collide [artwork]

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For the Confuzzled conbook, just a bit of geeky fun. Click through for larger image.
Call of Furthulhu, by the Gneech

Enjoy!

-The Gneech

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Jan 20 2011

The Gneech is wearing a lion hat. Your argument is invalid.

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The Gneech is wearing a lion hat. Your argument is invalid.

-The Gneech

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Jan 20 2011

A Note to Indie Creators:

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If I know more about your Kickstarter account than I do about your project, you’re doing it wrong.

Furthermore, if you plan to make all your money in the Kickstarter stage, you’re also doing it wrong.

-The Gneech

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Jan 19 2011

Notarietoriousness

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Fame is a strange beast. Hardly news, but the past few days have been a series of reminders of this fact.

I spent the weekend at Further Confusion, a convention where I had previously expected just about everybody to know who I was and what I’ve done. After all, Suburban Jungle was in on the “ground floor” of webcomics, was one of the most high-profile furry comics for years, and ran for a decade. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been going to FC (and AnthroCon) every year for most of that time — and yet, when asked “Do you/have you read The Suburban Jungle?” most of the people who came by the table either hadn’t heard of it, or had heard the name but never looked at it. This has radically changed my view of my status in the fandom … but I am still processing it.

Meanwhile, the navel-gazing loonies at Wikipedia continue their irrational crusade to convince the world that webcomics don’t exist; T.K. Dye was hit rather hard by his discovery yesterday that Newshounds had been declared “non-notable.” Now, Suburban Jungle fell to that particular axe long ago and after two or three put-it-backs and take-it-down-agains, I frankly got tired of dealing with the whole mess and stopped arguing about it. I’m much more interested in being talked up at TV Tropes, where the SJ article is rather sketchy compared to the Newshounds entry, on the grounds that TV Tropes is a place more likely to be frequented by people interested in my work.

Finally, in a much more micro-level, this morning had an odd happening on FurAffinity. Graveyard Greg, who is like the Aaron Spelling of the internet, pointed people to another user by the name of Kadath, whom I’d never heard of. Looking at Kadath’s page on the site, however, I discovered that he had over 10,000 followers.

!!

This immediately led me to two burning questions: 1) how the heck did this person get 10,000 followers, and 2) how is it that somebody could have 10,000 followers but I’d never heard of them? It’s … flabbergasting.

Nothing against Kadath, he’s a fine artist; but unless I’m missing something major, he’s not somehow worlds above plenty of other artists I know. Does he just really know how to work the social media? What’s he doing that hundreds of other just-as-good artists aren’t? I’m not comparing him to myself here — my relationship with FurAffinity has been one of reluctance and so I consider myself lucky to have the ~135 followers I’ve got. But I am thinking of somebody like Chad Krueger, who is GOH of the upcoming MegaPlex and a great artist, but only has ~500 followers. I mean, wow, 10,000? That’s more people than attend AnthroCon.

The second half of the question points to a thought I’ve been wrestling with for a while now, which is, “How are people hearing about these things?” Certainly furry art, like anything, has trends — you can’t go to a con without being hit over the head by Blotch at the moment for instance — but I always feel like I’m the last one to hear about them. And with 10,000 followers, one has to assume that Kadath is well-known is some circle or other — but not well-known to me! So where? Who? I don’t remember seeing any ads or hearing any W-O-M references, and until GG’s post the name “Kadath” to me meant Lovecraftian Dream Cities, not furry art. So where are these 10,000 people hanging out that they all know him?

Obviously, as a producer of comics and art, I want to get my own stuff out there and talked about, but that’s not all there is to it. I’m also a fan — who would put up with all the baggage if they weren’t? Who knows what kind of cool stuff I might be missing, just because I’m not anywhere that it’s being talked about?

-The Gneech

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