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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

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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

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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

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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

The End Of All Things by John @Scalzi

The latest book of John Scalzi's epic Old Man's War series comes out on August 11th: The End of All Things. But it was released as four eBooks this past month, and I've enjoyed it tremdously.

First, as much as I've enjoyed it, this books should NOT be your introduction to this series. The prior book, The Human Division, ended on a cliffhanger and The End Of All Things picks up after it. At a minimum, you really want to read The Human Division first. It's also good, and for a short time the eBook versions are on sale for $3.99. Make sure you get the full Human Division - it also was released serially so some eBook stores may still have the separate parts.

I think the Human Division will get you into the series well enough. If you want to do it right, you should first read the initial book, Old Man's War. There are three books between OMW and HD (Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and Zoe's Tale) but Human Division picks up pretty well. And personal opinion, the middle books aren't my favorites. They aren't bad books, just not the sort of book I like to read many times.

I'm not sure what I can say without giving out a bunch of spoilers, or trying to recap five books without spoiling any of them. Briefly, the epic is about the Colonial Union, who governs, protects, and expands a number of human colonies in a universe filled with unfriendly aliens (some given good reason to be unfriendly). The Colonial Union builds its armies by recruiting 75 year old men and women from Earth and putting them into young genetically modified bodies. Old Man's War covers the early career of John Perry. The Colonial Union has been doing this for 200 years, and other than 3/4 of all soldiers dying, it works pretty well. But in the Last Colony, things go wrong. The Human Division is about the Colonial Union having to shift to diplomacy, and a hidden group causing trouble. The End of All Things is the fight with the no-longer hidden group.

Why do I love this series? First, I find the world fascinating and well thought out. Actions have consequences, even if those actions take a while. And even more, I love the characters.

Harry Wilson, in HD and EoaT, is a Colonial Defense Forces soldier who left Earth on the same ship as John Perry. He can fight and he's good at it - but he's more at ease dealing with tech, and he's been assigned to a diplomatic team as a technical advisor and trainer. I like his attitude - he takes his job serious, but not life. Ode Abumwe is a Colonial Union Ambassador who doesn't seem to like people that much - but there are layers, and she's good at her job. Hafte Sorvalh is an alien who is a troubleshooter for the head of the Conclave.  And a new major character is Rafe Daquin, who starts as a pilot and becomes a brain in a box controlling a ship - but he's a smart brain in a box.

These are all clever people solving problems, and solving them in unusual ways. (Other problems pop up that are unusual, so that's important.)

I really enjoyed the four parts of End of All Things and I'm looking forward to the final compiled book (with a few extras). I listen to audiobooks more than I read these days, and this is going to be great.



Posted on July 5, 2015, 4:12 pm
Last updated on July 5, 2015, 4:23 pm

Donald Brown

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