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Day 1, #NaBloWriMo

This is the start of NaNoWriMo, a nationwide thing to write a novel in a month. Every year I promise myself I'll particpate, and every November for one reason or another I'm not in a position to do so. But I do want to do more writing, so I'm doing something else, write something on my blog every day. I'll do my best to make it worth reading - some personal philosophy, some reviews (Day two will be about The Librarians, almost certainly), maybe some pictures, and hopefully a short story or two. Appreciate all who read it, appreciate comments even more (hint hint hint!)

Why? I sometimes think of being a writer, I think I've got stories to tell. And I've got to get into the habit of writing. So this is putting a pinky into it.

Yes, I use my own blogging software that doesn't have comments, comments over twitter/facebook preferred.

Posted on November 1, 2015, 5:12 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon

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Back To The Future Trilogy - Fatal Flaws done well and poorly

Last night I went to the theaters for a maraton showing of all three Back To The Future movies. Yes, it was incredible geeky fun seeing them on the kinda big screen again (it was a multiplex, after all).

But I was able to put my finger on my problems with BTTF 2, largely but not completely ameleorated with BTTF3. It's Marty's Fatal Flaws.

I've read that every interest character (definitely every interesting hero/protagonist) has to have a fatal flaw), and the difference between victory and tragedy is his ability to deal with it. (Or her, granted.)

In the first Back To The Future, Marty is smart, talented, can see options, etc. - but his fatal flaw is his lack of confidence. He can't send in the mix tape because people might not like it, say he's no good, and it paralyzes him into inaction. He's aware of it, can be pushed/push himself out of it, but it's there dragging him down. By seeing it in his young father (I don't need spoiler alerts, do I?), plus accomplishing some great stuff, he's able to deal with his fatal flaw - it may still pop up, but he can handle it. Yay! Victory!

In BTTF 2 and 3, he's got a sorta related but very different fatal flaw. He cannot abide being called a coward, so when people suggest that, he sets aside all reason and rationality and says "I'll do it". If he's aware, he doesn't show it, and in BTTF 2 it's completely incontrollable. Want to completely change every plan of Marty? Call him a coward. Even though it causes him problems every time we see him give in to the dare, he doesn't even try to argue his way out.

In BTTF 3, when he's being called out by Mad Dog Tanner, he's able to beat it down. Hooray! Marty is cured! Later, when the event happens in modern day that was to have ruined his life, no more fatal flaw, yippee!

I didn't like it.

First, maybe it's just me, the lack of self-confidence was more relatable. More importantly, it was a flaw, not a compulsion. Marty struggling with his flaw is interesting, even when he fail. Marty doing something stupid because of his flaw is a time to apply palm to forehead.

Worst, in BTTF 2, it's just something that happens. There's no struggle with his fatal flaw, it's just a cheap, lazy script bit to make a smart guy do something incredibly stupid. It's not until BTTF 3 that Marty appears to be aware of how much it negatively affects his life and that he has a choice not to give in. I suspect that's because BTTF 2 and 3 were filmed back to back so they were saving it for 3 - but in all other ways, BTTF 2 is it's own story (as is BTTF 3).

I did enjoy all three movies. There's a lot of good stuff in BTTF 2, and a whole lot of good stuff in BTTF 3. But I think I'd have enjoyed it more without the cheap "call me coward? I'll show you! I'll do something stupid!" bit.

Posted on October 22, 2015, 3:14 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon

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New Game: Thug Wars

I'm entering a contest for designing a game with just 18 cards - and nothing else. My first entry is thug wars where two players form a small gang and go to war. They start by drafting four, then go through the remaining cards trying to hurt the other gang while improving their own.

After the battle, Boss Adams has a power of 24, no special scoring rules apply.

But Boss Mosty got 34!  The Baker brothers are stronger together, so they're each worth 8  3 x 8 is 24, plus 10 for Cain Kriss. So Boss Mosty wins, Boss Adams sleeps with the fishes.

it's still in testing  if you want to download and print it out, click here.

Posted on September 21, 2015, 7:44 pm
Last updated on September 21, 2015, 7:56 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon

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I'll be playtesting Gremlins In Space at #Strategicon

A week from Friday, I'm heading to the LAX Hilton for Strategicon, a really great local board game convention. For the first time, I'll be running sessions, where I'm going to try to lure people in to play Gremlins In Space.

I've shown bits and pieces here, but I think it's ready for the public to have at it. If you're in the Los Angeles area and like board games, come join us. If you're doing, please sign up for my play tests, it'll be so embarassing if I'm sitting there alone.

Gremlins In Space is a light co-op game, 1-4 players, plays in about 30 minutes. We're trying to get some art ready for the prototype boxes (and trying to get the prototypes ready). I'm looking forward to this.

There's also a Game Jam on Saturday, create a game in a very short time. I hope I get put in a good team!

Posted on August 24, 2015, 10:05 pm
Last updated on August 24, 2015, 10:13 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon


Ant-Man, Kinda weird, a little silly, lots of fun!

I saw Ant-Man this morning. I loved it. It's very different from other more recent Marvel movies.

In the Cold War, Hank Pym and his wife Janet worked with SHIELD as Ant-Man and the Wasp. The Wasp sacrificed herself to get into a rogue nuclear missle, shrinking too far and sliping into a quatum universe. Hank abandoned super hero work, trying to find some way to get Janet back - and refused to give SHIELD and Howard Stark the secret of his size changing technology.

Jump forward to today. Hank's old assistant has almost recreated the technology. Hank needs a thief. And Scott Lang was just let out of prison...

There's something inherently silly about a superhero who shrinks, and the movie doesn't ignore that. On the other hand, there are great fight sequences that show that yes, Ant-Man is a true super-hero. Unlike the other heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scott needs training to know how to use the shrinking suit - and it doesn't come that easily.

But he learns. He has an epic fight with The Falcon, and then the main fight is on. Heroics and severe ass-kicking takes place. And you'll never look at Thomas the Tank Engine again - but the fights are still deadly and a sense of real threat.

Scott does have some sidekicks, and I think the movie would've been stronger without them. But given the decision to include them, the sidekicks step up well.

There are two extra scenes in the credits (one in the middle, one after credits) that are must sees. It's pretty clear that Ant-Man will be in Captain America: Civil War, and will be on Team Cap

If you're looking for a serious drama, this isn't it. But if you want fun and some real heroics, you want to see this movie.

Posted on July 17, 2015, 9:05 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon


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