GeekDad http://geekdad.com Raising Geek Generation 2.0 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 23:33:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 GeekDad Speaks Out About Gamergate http://geekdad.com/2014/10/geekdad-gamergate/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/geekdad-gamergate/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:15:46 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66776 A group of GeekDad's editors and writers have something to say about Gamergate, and a pledge to do something about it. Continue reading

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ShallWePlayAGame

We can’t stay silent any longer. We know what’s happened to people who have spoken up before, and we are well aware that people are going to leave comments on this post that would make a Klingon blush. Staying silent would be the easy thing to do. But we don’t consider staying silent an option for us any more.

Gamergate began as revenge-motivated backlash against an indie game developer named Zoe Quinn, sparked by her ex-boyfriend. Fueled by criticism of the video game industry for treating both female characters in games and female developers of games as less useful and interesting than their male counterparts, the flames from a depressingly large number of men on Twitter and other social media grew higher and higher. It got to the point where media critic Anita Sarkeesian cancelled a speaking appearance because of threats of violence. From there it got to the point where any woman who dared speak up about the subject found her personal information immediately revealed online for anyone to find (doxxing), and herself threatened by complete strangers with sexual assault and violent death. And it’s kept going, under the guise of being a discussion about journalistic ethics (because the original, false, allegations against Quinn were that she had traded sexual favors for positive reviews of her games).

It’s very clear that the atmosphere has been corrupted. We’re guys who are gamers, and we don’t want awesome people like Felicia Day to think we might be misogynist jerks. We have mothers and sisters and, more importantly, daughters, and we want them to be able to wear their geeky gaming shirts proudly, to go to conventions and enjoy the camaraderie, to enjoy the basic human right not to live in fear.

The internet is the greatest vehicle for free expression that has ever existed. Websites gave birth to blogs, which gave birth to social media. Social media, combined with the smartphones in everyone’s pockets, is a wonderful and terrible thing. Gamergate has brought this into stark relief, and on some level we suppose we should be grateful for that. This is a problem that’s been there for too long, like a nagging pain that only sends you to the doctor when it turns agonizing.

Free expression is one of the most misunderstood concepts this side of special relativity. Too many people seem not to realize that their right to express themselves stops where other people’s rights begin — in particular, in this case, other people’s right not to be threatened with injury or death. The fact that this isn’t obvious to some people is depressing, perhaps mostly because we aren’t as surprised as we’d like to be that it isn’t.

We geeks like to think of geekdom as accepting. We like to think of ourselves as a group that will let anyone in who wants to join, because we were once the outcasts. We were the ones who were bullied in school, who were looked on with derision by so many adults, who, yes, often had trouble dealing with members of our preferred sex. We made our own manhood rituals fighting trolls and owlbears. We got our triumphs figuring out how to get the Babel Fish in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Infocom game, or how to use the Warp Zone in Super Mario Bros.

There were plenty of girls who played games in the ’80s, too, of course. But if we knew any of them then, we KNEW them; they were our friends. We played with them, so they didn’t intimidate us. We didn’t have a World Wide Web to constantly encounter perfect strangers with similar interests. Perhaps the problem is that lots of guy geeks have become hardwired to see other guy geeks, and particularly gamers, as “normal,” so they accept them pretty quickly. But women? Women that they DON’T KNOW? Hell, no. They’ve got to protect their territory from those GIRLS! And after that, with fear as a motivator, things can get ugly.

Whatever the case, we know there isn’t anything we can say that’s going to change the behavior of anyone who’d sink to the level of making personal threats against strangers. Heck, the likelihood of any of those people reading this article is minimal at best. If you’ve read this far, you probably feel the same way we do, and if so, we’d like you to join us in a pledge:

1. We commit to support the development of video games with female characters that are at least as realistic and interesting as their male characters.

2. We further commit to publicly call out video games and other related geeky media that treat women as less interesting or capable than men, and particularly fantasy art in which women appear to be stupid enough to think that wearing only an armor bikini would actually be useful.

3. We commit to support female game developers as much as possible. This could include publicizing crowdfunding campaigns, reviewing indie games that might otherwise go unnoticed, interviewing developers, promoting programs to encourage girls to pursue careers in game development, and anything else we can think of.

4. We further commit, however, NOT to reject in any way any video game simply because nobody on the development team was female. Because that would be just as bad as the discrimination we’re trying to fight.

5. We commit to provide a safe place on our site for anyone, of any gender, to comment on articles without fear of doxxing or personal threats in our comments. If for any reason we are unable to adequately filter out such things, we commit to disable comments entirely on our site in order to make it a safe place.

GeekDad henceforth officially commits to all five parts of that pledge. Who’s with us?

Dave Banks
Matt Blum
Jason CranfordTeague
Ken Denmead
Matt Forbeck
Dave Giancaspro
Ethan Gilsdorf
Michael Harrison
Whit Honea
Anthony Karcz
John Kovalic
Corrina Lawson
Chuck Lawton
Bart Leib
Jonathan Liu
Jim MacQuarrie
Brian McLaughlin
Tony Nunes
Anton Olsen
Curtis Silver
Tony Sims
Erik Wecks
Z

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DC Comics’ LEGO Variant Covers for November http://geekdad.com/2014/10/dc-comics-lego-variant-covers-november/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/dc-comics-lego-variant-covers-november/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:30:11 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66773 You can find your favorite DC Comics characters in their LEGO form gracing their respective comic book covers throughout November. Continue reading

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© DC Comics

© DC Comics

If you and your kids love comic books and LEGO, have I got some news for you! Not only will this November bring LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham to video game stores everywhere, you can also find your favorite DC Comics characters in their LEGO form gracing their respective comic book covers throughout the month.

Stop by your local comic book store to find LEGO variants for November titles including Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Catwoman, Justice League, and more.

Check out the covers in the gallery below. Isn’t Sinestro the cutest? There’s a sentence I’d never imagined I would type…

Click to view slideshow.

Check out more geek-family stories on our companion site: GeekMom.com!

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Gravlander Episode 2, a New Serial Story by Erik Wecks http://geekdad.com/2014/10/gravlander-episode-2/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/gravlander-episode-2/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:00:30 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66748 Welcome to Episode 2 of Gravlander, a new serial story written by GeekDad.com writer, Erik Wecks. This isn't just a novella in the works... it's a nail-biting method of story delivery that typically ends a chapter or episode with a cliffhanger. If you read Episode 1 from last week... well, you got your first dose of how Erik is pacing his story. Continue reading

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Gravlander

Welcome to Episode 2 of Gravlander, a new serial story written by GeekDad writer Erik Wecks. This isn’t just a novella in the works… it’s a nail-biting method of story delivery that typically ends a chapter or episode with a cliffhanger. If you read Episode 1 from last week… well, you got your first dose of how Erik is pacing his story.

If you didn’t read Episode 1, click HERE to go back and read Episode 1: The Crucible and then you’ll be ready for Episode 2 below. And, of course, we’ll see you back here next week for Episode 3 and find out what’s next for… well, let’s not spoil things.

One new item — Erik has a new Kickstarter that just went live. Its purpose is to raise funds to cover the costs of a cover for the finished novella. Ask any published author out there (indie or traditional) and they’ll tell you that a professional-created cover can really make a difference when it comes to book sales. If you’re enjoying the story that Erik’s putting together here, please consider backing the project. Be sure to check out the Kickstarter project HERE and check out the rewards. Just $10 will get you four digital books (that includes Gravlander when it’s completed). Pitch in $50 and you can even pick the name of a character in an upcoming episode of Gravlander! You can also see the cover image that Erik is trying to purchase at the top of this post — pretty cool, huh?

Oh, and don’t forget — Erik is still offering up a free e-book to anyone who visits his website and signs up for his newsletter. Sign up during the ten weeks of the serial and you will also be eligible for a random drawing to win one of fifteen Audible copies of The Far Banks of the Rubicon. Point your web browser to www.erikwecks.com and sign up. Look for the link that says “Get a Free Story.”

Now… let’s check in on Jo.

—–

Gravlander

Episode 2: The Timcree

With her head forced down by long, gray fingers splayed on her neck, Josephine’s mind sped forward as she jogged back along the corridors of the Galant. One of the Timcree had a weapon pressed into her back near her kidneys. In front of her, two of the other Timcree trotted, pausing only once as they came to the well-lit areas of the ship. Sophie and her child had been left behind, sealed in the airlock with the fourth intruder.

Furiously orbiting around the unknown, Josephine’s mind tried to see the possibilities that might make sense of the now and help her react to whatever came next. Since before she could remember, Little Jo had always worked the angles, scanning circumstances, places, and, above all, people, making them safe through her constant efforts to understand and predict them. To some, it made her seem almost prophetic. Her vigilant mind drew conclusions before others. To outsiders, she always seemed to know the right thing to say, the right thing to do. Inside, she just felt afraid.

Prescience consumed Jo. She depended heavily on her reasoning skills for a sense of safety, and when she couldn’t see a way forward, Josephine drowned in waves of panic and fear. It was this constant state of fearful alert which had made her last two years on the Gallant so difficult, and it was what made her panic now in the grip of the Timcree behind her.

How did they even get aboard? she wondered. More importantly, she wondered how they intended to get off again. It’s not like the Ghost Fleet didn’t know there were Timcree in the Cruicible. Undesirable in civilized places, Timcree tended to gather in the same kinds of spaces sought by the Ghost Fleet. Jo knew that the fleet had tracked their movements in the Crucible. They had a pretty good idea on which forsaken moons and asteroids they lived. By all estimates, the scattered Timcree could pose no real threat to the fleet. Their technology was meager at best and their existence brutal, which made this whole raid—whatever its purpose—completely nonsensical to Jo. The Timcree risked a massive retaliation for little if any gain that Jo could see. It was hard to imagine what four raiders could take from a hospital ship to make this worthwhile.

The first sign they had been noticed came before they had even seen anyone. A klaxon suddenly blared, and an automated voice stated matter-of-factly, “Do not move. Assistance will arrive shortly.” It was the same message the AI used when an unauthorized patient left their bed. Jo wondered just what kind of security protocols the ship had in place and if the security AI were making it up as it went. There were only a few marines on the Gallant, nothing that could be called a fighting force. They were used mostly for the occasional unruly patient.

Jo felt the hand on her neck tense. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the Timcree behind her looking up at the ceiling as the automated voice repeated its message. She thought she could feel the hand shake a little. They kept running. The Timcree seemed to know exactly where they wanted to go. Up to this point, they had only slowed at each intersection as the fully suited Timcree in front of her—the one who had used the clicks and beeps to communicate—gestured.

Now, however, things changed. As they approached the next intersection, an energy barrier greeted them. Through the yellowish cast of the barrier, Jo could see that similar barriers had been raised around the three other exits. The Timcree commander stopped and considered the situation for a moment. Then reaching to his belt, he retrieved a flat rectangle with a small handle and ran it up the wall of the corridor next to the barrier. When he had it about chest high, he held it still for a few seconds, while a light flashed red, then yellow, and finally green. Once that was done, he slowly began to move the block away from the wall. As the block moved, the energy barrier stretched, pulling away from the wall with the block. The commander moved the block some fifteen or twenty centimeters before the light on the back of it began to flash yellow again. He let go of the block, which now stayed in place, suspended in the field, leaving a small, triangular gap just wide enough for a person to slip through.

The commander turned his masked face toward Jo. Jo couldn’t make heads nor tails of the beeps and clicks which followed. As he talked, the commander removed what looked like a protein bar from his suit and dropped it on the barrier, whose width could be measured in only a few microns. The barrier efficiently sliced the bar in two, leaving a piece on each side. In fear, Jo nodded her understanding.

The Timcree with his hand on her neck pushed her forward and said with a cadence that made him hard to understand, “You, go now.”

Carefully, Jo squeezed herself behind the barrier. She was about three quarters of the way through when a drone appeared behind them. Brazen and secure, it flew directly around the corner without concern. Even as it took aim, the Timcree who had been guarding Jo reached up and shoved her quickly through the small opening. The guard followed behind her. In one fluid motion, the Timcree expertly contorted his extremely long frame into the gap. Jo recognized this to be her opportunity to attack. While transiting the barrier, he was vulnerable, but Jo’s curiosity held her back. Despite having had a weapon in her ribs, something about the situation told her she was in little real danger from the Timcree. The only way to increase that danger would be to do something aggressive. He crossed the barrier in only a couple of seconds.

The commander backed into position behind the Timcree guard as he fired on the drone, along with the third intruder. Jo recognized there was little hope for the third, as the drone had him in its sights before it turned the corner. Still, he did manage to get off several rounds before being hit by a stunning blast from the drone. The lanky Timcree crumpled to the ground.

The commander did better.

Jo was by no means an expert on munitions, but she had never heard of rounds behaving like those of the Timcree. At first, they seemed to be incredibly slow moving. Jo could see them fly toward the target. It was only when they stopped and retreated as the drone advanced that Jo realized they must be AI controlled in some fashion. Before the drone could aim its second shot, it was surrounded by a cloud of spinning and maneuvering rounds. They looked like a swarm of bees. While it was hard to see them attacking the actual drone, they must have been successful because the drone retreated from the swarm, having been unable to get off a second shot.

Once the drone had backed around the corner behind them, the commander started to move toward his downed soldier, but a squad of marines came around the corner just as he was taking his first step, and he thought better of it. Instead, he choose the safety of the enclosed area behind the energy barrier.

Once inside, the commander squared up and turned to face the oncoming marines, placing his hands on his hips.

The second Timcree once again grabbed Jo by the nape of the neck. He too faced the oncoming marines. This time pointing his weapon at her head, his hand clearly trembling.

Considering the situation, Jo was surprised she hadn’t puked yet. Her heart was pounding, but she had an unexpected sense of watchfulness, almost as if she were waiting for some sign, some call to take action.

The commander of the team of four Marines shouted as the barriers dropped. “Stand down! Drop your weapons!”

In response, the Timcree commander slowly put his weapon on the floor, and at the same time, held up a small holographic projector he had in his other hand. Even as another small group of Marines came running up from a second corridor to their left, a meter-tall image of the airlock below them erupted into the space between the two groups. Inside, a fully-suited Timcree stood with his hand near the control pad for the airlock, while Sophie sat on a small bench, grimly ignoring the danger while trying to comfort her squalling child.

The Marine stopped, his face turning white. “The princess!” he said to himself.

Jo felt the hand on her neck suddenly tense. Behind and above, her she heard her captor speak, “Eik Krozigchen!

By way of acknowledgment, the commander in front of him simply raised his long forearm, signaling his underling to be quiet.

The marine, now white, licked his lips. “What do you want?” he barked at the commander, brandishing his weapon at him. Jo could sense him trying to stay in control of a situation that had quickly spiraled well beyond his pay grade.

The guard holding Jo answered. “Medicine nanites! We need medicine nanites! We pay.”

“You won’t get anything! Now put your weapons down and release your hostages!”

The commander shifted a little. Even behind the mirrored suit, Jo could tell he was sizing up the corporal. Tense seconds elapsed before a couple of quiet clicks issued from his suit.

The corporal looked shocked at the sound.

The guard behind her spoke. “We no negotiate with you. We negotiate with commander. We wait.”

The Timcree soldier on the ground started to shift, coming to after being stunned.

Jo saw the corporal’s face turn red. This is the dangerous point, thought Jo, and then the call to action came. “Corporal, he’s telling the truth! They have Princess Sophia and baby Grace in the airlock. I was walking with them back to the royal shuttle when they stepped out of an airlock down below. There are only four of them. Think how desperate they must be to try and do this. It’s suicide, and they know it, so do as he says or the princess will get hurt!”

The words seemed to sink slowly into the Tinhead’s thick skull. She watched them click as his eyes suddenly widened a little. He decided not to play the hero and stepped away, leaving the two contingents of marines to guard the Timcree while he communicated up the food chain.

When he came back, he said, “I’m to escort you to a negotiating room. This way.”

The commander nodded his ascent, and in a careful dance of aimed weapons, the Corporal led them away.

A long hour later, Josephine sat with her captors in a patient room in an inactive section of the hospital ship. The commander occupied the patient bed. Sitting upright facing the door, he had barely moved since he came in. Her minder sat in the only other chair in the room. Somewhere along the way, he had forgotten to point his weapon at her. She could have left, but curiosity kept her there. That left the floor for the stunned Timcree and Jo. The Timcree lay in the corner, shaking under a blanket while recovering from his ordeal. While designed to keep the victim alive, stunners weren’t exactly friendly to the human body. At a minimum, the victim ended up with a massive migraine and a whole lot of confusion as the brain tried to unscramble its overloaded wiring, but the jolt from the energy weapons wasn’t exactly kind on tissues either. It always left bruises and had been known to break ribs.

Jo had tried to help when they had entered the room, suggesting that the wounded Timcree be given the bed. No one had listened to her. Instead, the commander had gone and occupied the bed, leaving the floor for his wounded underling. Now as the wounded Timcree moaned in discomfort, Jo decided she needed to try again. Standing up from where she squatted, she stepped between the commander and the door, forcing herself into his line of sight. Putting one hand on her hip and pointing to the floor with the other, she said, “Listen to me! Your soldier’s hurt. He needs help. I’m a nurse. I can take care of him. I can make it better.”

The commander didn’t answer. In fact, he didn’t even move.

Instead, his assistant spoke up, blinking slow-moving lids over yellow-slitted eyes. “You help? Why?”

Turning to her guard, she appraised him anew. “I’m a nurse. It’s what we do. We help people.”

“Timcree not people. We not human.”

“I help everyone, then.”

The Timcree blinked again.

The third Timcree groaned on the floor.

Unperturbed, the assistant asked, “How you know how to help Timcree? We different inside.”

It suddenly occurred to her that neither Timcree had told her she couldn’t help. They just hadn’t given her a straight command to do so. Having lived in a military environment for the last six years, Jo found herself unconsciously waiting to be told what to do. She was moving to the stocked drawers in the room before she even answered. “Not that different.”

Jo thought she saw a slight smile on the Timcree’s face as she retrieved an injector and a pain dose from one of the drawers. She was just about to inject emergency medical nanites and pain blockers into the Timcree when the door opened and two uber-serious marines advanced into the room, rifles leveled at the Timcree.

Jonas Athena strode behind them, glaring daggers at the Timcree commander. “Let my wife and child go, or I will shoot your soldiers!”

The assistant spoke. “Give us medicine nanites. We pay. Then people go.”

Jonas pointed toward the Timcree on the floor. The marines aimed their weapons. Seeing Jo there holding the injector, he said, “Stand back!”

Jo did as she was told, slipping the injector into a pocket of her medical uniform.

Jonas returned his attention to the Timcree commander. “I think you mistake me. This isn’t a negotiation. Let my wife and daughter go, or I start shooting people.”

The commander shifted in his seat on the bed. For a few seconds, he turned and communicated with the Timcree assistant while the assistant whispered back. When they were finished, the assistant nodded his head and then faced Jonas again. The commander resumed his position on the bed, staring forward at the door.

The assistant spoke. “We do this. We have no intention to harm. We need medicine.”

One of the marine’s heads-up devices pipped at him. He spoke. “The airlock is open, sir. Everyone is safe. The Timcree has laid down his arms.”

Jo watched the Prince. She hadn’t known him to be a particularly angry man, but she also knew him to love his family. He didn’t yet seem ready to cool down. His eyes narrowed. “Why are you on my ship?”

Again, the assistant answered. “We need medicine nanites. Children sick, dying. Can’t get well.”

The commander held up his hand, silencing his underling. After a moment, he let his hand rest in his lap again. He spoke in perfect English, modulated by the electronics of the suit. “The Timcree have no quarrel with the Ghost Fleet. For the last six years, we have gone about our separate ways. If we wanted a quarrel with you, Prince Athena, we could have had one before now. If we wanted you to leave our space, we could have told the Unity where to find you. Until now, we’ve had nothing to do with you. Only need has driven us to break the separation between our two peoples. Consider carefully.”

The commander went momentarily silent, allowing his point to linger. Then when Jonas didn’t seem ready to answer, he went on. “For the last year, our children have been dying. They come out of the womb white-skinned, sickly, with bloodshot eyes and no hair. Most do not live more than a month, some make it a few weeks more, but only a few have passed their first birthday, and these are feeble and unhealthy. This is happening across the galaxy, but only to the Timcree. There has been no sign of this disease among the Gravlanders. For the last year, we have sought out a cause for our troubles, and in the last few weeks, one of our peoples faraway found it. Our mothers are infected with a nanite. It attacks the womb, and it passes through to our babies. It slowly changes the DNA of its host into unreadable garbage. The cells do not reproduce, and eventually, our children die.”

Jonas nodded slowly, chewing on the commander’s words. Then he answered coldly. “You threatened my wife. You threatened my child. And now you want me to help you?”

The Timcree commander showed no signs of reaction to this at all.

“This was not our intention. We have no desire to threaten anyone. We had no idea that any person of significance was on this ship when we came aboard. No one was as surprised as me to see your wife in that corridor. It was, shall we say, a moment of opportunity, without which I know I would not be talking with you directly. For the sake of my children, I chose to act on it.”

Josephine watched the Prince think about what had been said. He seemed to crack just a little, and his face relaxed, although he maintained his aggressive stance. “You’re right, you know. If you hadn’t threatened my family, you wouldn’t be talking to me. You said you could pay for the nanites. What do you have to offer?”

“Tritium.”

The response clearly startled Jonas. Tritium was a useful isotope for fusion reactors but difficult to procure as the source, lithium-6, had been hard to acquire in the Crucible. “How much?”

“Six tons at standard pressure.”

“Six tons? That’s enough to run every reactor in the fleet, for over a year.”

“Now you know how serious we are about getting those nanites. We need them.”

Jonas nodded his understanding and softened his stance. “You have yourself a deal.”

The commander slapped his thighs in satisfaction. “There is one other item. Our medicine is crude. We will need help to treat our people…”

Jonas interrupted. “I’m sorry, Commander. I won’t be able to help you there.”

Suddenly, Jo’s mind recognized the opportunity in front of her. For six years, she had found no way to escape the confines of the fleet which held her. Her feet tingled at the prospect of something new, something away from here. She answered the call before she even had time to think. “I’ll do it.”

Jonas looked at her, clearly dissatisfied to hear her voice. “Jo, I don’t think…”

“I know what I’m doing. I’ll do it. Anything to get off this fleet. Jonas, I don’t want to be a doctor. It’s what everyone else wants for me. It’s not what I want. I’ll do it.”

Jonas started to speak again. “Jo…”

The commander interrupted him. “Then it’s settled. I look forward to the next time I speak with you without threatening your family first. It was a poor start to a relationship.”

Jonas furrowed his brow, turned his face to the commander, but kept his eyes on Jo. “I agree. It was a poor start on your part.” Now he looked at the commander. “The safety of my crew member remains my responsibility. If anything happens to her…” He let his voice trail off.

“Prince Athena, she will be our honored guest.”

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Angry Birds Transformers Maximizes Character Upgrades http://geekdad.com/2014/10/angry-birds-transformers-maximizes-character-upgrades/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/angry-birds-transformers-maximizes-character-upgrades/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:52:02 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66757 We take a close look at the maximum upgrades for Angry Birds Transformers characters, with a little help from our gem glitch that granted millions of gems. Continue reading

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We take a close look at the maximum upgrades for Angry Birds Transformers characters, with a little help from our gem glitch that granted millions of gems.

Thanks for reading GeekDad. Please consider clicking through to our site, we'd love to have you become more involved in our community!

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Part Knife, Part Tank, All Terror! http://geekdad.com/2014/10/part-knife-part-tank-terror/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/part-knife-part-tank-terror/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:09 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66744 Do you like scary point-and-click games? Continue reading

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living_room_knifetank

Do you like scary movies?

Wait, no, that’s not right…

Point-and-click games. Yeah! Do you like scary point-and-click games?

If so, then my (everybody’s?) internet homeboy Doctor Popular has just what you need for your Halloween entertainment. Doc and some friends — including the incomparable Crashfaster — have just released Knifetank: The Hauntening, a sequel of sorts to their original Knifetank game. Except this time, rather than making your way through a freaky, hand-drawn Combat-style arena, you’re making your way through a sinister mansion discovering knives and tank treads and blood stains and… Y’know what? Never mind. I’m sure everything’ll be fine.

You can experience all the puzzles, eerie chiptunes and lingering feelings of impending doom right now on both iOS devices and right here in your web browser for the very low price of free. If you dig it, be sure to pick up the soundtrack album, available for $1 or more via Bandcamp.

It’s just another way that Doc Pop and GeekDad are providing you will all treats and no tricks this Halloween.

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Let Stefan Bucher Show You How to Draw a Monster http://geekdad.com/2014/10/let-stefan-how-to-draw-monster/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/let-stefan-how-to-draw-monster/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66714 Stefan Bucher wants to teach you how to create and draw your own creatures. He's a bit partial to monsters, but his online class and the skills he teaches could work with just about any kind of character you wish to develop, not just monsters. (Think superheroes or robots!) Continue reading

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Stefan Bucher wants to teach you how to create and draw your own creatures. He’s a bit partial to monsters, but his online class and the skills he teaches could work with just about any kind of character you wish to develop, not just monsters. (Think superheroes or robots!)

Stefan B

I’ve been enjoying Stefan’s Skillshare videos, and I’m also enjoying browsing the service looking for other things to learn. Categories include photography, DIY, culinary, and many more. Skillshare is exactly as it sounds… experts and gurus sharing what they know with those of us who lack certain skills. Even better, you can interact with the expert with the built-in discussion system and download any support files that the instructor wishes to share. (Stefan allows viewers to download a scan of the blown-ink sample he uses in his videos.)

Stefan’s “class” isn’t one video — it’s a collection, all narrated by Stefan as you see his hands in action and hear him discussing not only developing the design but all the story behind your character. Videos are short, usually less than 8 minutes (some as short as 1 minute), and they include not only a video that describes materials you’ll need (he mentions specific brands, but also makes recommendations that are generic) but also tips on prepping your work area.

The Ink

Videos progress by demonstrating the best techniques for using a can of air to spread ink and then move to using pens and pencils to fill in the details to the air-blown ink to create custom creatures. Stefan discusses looking at the blown ink and finding interesting places to add eyeballs, mouths, appendages, and more. The videos are really fun to watch — if you like seeing artists do their thing, you’ll really enjoy watching Stefan in action.

What’s so cool about the Skillshare site (and Stefan’s 8 videos more specifically) is that you’re getting the expert… his/her voice, recommendations, and personality. It’s all there in the videos, and I think kids will enjoy the one-on-one feel of the videos as services such as Khan Academy give them… a focused, “this is about you” experience.

Creature

You can check out Stefan’s videos for free… Skillshare is free to use, but it also has an upgraded account offering should you find you REALLY enjoy the service. The free account gives you one hour of videos per month — $8.95 per month gives you unlimited access. Stefan’s eight videos total less than an hour, so you’ll be able to watch them all using just the free account.

I’ve been a huge fan of Stefan’s since discovering his 100 Monsters project. My sons love his style, and I just appreciate him taking the time to share his process for creating his unique and amazing creatures. You can find out more about Stefan on his website, and be sure to grab a copy of his book if you enjoy his monsters in the videos.

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GeekDad Review: Inateck BTSP-10 Bluetooth Speaker http://geekdad.com/2014/10/inateck-btsp-10-bluetooth-speaker/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/inateck-btsp-10-bluetooth-speaker/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66735 When it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, you're probably familiar with names like Beats, Jawbone and Braven. After being sent a review sample, I have another to add to the list: Inateck. Continue reading

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Inatek portable Bluetooth speaker

Inatek BTSP-10 Bluetooth Speaker sitting on my woodpile. Photo by Brad Moon

When it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, you’re probably familiar with names like Beats, Jawbone and Braven. After being sent a review sample, I have another to add to the list: Inateck.

I’d never heard of Inateck prior to the review, but it looks like the company has quite a selection of products on Amazon, mostly consumer electronics and computer accessories.

The speaker arrived in an upscale looking box that also includes a microUSB cable, a flat 3.5mm AUX cable and a felt carrying bag. The carrying bag could stand to be a little larger, though — it’s a pretty tight fit.

The unit itself is attractive looking. It’s 6.5-inches long and weighs just over 13 ounces, putting it firmly in the mini portable speaker camp. Black rubberized material covers the case (great for preventing the speaker from moving around) and the front grill has a hexagon — honeycomb — effect with a flash of blue, the logo and an LED status lights. Bluetooth and volume buttons are on the top, the ON/OFF switch, micro USB port and AUX input are on the right side.

There’s no recharger included, you just plug the microUSB cable into a free port on your PC or use a smartphone recharger. There’s a warning in the manual (yes, I read it) that cautions against using more powerful tablet rechargers, which is something to keep in mind if you plan on traveling with the BTSP-10.

An LED charge indicator light on the side shows red while charging and green when it’s complete. The cycle took roughly four hours when hooked up to my iMac.

More important than charge time with a portable speaker, is how long the battery lasts. The user manual claims 5-8 hours on Bluetooth and that seems about right, depending on the volume you choose. I used it outdoors where a higher volume was called for and got around five hours of playback. Indoors, when played at a more reasonable volume (call it about 30% of maximum) I was averaging closer to 10 hours.

And how did it sound?

The BTSP-10 is equipped with two 1.5-inch dual channel speakers, putting out a combined 6W of power. It’s loud enough in a small room, but outdoors you really have to crank it or the sound dissipates.

Sound reproduction isn’t bad for something of this size and price range. Bass is present but not dominant and the highs are only a little exaggerated — it definitely doesn’t sound “tinny” or “muffled.” Mid-range performance seems the weakest and if you want to push the speaker to the point of distortion, maximum volume playing music featuring multiple guitars is a good way to do it.

My main quibble is the annoyingly loud chirps that warn you the battery is on its last legs.

Is it worth buying the Inateck BTSP-10 Bluetooth Speaker?

I don’t think I’d pay the $189.99 list price, but, at the $79.99 price currently offered on Amazon, this portable Bluetooth speaker is definitely worth a look — and listen.

Disclosure: Inateck provided a BTSP-10 for review purposes

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What Parents Should Know About Sunset Overdrive http://geekdad.com/2014/10/parents-should-know-sunset-overdrive/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/parents-should-know-sunset-overdrive/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:00:24 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66709 Here's everything parent's should know about Sunset Overdrive, the Xbox One exclusive. Continue reading

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Here’s everything parent’s should know about Sunset Overdrive, the Xbox One exclusive. From what makes this game great, to what to watch out for. All in this 2 minute video:

 

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LEGO Batman 3 Character Analysis http://geekdad.com/2014/10/lego-batman-3-character-analysis/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/lego-batman-3-character-analysis/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:53:09 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66707 We take a close look at the most recently revealed 30 DC characters for Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Continue reading

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We take a close look at the most recently revealed 30 DC characters for Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is released on Nov. 11 in the US for Mac, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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Gear Up for NaNoWriMo With No Plot? No Problem! http://geekdad.com/2014/10/no-plot-no-problem/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/no-plot-no-problem/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:00:07 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66702 In just a couple of days, NaNoWriMo starts up again for its sixteenth year. Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, offers helpful survival tips in his newly revised No Plot? No Problem! Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo

In just a couple of days, NaNoWriMo starts up again for its sixteenth year. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Hundreds of thousands of people will attempt to write 50,000 words before midnight on November 30.

I’ve heard about NaNoWriMo and considered participating before—one year I went so far as to try “NaNoTwiMo” where I was going to tweet a story, 140 characters at a time, but it fizzled out after only a few sentences. And this year I’ve already made too many promises about Kickstarter board games and interviews, so while I may approach 50,000 words, it won’t be one story.

No Plot? No Problem!Still, the concept intrigues me, all the more so after reading Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. Baty is a freelance writer who started NaNoWriMo in July 1999. During that first year there were only 21 participants, but nowadays it’s a nonprofit, with workshops for young writers and even a virtual summer camp.

No Plot? No Problem! (newly revised from its 2010 edition) offers suggestions on how to participate in something as crazy as writing a short novel in a single month, as well as why you’d want to do so. Baty gives practical tips peppered with humor, recognizing that this endeavor is both enormous and somewhat ridiculous, but still worth doing. Baty walks you through things like how to find time to write, what tools and foods you should keep handy, and the benefits of planning (or not planning) your novel ahead of time.

The second half of the book is a week-by-week guide, intended to walk you through the first week exuberance, second week slump, and so on. Baty’s been at this for 15 years already, so he knows what he’s talking about—plus he has quotes and advice from many other NaNoWriMo winners as well. So even though NaNoWriMo starts up this Saturday, you’d still have time to read the first half of the book and potentially join the fray this year.

A large part of the experience of NaNoWriMo is that you have to sit down and just write. You don’t hit 50,000 words without hammering it out, and NaNoWriMo is all about the quantity instead of quality. But the magical thing, according to Baty, is that when you stop worrying about getting everything perfect, you unlock your creativity and amazing things happen. Characters go places and get into adventures. Things happen. I would, of course, have to give up my inner editor for a month, which could be difficult.

Even if it never results in something that you’d want to publish, the achievement of having finished a 50,000-word novel is one that you can claim proudly. And chances are, you’ll want to do it again.

Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this book.

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Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: Steampunk Rally http://geekdad.com/2014/10/steampunk-rally/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/steampunk-rally/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66624 Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, and George Washington Carver walk into a board game... no, it's no joke. Steampunk Rally is a game that pits these brilliant minds (along with Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Guglielmo Marconi) against each other in a madcap race to Bern, using contraptions built on the fly. Continue reading

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Steampunk Rally

Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, and George Washington Carver walk into a board game… no, it’s no joke. Steampunk Rally is a game that pits these brilliant minds (along with Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Guglielmo Marconi) against each other in a madcap race to Bern, using contraptions built on the fly. I mentioned it in my recent Kickstarter Tabletop Roundup; here’s a closer look at how the game works.

At a glance: Steampunk Rally is for 2 to 6 players (up to 7 if a stretch goal is reached), ages 13 and up, and takes about 45 minutes to play. The pledge level on Kickstarter for a copy of the game is $55 CAD (roughly $49 USD), with an estimated delivery date of December 2014.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Steampunk Rally

Gathered at the starting line and ready to race! (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Components

  • 84 dice (in 3 colors)
  • 108 Machine Part cards
  • 36 Boost cards
  • 12 Inventor cards (2 each for 6 Inventors)
  • 6 Inventor tokens
  • 6 Damage Gauges
  • 7 Track tiles
  • 40 Cog tokens

This is the current component list, though if stretch goals are reached there might be more inventors, dice, and enough components for 7 players.

The version I played was a demo prototype, so it just used small plastic poker chips for the cogs and some of the components were just printed on cardstock. However, the artwork for the cards was pretty much complete, and the machine parts look great. There are lots of fun little details, particularly on the Inventor cards. For instance, George Washington Carver’s cockpit has peanut plants on it.

Each of the machine part cards has valves on one or more sides, which can be used to connect the machines together. There are three types indicated by the borders: gold always includes movement, silver always produces more dice, and copper always has valves on all four sides for making connections.

The black Boost cards are not machine parts, but instead have various one-time effects when you use them, usually helping you or harming your opponents, but some have global effects that help or harm everyone at once.

Steampunk Rally

How far can Tesla go with his penny farthing wheel AND spider legs? (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

How to play

The lastest draft of the rulebook is available as a PDF here.

The goal of the game is to win the race—as soon as somebody crosses the finish line, there is one more round of play, and then the player who has advanced the farthest toward Bern wins the game.

To set up, you’ll set up six of the race tiles—the start, finish line, and Bern, plus three others chosen at random. Each player chooses one of the inventors and takes the two cards associated with it: one has the inventor in a cockpit and automatically generates resources each turn; the other provides a basic form of locomotion. Your Damage Gauge is set to 0 at the beginning of the game.

Steampunk Rally

You can build really huge machines or small, lean machines. (Prototype shown) Photos: Jonathan H. Liu

Each round has several phases: Drafting, Venting, Racing, and Damage.

For the Drafting phase, every player takes four cards, one from each deck (Gold, Silver, Copper, Boost). Then you pick one to play, pass the rest, and simultaneously reveal your chosen cards. Each card may be used for one of the following purposes:

  1. Construct: add the part to your machine—you may rearrange cards as needed, but all cards need to be connected somehow to each other. (Boost cards aren’t added to the machine, but set aside to be played later.)
  2. Resources: Discard the card to gain either 2 cogs or the dice indicated. Gold, Silver, and Copper each get you two dice of a particular type; Black cards may be traded for a single die of any color.

When everyone has used their chosen cards, they pick up the cards that were passed to them and repeat this process until each player has used four cards.

Next is the Venting phase, which doesn’t really come into play until the second round. You may spend cogs to remove pips from the dice on your machine. Each cog removes two pips, either from the same die or two different dice. When a die has all its pips removed, it is removed from the machine and discarded. You do this to clear up spaces on your machine so you can place more dice later.

The Racing phase is where most of the action occurs, and it’s done simultaneously by all players. First you roll all the dice you’ve collected as resources during the Drafting phase, as well as any that are generated automatically by your machine (such as by your Inventor card). Then you may spend these to power your machine.

Steampunk Rally Wright Brothers

The Rocket Boosters let you travel quickly, but also cause damage to yourself. The Thermocouple lets you convert heat into electricity. Hoverjets can be used for movement OR shields. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The machine parts will show which color dice are needed to activate a part, and then what happens when it is activated. Some will generate dice or cogs, which you take from the supply. Others generate shields, which you track on your Damage Gauge. And, of course, there are parts that give you movement, which sends you along the racetrack. (There are some more details about how the dice are used, but I won’t get into those here.)

During the Racing phase, cogs may be spent either to re-roll dice that aren’t placed yet or to add 1 pip to a die. If you’re on a space on the track that shows a die, you may also spend cogs to purchase dice of that color.

As you move into spaces that have terrain, you’ll take damage, tracking it on your Damage Gauge. Once everyone is done with their Racing phase, each player looks at their Damage Gauge. If you’re below 0, then you must discard 1 part of your machine for every point of damage, and then set your gauge back to 0. Dice are discarded along with the machine parts.

Finally, any dice that weren’t placed onto your machine are discarded back to the supply, and a new round begins.

When one player crosses the finish line, you play one more full round, and then the game ends. The player farthest along the track wins the game.

Steampunk Rally

The track tiles can be put together in a variety of ways. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Verdict

If you like building things, you’ll get a kick out of Steampunk Rally. The best part of the game is building up all the wacky machines and imagining how they function. Sometimes you’ll have an enormous tower balanced on a penny farthing wheel, or a contraption that has both tank treads and hover jets. It’s even fun to take damage and have parts of your machine fall off, because you can just pick up some more and tack them on during the next round.

The dice-placement and venting mechanic is also pretty clever. You’ll need dice to power your machine, and you have to make some tough decisions during drafting: do you trade in cards for dice? Or do you use them as machine parts, hoping to get some other parts later that will generate the dice you need? For many parts, placing higher-valued dice will let you move farther, but then it also means you’ll need to spend more cogs to vent those dice and remove them so you can use that part again. There’s a tricky balance that makes for a lot of different ways to play.

The downside is that this can lead to some analysis paralysis, particularly if you have an enormous machine. You might be able to take one red die, generate two blue ones, which are then used to generate yellow dice, but if you roll high enough on this other yellow die then you should get some cogs instead, and … that can be the danger. The game works better (and plays more quickly) when people remember that they’re piloting kludged-together machines and don’t try to run a possibility tree on every move.

Although there are some cards that let you attack other players, most of the Boost cards are just beneficial to you, and some even benefit everyone. Sometimes, though, it’s just as useful to turn Boost cards in for cogs or dice, depending on what you have already.

The rules for Steampunk Rally only run two pages (plus a third page showing a gameplay example), which is pretty impressive for a game that doesn’t feel simplistic when you play it. That makes it relatively easy to teach, but it still provides a lot of fun and juicy decisions even for more experienced gamers.

Whether you like the steampunk genre or not, if you like the idea of building your own wacky vehicle and racing against other famous inventors, you won’t want to miss Steampunk Rally.

For more information, visit the Steampunk Rally Kickstarter page.

Disclosure: GeekDad received a demo prototype of this game for review.

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Fun, Kid-Safe Street Art http://geekdad.com/2014/10/fun-street-art/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/fun-street-art/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:00:12 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66690 Aaron Zenz, who blogs at Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty, sent me this fun story about his family's recent forays into street art. Continue reading

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Friendly Street Art

Family-made friendly street art. Photos: Aaron Zenz

Aaron Zenz, who blogs at Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty, sent me this fun story about his family’s recent forays into street art. They’d watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, a fascinating documentary about Banksy and street art, and his daughter Gracie was determined to become a street artist herself. But Zenz was understandably reluctant to let his kids engage in vandalism.

Their solution was to paint rocks, sticks, and leaves, and use them to add some fun color and personality around town:

It’s a fun idea and a way for his family to engage in public stealth art without causing any permanent damage or doing anything illicit (except perhaps jumping a fence briefly, as seen in the video), and I love the way it turned out. I’m inspired to try something like this with my own kids … but not with leaves, because in Portland all the leaves are soggy.

For more photos and the full story, visit Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty.

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Quick and Easy Tentacle Breadsticks http://geekdad.com/2014/10/quick-and-easy-tentacle-breadsticks/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/quick-and-easy-tentacle-breadsticks/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:00:50 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66684 Looking for a last-minute addition to the Halloween party spread this year? Make these easy tentacle snacks using only packaged Continue reading

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IMG_7534

Photo: Lisa Tate

tentacle process

Photo: Lisa Tate

Looking for a last-minute addition to the Halloween party spread this year? Make these easy tentacle snacks using only packaged croissant or breadstick dough.

Divide each pre-cut triangle of packaged croissant dough lengthwise down the center. Leave a couple whole for bigger tentacles. If using breadsticks, cut each stick into three shorter sections.

Roll the triangle together, so they taper off at one end, like long, wormy cone. Using the back of a cake decorating tip, a pen cap, or other small round item, make several small “suckers” down the length of the tentacle.

Read more….

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Beta-Testers Wanted! New PBS KIDS Site About Technology and Media http://geekdad.com/2014/10/beta-testers-wanted-new-pbs-kids-site-technology-media/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/beta-testers-wanted-new-pbs-kids-site-technology-media/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:33:05 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66687 Our friends at WGBH have asked us to check out their brand new site for PBS KIDS. Continue reading

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Our friends at WGBH have asked us to check out their brand new site for PBS KIDS, produced by GeekDad’s very own Bill Shribman.

It’s a pilot project at pbskids.org/ruff and it stars Ruff Ruffman of FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman. But it’s not FETCH – it’s a new site for kids and parents about media and technology. The GeekDad and GeekMom blogs have offered to push this out to all of you to jump in, to poke about, and to let WGBH know here – or through their site – what you think. And if you like it, they’re hoping you’ll share it also to get the word out.

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Release Day: Exterminite http://geekdad.com/2014/10/release-day-exterminite/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/release-day-exterminite/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66592 Today marks release day for Exterminite: a five-issue digital comic collaboration from Geek A Week artist and podcaster Len Peralta, Broodhollow and Starslip creator Kris Straub, and Borderlands writer and Gearbox Software Chief Creative Champion Mikey Neumann. Continue reading

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GDExtCover

Today marks release day for Exterminite: a five-issue digital comic collaboration from Geek A Week artist and podcaster Len Peralta,  Broodhollow and Starslip creator Kris Straub, and Borderlands writer and Gearbox Software Chief Creative Champion Mikey Neumann.

Here’s the premise: What if there was a company that could go into your dreams and kill your nightmares?

GeekDad received an advance copy of the first issue, and its 26 pages drew me quickly in to the story of Kylie — a Cleveland woman with a nightmare problem — and Nat, who says he can pop right into her head and sort things out. Kind of.

Exterminite seems like it’s going for that mix of humor and edge-of-darkness that you’d expect from this team of storytellers, and Len’s always-fun and impressive art is complemented by some really stunning coloring by Neumann and Tim Switalsky.

Peralta, Straub, and Neumann got together for a quick GeekDad email interview:

GeekDad: How did the three of you come together on this project? Have you worked together before?

Len: We all got together rather fortuitously. I interviewed both Mikey and Kris for my Geek A Week project and we hit it off immediately. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of Mike’s writing. I felt that he had a great feel for dialog and telling a story in a very interesting way. And I love Kris’ work on Broodhollow. He’s got this really creepy vibe to his storytelling which I adore. So of course I wanted to collaborate with both of them at some point. Ironically, I’ve never met Mikey or Kris in person. I hope to rectify that in the near future.

Mikey: I remember when Len called me and asked if I wanted to do a web comic with him. At the time — which is still true now — I was far to busy to take on another side project, so I was really expecting to politely decline because there was just too much going on. But then Len said “a company that can kill your nightmares,” and I knew right then that I’d just taken on another project. I think I sent Len half of the first issue that night. It all happened very quickly.

The second time we talked about it, I asked about Kris joining the project. On the Chainsawsuit Podcast, Kris has always shown a magnetic interest in dreams as a creative method of storytelling, so it seemed like a no-brainer. Also, if people aren’t reading Broodhollow, now is a good time to catch up. It’s a masterpiece and I am a huge fan.

Kris: This interview is actually the first time the three of us have ever spoken.

GeekDad: Where were the ideas for Exterminite born? Any particular inspirations or influences?

Len: The original thought for Exterminite came from Fark.com’s Drew Curtis. When I interviewed Drew for Geek A Week, he had introduced to me the concept of lucid dreaming. He talked about doing these crazy things he is able to do in his dreams, which included knowing that he was dreaming by looking at printed patterns or writing in his dreams. He also said that he has the ability to “dispatch” his nightmares by using this pattern trick. I asked him if I could use that as a story starter. Drew said yes and I immediately called Mikey and shared the concept with him.

GDExt3

Mikey: What really grabbed me about the idea what dreams are like to different people. The issue outline was born out of that idea. Each one grapples with a different viewpoint. How would you deal with a child’s nightmare? What do the nightmares of a person that has been blind since birth look like? Each issue pushes ourselves artistically.

Kris: I think that’s the part that’s the most appealing to me about dreams and storytelling. Nightmares have a way of infusing the dreamer with incredibly personal knowledge that they’d have no reason to confront otherwise, and the nightmare turns that against you, whether it’s literal or symbolic, or just abstract. Plus lucid dreaming has always been interesting to me — when I was little, I used to be able to lucid-dream just enough to escape one nightmare, and wind up in a worse one.

GeekDad: Did you know from the start what tone you wanted to strike? There’s definitely a light tone to start the issue, but as the story progresses, it seems like you’ll be exploring some fairly serious themes, too.

Mikey: Comedy is an amazing tool for analyzing the human condition. Sure, the characters are funny, but it’s also to make the audience feel like they’re closer to the action. You should feel like you know these people from your own experience, which in turn, makes us care more about their plight.

GDExt2

The tone is very much in Kris’s and my wheelhouse. I can’t not write silly conversations that might end up in unexpected places. As a writer, there is no greater joy to me than taking the audience from laughter to a cold sweat in a couple of pages.

Kris: I think humor and fear sit on the same axis. They have similar constructions and similar beats if you think about it. Mikey is amazing at taking readers from one pole to the other.

GeekDad: How long has this been in the works, and how did it evolve as it came together? (Or is it pretty much exactly what you had in mind from the start?)

Len: This whole project happened so quickly. It was about a week that we had the whole skeleton of the idea down. It was amazing to me. I knew immediately from the top though that we had something really cool. The collaboration has been really fantastic as well. Mikey was throwing colors down on the first few pages and he also did the colors on the cover. We brought Tim Switalski in as a colorist when our collective schedules got a little too heavy over the summer. I’ve known Tim from Dr. Sketchy and the Rust Belt Monster Collective here in Cleveland and I’ve wanted to work with him for a while too. And I saw this as a perfect opportunity. Tim knocked it out of the park on this first issue. And we’re excited to have him on board as part of the next four issues too. He has a great style and elevated my art to a whole new level.

GeekDad: So, issue 1 of the 5-issue series comes out Oct. 29 — Happy Birthday, Len! Will it be available on any platforms besides Amazon/Kindle?

Len: Thanks for the birthday wishes! Right now, we are going 100% digital on this comic. We have it on Amazon, but it will also release on Comixology as well.

Mikey: It is at its heart, a web comic. I financed this myself because I believed in it. I know a lot of web-based comic artists, and it always seems like such an uphill battle to monetize. There is certainly the possibility that Exterminite will be published traditionally later, but the heart of the experiment is trying to prove a new method for fairly monetizing the hard work that artists and writers put into web comics. If you want to support us in this experiment, then please check out the book and share our work if you enjoy it.

Kris: Ultimately we’re hoping that Exterminite will be distributed via actual nightmare, so readers will find it waiting for them when they close their eyes.

Issue number one of Exterminite is available at Amazon.

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Kickstarter Tabletop Roundup: Steampunk, Spies, Dragons, Dice! http://geekdad.com/2014/10/kickstarter-tabletop-roundup-3/ http://geekdad.com/2014/10/kickstarter-tabletop-roundup-3/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:00:37 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=66662 Well, it's happened again: I'm drowning in board game prototypes and if I wait until I have time to write a proper review of each one, the Kickstarter campaigns will be over and you'll be wondering why I never told you about them. So, without further ado, here are several Kickstarter board games currently on deck. Continue reading

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Well, it’s happened again: I’m drowning in board game prototypes and if I wait until I have time to write a proper review of each one, the Kickstarter campaigns will be over and you’ll be wondering why I never told you about them. So, without further ado, here are several Kickstarter board games currently on deck. I’ll followup with full reviews as time permits!

Steampunk Rally

How far can Tesla go with his penny farthing wheel AND spider legs? (prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Steampunk Rally

Famous inventors like Nikola Tesla and the Wright Brothers face off in this madcap race. You’re building contraptions as you go—which is good, because pieces keep falling off, too. A combination of card-drafting and dice placement with a good helping of steam. I’ve played a prototype of Steampunk Rally a couple times and have enjoyed it—piecing together these crazy machines is a lot of fun.

Desert Island

This Desert Island may be unpleasant, but the biggest threat may be the other survivors. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Desert Island

The twisted minds behind Lifeboat, the backstabbing game of survival, now have a standalone sequel: Desert Island. It features the same characters and a few similarities to Lifeboat, but with several new twists like locations and the calamity rules, you have all new things to fight over. Not for the faint of heart. I tried this one out and it has a lot of the same feel as Lifeboat, but with some tweaks that I think improve the game.

Truths Too Terrible

Prototype cards for Truths Too Terrible. Image: Protean Games

Truths Too Terrible

Here’s a quick-playing deduction game with a Lovecraftian spin: each of you is trying to figure out whether each type of evidence is pertinent, irrelevant, or unknowable. Revealing evidence to other players gains you credibility, which can then be spent on dirty tricks. Make your case before your opponents pick up enough clues! I played an early prototype that didn’t have all the cool artwork on it—it’s not too heavy but still lends itself to some interesting tactics.

Roots

Building words in Roots. Image: Predicate

Roots

I love language and etymology, so Roots looks like fun. It’s about building words using prefixes and suffixes to best match a subject card. Sort of a mashup of Balderdash and Apples to Apples, but with pieces of words. I haven’t played it myself, but it looks like a cool idea.

Bring Out Yer Dead

Bring Out Yer Dead

For you morbid types, Bring Out Yer Dead is about trying to secure the best places in the graveyard for your dearly departed. Or, failing that, just try to get yourself some riches by grave robbing. Be warned, though: the lazy gravedigger will just dump bodies into the river if he’s got too many in the cart, so you want to make sure you get there first. It’s another one I haven’t played personally, but I’m watching it with interest.

Web of Spies

Prototype cards. Image: Cole Medeiros

Web of Spies

I just got a prototype of Web of Spies in the mail yesterday so I haven’t played it yet, but it mixes deck-building with a race around the board to collect assets and eliminate enemy spies. You have to grab an asset in order to add it to your deck, but you’ll also be spending cards to move around the board and for attacking and defending.

King's Forge

King’s Forge and Apprentices Expansion

I wrote about the first edition of King’s Forge in a roundup post last year, and the finished game turned out looking gorgeous. There’s a Kickstarter up now for the second edition (some minor corrections) plus an expansion that adds apprentices to the mix. The expansion lets you play up to 5 players, and hiring apprentices gets you ongoing abilities during the game. If you missed it the first time around, here’s your chance to pick up a copy.

Dragon Flame

A two-player game of Dragonflame. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Dragonflame

Dragonflame is launching on Kickstarter next week, and I’ve played a near-complete prototype version of it. It uses a base mechanic a little bit like Coloretto, where you’re stashing treasures in castles and then picking a castle to take. But on top of that, you get to use your dragonflame to burn down villages. Oh, did I mention that all the players are dragons?

Check out the campaign pages for more information about each game.

New to Kickstarter? Read our crowdfunding primer.

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